There are no plans to change the AFPS arrangements but the GPS is presently under review as part of the wider review of Gurkha Terms and Conditions of Service, which was announced on 11 January 2005, Official Report, column 10WS and is due to be completed later this year. The scope of the review covers current members of the Brigade of Gurkhas and those who retired on or after 1 July 1997. The NRPS and the RGRPS schemes will be reviewed, in the light of the recent changes in other pension schemes.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the current (a) accrual rate and (b) normal retirement age is for each public sector pension scheme for which his Department is responsible; and if he will make a statement. 
Derek Twigg: In the Armed Forces Pension Scheme 75 (AFPS 75) the accrual rate is l/68th of pensionable pay (or 1.47 per cent.) for regular officers, 1/74 (or 1.35 per cent.) for regular other ranks, 1/66.5 (or 1.5 per cent.) for full time reserve service (FTRS) full commitment, 1/80 (or 1.25 per cent.) for FTRS local and home commitment. The new pension scheme, AFPS 05 has one accrual rate of 1/70 (or 1.43 per cent.) for all members. The Non Regular Permanent Staff Pension Scheme (NRPSPS), which covers non regular personnel in support of the TA, has one accrual rate of 1/80 (1.25 per cent.). The Royal Gibraltar Regiment Pension Scheme has accrual rates in line with the AFPS 75 scheme. The level of Gurkha pensions is calculated on the basis of Gurkha pay, which under the terms of the Tri-Partite Agreement is related to the level of pay in the Indian Army.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what savings estimate he has made of the effect on costs of the reforms to public sector pensions agreed with trades unions in 2005 for each year between 2006-07 and 2050-51; and if he will make a statement. 
While the Armed Forces Pension Scheme is not covered by any of the agreements with the Public Sector Trade Unions the reformed pension arrangements introduced in 2005 for the armed forces are expected to produce significant long-term savings.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the current estimate is of the unfunded liability, in present value terms, of each public sector pension scheme for which his Department is responsible; and on what assumptions for (a) discount rate and (b) longevity the estimate is based. 
Derek Twigg: The details of the costs associated with the Armed Forces Pension Schemes were published in the Resource Accounts 2005-06. The unfunded liabilities valued as at 31 March 2006 were as follows:
These liabilities are based on an assumed discount rate of 2.8 per cent. per annum above price inflation and on longevity assumptions currently used by the Government Actuary Department to assess the cost of the scheme. These are standard mortality tables, including an allowance for future mortality improvement, with a specific adjustment for armed forces personnel.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent estimate he has made of the (a) rate and (b) annual cost of employer contributions in each public sector pension scheme for which his Department has responsibility; and if he will make a statement. 
Derek Twigg: There are no separate rates of employer contributions for the armed forces pensions schemes in operation as they are treated as one scheme for the purposes of employer contributions. The rate of employer contributions for the armed forces is currently the equivalent of 22.8 per cent. of the total pay bill.
The Resource Accounts for the armed forces pension schemes for 2005-06 are the latest figures available and show the cost of these contributions in financial year 2005-06 as being assessed at £1,291 million.
David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether his Department has employed investigative agencies in relation to personnel issues in the past 12 months; and if he will make a statement. 
Anne Snelgrove: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the health risk to residents of Swindon of Porton Downs release of bacteria in the town in 1966; whether any other releases occurred between 1976 and 2006; and if he will make a statement. 
Derek Twigg: During the Cold War era there was a very real threat of biological weapons being used against the UK. Therefore, the MOD commissioned a series of open-air defence studies to evaluate the vulnerability of the UK.
The open air defence studies were undertaken in two phases. The first phase involved the open air release of harmless stimulant bacteria to assess dissemination characteristics. The second involved suspension of harmless simulants on individual micro-threads to determine their ability to survive in different climatic conditions.
Reports detailing these MOD Open Air Defence trials were released into the public domain in the mid 1990s. Subsequently, following public concern, the MOD commissioned an independent expert to review the studies. This review concluded that
...the releases of bacteria during the trials were very unlikely to have had health consequences for the overwhelming majority of individuals who were exposed....
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many premature voluntary release exits there were from the regular (a) infantry, (b) Royal Artillery, (c) Royal Engineers, (d) Royal Corps of Signals, (e) Royal Armoured Corps, (d) Household Cavalry and (e) Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers in each year between 1996 and 2001. 
|Date of voluntary outflow
1. The term premature voluntary release has been changed to voluntary outflow (VO), although the methodology remains the same.
2. VO is defined as all applications and exits from trained personnel which are generated by the individual before their time expiry.
3. The figures are based on all voluntary outflow from the trained strength of the UK regular army.
4. Figures exclude officers in the general staff (i.e. those with a rank of Colonel and above).
5. 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 the nearest multiple of 20 to prevent systematic bias.
Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many President of the Regimental Institute shops operate at military bases in the UK; and how many are run by commercial businesses. 
(2) what guidance his Department issues to commanding officers on (a) the appointment of external commercial businesses to run President of the Regimental Institute shops, (b) permissible profit margins of such shops, (c) the overhead costs which such businesses should pay and (d) the proportion of the profits of such businesses which should be paid to regimental or other funds for the welfare of service men and women. 
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what documents containing radio frequency identification chips are (a) currently in use and (b) planned to be introduced within (i) his Department and (ii) the armed forces; and if he will make a statement; 
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Nimrod line personnel at RAF Kinloss (a) requested premature voluntary redundancy (PVR) and (b) took redundancy during (i) 2002, (ii) 2003, (iii) 2004 and (iv) 2005; and how many have (A) requested PVR and (B) taken redundancy in 2006. 
Derek Twigg [holding answer 30 October 2006]: The RAF does not retain information on those applicants who requested redundancy but were unsuccessful, and so it is not possible to provide the number of Nimrod line personnel at RAF Kinloss that requested redundancy.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many personnel in (a) the Army, (b) the Royal Navy and (c) the Royal Air Force have initiated redress procedures since 2003; and in how many cases in (i) the Army, (ii) the Royal Navy and (iii) the Royal Air Force the complaint was upheld. 
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 31 October 2006]: While the Army maintains a central record of all redress cases, including those dealt with at the first (commanding officer) level of the process, the Navy and Air Force record only those cases which are submitted to the second (2 Star) and third (Service Board) levels. On this basis, our current records show that the numbers of personnel who have submitted a redress in each of the Services since 2003 are:
|(1) Records are not kept centrally of complaints under consideration at the first level and numbers could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether (a) Territorial Army soldiers and (b) other members of the volunteer reserve are legally defined as (i) volunteers and (ii) part-time employees. 
Derek Twigg: Under Section 2(3) of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 the Territorial Army is part of the volunteer reserve forces. Members of those forces are not defined as being either volunteers or part-time employees. Legally they are part of the armed forces of the Crown; they are not employees as defined in the Employment Rights Act 1996, The Reserve Forces Act provides a number of different forms of service which members of the reserve forces may undertake including: training and other duties under sections 22 and 27; Additional Duties Commitments; Full-Time Reserve Service; Non Regular Permanent Staff service; permanent (mobilised) service. Service under sections 22 and 27 is excluded from the provisions of the Part-Time Workers (prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000.