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14 July 2006 : Column 2118W—continued

Chris Huhne: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many teenage pregnancies there were in (a) Southampton, (b) Portsmouth, (c) Hampshire and (d) the combined area of the three in each year since 1990; and what the teenage pregnancy rate was in each case. [84342]

John Healey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Colin Mowl, dated 13 July 2006:

Teenage conceptions: numbers and rates( 1) for Southampton UA, Portsmouth UA and Hampshire county, 1997-2004
1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004( 2)
(a) Numbers
(b) Rates










Southampton UA









Portsmouth UA









Hampshire County


















Southampton UA









Portsmouth UA









Hampshire County









(1) Rate per 1,000 women aged 15-17.
(2) Provisional.

14 July 2006 : Column 2119W

Valuation Office Agency

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much the Valuation Office Agency has spent on its automated valuation model and associated computer databases and training. [83006]

Mr. Woolas: I have been asked to reply.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 9 January 2006, Official Report, columns 268-69W. Work on maintaining the automated valuation model (AVM) and the associated computer database is ongoing. Expenditure on this, and the training undertaken, is not recorded separately by the Valuation Office Agency and cannot be provided without disproportionate cost.



Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his Oral Statement of 10 July 2006, Official Report, columns 1131-48, on Afghanistan (troop levels), if he will estimate the cost of the deployment of the additional force to Helmand Province; and whether the resources to fund the cost will be added to the Special Reserve established for the three-year Afghan deployment. [85111]

Des Browne: The deployment and equipping of additional forces to the Helmand Province is estimated at £50 million, broken down into £30 million for the deployment and £20 million for the purchase of Urgent Operational Requirements. This sum has been authorised by HM Treasury as a charge against the Special Reserve in 2006-07.

Body Armour

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what steps have been taken since September 2004 to modify enhanced combat body armour for those providing top cover on Snatch vehicles; [84532]

(2) what steps have been taken since September 2004 to modify enhanced combat body armour to provide additional protection to (a) the neck and (b) the armpit area. [84533]

Des Browne: Enhanced combat body armour (ECBA), comprises of a waistcoat cover with a para-aramid filler plus two ceramic plates. It is issued to all troops deployed on operations. The Ministry of Defence has also developed a new type of body armour to provide better protection for those undertaking Top Cover Sentry and driving duties on operations in a range of vehicles including Snatch. The Driver and Top Cover Sentry Protection Systems provide the same levels of protection as ECBA and additional protection for vulnerable areas of the upper arm and neck. In addition, a further body armour called Osprey has been developed for use by foot patrols. This also provides additional neck and armpit protection as well as other capability enhancements.

14 July 2006 : Column 2120W

Over the past two years, we have spent £120 million improving protection for ground forces in Iraq in response to the evolving threat from Impromised Explosive Devices.

Data Protection

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the effect of the Data Protection Act 1998 on the ability of (a) the Department, (b) the Veterans Agency, (c) veterans’ organisations and charities, (d) regimental, naval and RAF associations and (e) the NHS effectively to co-ordinate and transfer casework; and if he will make a statement. [84839]

Mr. Watson [holding answer 13 July 2006]: The Ministry of Defence takes its responsibilities under the Data Protection Act 1998 very seriously, and has a network of Data Protection Officers across the Department to ensure compliance. The Act provides a framework for the protection of personal data, but it also allows the sharing of such data where the processing is necessary. This requires a balance between the legitimate interests of the Ministry of Defence or the third parties to whom the data is disclosed, and the rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of individuals. Each case needs to be considered on its own merits, but it is certainly possible to share and co-ordinate personal data where it is warranted, subject to the relevant conditions set out in the Act.


Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make an assessment of the morale of troops stationed in Iraq. [82569]

Des Browne: The armed forces conduct Continuous Attitude Surveys, but it is not possible to extract from that data results specific to Iraq/Operation Telic.

Joint Personnel Administration

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 3 July 2006, Official Report, column 711W, on Joint Personnel Administration, how many personnel were (a) overpaid and (b) underpaid in each month since the system was initiated; and how many of those are awaiting correction. [84590]

Mr. Watson [holding answer 12 July 2006]: There have been a number of different causes of error to pay since the introduction of JPA. Some personnel have been subjected to more than one of those causes and these errors have been aggregated to indicate whether individuals were overpaid or underpaid on a given month. Of those 6,639 incorrectly paid in April, 70 per cent. were overpaid whereas 30 per cent. were underpaid. In May of those 1,175 incorrectly paid 34 per cent. were overpaid and 66 per cent. underpaid. The June figures are still being analysed for accuracy, but early indications are that of 458 incorrectly paid, 177 (40 per cent.) were overpaid and 258 underpaid.

14 July 2006 : Column 2121W

Low-flying Activity

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what operational low-flying activity took place in the (a) Highlands of Scotland tactical training area and (b) south west of Scotland and the Anglo Scottish border tactical training area in each year between 1998-99 and 2004-05. [84729]

Mr. Watson: I refer the hon. Member to the answers I gave on 5 June 2006, Official Report, columns 260-61W, and on 13 June 2006, Official Report, column 1084W.

Oxfordshire Coroner

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what meetings were held between (a) Ministers and (b) officials from his Department and the Oxfordshire coroner between 17 July 2003 and 31 January 2004. [85522]

Des Browne: No meetings were held between Ministry of Defence Ministers or officials and the Oxfordshire coroner between 17 July 2003 and 31 January 2004 in connection with Dr. Kelly. Liaison between the coroner and Government on this matter was through the Lord Chancellor’s Department.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many parliamentary questions tabled to his Department were awaiting a reply on 10 July 2006; which of those had been waiting longer than (a) two and (b) three weeks for a reply; and what the reason for the delay was in each case. [85202]

Mr. Watson: The information is not held in the format requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.


Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he is taking to prevent unauthorised or informal punishments of soldiers by non-commissioned officers. [85013]

Mr. Watson: There are two systems to deal with minor breaches of behaviour. These are “summary dealing” using disciplinary powers under the Army Act 1955 and “administrative action” using Army General and Administrative Instruction (AGAI) 67, both of which provide a range of punishments or sanctions. These sanctions and punishments are carried out in a properly regulated manner and both systems have well established appeals procedures.

Unauthorised or informal punishments within the Army are not lawful. Unofficial or unauthorised punishments may in themselves constitute criminal behaviour and would be investigated and dealt with accordingly. The administration of informal punishments could constitute harassment or bullying and all soldiers are made fully aware of the serious consequences of such action as well as being provided with well publicised facilities to complain.

14 July 2006 : Column 2122W

Royal Ordnance

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he plans to make additional contributions to the Royal Ordnance pension scheme to ensure that the scheme assets are sufficient to provide member benefits accrued prior to the incorporation of Royal Ordnance plc. [70033]

Mr. Watson [holding answer 11 May 2006]: I consider that sufficient funds were transferred to the Royal Ordnance pension scheme at the time of privatisation and I have no plans to make direct additional contributions to the scheme.

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 27 April 2006, Official Report, column 1274W, on pension schemes, whether the Crown guarantee to the Royal Ordnance pension scheme referred to by the Comptroller and Auditor General in his report Ministry of Defence: Sale of Royal Ordnance plc. (HC 162, 1987/88) still applies. [70145]

Mr. Watson [holding answer 11 May 2006]: The “guarantee” given at paragraph 5 of the National Audit Report (HC 162, 1987/88) was an undertaking on benefit design for (then) current employees. It was not a guarantee for future financing of the scheme.

Services Sound and Vision Corporation

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what (a) terms of reference and (b) codes of practice govern the relationship between his Department and (i) Services Sound and Vision Corporation and (ii) its subsidiary British Forces Broadcasting Service. [85066]

Mr. Watson [holding answer 13 July 2006]: The Services Sound and Vision Corporation (SSVC) is a private company limited by guarantee and registered charity, with which the Ministry of Defence has contracted to provide a number of services related to the entertainment and the provision of training material for British Service personnel around the world. British Forces Broadcasting (BFBS) is not a subsidiary of SSVC but the designation of some of the services operated on behalf of the MOD by SSVC and has been in use with the MOD since the early days of Service broadcasts.

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