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10 May 2007 : Column 346W—continued

Armed Forces: Recruitment

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what methods other than financial incentives are being used to improve recruitment and retention in the armed forces. [131698]

Derek Twigg: All three services undertake numerous and varied initiatives, both at national and local level, aimed at sustaining and increasing the level of recruitment to the armed forces. Included among the many current initiatives are:

Taken across the armed forces, retention is generally satisfactory. Nevertheless in some areas, exit rates are still too high and require us to work hard at retaining people in these areas. Retention measures such as:

Initiatives to improve work/life balance include proposals such as allowing personnel to work flexibly where it is operationally possible to do so and where personnel have reached a certain stage in their careers.

Within the naval services, the re-balancing lives initiative (RBL) seeks to improve the work/life balance of our people.

The future Army structure will lengthen tour intervals, improve career development and effectiveness of our soldiers and, with more robust structures, the quality of life for them and their families. The whole Army will be on a system of individual postings, which together with other linked initiatives will improve stability for Army personnel and their families.

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The RAF continues to explore the scope to allow greater employment flexibility and achievement of work/life balance aspirations, which might help improve the recruitment and retention of its personnel, including: flexible working hours, job share, career breaks, sabbaticals and secondments, greater family stability. Recent improvements have been made to the operational welfare package, the aim of which is to maintain the strength and morale of service personnel in order to optimise and maintain effectiveness. It does so by providing support for the physical and emotional well-being of service personnel deployed on operations. Recent improvements to the package include an increase in the free weekly telephone calls from 20 to 30 minutes and a tax bonus. Other benefits of the package include free e-mails facility, free “blueys” (mail), free packages from families to personnel of up to 2 kg over the Christmas period and up to 14 days rest and recuperation break during a six month tour.

Armed Forces: Secondments

Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for how long members of the armed forces are seconded to the households of non-ministerial members of the Army Board. [134510]

Derek Twigg: Postings conform to normal Army rules and vary in length depending on circumstances. The normal tour length for chefs is three years, and for other posts is two years.

Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many servicemen and women were waiting for treatment by the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court, Surrey on 16 April. [132846]

Derek Twigg: The Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC) at Headley Court offers a range of in-patient rehabilitation services and is the base for the Defence Medical Services’ Rheumatology and Rehabilitation (R&R) consultants. Broadly, three categories of patient attend DMRC:

Defence Medical Service

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his Department’s expenditure was on (a) the Defence Medical Service and (b) each cadre of the Defence Medical Service in each of the last five years. [132622]

Derek Twigg: The information is currently being collated. I will write to the hon. Member when this has been completed, and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.

Departments: Horses

Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department spent on polo ponies in each of the last five years. [136384]

Derek Twigg: The MOD does not own any polo ponies.

Departments: Internet

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for which Government websites he is responsible; how many visitors each received in the latest period for which figures are available; and what the cost (a) was of establishing and (b) has been of maintaining each site. [135732]

Derek Twigg: The Ministry of Defence and armed forces collectively maintain four corporate websites. Direct expenditure on these and the number of page views that each site received in the financial year 2006-07 were as follows:

Website URL Annual expenditure Unique page views per annum

Ministry of Defence


17.6 million

Royal Navy


36.7 million

British Army


52.3 million

Royal Air Force




10 May 2007 : Column 349W

The following websites are maintained by business units within MOD. We have embarked on a programme of rationalising content from these sites into the four corporate sites and expect to see a
10 May 2007 : Column 350W
significant reduction in the number of sites over the next two years. This list does not include sites created and maintained by individual units or regiments.

Website URL Annual expenditure Unique page views per annum

Army Jobs

Not available

12.3 million

British Forces Post Office


No hosting fees, £2,500 for in-house maintenance


UK Defence Standardization


2.1 million

Chief Scientific Advisor


Not available

Service Personnel and Veterans Agency



Page views—2,724,268

Acquisition Safety and Environmental Management System


Not available

Central Data Management Authority


Not known

Defence Analytical Services Agency


Not recorded

Defence Schools Presentation Team


81,800 sessions

The ‘We Were There Exhibition’ Website


56,112 sessions

Defence Image Database



Defence Export Services Organisation


4,716 unique visitors

Royal Navy Community Website


11.7 million

Defence Storage and Distribution Agency

£300 (hosting cost only)


MOD Procurement Portal Website provided as part of requirement for the publication and distribution of the MOD Defence Contracts Bulletin and associated services

Included in overall contract separate figure for website not available

203,314 visits 1,222,427 page impressions

Defence Academy 32 sites under this banner, 6 represent major colleges. Remainder special-purpose vehicles for course support etc.


5.22 million

Defence Aviation Safety Centre


Not available

Defence Bills Agency

£240 (hosting only)

Not available

Defence Science and Technology Laboratory

Unable to provide at present


Disposal Services Agency


750,000 session 5 million page views



320,000 unique page views

Meteorological Office

£450,000 annual costs. £360,000 upgrade costs

327 million hits, 36 million visitors

UK Hydrographic Office

£162,600—For this financial year


Defence Aviation Repair Agency

Not available


Competition of Ideas


Not available

Defence Engineering and Science Group

£300 (hosting cost only)

210,000 (from October 2006 to May 2007)

Grand Challenge

£2,000 (full year est)

72,000 (from November 2006-May 2007)

10 May 2007 : Column 351W

Current Information was unavailable for the following websites—2005-06 figures have been provided:

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