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5 Dec 2006 : Column 351W—continued

We are consulting about whether and how children could ask questions, attend court and talk to the judge or the magistrates directly. We are also discussing how judges might speak to children and account to them for the decisions that they have made about them. We are considering how we might keep a record of the court's judgment, so that, if the child wishes to, they are able to find out about their case when they grow up.

We will announce in early 2007 the detail of how we intend to proceed following the consultation and we will also publish the responses to the consultation papers.

Legal Aid

Mr. Drew: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will take steps to increase the numbers of solicitors and practices undertaking work on behalf of defendants funded by legal aid. [107529]

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Vera Baird: DCA and LSC have recently published “Legal Aid Reform: the way ahead,” copies of which can be found in the House Library and on both the DCA and LSC websites. This document sets out our commitment to ensure a sustainable legal aid market is in place, with a quality assured service at the heart of our procurement strategy. The LSC continues to provide defendants in criminal cases access to legal advice and representation, thus safeguarding their right to a fair trial. I believe that the way ahead we have outlined will secure this for the future, at a price that is fair for defendants, fair for the taxpayer and fair for the practitioner.

Jim Cousins: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what assessment she has made of the effects of the introduction of changes in means testing legal aid from 1 October 2006 on the effectiveness of (a) magistrates and (b) Crown courts. [107697]

Vera Baird: Since the implementation of the means test in the magistrates court, over 93,000 applications have been processed to date, and in many major urban areas the new scheme is being successfully implemented. On 22 November, in response to concerns raised in other areas, I announced a package of changes to improve the operational effectiveness of the new scheme. In particular, I am changing the conditions of early cover to encourage solicitors to take on first hearings and the forms are currently being reviewed. There is little evidence of any significant adverse impact on Crown court business.

Scottish Members: Voting Rights

Bob Spink: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if her Department will commission research into the effects on public confidence in the parliamentary process of allowing hon. Members for Scottish constituencies to vote on matters exclusively affecting England. [107672]

Bridget Prentice: Because of the way the devolution settlement and the funding for the devolved institutions work, there is no such thing as a matter exclusively affecting England. Suggesting that some MPs are ‘second-class’ representatives would have more damaging effects on public confidence in the parliamentary process than the present arrangements.



Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what requests have been received at the Permanent Joint Headquarters since the beginning of the ISAF deployment in Afghanistan for (a) helicopters, (b) armoured vehicles and (c) additional forces; and what the response of (i) the commitment staff and (ii) Ministers has been. [103723]

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Mr. Ingram [holding answer 27 November 2006]: The current force deployment to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, was announced on 26 January 2006, Official Report, columns 1529-33. Since then, as part of the routine process of evaluating our force structure, the Ministry of Defence and the Permanent Joint Headquarters have regularly received, and actioned, requests from theatre for changes to the military capabilities and equipment deployed. In addition, we conduct more substantial periodic Force Level Reviews which examine equipment and personnel levels.

As a result of these well-proven processes, the Secretary of State for Defence has announced: the deployment of some 130 troops of the RAF Regiment on 15 June 2006, Official Report, column 67, a force uplift of some 870 troops on 10 July 2006, Official Report, columns 1131-35, the deployment of two extra Chinook Helicopters on 24 July 2006, Official Report, column 76, a new vehicle package (Mastiff and Vector) for operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq; and the deployment of an additional Harrier on 18 September 2006, Official Report, column 136.

Any further changes to force levels that are deemed necessary will also be announced to Parliament in the normal manner.

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) average and (b) shortest time has been between the completion of training and deployment to Afghanistan of pilots from the (a) Army Air Corps and (b) Royal Air Force. [105969]

Derek Twigg: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what instructions British forces in Afghanistan have received on (a) eliminating poppy production, (b) attacking Taliban strongholds and (c) reconstruction. [106960]

Des Browne: As my predecessor made clear when he announced the UK deployment to Helmand province on 26 January 2006, Official Report, columns 1529-36, UK forces deployed to Afghanistan as part of a comprehensive cross-Government package in order to establish the security conditions for improved governance, reconstruction and development to take place.

The NATO Operational Plan for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) provides guidance on the range of tasks to be conducted by ISAF contributing forces, including support to counter narcotics and reconstruction. The exact nature of tasks troops undertake at any point in time is determined by the NATO chain of command.

Airfield Support Services

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for the upgrading of (a) fire and (b) other airfield support services; and what budget has been allocated for such upgrades. [106192]

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Mr. Ingram: There are currently no plans for upgrades to airfield fire support equipment, but we continue to fund a number of equipment projects to maintain current standards. In September 2006, the Defence Fire Risk Management Organisation (DFRMO) was established, which brings together the various elements of the Department’s Fire and Rescue services. DFRMO provides a fully integrated and regionally based structure which ensures a more efficient and cost effective delivery of fire services.

There is a phased programme for the replacement of specialist airfield vehicles. Contracts have already been awarded for new aircraft refuellers, aircraft sewage trucks, water demineralistion trucks and large aircraft tow tractors. These will be delivered over the next two to three years. Contracts for other specialist airfield vehicles are planned. The capital budget for the entire programme is £90.1 million for the period financial year 2006-07 to 2112-13.

Annual Accounting Statements

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence why his Department's top level budget holders have reduced the number of management groupings that produce annual accounting statements, under the Simplify and Improve initiative. [106714]

Mr. Ingram: The number of management groupings has been reduced for four main reasons:

Armed Forces Act

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he plans to bring forward proposals to amend the Armed Forces Act 2006 in the light of the European Court of Human Rights case Martin v. United Kingdom. [107225]

Derek Twigg: We are carefully considering the judgment in the Martin case, but we are confident that any arrangements required to ensure the compliance of the court martial when it deals with civilians can be made within the rule making powers already in the Armed Forces Act 2006. These will be subject to parliamentary scrutiny through the negative resolution procedure.

Armoured Vehicles

Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Cougar and Vector Pinzgauer armoured vehicles are being sent to (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan; and when they are expected to arrive. [100921]

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Mr. Ingram: On 24 July my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence announced we would procure around 100 Cougar vehicles and around 160 Vector.

On current plans half of the Mastiff (the UK variants of the Cougar) vehicles will deploy to Iraq, the remaining half will be split between Afghanistan and a training pool of vehicles retained in the United Kingdom. The first batch of Mastiff vehicles is on schedule to arrive in Iraq by the end of the year.

A majority of the Vector vehicles will be deployed to Afghanistan with a small number retained in the United Kingdom for training. The first batch of Vector vehicles is on schedule to arrive in Afghanistan in January 2007.

However, final decisions on the deployment of these vehicles are a matter for operational commanders.

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) Challenger II main battle tanks, (b) Warrior armoured infantry fighting vehicles and (c) AS 90 guns are (i) in service and (ii) available for immediate deployment. [106715]

Mr. Ingram: The numbers of Challenger 2, Warrior and AS90 in service and therefore available for immediate deployment are as follows:

Equipment Numbers available for deployment

Challenger 2 main battle tank


Warrior infantry fighting vehicle




“In service” is defined as equipment that is not in deep maintenance, repair, storage or training.

Army Training and Equipment Costs

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost is of (a) training and equipping one infantryman in the army and (b) employing that infantryman for five years. [103738]

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Derek Twigg: The cost of training an Infantryman in financial year 2005-06, the latest period for which figures are available, was £27,000. These costs relate to the combined Phase 1 and 2 course at the Infantry Training Centre (ITC) Catterick, which prepares the Infantryman for their first appointment with the Field Army.

Capitation rates for the equivalent of an Infantryman, rank of Private, for financial year 2006-07 are in the region of £22,000 per annum. This covers basic pay, ERNIC and SCAPE (superannuation contributions adjusted for past experience). Capitation rates do not include allowances as these are specific to individuals and differ widely across the Army.


Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many staff in his Department received bonus payments in each of the last five years for which information is available; what proportion of the total workforce they represented; what the total amount of bonuses paid has been; what the largest single payment was in each year; and if he will make a statement. [100635]

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much was paid in bonuses to civil servants in his Department each year since 2001-02; and how many civil servants received bonuses in each year. [101030]

Derek Twigg: The number and value of annual appraisal related bonuses paid to members of the senior civil service (SCS), to fixed term appointees and to civil servants below the level of the SCS covered by the MOD main pay deal (excluding trading funds and agencies), over the past four years, are listed in the following tables one to three. Because MOD introduced a new bonus system for the main body of staff in 2003, we are only able to supply four years of data. The Ministry of Defence also awards special bonuses to individuals and teams for exceptional performance in a specific task or for the achievement of professional qualifications which benefit MOD and the individual; these are shown in table four. The final table (five) shows the total value of all bonuses paid: in cash terms and as a percentage of the total civilian workforce.

Table 1: Bonuses paid to senior civil servants
2006-07 2005-06 2004-05 2003-04

Number of bonuses paid





Value of bonuses paid (£)





Highest bonus payment (£)





Table 2: Bonuses paid to fixed term appointees
2006-07 2005-06 2004-05 2003-04

Number of bonuses paid





Value of bonuses paid (£)





Highest bonus payment (£)





Table 3: End of year bonuses paid to staff below the level of the SCS: (excluding MOD trading fund agencies)
2006-07 2005-06 2004-05 2003-04

Number of bonuses paid





Value of bonuses paid (£)





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Table 4: Special bonuses (excluding MOD trading fund agencies)
2006-07( 1) 2005-06 2004-05 2003-04

Number of staff who received bonus(es)





Value of bonuses paid (£)





(1 )April to October 2006 only.

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