Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the timetable is for the (a) reporting and (b) publication of the Board of Inquiry report into the destruction of the Hercules Aircraft on a landing strip in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram: The Board of Inquiry continues to work to determine the cause of this event. The findings of the Board will be released as soon as possible after conclusion of the inquiry; a redacted copy of the report will be made available on the MOD website.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which officials in his Department are involved in reviewing the need for further research using live goats, as part of the contract renewal process. 
Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for how many months the (a) 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh (The Royal Welsh Fusiliers), (b) 1st Battalion The Scots Guards, (c) 19th Regiment Royal Artillery, (d) 5th Regiment Royal Artillery and (e) 39th Regiment Royal Artillery will have been on operational duty at the end of their immediate future tour in Afghanistan over the last 30 months; and how the harmony guidelines are applied to (i) those units and (ii) the armed services in general. 
|Ser||Unit||Months on operations|
Royal Navy harmony guidelines are that no individual should exceed 660 days of separated service in a three-year rolling period. Over a similar time span, ships or other units should not be deployed for more than 60 per cent. of their time.
Harmony Guidelines for the RAF are based on formed unit tour intervals rather than individual personnel, whereby formed units, or sub-elements within them should spend four months on deployed operations followed by 16 months at base.
The RAF Individual Separated Service assumption is that an individual should spend no more than 140 days of duty detached away from home in a rolling 12-month period. This allows for a four-month operational tour followed by three weeks of separated service due to routine tasks, unestablished commitments, unit assistance, pre-detachment training etc.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many people his Department employs for liaison with the families of armed forces personnel; and what aspects of service life and issues these staff are responsible for dealing with; 
Derek Twigg: The welfare and community support of service personnel and their families is core MOD business. This includes family liaison, which has always been exercised by personnel who have command responsibility as an integral part of their duties.
Each of the three services has robust structures in place to support and liaise with families and service individuals; the support offered is wide-ranging and tailored to the requirements of the individual concerned. Examples of this include the support provided to families when the service spouse is deployed on operations. In such circumstances, units organise families briefing sessions, coffee mornings, crèches and community social events. Assistance is also provided to enable families to keep in touch with their loved ones through the provision of publicly funded internet and email terminals at local community and education centres.
Specialist charitable organisations such as the Soldiers, Sailors and Airmans Families Association and the Army Welfare Service are also available to offer assistance. Services offered overseas include the running of the confidential helpline and the provision of contracted community support, some medical care and social work elements. In the UK, they may come into contact with families for a whole host of reasons. The issues dealt with span the full spectrum of service and private life issues that may affect individuals or families from time to time.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many properties his Department leases from Annington Homes; where they are located; and how much his Department spent on (a) leasing and (b) maintaining and refurbishing them in each year since 1996. 
The service family homes leased from Annington are spread across some 540 sites in England and Wales which serve RAF stations, Army Barracks and Naval bases, as well as Reserve Forces and Cadets Association centres. Some are official residences. A more detailed breakdown of the location of these properties will take more time to collate. I will write to the hon. Member when this has been done and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.
The information in respect of maintenance and refurbishment of properties leased from Annington Homes is not available for all years, as it was collected and managed by individual Housing Directorate regions and their contractors in differing formats. However, the MOD spent the following amounts:
|(1) Includes upgrade expenditure of £10.2 million (2004-05) and £21.1 million (2005-06) although some of this may have been expended on houses still owned by the MOD.|
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many officers who attended the Higher Command Staff Course in each year between 1997 and 2006
remained in the armed services 12 months later; and how many are still in the armed services. 
Derek Twigg: The following table shows the number of officers who attended the Higher Command Staff Course between the years of 1997 to 2006; those who remained in the armed services 12 months later; and those who are still serving as at 1 January 2007.
|Year of course||Number attended course||Still serving after 12 months||Still serving as at 1 January 2007|
|n/a = Not applicable.|
All numbers are rounded to nearest five. Due to the rounding methods used, totals may not equal the sum of the parts.
Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) when he expects the first Panther Command and Liaison Vehicles to be accepted into service; how many such vehicles he expects to be in service; and to which units he expects them to be deployed; 
Mr. Ingram: On current plans a total of 401 vehicles will be procured. First deliveries are planned to take place at the end of 2007. It is currently intended to deploy Panther to Training Establishments, Brigades and the Remainder of Field Force Users and RAF.
The fuel consumption of a fully kitted-up Panther vehicle when used on a surfaced road is estimated to be 6 km/ltr when travelling at a constant speed of 80 km/h. The off-road consumption is estimated to be 2 km/ltr.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions two or more (a) Challenger 2, (b) Warrior, (c) FV430, (d) Sabre, (e) Samaritan, (f) Samson, (g) Scimitar, (h) Spartan and (i) Sultan vehicles were used in operations while on deployment in (i) Iraq, (ii) Afghanistan, (iii) Kosovo and (iv) Cyprus in each year since 1999. 
Derek Twigg [holding answer 5 March 2007]: Golden hellos are incentives paid to aid recruitment into specific branches of the Army where there are manning shortfalls. Recipients may be direct entrants or internal transferees. To qualify, an individual must be a UK passport holder and possess the academic or vocational qualifications required by the trade/branch they are seeking to join.
Mr. Ingram: Three Astute Class submarines are on order with BAE Systems (Submarine Solutions), and further boat orders are currently being considered, subject to affordability. We are working with Industry as part of the Defence Industrial Strategy to achieve an affordable and sustainable submarine programme.
Mr. Ingram: The contract with BAE Systems is for the design and manufacture of three Astute Class submarines. The NAOs Major Project Report for 2006 reported an expected total cost of £3,656 million against a recosted approval of £2,578 million.
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