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Meg Munn: The Governments strategy to promote equality and cohesion Improving Opportunity, Strengthening Society sets out the steps we are taking to encourage integration. The Commission on Integration and Cohesion published its interim report yesterday and its final report in June will provide advice on what more we can do.
Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what effect he expects the transfer of leadership of the NATO campaign in Helmand province to the US to have on (a) poppy eradication activities, (b) numbers of UK casualties and (c) relations between NATO troops and Afghan civilians. 
Des Browne [holding answer 8 February 2007]: There has been no transfer of command of the International Security Assistance Force mission in Helmand province, which remains under UK command. The transfer of overall command of the International Security Assistance Force to a composite HQ under the command of a US general took place in February and the UK will assume command of the two-star headquarters in Regional Command South in May 2007. NATO remains committed to the ISAF mission, including providing the necessary security to allow the Afghan government to conduct counter-narcotic operations. Transfers of command such as these are routine and do not indicate a change in the approved ISAF mission or in relations with the Afghan authorities or with civilians, nor do they necessarily have any implications for the number of UK casualties.
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 19 February 2007]: One board of inquiry was conducted into the death of Private Jason Smith, but in two parts: the board convened initially in January 2004 and then reconvened in June 2004 to consider additional terms of reference. Only the second part has so far been released to the family; it was mistakenly assumed to have been the complete report. The first part of the board of inquiry, which is the main report that investigated the circumstances surrounding his death, is now being prepared for release in the normal way and will be released to Private Smith's family, their solicitor and Her Majesty's Coroner for Oxfordshire by early March.
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Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what measures are taken to ensure that British service personnel are trained in (a) language and (b) culture of an area prior to operational deployment there. 
In terms of Army and Royal Marine personnel, this consists of specific courses aimed at developing language skills of selected personnel to three required proficiency levels: survival, basic patrol and operational linguist. Cascade training takes place at unit level during pre-deployment training over anything up to six months. Once deployed, training is continued by language-proficient staff augmented by the Theatre Education Centre. Every soldier is also issued with a language card which is taught during pre-deployment training and is practised regularly by all in theatre. Education on the culture of an operational area is also provided during pre-deployment training. This is delivered through cultural awareness presentations to all troops. In addition, commanders and unit instructors are issued with cultural awareness material.
Royal Air Force personnel who are due to deploy on operations as part of a non-formed unit will attend individual reinforcement training during which they will receive formal cultural training. Royal Air Force regiment personnel deploying as formed units undergo pre-deployment training which includes two different proficiency levels of language and cultural training depending on individual requirements.
Royal Navy personnel receive theatre-specific briefings on cultural awareness prior to deploying on operations. Personnel are also issued with cultural appreciation booklets and are given language cards.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department (a) has taken and (b) plans to take to ensure that it and related bodies are in compliance with the gender equality duty in the Equality Act 2006 by the April 2007 deadline. 
Derek Twigg: In April, last year the Ministry of Defence published its overarching Equality and Diversity Scheme 2006-09. It covers all of our activities, both military and civilian, and reflects not only the Department's statutory duties in respect of race, disability and gender but also those diversity strands not yet covered by specific public sector duties (age, sexual orientation and religion and belief).
The Scheme is accompanied by an annual Action Plan which includes our gender equality priorities. We will be publishing a report against the targets that we set for 2006-07 later in the year as well as issuing a new
Action Plan for 2007-08. In order to inform reports and the development of the next years Action Plan, the Defence Analytical Services Agency will be collecting statistical data on the recruitment, retention and progression of women. The aim of all this work is to achieve real improvement in outcomes for the various diversity groups.
http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/AboutDefenceAVhat WeDo/Personnel/EqualityAndDiversity/EqualityAnd DiversityScheme20062009.htm
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many people leaving the armed forces in each of the last two years were (a) entitled to the full resettlement programme, (b) entitled to the employment support programme and (c) early service leavers. 
Derek Twigg: The number of personnel leaving the armed forces in each of the last two years who were entitled to the full resettlement programme was 11,290 in 2004-05 and 12,800 in 2005-06. Those entitled to the employment support programme were 2,400 in 2004-05 and 2,170 in 2005-06. There were 8,830 early service leavers in 2004-05 and 6,930 in 2005-06.
Before 1 March 2006 only service leavers who had served 16 or more years or who were medically discharged from the trained strength were entitled to access Career Transition Partnership (CTP) resettlement programmes: other access was on the basis of eligibility. The figures for access to CTP services quoted above include both entitled and eligible service leavers. Before 1 March 2006, those eligible to the full resettlement programme were service leavers from the trained strength who had served between five years and 16 years in the armed forces and any medical discharges from the untrained strength.
Early service leavers are defined as those compulsorily discharged for administrative or disciplinary reasons from the armed forces under circumstances incurring forfeiture of loss of eligibility/entitlement to normal resettlement provision, and those who are discharged from the untrained strength at their own request with less than four years military service.
Mark Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has received pressing for the UK armed forces veterans lapel badge to be automatically sent to veterans who are qualified to receive it; and what consideration he has given to taking that step. 
We have received no requests for automatic distribution to veterans of the HM armed forces veterans badge. The MOD does not have the information on surviving veterans or their addresses
that would be required to send a badge to all those eligible. This is why they are requested to apply for their badge. However, all members of the regular armed forces are now automatically given the option of receiving the badge when they leave their Service. Members of the reserve forces are also now entitled to receive a badge on retirement. We are examining how we could improve the arrangements for them to receive the badge.
Derek Twigg: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave him on 6 November 2006, Official Report, column 805-806W. No grants are available from the Department specifically for community arranged Falklands commemorations. However, a total of £230,000 is being made available by the MOD for Veterans Day events on or around the annual 27 June Veterans Day, many of which we expect will have a strong Falklands' theme this year. Funding, up to a maximum of £10,000 per bid is available for events which meet the funding criteria, full details of which are available on the Veterans Agency website at:
Mr. Ingram: At 15 January 2007, the number of armed forces personnel based in Northern Ireland on operational duties under Operation BANNER was 7,540. This equates to 4.3 per cent. of UK regular forces and Royal Irish Regiment (Home Service) Trained Strength at 1 January 2007.
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he plans to take to encourage public debate and feedback on the Governments conclusions on the future of the UK nuclear deterrent. 
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he will answer question (a) 101936, on the Shatt al-Arab waterway, and (b) 101935, on biological research, tabled by the hon. Member for Portsmouth South for answer on 20 November 2006. 
Des Browne: I replied to question 101936 on 19 February 2007, Official Report, columns 318-19W and my right hon. Friend, the Minister of State (Mr. Ingram) replied to question 101935 on 1 February 2007, Official Report, columns 510-511W.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many parliamentary questions were tabled to his Department for answer on a named day in the last parliamentary session; how many received a holding answer; and what the average time taken between issuing a holding answer and a substantive answer was. 
Derek Twigg [holding answer 15 January 2007]: Our records show that in Session 2005-06, 1,178 named day questions were tabled to the Ministry of Defence. I am unable to provide a breakdown of the questions as the information is not held in the format requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many independent bodies existed to hear appeals on decisions made by his Department in (a) 1997-98, (b) 2001-02 and (c) 2005-06; and how many there have been in 2006-07 to date. 
David Cairns: The Scotland Office was established on 1 July 1999. The only relevant Executive function undertaken by the Office is the handling of election accounts where disputes may be referred to the Auditor of the Court of Session.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many complaints were received by his Department in (a) 1997-98, (b) 2001-02 and (c) 2005-06; and how many were received in 2006-07 to date. 
David Cairns: The Scotland Office was established on 1 July 1999. The Office has no information on complaints made in 2001-02; received one complaint in 2005-06; and has received no complaints since 1 April 2006.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many staff worked in dedicated complaints units in his Department in (a) 1997-98, (b) 2001-02 and (c) 2005-06; and how many have done so in 2006-07 to date. 
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