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8 Jan 2007 : Column 108W—continued

8 Jan 2007 : Column 109W

The following formally ceased to be defence agencies at 1 April 2005:

The following formally ceased to be defence agencies at 1 April 2006:

Service Personnel

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions (a) he and (b) his officials have had with the Department of Health on ensuring that service personnel and their families returning from overseas are able to register easily with GPs and dentists. [106713]

Derek Twigg: Service personnel do not register with NHS GPs or dentists, as their primary health care is provided by the Defence Medical Services (DMS).

We acknowledge that service personnel and their families who move into a new area in the UK, including those returning from overseas, often have problems obtaining access to NHS GPs and dentists in the new region. This has been one of the five major issues on the Service Families Task Force (SFTF) Tri-Service Families Action Plan.

A joint MOD/DH Partnership Board, co-chaired by senior MOD and DH personnel, meets three times a year to monitor complex relationships that exist between the two departments and the devolved UK health departments and to explore mutual areas of co-operation. Under the umbrella of the Partnership Board, numerous other official level discussions, both formal and informal, take place as required at the national and local level, to address the health needs of Service personnel and their dependants across the entire patient care pathway.

Primary Care Trusts are obligated to ensure that all entitled individuals have access to NHS primary care. MOD and DH are monitoring the extent to which this is happening, and will take the appropriate action if this is not the case.

The MOD has investigated service families’ access to dental treatment, and we have been advised of initiatives being implemented by the UK Health Departments that are intended to improve access to NHS dental care throughout England, Scotland and Wales. These initiatives should provide universal access within two years. The MOD is monitoring the progress of these plans.

Special Advisers

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many of his Department’s civil servants work full-time to support departmental special advisers; and what the salary is of each such civil servant. [106510]

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Derek Twigg: One civil servant is employed at the Ministry of Defence to provide dedicated support of a non-political nature to the special advisers in accordance with the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers. The pay band for the post ranges from £21,320 to £31,650 per annum.


Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimates have been made of the cost of modernising the submarine infrastructure at (a) Coulport and (b) Faslane. [109886]

Des Browne: As stated at paragraph 5-11 of the White Paper “The Future of the United Kingdom’s Nuclear Deterrent” (Cm 6994), published on 4 December 2006, copies of which are available in the Library of the House, our initial estimate of the procurement costs for infrastructure will be in the range of £2-3 billion over the life of the new ballistic missile submarines. These estimated costs include modernisation of infrastructure at Coulport and Faslane to support the UK’s strategic deterrent.


Lynda Waltho: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions the Government have had with NATO partners on implementation of (a) a no-fly zone over Darfur, (b) targeted sanction on perpetrators of the violence in Darfur and (c) increasing areas where humanitarian programmes may operate in Darfur. [110235]

Mr. Ingram: There have been no formal discussions in NATO forums concerning either a no-fly zone for Darfur or targeted sanctions. NATO has undertaken some relatively small-scale capacity building initiatives, such as staff capacity building, and provision of air lift to aid the African Union's roulement. HMG remain deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in Darfur and, alongside NATO partners, continue to urge the Government of Sudan to accept United Nations assistance for the African Union Mission in Sudan, to honour the ceasefire, and to renew its political dialogue with rebel groups.

Thermal Imaging

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer dated 12 December 2006, Official Report, column 934W on thermal imaging, what the make of the new light weight thermal imaging sight was; how many are issued at platoon level; what plans he has to increase this number; and if he will make a statement. [110056]

Mr. Ingram: The Light Weight Thermal Imaging Sight is manufactured by QioptiQ. Currently one sight is issued at platoon level. Plans are in place to increase this number, by the procurement of over 300 additional sights.

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Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what environmental impact assessments (EIAs) his Department has undertaken of the (a) deployment, (b) infrastructure facilities required for maintenance and (c) facilities used for decommissioning redundant or replaced parts of the Trident nuclear weapons system; and whether these EIAs have been published. [105267]

Des Browne: The Ministry of Defence has undertaken a number of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) in connection with the Trident nuclear weapons system. During the deployment of Vanguard Class submarines, EIAs are conducted whenever there is a requirement to do so, for example prior to the discharge of bilge water. Such EIAs are not published as to do so could enable deductions to be made on the operational location of the submarines and would, or would be likely to, prejudice the security of the United Kingdom.

For the infrastructure facilities required to support the maintenance of the system, an EIA was undertaken for Faslane and Coulport entitled “Proposed Development at the Clyde Submarine Base (Faslane and Coulport) Environmental Impact Assessment”. This was published in May 1984. The MOD also lodged an EIA in support of the D154 Project in Devonport with Plymouth City Council in 1994. No EIAs have yet been completed in respect of decommissioned redundant submarines.

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his estimate is of the time it would take to procure further Trident D5 missiles. [108974]

Des Browne: As set out in paragraph 2-5 of the recent White Paper, "The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent, (Cm 6994), we believe that no further procurement of Trident D5 missiles will be necessary. Copies of the White Paper are available in the Library of the House.

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the availability of (a) project management and (b) nuclear decommissioning expertise between (i) 2007 and 2012, (ii) 2013 and 2017 and (iii) 2018 and 2024 on projects related to Trident. [109486]

Des Browne: The Department aims to ensure that it has sufficient expert personnel to meet current and future nuclear programme demands through external recruitment, internal staff development and close involvement with industry. This includes those personnel required for the project management and nuclear decommissioning disciplines. The assessment of the likely demand for nuclear experts is undertaken in conjunction with the Nuclear Sector Skills Council who maintain an oversight of the issues surrounding the national requirement for staff with key nuclear skills, both civil and military. In addition, the MOD is represented at the Nuclear Employers Steering Group, which monitors trends at a national level to scope the likely future demand for staff.

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TriStars (Spare Parts)

Mr. David Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether any difficulties have been experienced in obtaining spare parts for the Royal Air Force’s fleet of TriStars. [109048]

Mr. Ingram: We have not experienced any significant problems in meeting spare demands from the Front Line to support the RAF’s TriStar aircraft. Current spare part availability for the TriStar fleet is sufficient to meet operational and training commitments.

The Defence Logistics Organisation is currently engaged with industry to develop the TriStar Integrated Operational Support (TRIOS) programme. TRIOS, which is consistent with the principles set out in the Defence Industrial Strategy, will move the focus from spares availability to guaranteed aircraft availability and bring together all aspects of TriStar logistic support. On current plans it is envisaged that a TRIOS contract will be awarded at the end of next year.

UK Reservists

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what (a) funding and (b) other support his Department gives to employers in supporting the UK's reservists. [109822]

Derek Twigg: The Reserve Forces Act 1996 allows payments to Reservists and/or their employers when the former are called out into permanent service. The detailed regulations are set out in a Statutory Instrument (SI 859), which came into force in April 2005. Employers can claim up to £40,000 per year to cover certain additional costs arising from their employee's absence plus, without limit, agency fees, advertising costs and certain re-training expenses.

In addition, the SaBRE (Supporting Britain's Reservists and Employers) campaign aims to win and maintain the support of employers for the Volunteer Reserves. This is achieved through a combination of highly targeted direct marketing and the establishment of a network of Employer Support Executives to focus employer support at the regional level.

Veterans Lapel Badge

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will consider extending the qualifying entitlement for the HM Armed Forces Veterans Lapel Badge to include widows of First and Second World War veterans; [112703]

(2) if he will consider introducing a posthumous entitlement for the HM Armed Forces Veterans Lapel Badge to allow the children of deceased veterans to receive a badge on behalf of a parent. [112724]

Derek Twigg: The HM Armed Forces Veterans Badge was introduced to provide a public mark of those who have served in the UK armed forces and are still alive; it was designed to allow veterans living in the community to be identified and to raise awareness of their number and diversity. One exception to this rule was made for War Widow(er)s who are in receipt of a War Widow(er)’s pension to recognise the unique
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circumstances of their spouses who were prevented from receiving their badge because of death attributable to illness or injury sustained during military service to their country. The badge is not a commemorative medal and we have no plans to introduce a posthumous entitlement more widely for widows of veterans who gave service in the First or Second World War and who died of natural causes, or for the children of deceased veterans.

War Graves

Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has (a) had and (b) plans to have with the French Government to prevent the disturbance of British war graves in the expansion of the Amiens to Lille motorway; and if he will make a statement. [109878]

Derek Twigg: There have been no discussions between the Ministry of Defence and the French Government on this project. The UK Government take a very close interest in the management of the nation's war graves but, along with other member Governments, are represented in these matters by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC).

Although the final route for the Amiens-Lille motorway has yet to be chosen, the French authorities continue fully to consult the CWGC over the proposals and have recently repeated their assurance that no Commonwealth war cemetery will be affected by the development.

The French authorities are also fully aware that the discovery of any remains of British and Commonwealth Service personnel are to be immediately reported to the CWGC and the local police and of the need to protect them and any associated artefacts and personal effects for possible identification and re-burial.

War Pensions

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the cost of relinking war pensions with earnings. [105713]

Derek Twigg: No assessment has yet been made of the cost of relinking war pensions with earnings.


Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what contingency plans have been prepared for further reductions in the number of Royal Navy vessels available for service; and whether it is intended that any should be mothballed. [109278]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 18 December 2006]: As part of the Department’s present planning round, we are examining a range of proposals for the defence programme, both to enhance investment in certain areas and to reduce investment in areas of lower priority. Ministerial decisions on the forward defence programme will be taken in the first quarter of 2007 and appropriate announcements will be made in that timeframe.

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Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 6 December 2006, Official Report, column 447W, on Royal Navy ships, which types of warship are at extended readiness; and if he will make a statement. [110086]

Des Browne: I am withholding the details of the types of warship and their state of readiness as this could enable deductions to be made that could be prejudicial to national security.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his answer of 6 December 2006, Official Report, column 447W, what assessment he has made of the implications for the ability of the Royal Navy to meet its commitments of the number of warships on (a) reduced readiness and (b) extended readiness; and if he will make a statement. [110175]

Mr. Ingram: The Royal Navy remains fully capable of meeting all ongoing overseas and domestic commitments, as well as retaining forces at sufficient readiness to mount a contingent medium-scale overseas deployment.

Culture, Media and Sport


Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport which 10 consultancy fees charged to her Department since May 1997 were the most expensive. [107166]

Mr. Lammy: The following list contains the Department’s 10 most expensive consultancy fees at award of contract since May 1997. Information on final contract values is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.


Feasibility Study into the formation of Culture Online


Validation of Olympic Games Cost


Review of Non Departmental Public Bodies (NDPB) Programmes


BBC Consultancy Requirement


Study to Identify the priorities of Local Communities


Olympic Games Impact Study


Public Awareness Campaign—Digital Switchover


Review of Public Libraries Standards


Review of BBC News Digital Services


Evaluation of National Regional Museums


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