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26 Oct 2006 : Column 2020Wcontinued
Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the Government plans to publish its formal response to Nicholas Blake's Deepcut Review. 
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 11 May 2006]: Due to an oversight, this question was not answered at the time, however, the Governments response to the Deepcut Review was published on 13 June 2006. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
Jim Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many staff in his Department (a) directly employed and (b) employed on contracts were required to support the financial or commercial aspects of defence exports to foreign governments in the most recent year for which figures are available. 
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 19 October 2006]: The Ministry of Defence provides support to defence exports through the Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO). In April 2006 there were some 450 staff in post in DESO. Of those 12 were employed on fixed-term contracts, five of whom were part-time.
In general, the financial and commercial aspects of defence exports are matters for the company supplying the export. But a proportion of DESO staff work in project offices dealing with exports made under Government-to-Government contracts, and the duties of 29 of these staff are mainly concerned with financial and commercial aspects of the projects. None of these is on a fixed-term contract.
A breakdown showing the numbers of staff in DESO was included in the answers given to the hon. Member for North Devon (Nick Harvey) on 26 October 2005, Official Report, column 376W.
Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether UK personnel stationed on Diego Garcia have access to the United States detention facilities located there for the purposes of monitoring who is detained in that facility. 
Des Browne: There is no US facility for foreign detainees on Diego Garcia. The only civilian detention centre is at the small UK-run police station.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what meetings the former Defence Secretary, the right hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Hoon), held with (a) US politicians, (b) the CIA and (c) others in the United States in August 2003. 
Des Browne [holding answer 12 October 2006]: None.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 3 July 2006, Official Report, column 706W, on Far East Civilian Internees, what progress he has made with charities towards aiding those who have not been awarded payments under the 20 year rule. 
Derek Twigg [holding answer 23 October 2006]: The position remains as outlined by my predecessor in his answer of 3 July; discussions with a relevant charity are still ongoing. I will write to the hon. Member when I have further information.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress he has made towards reviewing those applicants for the Far East Prisoners of War Ex-Gratia Payments Scheme that have not qualified for payment under the 20 year rule; and what factors he is taking into account to determine eligibility. 
Derek Twigg [holding answer 23 October 2006]: Eligibility for the 20-year rule is determined in accordance with the published rules; a copy of which was placed in the Library of the House on 26 June. Since the introduction of the new rule, officials have been monitoring and gathering information on its application which includes those claims which do not qualify. An early analysis of any emerging trends is nearing completion and I will be discussing these with the Association of British Civilian Internees Far East Region before final decisions on rejections are made.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the written statement of 17 October 2006 on Far East Prisoners of War Ex-Gratia Payments Scheme, whether civilian claims for the payment submitted before 7 July 2005 will be paid in full. 
Derek Twigg [holding answer 23 October 2006]: Civilian claims for a payment submitted before 7 July 2005 will be paid in full if:
(1) the applicant met those residence-based criteria now remaining following removal of the birthlink criteria, or
(2) the applicant met the birthlink criteria (such cases will be dealt with on a separate ex gratia basis in recognition of the fact that, at the time of their claim, such applicants had a reasonable expectation that the birthlink criteria would apply in their case and that they would have been paid had their application been processed more quickly).
Veterans Agency records show that there are three claims in the second category. Action is in hand for these payments to be made.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library copies of his Department's monthly Financial Digest for the first six months of 2005-06. 
Des Browne: The term Financial Digest refers to previous procedures in the Department which have been updated as our financial management processes have been improved. Officials regularly produce forecasts of expected year-end financial outturn for senior management. These are reflected in the forecasts of Defence expenditure in the Main and Supplementary Estimates formally submitted for parliamentary consideration in the course of the year. Detailed in-year internal forecasts make an important contribution to the development of Government policy. I am withholding their publication as it would be prejudicial to the effective conduct of public affairs by inhibiting the free and frank provision of advice to senior management and Ministers, and any exchanges of views for the purpose of deliberation.
Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many of the helicopters based in Southern Afghanistan are (a) based in (i) Kandahar Province and (ii) Helmand Province and (b) under the direct command of Brigadier Ed Butler. 
Des Browne [holding answer 17 July 2006]: Brigadier Jerry Thomas took over command of UK troops in Afghanistan from Brigadier Ed Butler on 7 October 2006.
I am withholding details of where our helicopters are based as this information could compromise operational security and put the lives of our personnel at risk. They are based at the most appropriate place to support the UK deployment to Helmand.
UK Forces in Helmand operate under the operational control of the Multi-national Brigade Commander, Brigadier Fraser, who is the Canadian Commander in charge of Regional Command South and under command of Commander International Security Assistance Force. UK forces have tactical command of the helicopter assets and inform Regional Command South's priorities for use of these assets.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) Apache, (b) Chinook, (c) Merlin and (d) Lynx helicopters were in regular service in Afghanistan (i) at the start of the war and (ii) at the latest available date. 
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 19 October 2006]: As announced on 26 January 2006, Official Report, column 1529, 18 helicopters were to be deployed to Afghanistan: eight AH-64 Apache attack helicopters; four Lynx light utility helicopters; and six CH-47 Chinook support helicopters. The additional deployment of two CH-47 Chinook helicopters was announced on 24 July 2006, Official Report, column 76.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many British servicemen have been killed in the (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan conflict; and how many representatives of British servicemen's families bereaved in each conflict (i) he has met and (ii) Ministers have met on his behalf or on behalf of the Government. 
Des Browne [holding answer 9 October 2006]: The number of British service personnel killed in Iraq is 119. The number of British service personnel killed in Afghanistan is 40. The Prime Minister and Defence Ministers have met bereaved relatives but they were private occasions and should remain so.
Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many troops he expects to be based in Northern Ireland on operational duties in 2007. 
Mr. Ingram: Under the updated Security Annex to the Joint Declaration published by the Government in August 2005, the number of armed forces personnel (Navy, Army and RAF) based in Northern Ireland on operational duties under Operation BANNER is planned to reduce from some 8,050 as at 15 September this year to no more than 5,000 by 31 July 2007.
Under the terms of the updated Security Annex, and assuming a continuing enabling environment, there will be a permanent peacetime garrison of no more than 5,000 based in Northern Ireland after 31 July 2007. This will reflect the Governments global defence commitments, although some Northern Ireland or Great Britain based personnel will continue to provide a residual level of Army support to the police (for example, providing specialised ordnance disposal and, if needed, support for public order as described in Patten recommendations 59 and 66). The number of troops needed for these operational tasks will naturally depend on Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) requirements, but I very much welcome the PSNIs increasing ability to carry out their tasks without military support and look forward to this continuing.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with his NATO counterparts on the future of the UK nuclear deterrent. 
Des Browne: It remains our intention that decisions on the future of the UKs nuclear deterrent will be taken later this year. Officials are now working to prepare for these decisions and, as part of this work, we are getting information from a variety of sources. I am withholding the detail of any specific discussions with other Governments as this would, or would be likely to prejudice international relations.
Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the level of national security of UK allies who have chosen not (a) to retain and (b) to obtain a nuclear weapons capability. 
Des Browne [holding answer 19 October 2006]: We do not make assessments of the national security arrangements of our NATO allies.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the new operational bonus will be liable to (a) employee and (b) employer national insurance contributions. 
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 17 October 2006]: The new operational bonus, to be called operational allowance, will not be liable for either employee or employer national insurance contributions.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library a copy of the eligibility criteria for the new operational bonus. 
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 17 October 2006]: Yes. The eligibility criteria will form part of the regulations for the operational allowance; the regulations will be placed in the Library once they have been finalised.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects the first payment of the new operational bonus to be paid to armed forces personnel. 
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 17 October 2006]: The first payment of the new operational bonus, to be called operational allowance, will be made as soon as possible. Priority will be given to those returning (or who have already returned) from operational locations that qualify for the allowance.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many psychological operations units are established in the field army; how many personnel are assigned to these units; and what his plans are to expand or establish additional units for this role. 
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 20 October 2006]: There is one psychological operations unit established in the field army, which is 15 (UK) Psychological Operations Group. It is currently in the process of expansion from a primarily reservist to a regular unit, and is established for 71 personnel, both regular and reserves, drawn from all three services. There are no further plans to expand or establish additional units for this role at the present time.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many employees of the BBC have attended courses or seminars at Ministry of Defence establishments relating to psychological operations or psychological warfare activities since 1997. 
[holding answer 20 October 2006]: The term psychological operations replaced psychological warfare in MOD doctrine prior to 1962, as explained in the preface to then War Office Pamphlet Guide 9729.
Consequently no employees of the BBC have attended courses or seminars at MOD establishments relating to psychological warfare in the period concerned.
Psychological operations training relocated to Chicksands in April 1997. Central records indicate that no employees of the BBC have undergone training there. Guest speakers are invited periodically to present on psychological operations courses. No employees of the BBC have done so at Chicksands and we have no records of any BBC employee ever being invited in such a capacity. We are, however, aware of one BBC employee who attended a presentation by 15 (UK) Psychological Operations Group at HQ Land Command in 1999.
Mr. Vara: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) handguns, rifles and other firearms, (b) ammunition and munitions, (c) radios, (d) vehicles and spare parts, (e) computer equipment, (f) protective equipment, (g) office equipment and (h) mess silver, artworks and furnishings have been reported (i) missing and (ii) stolen from military establishments since 2001. 
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 25 October 2006]: The above information is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will estimate the costs of decommissioning the (a) submarines and (b) missiles and warheads of the current Trident system. 
Des Browne: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 24 July 2006, Official Report, column 778W to my hon. Friend the Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn). The indicative decommissioning liabilities are subject to periodic review.
13. Mr. Gauke: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he last met the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to discuss the taxation of pensions; and if he will make a statement. 
18. Stephen Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he last met the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to discuss the taxation of pensions; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Timms: Treasury Ministers regularly meet DWP Ministers to discuss a range of issues, including the taxation of pensions.
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