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28 Nov 2006 : Column 629W—continued

Separation Allowances

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he plans to make changes to (a) Longer Separated Service Allowance and (b) Longer Separation Allowance. [101323]

Derek Twigg: Longer separated service allowance (LSSA), and its associated bonuses, and LSSA On The Road are being replaced by longer separation allowance (LSA) for all three services, with the roll-out of the joint personnel administration (JPA) system. The Royal Navy (RN) and its Reserve and Royal Air Force (RAF) have already transferred to LSA; the Army, its Reserve and the RAF Reserves are scheduled to transfer on 1 April 2007.

On 5 October 2006, I announced the implementation of a welfare package for hospitalised service personnel which includes payment of LSA (RN and RAF) or LSSA (Army) for inpatients. Those who are in receipt of the allowances when they are admitted to hospital (for example those on operations) continue to receive LSSA or LSA, as applicable. All other personnel are eligible for the allowances for inpatient stays of 10 days or more.

The MOD is currently the reviewing the 100 day initial qualifying period for LSA.

Service Accommodation

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) service family accommodation and (b) single living accommodation properties in Germany are (i) Standard 1, (ii) Standard 2, (iii) Standard 3 and (iv) Standard 4. [100888]

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

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Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assistance his Department provides to service personnel for house purchases. [100889]

Derek Twigg: The Ministry of Defence assists Service personnel to purchase a house through Long Service Advance of Pay (LSAP). This is an interest free loan of up to £8,500 or 182 days pay (whichever is the lesser) which can only be used for house purchase. The loan is usually repaid at about 10 per cent. per year, with any balance remaining on discharge being recovered from terminal benefits.

In addition, the MOD has made arrangements with the Department for Communities and Local Government to include Service personnel in the Key Worker Living Programme. This gives Service personnel based in London, the East and South East access to the New Build Home-buy scheme. This is a shared equity scheme where the Service person purchases a 25 per cent. minimum stake in the property and pays a low cost rent on the remainder. For personnel based in the remainder of England, a similar scheme known as the First-Time Buyers Initiative exists. This again is a shared equity scheme run by the regional housing boards. The minimum ownership stake in this scheme is 50 per cent. with the remainder again being paid as a low cost rent. In both cases, LSAP can be used as part of the owned stake in the property.

There are also several schemes provided by commercial enterprises to assist home ownership for Service personnel that have been developed in conjunction with MOD. These include shared ownership schemes, buy to let schemes, cash grants, mortgage advice, and discounts to Service personnel on former MOD managed properties.

Details of all the above schemes are available to Service personnel through the MOD's Joint Service Housing Advice Office. This is a full-time dedicated facility that was created to assist Service personnel by providing advice and guidance on the full range of accommodation options open to them when they leave the Services.

Territorial Army

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what additional budget has been given to HQ Land to enable the uplift of support staff for the restructuring and re-balancing of the Territorial Army (TA) as a result of Future Army Strategy (TA), broken down by (a) year and (b) arm; [101402]

(2) why the original budget allocated by HQ Land to recruit non-regular permanent staff and civilian staff as a result of the Future Army Strategy (TA) has been put back from 2006-07 to 2008-09; [101400]

(3) what additional posts have been identified to enable the restructuring and re-balancing of the Territorial Army (TA) as a result of the Future Army Strategy (TA), broken down by (a) arm and (b) unit. [101403]

Derek Twigg [holding answer 20 November 2006]: The additional posts identified to enable the restructuring and re-balancing of the Territorial Army
28 Nov 2006 : Column 631W
(TA) as a result of the Future Army Strategy (TA) broken down by Arm are shown in the table as follows:

Arm/Service NRPS total pre all FAS changes NRPS total post all FAS changes Change













































E2 (Any Arm/Service)








I am placing the information on additional posts broken down by unit in the Library of the House.

HQ LAND received no additional funding to enable the uplift of support staff for the restructuring and re-balancing of the TA as a result of Future Army Strategy (TA). Existing resources have been re-profiled to pay for these posts.

The decision was made to delay the implementation of TA rebalancing in certain Arms and Services, which meant that the recruitment of non-regular Permanent Staff and civilian staff for these units was not required as soon as was anticipated. The budget allocated by HQ to the recruitment of these posts has therefore been moved from 2006-07 to 2007-08.

Mr. Gale: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he has taken to ensure that the families of territorial service men and women on active duty overseas have been notified of the Christmas parcels concessionary free post. [103715]

Derek Twigg [holding answer 27 November 2006]: In October 2006, MOD issued a press release to local UK newspapers and specialist forces publications, notifying the dates of the Christmas Free Packet Service (10 November-8 December 2006). In addition this information was made available on BFPO and Royal Mail websites, and at post and sub-post offices throughout the UK.


Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which organisation or department is responsible for the costs and duties involved with decommissioning Trident. [103864]

Mr. Ingram: The costs and duties associated with decommissioning Trident will be assessed when the system is approaching the end of its operational life. The responsibility for disposal rests with the Defence Procurement Agency and Defence Logistics Organisation, which together will form Defence Equipment and Support, within the Ministry of Defence, with effect from April 2007.

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Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how the decommissioning of Trident will be financed; and if he will make a statement. [103865]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 27 November 2006]: The Trident System is expected to remain in service until at least the end of the next decade, well beyond the Department's normal planning cycle. It is therefore too early to say how it will be financed, although it will form part of the normal planning process.

Troop Deployment

Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will order a review of the way troops are deployed to and from theatre. [103721]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 27 November 2006]: The Permanent Joint Headquarters, supported by other service stakeholders, including the front line commands, already undertakes a rolling review of the capability and capacity of the movements process, and the organisation and infrastructure which supports the deployment of troops to and from theatre.

While there are occasional and regrettable delays to the movement of personnel, our logistic planners have recently been able to conduct successive reliefs in place for forces in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Our ability to undertake such logistic challenges is testament to their professionalism.

Public Accounts Commission

Electoral Registration

Mr. Heald: To ask the Chairman of the Public Accounts Commission (1) whether the National Audit Office's investigation into electoral registration will include considerations of electoral fraud regarding registration; [102836]

(2) what the (a) timetable and (b) remit is of the National Audit Office's inquiry into electoral registration. [102837]

Peter Viggers: I am replying to these questions as the inquiry concerned is the annual value for money study for 2005-06 by the Comptroller and Auditor General on the Electoral Commission in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 16 of Schedule 1 to the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 for the purpose of assisting the Speaker's Committee to discharge its statutory functions in relation to the Electoral Commission's estimates and five-year plans. The Comptroller and Auditor General reports the outcome of these studies direct to that committee.

The remit of this study, which is approaching completion and is expected to be submitted to the Speaker's Committee in early 2007, comprises examination of actions taken to increase electoral registration and enhance completeness of the register. It will take account of considerations of electoral fraud to the extent that they are relevant to this remit.

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Home Department

Accession Countries

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will place in the Library a copy of his letter to the hon. Member for Peterborough on accession countries referred to in his answer of 8 November 2006, Official Report, column 1646. [101375]

John Reid: My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Mr. Byrne) wrote to the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Jackson) on 14 November regarding the impact of the Accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the European Union. A copy of the letter has been placed in the Library for the House.

Alcohol Sales (Young People)

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prosecutions there were for selling alcohol to children and young people under the age of 18 years in the Cambridgeshire Constabulary area in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [102676]

Mr. Coaker: Data held by the Office for Criminal Justice Reform show that since 1997 there has been one prosecution in 2004 for selling alcohol to children and young people under the age of 18 years in the Cambridgeshire police force area.

The offence of sale of alcohol to a person aged under 18 was added to the PND scheme on 1 November 2004. Data for 2004 and 2005, and provisional data from January to June 2006, are provided in the table.

The Home Office is seeking to eliminate underage sales, by working in partnership with alcohol retailers to develop good practice, and through enforcement by means of regular test purchase campaigns. In October 2006 the Home Office funded a national intelligence-led test purchase campaign, to monitor the extent to which good practice has been taken on board by premises that are known to have sold alcohol to minors. As a result of this latest campaign, 42 premises are currently subject to a licence review by their local authority, which could result in their licence conditions being changed.

Number of people issued with Penalty Notices for Disorder for sale of alcohol to a minor, in Cambridgeshire police force area, 2004 to June 2006( 1,2,3)
Number issued





2006(4) (January to June)


(1) Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the police. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.
(2) January to June 2006 is provisional.
(3) Offence added to the PND scheme on 1 November 2004.
(4) Provisional.
RDS Office for Criminal Justice Reform.

28 Nov 2006 : Column 634W

Mr. Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to tackle (a) underage drinking and (b) the use of false identification documents by under-aged youths to purchase alcohol. [102078]

Mr. Coaker: Addressing underage drinking forms a key part of the Government’s Alcohol Harm Reduction strategy. Four national alcohol misuse enforcement campaigns have been conducted over the past two years funded by the Home Office. Police and other authorities have been able to develop effective tactics in dealing with alcohol-related crime and disorder. This good practice is now being embedded in core policing business.

Through the Licensing Act 2003, we have increased the penalties on conviction for selling alcohol to minors from £1,000 to a maximum £5,000; and the court may suspend or revoke the offender’s personal licence on first conviction and not on second or subsequent conviction as previously was the case. In addition, through the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006, which received Royal Assent on the 8 November 2006, we have created a new offence of persistently selling alcohol to children if, on three or more different occasions in a period of three consecutive months, alcohol is unlawfully sold on the same premises to a person under 18. The penalty for the new offence on summary conviction would be a fine not exceeding £10,000 and, where the offender is a premises licence holder, the premises licence could be suspended for up to three months in so far as it authorises the sales by retail of alcohol.

The Home Office is working in partnership with alcohol retailers in seeking to eliminate sales to minors, with progress being measured through test purchasing. The majority of retailers have now adopted the “Think 21” approach whereby cashiers ask any customer who appears to be under 21 for identification when purchasing alcohol.

The Home Office supports the Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) scheme, which establishes a common standard for issuing the various proof of age cards that are available. PASS accredited cards carry a secure hologram which helps retailers to identify genuine proof of age cards.

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