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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the written statement of 11 July 2006, Official Report, columns 60-61WS, on armed
forces invaliding pensions, what research his Department has undertaken into the proposed merger of the Armed Forces Personnel Administration Agency and the Veterans Agency; what his assessment is of the (a) advantages and (b) disadvantages of such a merger; and what assessment he has made of the likely effect of such a merger on Joint Personnel Administration. 
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the written statement of 11 July 2006, Official Report, columns 60-1WS, on armed forces invaliding pensions, when the error was found; what assessment he has made of the likelihood of further errors being uncovered; and what his estimate is of the financial liability arising from the errors. 
Mr. Watson: The error was found while making payments to rectify pension errors under Projects Haven and Scribe during the period 2003-06. As these projects moved towards a conclusion, specialist resources were freed up to scope this new problem. In view of the work that has been done to review pension files, the likelihood of further errors being uncovered is low, and robust arrangements have been put in place to prevent similar problems occurring in the future.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his assessment is of the impact of increased life expectancy on the integrity and affordability of the Armed Forces Pension Scheme; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Watson: New entrants to the armed forces on or after 6 April 2005 have joined the new Armed Forces Pension Scheme 2005. The impact of recent improvements in life expectancy was fully taken into account in developing the benefit structure of this scheme, including by setting a preserved pension age at 65. There have also been changes to the benefit structure of the old pension scheme, the Armed Forces Pension Scheme 1975, to ensure its long term affordability. The age at which a preserved pension is paid was delayed from 60 to 65 for all service, from 6 April 2006. Some of these savings were reinvested in the scheme in the form of an increase in the death in service lump sum to three times pay. The impact of changing life expectancy and other relevant factors is monitored by the Government Actuary's Department, the actuary for the schemes, through regular assessments of the employer's contribution for the two AFPS schemes.
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 20 June 2006, Official Report, column 1708W, on the Army Continuous Attitude Survey, why the categories included in question 66 of the seventh Serving
Personnel survey I didnt believe anything would be done if I did complain and I thought that it would cause problems in my workplace have been omitted from the ninth Serving Personnel survey. 
Mr. Watson: I refer the hon. Gentleman to my answer of 6 July 2006, Official Report, column 1352W. Whereas question 66 in the seventh Serving Personnel survey provided a menu of possible responses, question 39c in the ninth Serving Personnel survey is an open-ended question, and does not offer a menu of responses. This approach is designed to provide a richer source of data by enabling respondents to answer the question in their own terms. The breakdown of negative comments in my answer of 6 July reflects an analysis of actual responses to question 39c conducted by occupational scientists. A sample of respondents comments was extracted and similar types were summarised into a category. Categories were arranged under appropriate headings to provide a coding framework, which was validated using a further sample of comments. Respondents typically made more than one comment and all comments were read and assigned the relevant code(s) to calculate their frequencies.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 12 June 2006, Official Report, column 996W, on bearskins, what research is taking place into producing alternatives to real bearskin; who is undertaking the research; and what the time scale is for completion of research contracts. 
Mr. Ingram: At present the Ministry of Defence does not have a research contract for producing an alternative to real bearskin. A number of contracts have previously been let with commercial companies but none of these produced a useable product. A faux-fur sample has, however, been submitted by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and this is currently being assessed for its suitability.
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish the reports into (a) incident signal 21/4/94 from No. 1 ECU (Engine) sent to Fleetlands for investigation, (b) incident signal 17/5/94
from No. 1 ECU (Engine) sent to third/fourth line for investigation and (c) incident signal 26/5/04 of the engine change units in the engines of Chinook ZD 576 in the weeks prior to the crash on the Mull of Kintyre on 2 June 1994; and whether these reports are consistent with the problems recorded in the aircraft log. 
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his answer of 3 July 2006, Official Report, column 703W, on Colombia, what types of explosive device training are being provided with UK military assistance. 
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 10 May 2006, Official Report, column 298W, on Colombia, for what reasons listing the financial value of bespoke counter- narcotics training provided to Colombia would damage (a) the safety of individuals, (b) the prevention and detection of crime and (c) international relations; and if he will make a statement. 
Providing further information on this issue could endanger the safety of individuals and reduce the effectiveness of the Colombian law enforcement mission by raising the public profile of this counter- narcotics work, including in Colombia. It would also be contrary to the wishes of the Colombian authorities.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many combat troops have been provided by each contributing nation to (a) Operation Enduring Freedom and (b) the International Security Assistance Force. 
Des Browne: The Commanding Officer of the International Security Assistance Force has confirmed that he has the forces required to do the job asked of him. The precise composition of the force package provided by nations in support of either Operation Enduring Freedom or the International Security Assistance Force is a matter for the nations concerned.
Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his written statement of 27 June 2006, Official Report, column 5WS, on the Defence Food Supply Contract, what percentage of the meat supplied to British troops will be from British farms. 
Mr. Ingram: The new food supply contact will commence on 1 October 2006. Transitional arrangements are still being discussed with the contractor, Purple Foodservice Solutions. At this stage we are therefore unable to provide the information requested.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many additional payments have been agreed with the contractors for the Defence Information Infrastructure project since the contract was issued; to whom such payments (a) have been made and (b) are to be made; how much has been paid and on what dates; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram: All payments in respect of Increment 1 of the DII contract are and will be made to EDS as the prime contractor for DII. Payments are made through the service delivery charges of the contract. These charges are commercially sensitive and cannot be disclosed.
A range of changes to the Defence Information Infrastructure programme have taken place since contract award in March 2005. A level of change was always expected and is allowed for under the provisions of the contract. In terms of the overall value of Increment 1 of the DII contract the value of these changes is not significant.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the original (a) estimated costs and (b) in service delivery date were for the Defence Information Infrastructure project; and what the current situation is in each case. 
Mr. Ingram: Increment 1 of the Defence Information Infrastructure contract was awarded to the ATLAS Consortium, led by EDS, in March 2005 with an estimated value of £2.3 billion. This estimated value remains extant. There is no in service delivery date as such within the contract. The contracted New Services Commencement Date was originally March 2006. This date was subsequently revised to May 2006 and was met successfully.
Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many military helicopter flights there were in the airspace above the constituency of Hammersmith and Fulham in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Watson: This information is not centrally held. Although individual units hold details of all flight paths undertaken by their own helicopters this information is not centrally collated and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
|Regiment||Helicopter Crew Established (Required)||Helicopter Crew Held (Actual)|
These figures include qualified helicopter instructors and regimental headquarters personnel, whose primary role is not as helicopter crew. The figures do not include aviation crewmen, such as air door gunners and winch operators, because this is not a long-term Career Employment Group. The established figure for 5 Regiment AAC will reduce to 31 by 1 April 2007, as part of the planned reductions in Northern Ireland. The deficits shown in the table in 3,4 and 9 Regiments AAC are mainly due to the re-roling of these regiments to Apache helicopters. As a consequence of re-roling, some aircrew are posted away for retraining.
The number of spare engines held by the Ministry of Defence differs for each helicopter type and is determined by a number of factors including the size of the fleet, the scheduled training flying hour requirement, industrial considerations (e.g. the lead time to procure an engine) and operational requirements. At any one time, some engines may be
undergoing repair and maintenance. We currently have sufficient spare engines to meet operational and training requirements for each helicopter type.
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence why HMS Argyll is not to be modified to operate the Merlin helicopter; and what the intended out-of-service date is for this vessel. 
Mr. Ingram: The operational requirement is for 12 Type 23 frigates to be modified to operate the Merlin helicopter. The decision on which ships are to be modified is determined by the fitting opportunities within the frigate upkeep programme. HMS Argyll will not be modified as the requirement will be met by other frigates with earlier fitting opportunities within the upkeep programme. Should the programme change, the situation will be reviewed. On current plans HMS Argyll is due to be withdrawn from service in 2019.
Mr. Ingram: The budget per person per day for meals for members of the armed forces serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan is currently £3.11 per day (July 2006 rate). It is intended to provide 2,900 calories per day, based on three meals per day. This Daily Messing Rate is based on a basket of food items, and is calculated on a monthly basis by applying prices obtained from the main Ministry of Defence Food Supply Contractor to the Home Ration Scale.
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