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23 Nov 2006 : Column 171W—continued

Prior to the production of departmental resource accounts, information on salary and pension costs was provided in the appropriation accounts, but the figures relating to civilian pensions were included as part of overall personnel costs and were not separately
23 Nov 2006 : Column 172W
identifiable. Information for the financial years 1980-81 to 1999-2000 could, therefore, be provided only at disproportionate cost.

The Department is currently in the process of determining resource allocation priorities and setting budgets for the next financial year; this process will conclude in the first quarter of 2007. In addition, a formal Defence budget for financial years 2008-09 to 2010-11 will not be set until the conclusion of the Comprehensive Spending Review in summer 2007. It is, therefore, not possible at this stage to provide accurate estimates for the potential costs over the next five years of the Department's contribution to the military and civilian pension liability as a proportion of overall defence spending.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence why officers who complete 16 years service are entitled to an immediately payable pension; and what average amount such a person is paid. [101382]

Derek Twigg: Under the rules of the Armed Forces Pension Scheme 75 (AFPS 75) officers who complete 16 years reckonable service from age 21 receive an immediate pension (IP) based on the representative rate of pay for their rank.

The IP point was set at 16 years to meet the needs of the armed forces in terms of its manpower profile. Service beyond this point will normally be subject to the individual's potential. Typically, officers leaving at the IP will be in the rank of Lieutenant Commander, Major or Squadron Leader, and will be awarded a pension of £12,942 per annum and a pension lump sum of £38,826.

Under AFPS 75, members of the armed forces with the same rank and same number of years’ service are normally awarded the same pension, regardless of their actual pay either at retirement or discharge, or earlier in their career. This is known as the representative pay rate. Representative pay is worked out using specially selected rates of military salary.

The Armed Forces Pension Scheme 2005, which was introduced in April 2005 under the provision of the Armed Forces (Pensions and Compensation) Act 2004, does not feature an IP. Instead, officers who serve for at least 18 years and are aged at least 40 (the Early Departure Payment Point) will receive payments under the Early Departure Payments Scheme Order 2005. The aim of these payments is to encourage personnel to serve until the Early Departure Payment Point and to compensate them for the fact that the armed forces cannot offer the majority a career until age 55.

Retirement Age

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence why the retirement age for the armed forces pension scheme is set at 55 years; and if he will make a statement. [101381]

Derek Twigg: The retirement age of 55 for the Armed Forces Pension Scheme 75 (AFPS 75) was set to reflect the career structure of the armed forces and standards of fitness and health we required of Service personnel. The majority of Service personnel who are members of AFPS 75 serve leave before the immediate
23 Nov 2006 : Column 173W
pension point (16 years from age 21 for officers and 22 years from age 18 for other ranks) and their pensions are preserved until age 60 for service before 6 April 2006 and until age 65 for service after that date: very few members of the armed forces continue in service until age 55.

The question of normal retirement age was considered during the review which led to the introduction of the Armed Forces Pension Scheme 2005 (AFPS 05) in April 2005 and it was decided to keep it at age 55 for the reasons set out above. The preserved pension age for AFPS 05 members is 65. AFPS 05 does not feature an immediate pension point because provisions of the Finance Act 2004 prevent pensions in the new scheme being paid before age 50 except in the case of ill-health retirement. Instead, payments will be made under the Early Departure Payment Order 2005 which are aimed at drawing Service personnel through to at least age 40 with 18 years service, and then compensating them for the fact that the armed forces cannot offer the majority a career until age 55.


Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which submarines are assigned to EUFOR from EU member states; and for what purpose reference to such units is included in the Forces Agreement for stationing EU peacekeepers in Gabon under Article 4.7. [101126]

Mr. Ingram: There are two EUFOR military operations under way: EUFOR-Althea in Bosnia and Herzegovina and EUFOR Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). There are no submarines assigned to either operation.

The Agreement between the European Union and the Gabonese Republic was concluded on 16 June 2006 to determine the status of elements of EUFOR DRC stationed in Gabon. The Agreement addresses the full range of issues concerning the status of EU forces that might potentially arise.

Troop Transportation

Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which types of aircraft are used to transport UK forces to and from deployments abroad; and how many personnel can be seated on each aircraft with baggage and personal kit. [100752]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 20 November 2006]: The aircraft used to transport United Kingdom forces to and from deployments abroad are as follows with their troop carrying capacities:

RAF fleet

MOD chartered aircraft

The exact capacity will depend on the amount of personal kit carried.

23 Nov 2006 : Column 174W

Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) Ministry of Defence and (b) military personnel are involved in the transport security police and movements staff. [100753]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 20 November 2006]: This information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) RAF personnel and (b) transport security police and movements staff are stationed at Akrotiri in Cyprus. [100754]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 20 November 2006]: There are approximately 540 RAF personnel stationed at Akrotiri. There are approximately 80 staff stationed at Akrotiri to support movements activity, comprising RAF, Army and locally employed civilian personnel.

Veterans' Badge

Mrs. James: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many ex-service men and women in Swansea, East are eligible for the veterans’ badge; and if he will make a statement. [102034]

Derek Twigg: We do not have the information required to establish how many ex-service men and women in Swansea, East might fulfil the eligibility criteria for the HM Armed Forces Veterans’ Badge.

The veterans’ badge scheme was launched in May 2004 and between April 2005 and August 2006, 685 residents from Swansea, which includes Swansea, East, have applied for and received the badge.

Constitutional Affairs

Coroners' Courts

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what representations she has received from the Coroners’ Society on her proposed reforms of coroners’ courts. [101871]

Ms Harman: The Coroners’ Society provided an initial response when the draft Coroners Bill was published on 12 June 2006. A further response was received on 15 August. Approximately 90 coroners (including deputy and assistant deputy coroners) attended the four regional conferences organised by my Department in June and July, where those involved in delivering or funding the service were able to express their views on the Government’s proposals. Separately, 15 coroners provided written comments as part of the public consultation on the draft Bill. We will continue to work with and consult coroners, and other stakeholders, to refine the detail of the legislation.

Court Buildings

Mr. Mullin: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what plans she has for the building of a new courts building in Sunderland; and if she will make a statement. [101740]

23 Nov 2006 : Column 175W

Ms Harman: My Department is currently working with HM Treasury, as part of its bid for the Comprehensive Spending Review, to establish the court building programme for the next spending round. I will shortly be in a position to announce the priority court building projects for the next spending round.

Court Closures

Mike Penning: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will list the (a) magistrates courts and (b) county courts which closed in each year since May 1997. [100492]

Ms Harman: The following tables detail (a) the magistrates court closures that the Department has been notified of since May 1997 and (b) the county court closures since May 1997.

Up until 1 April 2005 magistrates courts were the responsibility of locally managed magistrates courts committees who were statutorily independent. They were not required by statute to inform the Department of any magistrates courts closures that were not subject to an appeal under section 56 (3) of the Justices of the Peace Act 1997 (now repealed).

Against this picture, since May 1997 a number of new courthouses have been built, which has improved the standard of facilities provided to court users.

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23 Nov 2006 : Column 177W
(a) Magistrates courts
Courthouse closed Date of closure



31 May 1997


31 May 1997


5 June 1997

South Shields (Kepple Street)

5 June 1997

Chippenham (Market Place)

30 June 1997

Ashton Under Lyne (Manchester Road)

31 August 1997


31 August 1997


31 August 1997


9 October 1997


31 December 1997


31 December 1997

Clacton on Sea

31 December 1997


31 December 1997


31 December 1997


31 December 1997


31 December 1997



6 February 1998

Marlborough Street

31 March 1998

Bishop’s Stortford

31 March 1998


31 March 1998


31 March 1998

Market Rasen

31 March 1998


31 March 1998


31 March 1998


31 March 1998


31 July1998


1 August 1998

Barnard Castle

31 December 1998


31 December 1998


31 December 1998

West Malling

31 December 1998


31 December 1998


31 December 1998


31 December 1998


31 December 1998


31 December 1998


31 December 1998


31 December 1998


31 December 1998


31 December 1998

Saffron Walden

31 December 1998



31 March 1999


31 March 1999

Henley on Thames

31 March 1999


31 March 1999


31 March 1999


31 March 1999

Stow on the Wold

30 June 1999



1 January 2000


1 January 2000


1 January 2000

Leighton Buzzard

1 January 2000


31 March 2000


1 April 2000


30 April 2000


31 May 2000


31 May 2000


31 May 2000


9 June 2000

Wootton Bassett

2 October 2000


31 December 2000



1 January 2001


1 January 2001


1 January 2001


1 January 2001


31 March 2001


31 March 2001


31 March 2001


31 March 2001

Warrington Patten Hall

1 April 2001

Macclesfield Park Green

1 April 2001


30 April 2001


30 April 2001


30 April 2001

South Molton

30 April 2001


30 April 2001


30 April 2001


4 May 2001


4 May 2001


30 June 2001

Southampton (Commercial Road)

31 August 2001


1 September 2001


30 September 2001


9 November 2001


9 November 2001


9 November 2001

Hull (Guildhall)

9 November 2001

Hull (Lowgate)

9 November 2001


9 November 2001


9 November 2001


1 December 2001



31 January 2002


31 January 2002


1 May 2002

Tunbridge Wells

2 June 2002


1 July 2002


1 July 2002


30 November 2002



31 January 2003


21 March 2003


21 March 2003

Chester Le Street

21 March 2003


21 May 2003


9 June 2003


30 June 2003


30 June 2003


30 September 2003


3 October 2003

Long Sutton

31 October 2003


31 December 2003


31 December 2003



31 March 2004


23 June 2004



7 March 2006

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