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Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether there is a facility in the Army for soldiers to (a) record and (b) anonymously record their concerns about the capability and adequacy of their equipment. 
Mr. Ingram: There are a number of ways available for soldiers to raise issues, faults and suggestions for improvement to equipment, including through the Chain of Command. At present there are no specific methods available to do so anonymously.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his Answer of 4 July 2006, Official Report, column 913W, on military vehicles, how many of the vehicles are (a) available to be deployed immediately, (b) undergoing repair, (c) undergoing Bowman conversion, (d) in storage and (e) being used for training purposes. 
Mr. Ingram: A breakdown of the armoured vehicle fleet as at 21 April 2006 is shown in the following tables:
|Fleet size||Immediately deployable/currently deployed||In 1( st) or 2( nd) line maintenance||Undergoing Bowman conversion||Storage||Used for training purposes|
|Equipment||Total operationally deployable||In 4( th) line maintenance||With design authority|
Salvaged or impaired tanks, and those on loan - not counted as
(2) Saxon General War Role (GWR) is currently being withdrawn from Mechanised Infantry Battalions.
Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many OMC/Alvis Mamba/RG-31 mine-protected vehicles were purchased for Army use; on what date they were purchased; what the total purchase price was; (a) by which formations, (b) for what purposes and (c) when the vehicles were used; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what modifications were made to the OMC/Alvis Mamba/RG-31 mine-protected vehicles in order to enhance mine protection and the TMRP-6 threat; how many vehicles were modified; what the total cost was of those modifications while on the Army inventory; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) what (a) maintenance and (b) other difficulties were experienced by Army formations in their use of the OMC/Alvis Mamba/RG-31 mine-protected vehicles while on their charge; what steps were taken to resolve those difficulties; what outcomes resulted from those steps; and if he will make a statement; 
(4) when and to whom the inventory of OMC/Alvis Mamba/RG-31 mine-protected vehicles was disposed of; how much was received; what the end destination of the vehicles was; and if he will make a statement; 
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the reasons are for replacing the Mamba vehicle with the mine-protected vehicle; and what the estimated cost is. 
Ingram: The Mamba mine-protected vehicle was based on an
earlier version of the RG-31. In response to an operational requirement
for a vehicle protected against blast and explosively formed projectile
attack from below and small arms, fragmentation and some blast from the
side 14 second-hand Mamba vehicles were bought in three batches through
the Urgent Operational Requirements process between 1996-99. Six were
bought in 1996 for the NATO implementation force mission in Bosnia;
three were procured in 1999 for operations in Macedonia; and a further
five were bought later in 1999 for operations in Kosovo. The approval
cost of the first six was around £1.2 million and the second and
third batches cost £1 million and
£2.3 million respectively. They were used by specialist teams for explosive ordnance disposal tasks such as reconnaissance, rescue and recovery and route proving and were deployed in the Balkans until 2003.
The Mamba vehicle was delivered to the Ministry of Defence following modification of the base vehicle by the contractor, Alvis with the addition of appliqué belly armour to withstand attack by shaped-charge mines. This modification was included in the purchase cost. The extra weight of the appliqué armour was found to overload the Mambas and caused reliability and safety problems. The high level of maintenance required to keep the vehicles operational was exacerbated by a lack of commonality between the individual vehicles and poor availability of spares. In May 2001, due to road safety issues, their use was restricted to operational situations where there was a significant threat of minestrikes. Since the current version of the RG-31 is not in service with the UK armed forces we cannot comment on its ease of maintenance or reliability.
The MOD considered modifying and refurbishing the vehicles but replacement with a new vehicle was identified as the better option. As a result the vehicles were disposed of in 2004 for a total of £44,000. Nine were sold to Estonia, four to a US company and one to a company based in Singapore.
Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress his Department has made on developing partnering arrangements with non-BAE suppliers on general munitions. 
Mr. Ingram: Partnering agreements are already in place with three key non-BAES (Land Systems Munitions) suppliers: PW Defence (part of the Chemring Group), Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH and Wallop Defence Systems. Subject to satisfactory completion of negotiations, we hope to agree partnering arrangements with Chemring Counter Measures and Nobel Enterprises over the next two years.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) when he will reply to question 16696 on fatalities in Iraq, tabled by the hon. Member for Thurrock on 7 October 2005; and what the reason is for the delay in replying; 
Mr. Ingram [holding answers 10 October 2005 and 19 July 2006]: I regret the delay in providing an answer to my hon. Friends question of 7 October 2005. This was due to an administrative error, which new procedures for recording and tracking parliamentary questions will prevent in the future.
As at 17 July
2006, a total of 114 British armed forces personnel have died while
serving on Operation TELIC since the start of the campaign in March
Of these, 85 are classed as killed in action, including 25 as a result of Improvised Explosive Devices. Information on fatalities in Iraq is available on the MOD website at www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/FactSheets/OperationsInIraq and in the Libraries of the House. The release of further information relating to the circumstances of successful attacks on UK forces could compromise operational security thereby placing our servicemen and women in additional unnecessary danger or potential harm.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the capacity of the Army to undertake its peacekeeping roles effectively. 
Mr. Ingram: While we recognise that the Army is busy I am confident that it is able to meet all its current peacekeeping commitments.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent steps his Department has taken to counter the threat posed by piracy in international waters. 
Mr. Ingram: United Kingdom Government policy for counter-piracy primarily rests with the Transport Security and Contingencies Directorate of the Department for Transport and also the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. They have a coordinated counter-piracy strategy and action plan designed to protect seafarers and ships from piracy attack. This work has been presented to the International Maritime Organization and other international organisations and States to encourage a more coordinated effort to combat the problem.
Royal Navy ships, while not specifically committed to counter-piracy duties, will, whenever they are on hand to do so, take all appropriate measures to respond to incidents of piracy on the high seas in accordance with international law. Furthermore, the Royal Navy works closely with the Department for Transport on shipping protection issues and maintains a worldwide Maritime Trade Operations policy which enables it to offer a number of options to support merchant shipping. These range from provision of routine advice and guidance, through to active protection of merchant vessels.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to establish (a) operating standards and (b) licensing controls for the regulation of private military companies. 
Dr. Howells: I have been asked to reply.
I refer the hon. Member to my reply (UIN 87939) on the current Government position regarding regulation of private military and security companies. The review of options for regulation covers both of the issues raised by the hon. Member.
Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress his Department has made on project MASS (Munitions Acquisition the Supply Solution). 
Mr. Ingram: Project MASS is currently in its Assessment Phase which seeks to identify the best options to provide us with the operational capability our armed forces need combined with the best long term value for money.
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many service personnel have been sacked from the armed forces on the grounds of their sexuality since the first year for which figures are available; how many have been compensated; what the (a) highest and (b) average amount of compensation is; how many whose cases have not yet been determined remain to be compensated; how many have had compensation refused; how many were denied compensation on a Limitation Act 1980 based defence; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Watson [holding answer 24 July 2006]: The Ministry of Defence does not hold centralised records of those personnel who left or were dismissed on grounds of their sexual orientation. However, 38 personnel have received compensation. The highest compensation award was £147,875, with the average award being £35,598. 62 claims remain to be settled. 57 had compensation refused. The Ministry of Defence has not relied upon the Limitation Act 1980 in defence of any of these claims.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the spare parts availability shortfall rate is for (a) Typhoon and (b) Hercules C-130 aircraft. 
Mr. Ingram: For the Typhoon aircraft I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 14 June 2006, Official Report, column 1236W, to the hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Howarth).
For the Hercules fleet, spares demands satisfied from MOD stocks average 90 per cent. for the C-130K, and 75 per cent. for the C-130J. Spare parts availability for the Hercules fleet as a whole has been sufficient to meet its operational commitments.
Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress his Department has made on the development of a programme level partnering agreement with a single industrial entity for the full life cycle of the submarine flotilla; and if he will make a statement. 
Ingram: We remain convinced of the need for consolidation
in the submarine industrial base and detailed discussions with industry
on the scope of a
possible programme level partnering agreement are continuing. Improved supply chain management must also take place to safeguard capability and to incentivise better performance; working level negotiations continue with the key elements of industry on this basis. Given the number of industrial players in the submarine domain, consolidation to one entity may not be possible; other solutions such as an alliance or a joint venture are also being examined. MOD is considering a number of possible options with industry; none of these have yet resulted in an acceptable way ahead, but negotiation is under way.
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