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Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent changes have been made to the procedure by which members of the armed forces stationed overseas receive parcels free of charge; and if he will make a statement. 
Derek Twigg: A free packet scheme was first introduced on 17 April 2003, as a temporary measure unique to Iraq, at a time when service personnel did not have access to the welfare facilities that are now available in theatre. When the provision of goods and services in Iraq reached the required standard, the decision was taken to end the scheme on 8 April 2004. It was later re-introduced for a period of one month before Christmas 2004, and subsequently confirmed by the then Secretary of State for Defence, prior to Christmas 2005, that the pre-Christmas free packet scheme was to become a standard element of the operational welfare package. The free posting dates for Christmas 2006 were 10 November to 8 December inclusive, for which Royal Mail Group charged the Ministry of Defence £577,000; this sum does not include the costs for additional air transport and onward distribution that were also paid for by the Department.
The Ministry of Defence makes no charge to carry postal packets through the British Forces Post Office system to personnel on operations. The cost that is payable is that charged by Royal Mail Group to carry the items from local post offices to the British Forces Post Office Depot at Mill Hill, London.
Derek Twigg: The latest Royal Navy, Royal Marine, Army and RAF Continuous Attitude Surveys are in the final stages of completion and will be available at the beginning of May. I will make arrangements to place copies in the Library of the House and on the MOD Freedom of Information Website.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many different application forms a potential officer recruit to the Army must complete before entering Sandhurst; and what estimate he has made of the effect of that number on the number of recruits choosing to join the armed forces. 
Derek Twigg: A candidate for a commission in the British Army has to complete a Potential Army Officer Information form, an Army Officer Selection Board Curriculum Vitae, an Application for a Commission in the British Army, an Army Medical Questionnaire and a MOD Security Questionnaire. If an individual is successful and takes up the offer of a Commission and place at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, they will be required to complete the following prior to arrival: Personal Details form, Medical Declaration and Pre Course Briefing form.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of the defence budget was spent on the Atomic Weapons Establishment in each of the last 10 years; and what the planned figures are for the next five years. 
|Outturn spend as a percentage of the planned budget|
The forecast percentage of the planned defence budget to be spent at the Atomic Weapons Establishment is 2.4 per cent. in 2006-07 and 2.7 per cent. in 2007-08. This is due primarily to the
programme of additional investment in sustaining key skills and facilities announced by my right hon. Friend the Member for Airdie and Shorts (John Reid) on 19 July 2006, Official Report, column 59WS.
We will continue the programme of investment in sustaining capabilities at the Atomic Weapons Establishment, both to ensure we can maintain the existing warhead for as long as necessary and to enable us to develop a replacement warhead if required. This, and our plans for the maintenance of the independent nuclear deterrent were set out in the White Paper The Future of the United Kingdoms Nuclear Deterrent (Cm 6994), published in December 2006.
Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many current security passes to enter his Departments premises have been issued to employees of BAE Systems; and if he will list the BAE Systems employees who hold such passes. 
Derek Twigg: Employees of BAE Systems that require access to MOD establishments are issued with a variety of security passes, depending on the nature of their business, the authorised access required and the duration of their requirement for access. Information is not held centrally on how many security passes have been issued and it would incur disproportionate cost to collate this data.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 26 February 2007, Official Report, column 601W, what the well-established technical co-operation programmes are through which the UK makes a contribution to the US missile defence system; and if he will make a statement. 
Des Browne: The UK/US technical co-operation programmes cover a wide range of missile defence activities. These include current and future missile threat assessment, threat launch detection, threat tracking, command and control aspects, sensors, weapon systems and the consequences of interception. The joint co-operation programmes have allowed both the UK and US to improve our joint understanding of missile defence issues, and have allowed UK-developed technology with potential missile defence applications to be demonstrated to the US.
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what date he expects (a) the project to safeguard a number of files which had been stored in the Old War
Office Building and were affected by asbestos to be completed and (b) (i) documents relating to the visit to London in 1974 of the then Turkish Prime Minister, Bulent Ecevit, and (ii) all other affected documents to be released. 
Derek Twigg: It is anticipated that the project to scan the files affected by asbestos contamination of the Old War Office basement will be completed by early 2008. The project was originally expected to finish in July 2007, but the number of pages needing to be scanned has proved to be higher than estimated, requiring a six month extension.
Freedom of Information requests frustrated by the contamination of files are being addressed in the order in which they were received as the files reconstituted by the project become available, although it will take at least nine months to process the backlog. All files scanned as part of this project will, in due course, be reviewed in accordance with established procedures. Those that The National Archives require for permanent preservation will be transferred there in accordance with the Public Records Acts.
There is no file in the asbestos contaminated archive specifically related to Bulent Ecevits visit to London in 1974. Although the archive contains a large number of files which have Turkey in their title, given the date in question only one of these could conceivably have covered the Ecevit visit. This file has been reconstituted and examined, but unfortunately holds no relevant information.
Mr. Fraser: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the planned programme budget was for his Department in each of the last 10 years (a) in real terms and (b) as a percentage of gross domestic product. 
Des Browne: Since 1998, Defence spending plans have been set as part of the Governments Spending Review process. Prior to this, spending plans were set on an annual basis. The Government accounting process has changed progressively over this period due to the introduction of Resource Accounting and Budgeting (RAB). The terms in which these budgets were set are therefore not directly comparable.
|Cash/Near cash budget in real terms (2006-07 base year) (£ billion)||Cash/Near Cash budget as a percentage of GDP|
For the first two of these years, the Government made it clear that it would work within the existing spending plans while it tackled the structural deficit it inherited and set new policy objectives and spending priorities. Since the first two years, the average annual real increase in the cash/near cash element of the Defence budget, has been over £300 million.
The figures in the table do not include the cost of operations as these are claimed against the Reserve in-year and are reported in Departmental Expenditure figures. The most recent edition of Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses, available online at www.hm-treasury.gov.uk, records that total government expenditure on defence, including operations, was 2.5 per cent. in 2004-05 and estimated at 2.5 per cent. in 2005-06.
(1) See www.hm-treasury.gov.uk for explanation of terms
Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much was spent on (a) involuntary and (b) voluntary staff exit schemes in (i) his Department and (ii) each agency of the Department in each year since 1997-98; how much is planned to be spent for 2007-08; and if he will make a statement. 
We do hold information on a Department-wide voluntary early release scheme which was launched in March 2005, in connection with the civil service-wide reductions required under the 2004 Spending Review. Under this scheme 643 staff left in 2005-06, at a cost of £41 million; 660 staff left in 2006-07 at a cost of £43 million; a further 706 are planned to be released at an estimated cost of £80 million in 2007-08.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the effect on (a) serviceability and (b) availability of C130s has been of the introduction of the Hercules Integrated Operational Support contract provided by Marshall Aerospace. 
Mr. Ingram: The Hercules Integrated Operational Support (HIOS) contract's primary output is to provide Fit For Purpose (FFP) aircraft available to the Front Line Command. To qualify as FFP an aircraft must be reliable, safe and capable of performing the task on a given day.
HIOS is still in its transitional phase, and is due to complete on 30 November 2007. Nevertheless, between 1 September 2006 and 31 January 2007 (the most recent period for which data is available), there was a modest increase in FFP aircraft of 3 per cent. (whilst
also reducing costs) when compared with a similar time frame under the previous aircraft support arrangements. This performance is expected to improve progressively as the full benefits of HIOS take effect.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 28 November 2006, Official Report, columns 625-26W, on mental health, what the assessed establishment requirement is for each category of mental health worker; and where each is based. 
Derek Twigg: As stated on the 29 January 2007, Official Report, column 25W, the DMS uniformed regular requirement figures have been reviewed and the new manning requirements for 2007 for all cadres will be formally announced in the near future. The new requirement figures may cause the current number and configuration of established posts or establishment to change.
|(1) Psychiatrist establishment includes one rotation (tri-Service) post. Notes: APHCSArmy Primary Health Care Service BFG HSBritish Forces Germany Health Service CHQCollocated Headquarters DCMHDepartment of Community Mental Health HMNBHer Majesty's Naval Base MRSMedical Reception Service PHCPrimary Health Care TMPHThe Princess Mary's Hospital TMWTactical Medical Wing|
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