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Military Equipment

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what equipment belonging to the UK armed forces was positioned within five miles of the village of Southmoor, Oxfordshire on (a) 17 and (b) 18 July 2003. [85523]

Des Browne [holding answer 14 July 2006]: We do not maintain records of the location of individual pieces of military equipment with a precision sufficient to answer the Question. There are no defence establishments located within a five mile radius of Southmoor, although there is an Army site at Abingdon, around seven miles by road from the village. 612 Volunteer Gliding School is also based at Abingdon and provides cadets with gliding instruction, usually at the weekend; records indicate that flying did not take place on the dates in question.

Military Material (Shipment Costs)

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what the cost is of shipping a given amount of military material in containers to a given United Kingdom destination by (a) military train and (b) a fleet of container lorries; [91148]

(2) what criteria are used when deciding whether to send military container shipments by (a) rail and (b) road to destinations within the United Kingdom. [91152]

Mr. Ingram: There is no standard comparable unit cost of transporting military material by road or rail. Actual cost will vary substantially according to the route taken, the distance travelled, the nature of the cargo and the size of the consignment. The choice of movement by rail or road will depend not just on cost but on a number of factors including the priority of the requirement and the availability of suitable road and rail infrastructure.

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of military containers shipped from the United Kingdom for Operation Telic were sent to their ports of embarkation by (a) rail and (b) road; and what the average cost per unit was for these internal United Kingdom journeys. [91149]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 18 September 2006]: Over the past 12 months, approximately 30 per cent. of military containers for Operation Telic (Op Telic) were moved to the port of embarkation by rail and 70 per cent. by road. Details for the earlier years of Op Telic could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Transportation costs vary substantially according to the route taken, the distance travelled, the nature of the cargo and the size of the consignment. The choice of movement by rail or road depends, however, not just on cost, but also other factors such as the priority of the
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requirement and the availability of suitable road and rail infrastructure: for example, the majority of journeys in support of Op Telic were to Southampton docks which does not have the network capacity to offer the MOD a rail service.

In simple terms, over the last 12 months, the average price per container for journeys using rail services from the original location to the ports of embarkation was £63 and similarly using road services, £227. However, this cost does not include any allowance for the additional costs of using rail paid by the MOD under its enabling contract with English, Welsh and Scottish Railways.

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what arrangements are in place to ensure that the internal United Kingdom transportation of military containers by (a) rail and (b) road is carried out by the most economical means. [91150]

Mr. Ingram: The Ministry of Defence has an enabling contract for the movement of military containers by rail and another for their movement by road. Military containers are also moved using ad-hoc commercial road arrangements. The best value-for-money solution is selected depending on the individual circumstances of each requirement.

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his policy is on Defence Storage and Distribution Agency rail operations in respect of (a) keeping them in-house and (b) out-sourcing them to private contractors. [91151]

Mr. Ingram: The Department currently has no plans to outsource rail operations on Defence Storage and Distribution Agency sites to private contractors, although the situation is kept under review to ensure best value for money for the taxpayer.

Operation Telic

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many casualties have been recorded on Operation Telic whilst using (a) Warrior and (b) Snatch armoured vehicles. [77606]

Des Browne [holding answer 15 June 2006]: Centrally available records on casualties on Operation Telic capture the nature and seriousness of the injuries incurred, but do not always record whether the injuries were incurred while using Snatch or Warrior armoured vehicles. The circumstances surrounding each significant incident involving personnel using Warrior and Snatch armoured vehicles are, however, subject to immediate scrutiny at Unit level. This includes an analysis of the protection offered by the equipment involved and the effectiveness of current tactics, techniques and procedures. Where appropriate, lessons related to equipment are passed to the Chain of Command.

Information on fatalities and casualties incurred by UK forces on Operation Telic is published on the MOD website at:


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Pardons

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he plans to grant pardons for those First World War soldiers that were convicted of capital crimes, but not executed. [91153]

Derek Twigg: It is intended that the proposed statutory pardon will remove the particular dishonour that execution for crimes such as cowardice and desertion brought to individuals and their families. There are no plans to extend the pardons to those soldiers convicted of capital crimes but not executed or to those executed for crimes such as murder and treason.

Private Military Companies

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what guidelines have been given to members of UK armed forces in their dealings with private military companies in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan contracted by (i) coalition states and (ii) non-governmental organisations. [88107]

Des Browne: UK armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are reminded, through the Ministry of Defence in-theatre guidance of the need to regulate, limit and report contact with Private Military Companies (PMCs). We do recognise, however, that a wide range of PMCs operate in Iraq and Afghanistan, including those contracted by members of the coalition and non-governmental organisations, and that their employees are unavoidably encountered by our military personnel during the course of their duties. We also recognise that, to minimise risk, our forces need to be aware of where PMCs operate.

RAF

Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average age was of each type of aircraft flown by the RAF in each of the last 10 years. [91215]

Mr. Ingram: This information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the planned level of trained RAF personnel was in each of the last 10 years; and what the planned levels are for each of the next five years. [91216]

Mr. Ingram: The requirement for trained Royal Air Force personnel in each of the last 10 years was:


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As at 1 April Number

1997

56,450

1998

54,530

1999

53,020

2000

51,900

2001

51,360

2002

49,720

2003

49,370

2004

49,570

2005

48,400

2006

46,910


As previously announced to the House, the Royal Air Force is currently drawing down to around 41,000 by April 2008. Future forecast trained manpower requirement figures beyond that date are not published because they are subject to constant change. The figures for each of the next two years are:

As at 1 April Number

2007

44,610

2008

41,440

Notes: 1. Figures are for UK Regular Forces and therefore exclude full-time reservists and mobilised reservists. 2. All figures have been rounded to the nearest 10.

Royal Irish Regiment

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the troop levels are for each battalion in the Royal Irish Regiment; what the planned numbers are for each of the next three years; and if he will make a statement. [91155]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 18 September 2006]: The Royal Irish Regiment (R IRISH) currently has one General Service battalion (1 R IRISH) earmarked for world-wide duties and three Home Service Battalions (2, 3 and 4 R IRISH), which serve only in Northern Ireland.

As at 1 September 2006, there were some 500 personnel in 1 R IRISH, some 880 personnel in 2 R IRISH, some 910 personnel in 3 R IRISH and some 930 personnel in 4 R IRISH. In addition to the Battalions there are also some 290 R IRISH Home Service personnel who work at the Regimental Headquarters, Depot or attached to other units within the Province.

The Home Service battalions were specifically raised for operations in support of the police in Northern Ireland. As announced by the Secretary of State for Defence in August 2005, the Home Service battalions will disband by 31 July 2007, having successfully completed the task for which they were raised. The General Service Battalion (1 R IRISH) is unaffected and they (and the Royal Irish element of the Territorial Army (The Royal Irish Rangers)) will continue the traditions of the Regiment.

Self-harm

Mrs. Humble: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the terms of reference are for his study on the causal factors of self-harm; what tendering process was undertaken to employ independent experts to conduct the study; and what his target dates for (a) completion and (b) publication of the report are. [26298]

Derek Twigg: The study was split into three consecutive phases, each one dependent on the successful completion of the preceding phase. Phase One, to identify precipitating factors for deliberate
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self-harm among soldiers, with an overall objective to provide a structured interview protocol to investigate self-harm in the military community. Phase Two, to retrospectively match each identified case with an appropriately matched control group, and Phase Three, to evaluate the extent to which risk factors and risk profiles identified in Phases One and Two could be used as a marker for deliberate self-harm.

All three phases were to include military community psychiatric workers, under the direction of the Army Suicide Prevention Working Group (ASPWG), supported by suitable external subject matter expertise. The Directorate of Army Personnel Strategy commissioned the provision of external experts from research funds.

The statement of requirement for Phase One of the Study and an invitation to tender for the work was sent to three independent academic experts. Only two bids were received, one from Imperial College and the other from King’s College. The bids were assessed in accordance with current MOD competitive tendering guidelines, and the contract was awarded to Imperial College.

Phase One of the study began in April 2004, with an expected completion date of June 2005. However, as there were far fewer cases of deliberate self harm over the period than statistically predicted, this resulted in insufficient numbers of volunteers coming forward to be interviewed, the completion date of Phase One was extended until December 2005. Despite this extension, the numbers of those interviewed was considered to be insufficient for the purpose of the study.

The results were presented to the ASPWG in December 2005 where it was decided that the study could not progress on the basis that there were too few cases of self-harm over the period to provide a credible result for Phase One. Therefore there was insufficient data to inform the subsequent Phases.

A summary of the findings of Phase One was submitted to the British Medical Journal (BMJ) and presented to the Royal Society of Medicine Symposium in January. The BMJ have since declined to publish these findings, due to the size of the sample used.

Special Forces Jump Course

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) whether he plans to provide radio equipment for all students on the Special Forces Jump Course at Brize Norton; [90930]

(2) whether he has received any requests from any members of staff at Integrated Project Teams for the purchase of radios for the students on the Special Forces Jump Course at Brize Norton before November 2005. [90931]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 13 September 2006]: There are currently no plans to provide military trainees undertaking parachute training at RAF Brize Norton with radio equipment, but my officials are investigating the feasibility of radio use for the transmission of routine information. It is expected that if radios were used, they would not be used in emergency situations due to the risk of confusion when more than one parachutist is involved.


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Details of requests made by members of staff at Integrated Project Teams for the purchase of radios are not recorded centrally. I am aware of two working level requests that have been made previously, in July 2000 and November 2003, for the provision of radios to support some early stage parachute training. Competing priorities on the defence equipment budget meant that funding was not available.

Submarines

Willie Rennie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what consideration is being given to improving the night vision capabilities of Trafalgar class submarines. [91038]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 13 September 2006]: There are no current plans to improve the night vision capability of Trafalgar Class submarines, though the requirement is kept under review.

Suez Campaign

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) why (a) questions (i) 65386 and (ii) 65389, on the Suez Canal Zone campaign, tabled for named day answer on 27 April and (b) question 72193, on those questions, tabled for named day answer on 23 May, has not been substantively answered; [82485]

(2) when he will reply to the question (a) 65386 and (b) 65389, on the Suez Canal Zone campaign, tabled for named day answer on 27 April 2006. [72193]

Derek Twigg [holding answers 4 July 2006 and 23 May 2006]: I replied to the hon. Member earlier. It is regretted that it has taken so long to respond to the hon. Member’s questions.

Trident

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much it will cost to maintain the Trident weapons system between 2007 and 2020. [61580]

Des Browne: The annual expenditure on capital and running costs of the Trident nuclear deterrent, including costs for the Atomic Weapons Establishment, is expected to be between 5 and 5.5 per cent. of the Defence budget in 2006-07 and 2007-08. Spending plans for subsequent years will be set as part of the Government's Spending Review process.


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