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6 Nov 2006 : Column 795W—continued

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps have been taken to ensure that women are fully included in Provincial Reconstruction Team development programmes in Afghanistan; and
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what assessment has been made of the potential effect of attempts by the Afghan Government to accommodate Islamist factions on women’s rights in Afghanistan. [99416]

Dr. Howells: I have been asked to reply.

Women’s rights are fully considered in the UK Provincial Reconstruction Team’s efforts to improve the lives of the people of Helmand. Gender awareness is an integral part of our effort to assist the national and provincial Afghan Government in laying the platform for lasting reconstruction and development across the province.

The Afghan Government is engaging with a wide range of groups to ensure proper engagement in the democratic process, but remains fully aware of its obligations under the Constitution, which provides for women’s equality and their right to participate in the political process, and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.

We continue to maintain a regular dialogue with the Afghan Government’s Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, to ensure that women’s rights are not sidelined during the process of reconciliation and integration.


Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the annual lease cost was of the four C-17 aircraft in each year until 2006; and how much his Department has paid for the purchase of the fifth C-17. [90933]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 13 September 2006]: I am withholding the information requested as its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice commercial interests.

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Hercules aircraft have been fitted with flame retardant materials since May. [92511]

Mr. Ingram: The programme to fit explosive suppressant foam to Hercules aircraft continues as planned, and two aircraft have been fitted so far.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the estimated cost is per annum per aircraft for the Nimrod MR4 for the first five years after its introduction into service. [92623]

Mr. Ingram: The Nimrod MRA4 support solution is currently being developed and costed.

Armed Forces Pension Scheme

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the cost of extending pension provision to widows and widowers of all post-retirement marriages in the armed forces pension scheme; and how this estimate was calculated. [93044]

Derek Twigg: The 1975 Social Security Act required all occupational pension schemes to introduce pensions for widows who married their husbands after they retired from service. The change was introduced in
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April 1978 for future service only. The change for widowers was not introduced until April 1989. Widows of men who joined the armed forces after April 1978 and widowers of women who joined after 1989 are not affected by this issue and are eligible for pension benefits in respect of their entire service.

The Government Actuary confirmed a figure of £50 million to extend benefits to all post-retirement widows and widowers in the armed forces pension scheme 1975 (AFPS 75) as part of the review which led to the introduction of the Armed Forces (Pensions and Compensation) Act 2004. This figure should not be viewed in isolation: if the concession were to be made for affected members of AFPS 75, there would be pressure to extend it across other public sector pension schemes at an estimated cost of between £300 million and £500 million.

The cost for AFPS 75 represented the total capitalised value of future widows' and widowers' benefits which would be payable if marriages after leaving service were treated on the same basis as if the marriage had taken place in service. The value has been assessed using data relating to membership of pensioners and deferred pensioners of AFPS 75 and marriage patterns adopted for costing the scheme as a whole.

Armoured Vehicles

Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what factors were taken into account in selecting the Cougar armoured vehicle; and what other products were considered. [92320]

Des Browne: To meet the requirement for a medium protected patrol vehicle, a number of factors were taken into consideration. These included mine protection, vehicle capacity and payload, and the ability to be modified to meet the demanding UK protection requirements in the fastest possible time.

A wide range of vehicles were briefly considered but discounted because we judged that they could not be modified to meet the UK requirement in the necessary timescale. Three options were considered in detail: the ADI Bushmaster, the BAES OMC RG-31 and the Cougar, which is manufactured by Force Protection Inc. The Cougar was selected and will be known as MASTIFF when in service with the United Kingdom armed forces.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 9 October 2006, Official Report, column 176W, on armoured vehicles, what his most recent assessment is of the annual running costs of the Warrior in wartime usage; and if he will make a statement. [94896]

Mr. Ingram: Operating costs for armoured vehicle fleets are calculated on peacetime usage, and based on
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an average cost per kilometre. The full capitation cost for the Warrior Armoured Fighting Vehicle (all variants) for financial year 2006-07 is calculated as £154.04 per kilometre. Specific mileage data on operations is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) whether any RG-31 armoured vehicles are (a) owned and (b) leased by his Department; [97981]

(2) what the maintenance problems were which led to the RG-31 being withdrawn from service following deployments in Bosnia. [97982]

Mr. Ingram: The RG-31 Mamba was procured in the mid-late 1990s to meet Urgent Operational Requirements for specialist vehicles for use by the Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams in the Balkans. It was replaced in service by the Mine Protected Vehicle in 2001-02. The RG31 Mamba suffered from safety and reliability problems caused by the additional weight of the appliqué armour affecting the vehicle’s steering and braking systems. These problems were exacerbated by a lack of commonality between the vehicles, which were bought in three separate batches, and poor availability of spare parts.

The MOD does not own or lease any RG-31 armoured vehicles and currently has no plans to do so.

Army Personnel

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the present strength of the Army is (a) in total and (b) in terms of (i) officers and (ii) other ranks. [93924]

Derek Twigg: I refer the hon. Member to Tri-Service Publication (TSP) 1—Strength, Intake and Outflow of UK Regular Forces. TSP 1 is published monthly. The most recent publication shows figures at 1 September 2006.

Copies of TSP 1 are available in the Library of the House and at

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) established and (b) actual strength is of (i) the Regular Army and (ii) the Territorial Army, broken down by cap badge. [91487]

Derek Twigg: The following table provides a breakdown, by cap badge, of the Regular Army strength against liability as at 1 August 2006. A detailed breakdown of Territorial Army posts by cap badge within unit establishments is not currently available; however strengths are given as follows against the overall Territorial Army liability of 42,000.

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6 Nov 2006 : Column 800W
Regular Army Territorial Army
Arm/Service Liability( 3) Strength( 1) Liability Strength( 2)










Household Cavalry/Royal Armoured Corps




Royal Regiment of Artillery




Corps of Royal Engineers




Royal Corps of Signals








Army Air Corps




Royal Army Chaplains Department




Royal Logistics Corps




Royal Army Medical Corps




Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers




Adjutant General’s Corps




Royal Army Veterinary Corps




Small Arms School Corps




Royal Army Dental Corps




Intelligence Corps




Army Physical Training Corps




General List




Queen Alexandra’s Royal Auxiliary Nursing Corps




The Corps of Army Music




Long Service List




Officer Training Corps




(1 )Figures include trained Officers and Soldiers; full-time Reserve Service (full, limited and home Commitment) but exclude home service battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment, mobilised reserves, Territorial Army and other reserves. (2) TA Personnel include Group A & B, Mobilised TA and Officer Training Corps (OTC), and exclude non regular permanent staff and full-time Reserve Service. (3) Liability is based on the Regular Army Liability 2006. (4 )Represents zero of rounded to zero. Notes: 1. The Adjutant General’s Corps consists of: Adjutant General’s Corps (Provost), Adjutant General’s Corps (Staff & Personnel Support), Adjutant General’s Corps (Education & Training Services) and Adjutant General’s Corps (Army Legal Services). 2. All data have been rounded to the nearest 10. Due to the rounding methods used totals may not always equal the sum of the parts. Numbers ending in “5” have been rounded to nearest multiple of 20 to prevent systematic bias.


Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many British army personnel have been trained at the BATSUB base in Belize in each of the past 20 years. [99890]

Mr. Ingram: Records in respect of British Army personnel trained at the British Army Training Support Unit Belize do not go back 20 years however, I am able to give the detail from 1997 onwards:

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