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28 Nov 2006 : Column 619W—continued


Mr. Fraser: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment her Department has made of skills levels in the tourism industry; what steps the Government are taking to ensure levels are adequate; and if she will make a statement. [103056]

Mr. Woodward: DCMS works closely with People 1st (the Sector Skills Council for the hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism industries) and DfES on improving the skills levels of people working in the tourism industry.

People lst research has identified, among other problems, that there are skills gaps in the current workforce, particularly for managers and in customer service, and a lack of technically skilled chefs. The industry also has the highest rate of staff turnover in the UK economy.

I recently chaired the third Skills Summit with People lst and industry representatives to help develop a national skills strategy, which will focus on the industry's skills and retention problems. I also recently launched the UK Skills Passport which will benefit
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both employers and employees in the tourism industry. The Passport will provide an entire system of career development and training, and will signpost to industry qualifications and funding that can meet their needs.

We are also ensuring that the industry takes full advantage of wider initiatives such as National Skills Academies—the industry having recently successful progressed to the business planning stage in its bid for a National Hospitality Skills Academy—and Train to Gain.

DCMS has also recently completed a public consultation on a tourism strategy for the London 2012 Olympic games and Paralympic games to ensure that the tourism industry maximises the benefits of hosting the games. Skills has been a vital component of this consultation and will be included in the emerging strategy.



Mr. Mullin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether NATO has completed its inquiry into the accidental bombing of Afghan civilians on 24 October; and if he will make a statement. [101799]

Mr. Ingram: The joint Afghan MOD/ISAF investigation is complete and a report has been produced. This is now being considered by the Afghan Government and the NATO chain of command. No details will be revealed until this process has been completed.

Air Training Corps

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether any additional funding is available for Air Training Corps units seeking to improve existing premises or relocate to new premises. [102680]

Derek Twigg: All funding requirements for Air Training Corps units are considered and prioritised on an annual basis. When necessary, priorities are re-assessed and additional funds may be allocated in-year. Any additional funding requirements will be considered on a case by case basis in light of current priorities.

Army (Northern Ireland)

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the number of serving members of the Army who will be based in Northern Ireland by the end of 2007. [102479]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 27 November 2006]: Under the updated Security Annex to the Joint Declaration published by the Government in August 2005, and assuming a continuing enabling environment, the number of armed forces personnel (Navy, Army and RAF) based in Northern Ireland on operational duties under Operation Banner is planned to reduce to no more than 5,000 by 31 July 2007.

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After 31 July 2007, under the terms of the updated Security Annex, there will be a permanent peacetime garrison of no more than 5,000 armed forces personnel based in Northern Ireland. This will reflect the Government’s global defence commitments, although some Northern Ireland or Great Britain based personnel will continue to provide a residual level of Army support to the police, e.g. providing specialised ordnance disposal and, if needed, support for public order as described in Patten recommendations 59 and 66.

The number of troops needed for these residual tasks will naturally depend on Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) requirements but I very much welcome the PSNI’s increasing ability to carry out their tasks without military support and look forward to this continuing.

British Forces Post Office

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) packages under 2kg, (b) packages over 2kg and (c) letters were sent to (i) Iraq, (ii) Afghanistan, (iii) Sierra Leone and (iv) the Balkans in each month during 2005-06 by the British Forces Post Office; and what the total postal charges were in each category of post type. [103390]

Derek Twigg [holding answer 27 November 2006]: The MOD does not record each individual piece of mail and the information requested is therefore not available.

Bulford Courts Martial

Robert Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost was of the new Military Courts Martial Centre at Bulford. [102502]

Derek Twigg: The cost of the new Courts Martial Centre at Bulford, excluding internal MOD staff costs, was £4.8 million, including VAT.

Cadet Units

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence at which schools the cadet units announced on 27 June will be based. [101079]

Derek Twigg: Discussions with the potential pilot schools, include schools in both Scotland and Wales, are ongoing. The establishment of a combined cadet force contingent requires significant commitment from the head teacher who needs to consult widely with staff, governors, local authorities and pupils. Only when these consultations are complete will we release the names of schools taking part in the pilot.

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the number of schools that are willing to support and take part in state school cadet schemes. [101081]

Derek Twigg: To date the Department is aware of 22 state schools that have expressed an interest in forming combined cadet force contingents. This is in addition to
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the volunteers supporting the 52 state schools CCF already established and the 202 single-service cadet units that are based on school premises.

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made in implementing plans announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in February to create branches of the Combined Cadet Force in state schools. [101082]

Derek Twigg: Progress continues to be made along the lines outlined to the House on 28 June 2006, Official Report, column 401W. The announcement by the Chancellor on 27 June that £800,000 of start-up funds would be made available to support the pilot expansion has allowed us to develop the plans for implementation of the six new pilot contingents in schools. Discussions with the potential pilot schools, including schools in both Scotland and Wales, are ongoing. We continue to plan the enrolling of the first cadets to the new contingents, at the start of the academic year 2007-08.

Civilian Operational Allowance

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library details of the special civilian operational allowance referred to in the answer of 7 November 2006, Official Report, column 1483W, on the operational bonus. [100670]

Derek Twigg: The rates of the operational deployment allowance that are currently payable are:

Operational area Operational deployment allowance per month (£)







I have placed a copy of the most recent Defence Instruction which details the current rates of this allowance in the Library of the House.

Proposals have been made to introduce an operational long hours working allowance to replace the separate entitlements of deployed civil servants to claim payment for overtime, travelling time, shift, on-call and night duty allowances. The aim is to subsume these allowances with a simple, flat rate taxable allowance. Discussions are ongoing with the trades unions.


Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he will reply to the letter of 3 October 2006 from the hon. Member for West Worcestershire on the protection given to wounded British soldiers being treated at NHS hospitals (ref: MC05549/2006). [103688]

Derek Twigg [holding answer 27 November 2006]: I replied to the hon. Member on 24 November.

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Departmental Appointments

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) civil servants and (b) independent consultants have been employed by his Department in each year since 1997. [101075]

Derek Twigg: Information on the number of civil servants employed by the Ministry of Defence is published annually in UK Defence Statistics, table 2.1, copies of which can be found from the following web page:

The full series follows, and is based on the definitions of civilian workforce introduced from April 2004, details of which are also available from the web page.

Thousand: full-time equivalent
As at April Civil servants Locally engaged civilians Total









































1. Full time equivalence (FTE) counts part time staff by the number of hours they work as a proportion of their full time conditioned hours.
2. Locally engaged civilians (LEG) includes manual workers employed overseas.
3. LEG are not classified as UK civil servants.
4. Because of rounding, totals may not always equal the sum of the parts.

Specific data on the number of consultants employed is not held centrally within the Department and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Projects

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the cost of (a) new builds, (b) demolition rebuilds and (c) private finance initiative projects in his Department in each of the last two years. [100490]

Derek Twigg: I will write to the hon. Member and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.

Departmental Statistics

Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which statistics have been put forward by his Department for consideration to become new national statistics in each of the last five years; and how many statistics sets his Department has produced in total in each of the last five years. [101653]

Derek Twigg: The current list of National Statistics produced by the MOD can be found on the National Statistics website at:

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A list of changes to the scope of National Statistics (additions and withdrawals) in each of the last five years can be found in the relevant National Statistics annual report available on the National Statistics website at:

In addition to National Statistics, the MOD publishes a wide range of other numerical information in a variety of forms including other data produced from the management and administration of the Department and in research reports. There is no consistent definition of the term “statistics sets” and no centrally held information on the total published in each year on this basis.

HMS Sheffield

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which members of the crew of HMS Sheffield did not have their evidence considered by the Board of Inquiry; on what basis crew members' evidence was selected for consideration and by whom; and if he will make a statement. [101440]

Mr. Ingram: The names of those personnel who were not interviewed by the BOI are regarded as personal data under the Data Protection Act 1998 and to publish this information would be a breach of the Act.

No information is held on file to indicate the basis upon which personnel were selected for interview, or by whom they were selected.


Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many trained combat Iraqi troops are deemed capable of battling insurgents without US or UK military help; and how many were deemed capable 12 months ago. [100926]

Mr. Ingram: Of 112 Iraqi Army battalions, 13 are capable of planning, executing and sustaining counter-insurgency operations without coalition support. A further 78 require only minimal support in areas such as planning or logistics. The remainder operate in conjunction with coalition units or are undergoing earlier stages of formation and basic training.

In November 2005, one battalion was capable of operating independently of coalition forces, 13 were capable of operating with only minimal support. The remainder were operating alongside coalition units or in the process of being formed.

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