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Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what Orders in Council relating to the law in overseas territories she plans to bring forward during 2007; and if she will specify the purpose and overseas territory concerned in each case. 
Mr. Hoon: There is no annual calendar of planned Orders in Council for the British Overseas Territories. Orders in Council are made on a case-by-case basis as necessary and appropriate, and usually after consultation with the Governments of the Overseas Territories. An example of this is the Anguilla Constitution (Amendment) Order 2007 which will amend the current Anguilla Constitution so as to give effect to police reforms requested by the Government of Anguilla. We intend to submit that Order in Council to the Privy Council at its meeting on 7 February 2007. Orders in Council implementing UN sanctions in the Overseas Territories are made pursuant to UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) and we expect a number of these over the coming months. For example, it is intended that an Order under the UN Act 1946 will be made at the 7 February meeting of the Privy Council to give effect in the Overseas Territories to the sanctions measures in UNSCR 1737 on Iran.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of Pakistans proposals to fence and mine the Afghan-Pakistani border; and what assessment she has made of the potential effect of this policy on insurgents operating in Pakistan. 
The UK recognises the efforts being made by Pakistan to curb cross-border infiltration on the Afghan-Pakistani border and its commitment to
continue this work. The UK position on the use of landmines is well-known and we urge Pakistan to find solutions with less destructive long-term humanitarian consequences. We have not yet made an assessment of the potential effect of this proposal.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with Pakistan on the laying of landmines on the Afghan border; and if she will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: The subject was discussed when my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister met President Musharraf in Pakistan on 19 November 2006. The UK recognises the efforts being made by Pakistan to curb cross-border infiltration on the Afghan-Pakistani border and its commitment to continue this work. The UK position on the use of landmines is well known and we urge Pakistan to find solutions with less destructive long-term humanitarian consequences.
Officials remain in regular contact with both the Afghan and Pakistan governments about Taliban activity on their mutual border and border management issues. As part of a common effort to counter terrorism, the Government are providing training and capacity-building to the Pakistan authorities in their efforts to counter Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan. The Government are also considering how they might help both the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan to manage border issues more effectively, in an effort to further reduce the Taliban threat.
Mr. Hoon: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and I regularly discuss aspects of the EU-Russia relationship with EU partners. EU Foreign Ministers together discussed EU-Russia relations at the General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) on 13 November 2006. EU Foreign Ministers will discuss external energy relations, including with Russia, at the GAERC on 22-23 January.
Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make an assessment of whether Scotland would automatically assume membership of the EU should it become an independent state. 
Mr. Hoon: By virtue of the United Kingdom's EU membership, Scotland is part of the EU. If Scotland were to leave the UK, it would not automatically assume membership of the EU. The terms under which an independent Scotland might become a member of the EU would have to be negotiated.
Dr. Howells: In December 2006, I met with representatives of the Tamil community together with my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, Gareth Thomas. I am due to represent my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary at a meeting with my right hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Keith Vaz) and concerned members of the Tamil community in the House on 17 January. In addition, I receive and reply to many written representations made by hon. Members on behalf of their constituents.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans she has to press the UN for action against peace keeping troops stationed in southern Sudan who are alleged to have committed sexual offences. 
Mr. McCartney: The UK supports the actions of the UN Secretary-General to implement a 'zero-tolerance' approach to sexual exploitation and abuse in all UN Missions. The UN has launched an investigation into the recent allegations of rape and sexual abuse of children by peacekeepers in southern Sudan. The UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peace Keeping Operations, Jane Holl Lute, intends that this will be a thorough exercise. A team of investigators is already working in Sudan. We await the team's conclusions.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission's report Weapons of Terror Freeing the World of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Arms, with particular reference to (a) nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and (b) the role of the Non-Proliferation Treaty structure and the comprehensive test ban treaty in disarmament and non-proliferation; and if she will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: I was grateful to Hans Blix and the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission for their thoughtful work in producing this report. Some of the Commission's recommendations on non-proliferation and disarmament have great merit, e.g. on Comprehensive Safeguards and the Additional Protocol. But not all remain relevant (e.g. on North Korea and Iran where recent UN Security Council Resolutions have changed priorities for action). I do not believe that a change in Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty institutional arrangements will bring about substantive change in the positions of states party to the treaty. Political will drives change in these areas. The UK continues to support early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Ratification by the remaining Annex II states is key.
1. These figures include UK regular Naval personnel, including nursing services, but exclude full-time reserve personnel and activated reservists.
2. When rounding to the nearest 10, numbers ending in five have been rounded to the nearest multiple of 20 to prevent systematic bias.
3. The latest available figures are for October 2006 and to compare like with like the 1997-98 figure as been taken as at October 1997.
Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department takes to cater for special dietary requirements of armed forces personnel on the grounds of their (a) religious belief and (b) medical condition. 
(a) halal, kosher and vegetarian meals can be provided by armed forces messes and are available in the form of operational ration packs for operations and exercises;
(b) the armed forces aim to meet, as far as possible, the needs of those personnel who, during their service, develop medical conditions such as coeliac disease or diabetes which require careful dietary management.
Derek Twigg: The Ministry of Defence has four salary plus child care voucher schemes, which are open to qualifying civilian employees who work at the Army Pay Centre, Glasgow, the Defence Bills Agency, Liverpool, the War Ship Support Agency, Rosyth and the Defence Science Technology Laboratory. The introduction of salary sacrifice child care voucher schemes for all civilian and military staff is dependent on the full introduction of the Departments new pay systems scheduled for late autumn this year.
Derek Twigg [holding answer 15 January 2007]: Information is not held centrally on how many security passes have been issued in each year since 1997 and it would incur disproportionate cost to collate this data.
Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what procedures are in place to facilitate the electoral registration of servicemen and women serving overseas; and what steps are being taken to increase the proportion of armed forces personnel who register to vote. 
Derek Twigg: Provisions in the Electoral Administration Act 2006 allow all Service personnel and their spouses or civil partners who choose to register as Service voters to remain on the register for three years, without having to renew their registration. This helps Service personnel abroad in particular as it is covers the typical length of an overseas tour. In addition, Service declaration forms are distributed each year, as part of a combined information leaflet, to all military units in the UK and abroad, at the same time as the annual household canvass.
The MOD works closely with the Electoral Commission and the DCA and runs an annual information campaign each autumn, culminating in a "Service Electoral Registration Day" which is held within military units. These activities are designed to encourage Service personnel and their families to register and to vote.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 25 May 2006, Official Report, column 92WS, on Gurkhas, what progress his Department has made on the comprehensive review of the terms and conditions of service under which Gurkhas serve in the British Army; and when he expects to make a further statement to the House. 
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what assessment he has made of the factors enabling United States Ohio-class Trident submarines to have longer in-service lives than United Kingdom Vanguard submarines; and what lessons can be drawn from them for the benefit of the future nuclear deterrent; 
(2) what assessment he has made of (a) whether Vanguard submarines have typically operated (i) at a higher level of intensity and (ii) for longer periods at sea than United States Ohio-class Trident submarines and (b) the effect of those factors upon the differential in-service lives of those submarines. 
Des Browne [holding answer 11 December 2006]: I refer the hon. Member to paragraphs 1-4, 5-6 and 6-5 of the White Paper, The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent (Cm 6994), published on 4 December 2006.
When detailed concept work begins on a new class of SSBNs, we will take into account relevant lessons from the submarine-building experience of other countries, including the United States, as we would normally do on a programme of this kind.
Des Browne [holding answer 11 December 2006]: As the Government stated in the White Paper, The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent (Cm 6994), published on 4 December 2006, we expect that continuous deterrent patrols could no longer be assured from around 2024 if the first of the new submarines were not in place by then.
|March 1997||March 2006|
|(1) Increase in numbers from 1997 due to change in accounting methodology.|
(2) Includes trainer variants of Fighter aircraft.
(3) Actual numbers were 100. The planned figure does not reflect the retirement of two BAe 125 aircraft.
(4) Actual numbers were 372. The planned figure does not reflect the reduction of four Typhoon aircraft as a result of the contractual re-alignment of the Typhoon aircraft delivery schedule; a Tornado F3 that crashed in 2005; the reduction in two Harrier GR7s; one following a crash and one re-categorised as a test-bed aircraft by BAe systems.
(5) Actual numbers were 395. The planned figure does not reflect the reduction of one Harrier as a result of the upgrade programme from Harrier T10 to T12, the fact that four Harrier T8s went out of service, the reduction of four Tucano aircraft and a reduction of three in overall glider numbers.
(6) Actual numbers were 17. The Sentinel aircraft have not yet been delivered.
(7) Actual numbers were 16. The planned figure does not reflect the fact that four Nimrod MR2 were retired for the MRA4 programme and for spares and one was retired as a result of the Medium Term Work Strands.
(8) For JHC assets, figures shown are total operating fleet.
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