Previous Section Index Home Page

27 Feb 2007 : Column 1146W—continued

Armed Forces: Housing

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much Annington Homes paid for housing and land purchased from his Department; and how much the company paid for that purchased in Colchester. [120958]

Derek Twigg: The 1996 sale agreement between the Secretary of State for Defence and Annington Homes Limited (AHL) involved the transfer of 57,428 properties in England and Wales for a consideration of £1.66 billion. Of this amount, £34.5 million was for properties at Colchester.

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what measures are in place to audit the implementation of the profit-sharing scheme with Annington Homes in relation to former Ministry of Defence housing and land; and if he will make a statement. [121131]

Derek Twigg: The Ministry of Defence has appointed Scott-Moncrieff, chartered accountants, as reporting accountants to assist with verification of year-end disposal statements and agree profit share due under the profit sharing agreement with Annington Homes Limited. Prior to 2003, Ernst and Young, chartered accountants, were the Department's reporting accountants. Disposal statements are prepared by AHL, and reviewed by its independent auditors, Deloitte and Touche LLP.

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of the proceeds of subsequent sales by Annington Homes of former Ministry of Defence housing is returned to HM Treasury under profit-sharing arrangements. [121137]

Derek Twigg: Under the terms of the 1996 profit share agreement with Annington Homes Limited, 25 per cent. of sale proceeds is currently returned to Her Majesty's Treasury.

The November 1996 sale agreement with AHL includes a profit share agreement, 25 per cent. of sale proceeds are currently returned to HM Treasury.

Armed Forces: Marriage Guidance

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what marriage counselling and support is available to (a) the families of armed forces personnel and (b) armed forces personnel serving in theatre. [122197]


27 Feb 2007 : Column 1147W

Derek Twigg: Support for non-deployed armed forces personnel and families is available through comprehensive individual Service welfare resources, which offer varying degrees of relationship counselling and also direct people to professional advice services such as Relate or local counselling services overseas.

Support to armed forces personnel in theatre is primarily through the Chain of Command, supported by Service Religious Leaders and medical staff where appropriate. There is provision for a range of methods of contact between Service personnel and their families, including welfare phone calls, and cases where local Commanders have discretion to return Service personnel from Theatre for compassionate reasons. Service welfare staff remain available in home base locations to support families during deployments of Service personnel.

Armed Forces: Mass Media

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what guidelines his Department has issued to (a) service personnel and (b) civilian staff on interviews and meetings with (i) journalists and (ii) hon. Members; and if he will place a copy in the Library. [119090]

Derek Twigg: Guidelines were issued in Defence Council Instruction (DCI) 200 published in 2004. I have placed a copy of the DCI in the Library of the House.

Army: Foreigners

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will remove Zimbabwe from the list of countries given Commonwealth status for army recruits. [122699]

Derek Twigg [holding answer 23 February 2007]: The list to which you refer is in Schedule 3 of the British Nationality Act 1981 whose citizens have Commonwealth status by virtue of section 37 of that Act. Despite Zimbabwe voluntarily withdrawing from the Commonwealth in July 2003, following their suspension from the Council of the Commonwealth earlier that year, the status of their citizens is not affected in UK law, and they remain eligible to join the British armed forces. To change this situation would require an Order in Council amending the British Nationality Act 1981 and currently there are no plans to make such an Order in respect of Zimbabwe.

Gurkhas: Pensions

Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the pension entitlements of retired Gurkhas. [121211]

Derek Twigg: British Army Gurkhas serve under their own unique terms and conditions of service, which include a pension scheme. The Gurkha Pension Scheme is based on the Indian Army model. It provides an immediate pension at Indian Army rates, according to rank, to every Gurkha who completes at least 15 years service, together with associated lump-sum payments. 15 years is the maximum length of service permitted to soldiers on the Gurkha engagement up to and including the rank of corporal. The pension increases for higher ranks, including Queen’s Gurkha officers and longer service, but only WO1 and above can normally serve up to 22 years. Pensions are calculated in Indian Rupees
27 Feb 2007 : Column 1148W
and paid in Nepali Rupees, with MOD bearing all exchange costs and losses. They are uplifted annually for local inflation.

In a 1981 review, Gurkha pensions were set at the top band of the relevant Indian Army scales. In 1999, Gurkha pensions were uplifted by at least 100 per cent. to reflect the benefits “in kind” understood to be provided to Indian Army “Gorkha” pensioners in India, such as medical facilities.

The current review of Gurkha terms and conditions of service has been looking at the case for changing these arrangements for those Gurkhas who left the Army on or after 1 July 1997. Account has been taken of the trend, resulting from the change to the immigration rules in 2004, for ex-Gurkhas to settle in UK rather than Nepal. 1 July 1997 was the date when the Gurkhas became a UK-based force on completion of the withdrawal from Hong Kong. It was not our intention, as part of the review, to address pension arrangements for those who retired before 1 July 1997.

An announcement will be made in due course.

Iraq: Army

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the size of the Iraqi (a) army and (b) police force is; and what forecast he has made of its size in July. [122401]

Des Browne: At present there are approximately 132,800 personnel in the Iraqi army and approximately 135,000 personnel in the Iraqi police. The Iraqi Prime Minister has publicly stated his aspiration to expand the Iraqi army by approximately 37,000 to around 170,000 by January 2008. The size of the Iraqi police service is not expected to increase significantly over the coming months.

Trade and Industry

BAE Systems: Saudi Arabia

Roger Berry: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether the Export Credits Guarantee Department forwarded any suspicions of bribery to the Serious Fraud Office arising from the application for cover from BAE Systems for the sale of Eurofighter aircraft to Saudi Arabia. [122874]

Mr. McCartney: ECGD has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the SFO, relating to the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, which came into effect in 2002. Under that MoU ECGD passes on any allegation of corrupt activity to the relevant investigatory authority. At the time of this application, an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office was, as is public knowledge, in being. Questions of operational detail of any investigation should be referred to the relevant investigatory authority.

Roger Berry: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the Export Credits Guarantee Department received the application for cover from BAE Systems for the sale of Eurofighter aircraft to Saudi Arabia; and when the cover was issued. [122886]


27 Feb 2007 : Column 1149W

Mr. McCartney: The application for cover was dated 22 June 2006 and was delivered to ECGD on 28 June 2006. The contract of cover was entered into on 12 September 2006.

Roger Berry: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether, in connection with its contract of indemnity regarding the sale of Eurofighter aircraft to Saudi Arabia, the Export Credits Guarantee Department used its discretionary powers to request further information from BAE Systems as to the identity of its agents and the amounts of any commissions, fees or other remuneration paid. [122887]

Mr. McCartney: It was stated by BAES in its application that no agents had any part in obtaining or negotiating this contract and that no commissions or fees were paid.

Cellular Phones: Fees and Charges

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he expects regulations to reduce the costs of mobile phone calls across EU borders to come into effect. [123406]

Margaret Hodge: The Commission Proposal for a Regulation on International Roaming (COM(2006)382 final) is currently being considered by the EU Council and the European Parliament. The German presidency has signalled their intention, which I support, to secure an agreement on the regulation by the summer. This would allow the regulation to be adopted in the early autumn with a consequential reduction in retail roaming prices before the end of the year. This timetable is, of course, dependent on agreement being reached by all parties.

Centre for Energy Policy Studies

Mr. Gauke: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether Government funding has been provided to the Centre for Energy Policy Studies. [122718]

Malcolm Wicks: No Government funding has been provided to the Centre for Energy Studies based at the Judge Institute at the University of Cambridge.

Companies Act 2006

Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he proposes to publish advice on directors’ interpretation of their duties in relation to the reporting of social and environmental matters in accordance with the Companies Act 2006. [121946]

Margaret Hodge: We shall shortly publish extracts from statements made by Ministers in Parliament during the passage of the Companies Act 2006 in relation to the statutory statement of directors’ duties to the company. These gave important guidance to the new statutory statement.


27 Feb 2007 : Column 1150W

Departments: Civil Servants

Stephen Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the total sum of bonuses paid to civil servants in his Department was in (a) 2005 and (b) 2006. [121560]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Department of Trade and Industry awards non-consolidated bonuses in two formats:

Based on the information available, the total sum of bonuses paid in 2005 and 2006 is provided in the following table.

£
Financial year( 1) Special bonuses Performance awards Total value

2005-06

572,902

1,808,630

2,381,532

2006-07(2)

333,827

2,261,641

2,595,468

(1) Financial years run from 1 April to 31 March.
(2) Figures for 2006-07 for special bonuses and performance awards can only be made available up to 31 January 2007.

Departments: Freedom of Information

Mr. Wills: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate he has made of the cost to his Department of monitoring the time spent processing requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 for the purposes of the proposed fees regulations. [121723]

Jim Fitzpatrick: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department for Constitutional Affairs on 22 February 2007, Official Report, column 866W as follows.

Departments: Theft

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what items valued at above £100 were reported as stolen from his Department's buildings or premises in the last 12 months. [121971]

Jim Fitzpatrick: 24 items were reported as either lost or stolen in DTI's three London buildings since during the period January 2006 to December 2006. The breakdown and total approximate value is in the following table:


27 Feb 2007 : Column 1151W
Description Number reported missing Cumulative value January to December (£)

Laptop

8

8,000.00

Mobile phone

14

1,400.00

PDA

1

300.00

Digital camera

1

500.00

Total

24

10,200.00


Drugs: Licensing

Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans the Government have to ensure that the special position of the Channel Islands is not abused to provide a home for those marketing illegal and potentially dangerous products to the United Kingdom. [122320]

Mr. McCartney: The Government have no plans as current UK legislation already contains adequate provisions for the effective enforcement of product safety requirements, regardless of where products are sourced.

Electronic Equipment: Waste Disposal

Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions the Government plans to have with representatives of the electrical industry on implementation of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive. [123410]

Malcolm Wicks: The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations 2006, implementing the WEEE Directive, were laid before the House on 12 December 2006, following extensive consultation with business. We will continue to work with stakeholders to ensure an effective WEEE system in the UK.


Next Section Index Home Page