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7 Nov 2006 : Column 1491W—continued

Road Accident (Canada)

Mrs. Humble: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what factors prevent him from naming the soldier killed in a road accident in Bassano, Canada on 15 September; what regiment was involved in the crash; how many soldiers were injured in the crash; what arrangements were made for the body of the deceased to be returned to the UK; what authorities were involved in investigating the accident; what reports have been completed to date; and when and where he expects an inquest to be held. [97216]

Derek Twigg: The soldier who died in the road traffic accident in Canada on 15 September was Craftsman Murray of 6 Battalion the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. The MOD does not routinely name soldiers killed in non-operational incidents unless asked to do so and with the consent of the family.

The personnel involved in the accident were on adventurous training and came from a number of units and regiments. Sixteen personnel received minor injuries as a result of the accident.

The army arranged for repatriation. Cfn Murray's body was flown from Calgary, Canada on Wednesday 20 September and arrived at London Heathrow on 21 September. His body was then transported to Sherbourne, Dorset.

It is the responsibility of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to investigate the accident and their enquiries are ongoing. The Royal Military Police Special Investigation Branch provided assistance and have also issued a report to Her Majesty's Coroner. The British Army Training Unit Suffield have undertaken a learning account, this reports within 48 hours to make recommendations to prevent an immediate recurrence of the incident and a Land Accident Investigation Team has also completed a report into the accident.


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The inquest is the responsibility of Her Majesty's Coroner for West Dorset and a date cannot be set until the outcome of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigation is known.

Royal Irish Regiment

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the total cost was of the Royal Irish Regiment Home Service Battalions in each of the last 10 years. [99590]

Mr. Ingram: Information on the total cost of the Home Service Battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment (R IRISH) from the General Officer Commanding Northern Ireland’s Top Level Budget is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

However, I can confirm that the cost of military pay, ERNIC and superannuation for the three Home Service Battalions of the R IRISH over the last five financial years (the only years for which records are available) are as follows.

£

2002-03

65,772,000

2003-04

65,294,000

2004-05

66,472,000

2005-06

64,972,000

2006-07 (year to date)

40,133,000


Royal Navy

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what Royal Navy vessels are available for deployment as part of a potential sanctions regime against North Korea authorised by the United Nations. [98171]

Des Browne [holding answer 1 November 2006]: The potential sanctions regime authorised by the United Nations would be global in scope. Royal Naval vessels would be ready to respond to a requirement to enforce sanctions as appropriate and consistent with other operational requirements.

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had on whether further (a) Type 45 destroyers and (b) Astute class submarines are required over and above those already agreed upon. [94912]

Mr. Ingram: Six Type 45 Destroyers and three Astute class submarines are currently on order; further orders will depend on the affordability of industry's proposals, value for money, and the wider implementation of the maritime industrial strategy by industry at the MOD.

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) Type 45 destroyers and (b) Astute class submarines will be built; and what the anticipated in-service dates for each will be. [98172]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 1 November 2006]: In July 2004, my right hon. Friend the then Secretary of
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State announced plans for a class of eight Type 45 destroyers, of which six are now on contract. A decision has not yet been made on ordering the seventh and eighth ships but all factors will be taken into account, including the affordability of industry's proposals, value for money, and the wider implementation of the Maritime Industrial Strategy by industry and MOD.

The planned In Service Date (ISD) for the First of Class, Daring, is 2009. The remaining five ships on contract are planned to enter service at intervals over a four-year period following the First of Class ISD.

Three Astute class submarines are on order with BAE Systems, and further boat orders are currently being considered, subject to affordability. We are working with industry as part of the Defence Industrial Strategy to achieve an affordable and sustainable submarine programme.

The planned In Service Date for the First of Class, Astute, is 2009. The second of class, Ambush, will follow in 2010, and the third of class, Artful, in 2012.

Royal Ordnance (Chorley)

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reasons he refused contract support for Royal Ordnance Chorley when it was requested by BAE Systems. [36787]

Mr. Ingram: Officials are unable to determine which contract my hon. Friend is referring to.

Scramjets

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department has (a) spent and (b) allocated on identifying the merits of scramjet technologies for military use. [97165]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 30 October 2006]: The Ministry of Defence’s main scramjet research programme was Hyshot III which received approximately £1.5 million. Two other programmes, each funded to the order of £100,000 have received MOD funding. The first was concerned with analysing scramjets from a systems perspective as part of the High-Speed Weapons programme and the second is a Joint Grants scheme funded research programme at Oxford university into scramjet intakes.

Hyshot III was the culmination of the UK Scramjet experiment programme. There are no funds allocated for the further development of scramjet technologies. This was addressed in the Defence Technology Strategy (DTS) (Section B7.20), a copy of which is in the Library of the House.

The DTS also outlines (Section B7.21) a new collaborative programme in the field of hypersonics, the sustained hypersonics experiment (SHyFE). This involves research into novel aerosystem propulsion and has been allocated approximately £3 million worth of funds. The SHyFE concept incorporates a low risk ramjet design. However, it does not include any further scramjet research.


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Service Accommodation

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the impact of MODern Housing Solutions on maintenance of service families’ accommodation. [71529]

Mr. Watson: The Housing Prime Contract (HPC) was placed by Defence Estates with MODern Housing Solutions on 14 November 2005. The aim of the HPC was to improve the level of service delivered by the previous regime, which was delivered through 22 different contracts.

The HPC covers the full property maintenance service for over 44,000 properties that comprise the service families accommodation across England and Wales.

Following a mobilisation period of seven weeks, a phased transition of responsibility for service delivery to MODern Housing Solutions was completed to programme by 27 March 2006, the full in-Service date.

During this transition period several issues emerged:

We acknowledged the poor quality of the start of service delivery by MODern Housing Solutions and have agreed a recovery plan with them. Directors of Defence Estates are continuously monitoring the plan, to ensure that service delivery meets the standard we require. Although service performance has been poor, it is not universally so across England and Wales. All involved are working extremely hard to address these initial problems and indeed, improvements are already visible in emergency, urgent and routine responses, and the helpdesk has shown significant improvements in call handling capacity. I am confident that we will see real improvement very soon in the overall quality of service delivery as a result of the corrective action taken.

Service Personnel

Derek Conway: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he plans to provide free Christmas mail for service personnel serving abroad; and if he will make a statement. [99383]

Mr. Gale: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make available free of charge Christmas parcel post for the families of all Army, Royal Naval and Royal Air Force personnel serving in British Forces Post Office address areas representing active service overseas in war and adjacent zones. [100108]

Mr. Ingram: It was agreed last year that an enduring arrangement should be introduced to provide free postal packets in the month before Christmas. This was to be linked to the Operational Welfare Package to ensure the need was targeted to those personnel serving on operations overseas.

The service provides free parcels up to 2kg to be sent from the UK and British Forces Post Office (BFPO)
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addresses overseas by relatives and friends to named Service personnel and entitled civil servants. This year, the service is available from 10 November until 8 December.

Details as to how this service can be accessed have been communicated through Service channels to Service personnel, through BFPOs worldwide and to Royal Mail counter staff in UK.

Derek Conway: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the provision of free mail for service personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. [99384]

Mr. Ingram: The Department has considered extending the Christmas free packet scheme to become a permanent feature to all operational theatres where UK service personnel are deployed. It was calculated, however, that this would cost up to £9 million per annum, dependent on uptake, and that in order to fund it, savings would have to be made in more essential elements of the operational welfare package—such as free phone calls and internet access.

The option of a free mail service was again considered during the review of the operational welfare package that took place in October. However, the view of personnel in theatre was that priority should be afforded to an enhancement to the welfare telephone allowance and increased internet connectivity. The Secretary of State subsequently announced enhancements to these services on 10 October. The telephone allowance was increased from 20 minutes to 30 minutes per week on 23 October and work to improve internet connectivity is ongoing. Nonetheless, the package remains under continuous review.

Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what financial recognition military service personnel serving in Iraq receive. [92314]

Mr. Ingram: Service personnel receive basic pay in accordance with their rank, length of service and, in the case of other ranks, trade, irrespective of where they are serving. Basic pay includes an additional element, the “X Factor”, to reflect the difference between conditions of service experienced by members of the UK Armed Forces over a full career and conditions in UK civilian life. This includes the need to serve on occasions in difficult and dangerous circumstances.

Basic pay is part of a wider remuneration package payable to Service personnel which includes specialist pay e.g. flying pay or parachute pay, to recruit and retain personnel in specific branches or arms within the Services. Various allowances are also payable, such as a separation allowance, to compensate personnel for time away from their permanent base and separation from their families.

Following the announcement by the Secretary of State for Defence, on 10 October 2006, Service personnel in specified operational locations, of which Iraq is one, will receive a tax free bonus, to be called "operational allowance", of around £2,240 for a six month tour. The allowance will be paid on a proportional basis for periods of duty which are shorter or longer than six months. Furthermore, as an
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adjustment to pay arrangements in the current financial year, the allowance is payable to all personnel who have served in Iraq since 1 April 2006.

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many British service personnel are (a) deployed and (b) stationed in (i) Germany, (ii) Northern Ireland, (iii) Bosnia-Herzegovina, (iv) Croatia, (v) Kosovo, (vi) Albania, (vii) the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, (viii) Sierra Leone, (ix) the Gulf Region, (x) Turkey, (xi) Gibraltar, (xii) Belize, (xiii) Kenya, (xiv) Canada, (xv) the Falkland Islands, (xvi) Cyprus, (xvii) Brunei and (xviii) Afghanistan. [45175]

Mr. Ingram: Data collected from manual records(1) show that on 3 October 2006 there were the following numbers of service personnel deployed on operations abroad in the named countries:

Country Service personnel

Germany

Northern Ireland(1)

7,040

Bosnia-Herzegovina

630

Croatia

Kosovo

170

Albania

FYR Macedonia

Sierra-Leone

Gulf Region(2)

8,610

Turkey

Gibraltar

550

Belize

Kenya

Canada

Falkland Islands(3)

1,280

Cyprus

2,900

Brunei

Afghanistan

7,000

(1) This figure has been provided by HQ Northern Ireland and is at 30 September 2006.
(2) Includes personnel deployed in Bahrain, Iraq, Qatar and Oman, and personnel deployed on ships in the Gulf Region.
(3) Includes personnel deployed on Ascension Island.
Notes:
1.When rounding to the nearest 10, numbers ending in five have been rounded to the nearest 20 to prevent systematic bias.
2. Denotes zero or rounded to zero
Source:
PJHQ

The following numbers of service personnel were permanently posted overseas in the named countries at 1 April 2006:


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