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Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of vacancies in his Department in the last 12 months required candidates to have at least a grade C in (a) English and (b) mathematics GCSE. 
Hywel Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what tax-efficient schemes for the purchase of bicycles his Department makes available to its employees; how many and what percentage of his Departments staff purchased bicycles through such schemes in 2005-06; whether the schemes are available through a range of suppliers; and whether arrangements are made to enable staff with disabilities to purchase adapted bicycles from a specialist supplier. 
Derek Twigg: The Ministry of Defence does not make available tax efficient schemes for the purchase of bicycles to its employees but work is ongoing to ensure that it is possible as the payroll systems are updated. MOD encourages the use of more sustainable travel as part of its work on sustainable development. To reflect the different natures of their employment, service personnel and civilian staff are on different terms and conditions of service. For service personnel, public accommodation is typically provided close to the place of work, though there are travel allowances (including one for use of bicycles) for those who live further away. For civilian staff, MOD offers staff interest free loans to purchase bicycles and public transport season tickets for commuting to and from their place of work.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessments have been conducted into the impact on (a) the environment and (b) wildlife of the use of live munitions at UK firing ranges. 
Derek Twigg: Over 100 munitions variants have been assessed in the last two years. Such environmental assessments use an Environmental Impact Screening and Scoping process. This examines the effect munitions have on land, water, air, ecology, and people. The assessment identifies environmental impacts and risks and where mitigation measures may be needed.
[holding answer 26 October 2006]: The following table sets out expenditure on defence helicopters from within the Departments equipment plan from 2001-02 (the earliest year for which expenditure records are available in the form required)
to 2005-06. The equipment plan covers the acquisition and upgrade of equipment for the armed forces. It does not include the running costs and upkeep of platforms.
The table is drawn from the expenditure records of integrated project teams (IPTs) responsible for helicopters and major helicopter sub-systems. It does not capture expenditure relevant to helicopters from all sub-system IPTs, which could only have been provided at disproportionate cost.
|Financial year||£ million|
The reduction has resulted from the end of production programmes for the Merlin Mk3 and Attack Helicopter that are now in service. We plan to invest some £4.5 billion in helicopters over the next 10 years under the Future Rotorcraft Capability programme and have already placed major contracts for the sustainment of the Merlin Mkl fleet and the development and production of Future Lynx.
Mr. Ingram: The MOD is aware of the technical options of using high altitude platforms to enhance certain communications techniques. Balloons are one option for such platforms. Details of MODs current priorities in this area are detailed in the Command, Control, Communication, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (C4ISTAR) section (B3) of the Defence Technology Strategy, a copy of which is in the Library of the House.
Derek Twigg: At Royal Hospital Haslar (RHH) there are a number of MOD Retained Services which provide investigations/treatment for military and civilian patients. These are services which continue to be run by the MOD but which form part of the overall Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust (PHT) delivery.
As at 27 October there were 185 Service personnel awaiting treatment, or investigations to determine the need for treatment, in the following MOD Retained Services at RHH: Radiology, Audiology, Orthotics and the Clinical Measurements Department (which undertakes cardiac, neurophysiological and respiratory tests to support diagnosis or direct treatment). None of these 185 will be treated as in-patients.
In addition, as at 27 October across PHT, 285 Service personnel were awaiting in-patient or day-case treatment (patients who are already in the system awaiting definitive treatment) and 669 personnel are awaiting out-patient treatment (new referrals).
All patients (military and civilian) at the trust are registered on a central waiting list. The hospital appointment location is not finalised until the required appointment date nears, so these figures cannot be broken down by individual hospital site. PHT has a number of hospitals in its remit, including RHH, Queen Alexandra Hospital, Gosport War Memorial Hospital, Chichester Hospital and other smaller facilities.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his most recent estimate is of (a) MRSA and (b) clostridium difficile rates per 1,000 bed days in military field hospitals (i) in total and (ii) broken down by field hospital. 
Derek Twigg: Because of the nature of the wards, patient flow and hygiene standards in our field hospitals, we estimate the prevalence of MRSA and clostridium difficile to be very low tending to negligible. As a result, medical personnel only screen a patient if they have clinical indicators of an infection. There are no known cases where a patient has shown signs of infection or tested positively for either organism in UK military field hospitals in 2006.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make it his policy not to use Hercules aircraft which have not been fitted with (a) the latest generation defensive aids suite and (b) foam in the wing tanks in (i) Iraq and (ii) Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram: The Ministry of Defence policy is to offer our aircraft, crews and passengers a level of protection commensurate with the risk of the operational tasking. For aircraft, this involves a mix of threat mitigation measures, which can include defensive aids. It is, nevertheless, an inescapable fact that operational flying can never be a risk free activity.
With respect to Hercules aircraft, or indeed any other aircraft, I am not prepared to disclose specific details of defensive aid fitment as this might prejudice the operational security of our armed forces.
I announced on 18 April this year that we will be fitting some of our Hercules aircraft with explosion suppressant foam. I can now say that two aircraft have been fitted with explosion suppressant foam, and the programme continues as planned to fit the remaining aircraft.
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what help his Department offers to ex-military
personnel to find suitable housing after retirement from the armed forces. 
Derek Twigg [holding answer 25 October 2006]: The MOD provides help and advice on housing options to Service personnel during their service and on resettlement through the Joint Service Housing Advice Office. This includes the MOD Nominations Scheme which facilitates Service leavers access to a number of housing associations and councils across the UK; and the Single Persons Accommodation Centre for Ex-Services which provides a housing advice and placement service for single Service leavers. Post-discharge, the Veterans Agency provides a signposting service for ex-Service personnel focused in particular on those in receipt of a compensation scheme payment for an injury, illness or death due to service. This service offers advice on a range of issues including housing.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which information technology projects are being undertaken by (a) his Department and (b) its agencies; what the (i) start date, (ii) original planned completion date, (iii) expected completion date, (iv) originally planned costs and (v) estimated costs are of each; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many servicemen have returned from Iraq wounded in each month of the last three years; and how many were wounded by (a) friendly fire, (b) accident and (c) enemy action. 
Des Browne: The Ministry of Defence publishes data on battle and non-battle casualties that have resulted from our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, dating from March 2003 for Iraq. The best centrally available casualty statistics can be found on the Ministry of Defence website at:
Separate records, from notification of casualty reporting (NOTICAS), show that some 40 UK military and civilian personnel have been categorised as very seriously injured (VSI) from all causes, and that some
70 personnel have been categorised as seriously injured (SI) from all causes. These figures include personnel treated for wounds received as a result of hostile action.
The total number of UK military and civilian personnel who were treated at the Shaibah Role 3 field hospital was 6,609. Of these 226 were categorised as wounded in action, including as a result of hostile action, and 6,383 were categorised as suffering disease or non-battle injury.
Since the beginning of the year, we have sought to collect better information. Between 1 January and 30 September 2006, centrally available records show that 47 UK military and civilian personnel were admitted to the Shaibah Role 3 facility in Iraq and categorised as wounded in action, including as a result of hostile action. 10 UK military and civilian personnel were categorised as either very seriously ill or seriously injured from all causes excluding disease over the same period, all of whom were aeromedically evacuated. A monthly breakdown is given in the following table:
|Table 1: Number of Op Telic military and civilian casualties excluding disease, 1 January 2006 to 30 September 2006|
|Friendly Fire||Accident||Enemy Action||Total|
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