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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 23 October 2006



Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the size of the Polish military commitment to Afghanistan is. [92316]

Des Browne: Poland currently has around 100 troops committed to Afghanistan. On 14 September they announced their intention to increase their current commitment to a strength of around 1,000, the bulk of whom are planned to deploy to Afghanistan in February 2007. Poland also plan to deploy a small contingent (approximately 20 personnel) to the Swedish-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Mazar-e-Sharif in October 2006, rising to 30-40 from April 2007.


Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much money has been spent in each year since 2002-03 on maintenance of the Nimrod MR2 fleet; and what is proposed to be spent each year until the fleet goes out of service expressed as the cost per aircraft. [92622]

Mr. Ingram: A number of areas within the Department incur expenditure on the RAF's Nimrod MR2 fleet. The financial information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at a disproportionate cost. The figures provided in the following table are the logistic support costs of the Defence Logistics Organisation that can be directly attributed to the Nimrod fleet and are for the maintenance, repair and modification costs of both the Nimrod MR2 and the Nimrod Rl airframes.

Financial Year Average cost per aircraft (£ million)



















Notes: 1. Staff costs are not included. 2. Costs have not been adjusted to account for the recent loss of Nimrod MR2 XV230. 3. Costs rounded to the nearest million.

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Arms Sales

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what arms sales were made from British-based companies to the state of Israel in 2005. [94304]

Dr. Howells: I have been asked to reply.

Details of all arms export licences from the UK to Israel in 2005 are available in the Annual Report on Strategic Export Controls 2005 which was published in July this year. We also publish quarterly reports of all export licences issued. These, along with the annual reports, can be found on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website at:

Defence Airfields

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects the review of defence airfields to conclude; and when he expects to publish those conclusions. [94456]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 16 October 2006]: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence announced to the House in July 2004 during his statement on the White Paper on Delivering Security in a Changing World, that we would be undertaking an extensive review of our future requirements for airfields. There will not be a single report on the outcome of the defence airfield review. The work is being taken forward through a series of business cases assessing the best configuration of airfields both operationally and in value for money terms, for a number of future aircraft types.

I announced the conclusions of the studies into the basing of Joint Combat aircraft and Nimrod MRA4 aircraft to the House in my statement on 17 November 2005. I will announce the results of the remaining individual studies in due course.


Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his latest assessment is of (a) the movement of (i) terrorists and (ii) weapons across the Iran-Iraq border and (b) the impact of such movements on the security situation in Iraq. [91294]

Des Browne: We continuously monitor and assess the security situation on the Iran/Iraq border. We assess that there is some movement of terrorists and weapons across the border and that this contributes to the violence and instability in Iraq.

We continue to press Iran to cut its links with armed groups and to do more to improve border security and fight terrorism.

There can be no justification for any country encouraging violence against our forces in Iraq, who are there at the request of the democratically elected Iraqi Government under a UN mandate.

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Medical Services

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the future of the Military Service Medical Corps and supporting nursing services. [94484]

Derek Twigg [holding answer 17 October 2006]: I assume that the hon. Member is referring to the Defence Medical Services (DMS). Their two key outputs are medical support to deployed operations, and the provision of healthcare to the armed forces to ensure that the maximum possible numbers of armed forces personnel are fit for duty. The DMS will continue to deliver both outputs, working where appropriate with coalition partners, the NHS, private healthcare providers and the charity sector, enhancing the high level of service to military patients that we already provide.

Nuclear Weapons

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many countries offer the reason of ultimate guarantor of national security for the maintenance of a nuclear weapons capability. [95216]

Des Browne: The Government's position has long been that Trident is the ultimate guarantor of the UK's national security while we press for multilateral negotiations towards mutual, balanced and verifiable reductions in nuclear weapons. The UK is committed to working towards a safer world, free from nuclear weapons. The reasons why other countries maintain a nuclear weapons capability are a matter for them.

UK Defence Facilities

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has held with Halliburton and KBR; and if he will seek the assurances of the two companies on their continued commitment to its UK defence facilities, with particular reference to (a) Devonport dockyard and (b) Appledore shipyard. [92743]

Mr. Ingram: My noble Friend the Minister for Defence Procurement (Lord Drayson) met representatives of the company on 11 July to discuss a range of issues including the developing maritime industrial strategy.

Halliburton-KBR is, currently, a single commercial entity which through its majority (51 per cent.) shareholding in Devonport Management Ltd (DML) owns and operates Devonport Royal Dockyard and is a prime support contractor to the Royal Navy providing comprehensive through-life support for submarines, surface ships and equipments. Officials maintain regular contact with both DML and its parent company Halliburton-KBR on all aspects of our joint business interests. The Appledore yard is not normally used for defence purposes.

Recently Halliburton has stated its intention to spin off KBR as a separate entity, and officials have sought assurances that the UK's strategic interests, which
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are protected by conditions in the dockyard sale agreement, will be preserved. Halliburton have indicated readiness to provide these, but they remain to be negotiated.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many American Predator B unmanned aerial vehicles are planned to be purchased and at what (a) unit and (b) total cost. [92149]

Mr. Ingram: We intend to procure two American Predator B unmanned air vehicles. The total acquisition cost is expected to be in the region of $80 million. US Congress is still to approve the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Case. Definitive costs, including unit cost, will not be known until the US Air Force has replied to the UK MOD Letter of Request, which is expected by the end of the year.

Wounded Soldiers

Lorely Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what factors were taken into account when deciding that injured soldiers being treated in Selly Oak Hospital in the West Midlands should be treated in general wards rather than military wards; and if he will make a statement. [92711]

Derek Twigg: No wards at Selly Oak Hospital are specifically reserved for military patients. Although Service patients are nursed with other Service patients when this is clinically feasible, the over-riding factor in the treatment of any patient must be their clinical condition and need. The patient must be placed in the most appropriate specialist environment, with associated equipment and trained personnel who have the necessary skill sets. Furthermore, the current requirement for hospital in-patient beds for military patients is relatively low. For example, a total of only 13 military patients were overnight inpatients at all the Birmingham hospitals on the night of 19-20 October.

Nevertheless, steps are being taken to ensure that military patients do not feel “cut off” from the military community. There is a significant military medical staff presence at Selly Oak, involved in the care of Service patients. They are assisted by the staff of the Aeromedical Evacuation Cell, the Military Patient Administration Cell and the Defence Medical Welfare Services. The military chain of command also works to maintain links between the individual patient and their parent single Service unit.

As my right hon. Friend the Defence Secretary told the House on 10 October, we have increased the number of military nurses in Selly Oak; we are establishing a military managed ward in partnership with Selly Oak Hospital that we plan to have operational by the end of the year; and we are improving the welfare package for our injured troops at Selly Oak and in hospitals elsewhere—including a daily allowance to meet extra costs while they are inpatients and improved allowances for their families.

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Culture, Media and Sport

2012 Olympics

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport who is responsible for appointments to the Olympic Delivery Authority; whether posts are advertised; how many persons applied for each existing post; how many were shortlisted for interview; what criteria were adopted for (a) accepting and (b) rejecting a candidate; and if she will make a statement. [95130]

Tessa Jowell: Under Schedule 1, section 6(1) of the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006, I am responsible for appointing the first Chief Executive, after consulting the Chairman, and the Mayor of London. The post was advertised. Thirty four applications for the post were received of which six were short listed. All candidates were assessed against the following criteria:

All other appointments are the responsibility of the Olympic Delivery Authority. In accordance with normal public sector best practice the Olympic Delivery Authority's rules for recruitment provide for this to be done by open competition and for appointment on merit.

Departmental Expenditure

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much her Department has spent on organising and hosting conferences in the last 12 months. [93086]

Mr. Lammy: The total cost of conferences organised and hosted by DCMS in the last 12 months was approximately £685,317.

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Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many provisions are in the general codes proposed by the Gambling Commission for licensed (a) bingo clubs, (b) betting shops and (c) casinos. [95723]

Mr. Caborn: The Gambling Commission is still considering responses to its consultation document Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice, (published in March 2006), so the number of provisions to be included in the Commission’s general codes for each type of licensed operator is still to be finalised. The Commission is aiming to publish its response to the consultation document and the final codes of practice and licence conditions by the end of November 2006.

Government Social Research Service

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the cost was of the Government Social Research Service in her Department in each of the last five years; how many projects have been completed by the Service in that period; and how many people are employed in the Service in her Department. [95847]

Mr. Lammy: The estimated costs set out in the table are based on salary costs for members of the GSR employed by DCMS. They are estimates based on 2005-06 capitation rates and take account of the fact that one GSR staff member is also a member of the Government Economic Service.

Number of staff employed in DCMS who are GSR members Estimated annual salary costs Number of completed projects





















n/a = not available
(1) The number of completed projects relates to projects funded from the DCMS central research budget.

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