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Des Browne: BAE Systems is the largest supplier of defence equipment to the Ministry of Defence, providing products and services in the air, sea, land and space sectors. As with all contracts placed by MOD acquisition staff, the contracts with BAE Systems are negotiated against a strict set of terms and conditions in order to deliver acquisition programmes to meet operational, programme requirements and to achieve best value for money.
24. Mr. Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made towards recognising the contribution of the Bevin Boys to the second world war effort; and if he will make a statement. 
Derek Twigg: Following the Prime Minister's Statement on 24 January that the Government would be announcing proposals to give recognition to the Bevin Boys, it has been agreed that responsibility for implementing the Prime Minister's decision should lie with the Department of Trade and Industry, as the Department responsible for the coal mining industry. I understand that a statement giving specific detail on the Government's proposals is imminent.
Derek Twigg: I announced on 11 June that the Ministry of Defence was expanding the medical assessment programme at St. Thomas's Hospital, London, to provide assessments to any veteran suffering from mental health problems as a result of service in operations since 1982. For the longer term, the MOD is working with the four UK Health Departments to pilot a new community-based service that will provide NHS health professionals with access to expertise in military mental health.
Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many units of family accommodation at Pirbright barracks are occupied by squatters; and what steps are being taken to ensure such accommodation is not occupied by squatters or vandalized. 
Derek Twigg: We are aware of two incidents of squatters having taken over empty Service Families Accommodation (SFA) at Pirbright, both of which occurred in the early part of last year. The properties were outside the wire.
Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what programmes his Department is funding to look at counter measures against the RPG29 and other shaped charge threats to British armoured vehicles. 
|Financial year||£ million|
2006-07 figures will be available once the agency accounts of Defence Estatesthe Ministry of Defence organisation responsible for the defence estatehave been audited. A copy will be placed in the Library of the House.
Des Browne: The Ministry of Defence is currently conducting a policy review of what information can be disclosed about operational equipment without compromising operational security or effectiveness. Until that review is complete, I am withholding this information as its release would, or would be likely to, prejudice capability, effectiveness and security of our armed forces.
Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence upon what grounds and for what reason a currency other than sterling will be used by British troops based on UK sovereign territory in Cyprus from next year; what consultations have taken place in connection therewith; with whom those consultations have taken place; and if he will make a statement. 
the currency of the Republic will be legal tender in the Sovereign Base Areas (SBAs).
Since 1960 the SBAs, including the large numbers of Cypriot citizens and British military personnel resident there, have used the Cyprus pound and not the pound sterling. The Republic of Cyprus is expected to replace the Cyprus pound with the euro from 1 January 2008. If this happens then the legal tender in the SBAs will become the euro. Use of a currency in the SBAs other
than that circulating in the Republic of Cyprus would be impractical, and would run counter to the 1960 treaty.
UK military and UK based civilian staff will continue, as now, to be paid in pounds sterling and they can continue, as now, to elect to have a portion of their salary paid in the local currency into a local bank account. The same process applies in other overseas locations including Germany which also now uses the euro.
Mr. Touhig: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what funding his Department has allocated for local events to mark Veterans Day 2007; and whether all the funding has been allocated to local events. 
Derek Twigg: £250,000 was initially allocated to regional events meeting the criteria set for Veterans Day 2007. However, in view of the high number of compliant bids received, this has been increased and a total of £319,000 has now been awarded. We have had to give priority to those proposals that have clearly supported the objectives set out for Veterans Day. The closing date for applications has now passed.
Under the War Pension Scheme (WPS), only medical discharge cases involve serving personnelall others will involve ex-service personnel. At the end of March 2007 there were 348 WPS medical discharge cases under consideration. Some of these individuals may have left the service.
The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme deals with claims from both serving and ex-service personnel. At the end of March 2007 there were 111 medical discharge cases and 400 injury/illness cases being processed under this scheme.
Clearance times under these schemes reflect the fact that many claims require extensive medical evidence to be gathered under various sources, and it is often necessary to seek further information in the light of the initial evidence received. Evidence then needs to be collated and assessed before a decision is taken.
Some 35,500 WPS claims and 4,800 AFCS claims were received in 2006-07, so it is inevitable that at any one time there will be several thousand being processed. This is normal work in progress, not a backlog.
The WPS key target for 2006-07, to reduce the average time it takes to issue decisions on claims to war pensions to no more than 53 working days, was exceeded with an achievement of 49 working days. The AFCS key target for 2006-07, to issue decisions on AFCS claims in an average of no more than 35 working days, was exceeded with an achievement of 34 working days.
Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to the answer of 11 June 2007, Official Report, column 739W, on the Arts Council, how many projects of all sizes were cancelled by Arts Council England in each of the last five years. 
It is not possible systematically to identify records on the Arts Councils grants systems of awards that were cancelled. Consequently to provide an answer would involve manually examining hundreds, if not thousands of records, which would incur disproportionate costs.
Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will bring forward proposals to establish a parliamentary committee to consider the Casino Advisory Panel's report in respect of the regional casino and that of the House of Lords Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee. 
Mr. Caborn: Ministers are currently considering the options in the light of the defeat of The Gambling (Geographical Distribution of Casino Premises Licences) Order 2007 in the House of Lords on 28 March, and there is no set timetable for an announcement.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many staff in her Department received bonus payments in 2006-07; what proportion of the total workforce they represented; what the total amount of bonuses paid was; what the largest single payment was; and if she will make a statement. 
(a) special bonuses to reward outstanding contributions in particularly demanding tasks or situations; and
(b) performance bonuses to reward highly successful performance over a whole year.
|(a) Staff bonuses|
|(b) Performance bonuses|
|(1) 2006-07 relates to the financial year Notes: 1. In any one year, some staff may receive both a special bonus and an end year performance bonus. 2. Performance bonus payments relate to performance in the previous year.|
Mr. Jamie Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what work her Department has undertaken with (a) Age Concern, (b) the Royal National Institute for the Blind, (c) the Royal National Institute for the Deaf, (d) Copeland Borough Council, (e) the Citizens' Advice Bureau and (f) other public sector or charitable organisations in relation to digital switchover in October 2007. 
Mr. Woodward: DCMS and Digital UK work closely with leading charities through the Digital Switchover Consumer Expert Group. Representatives include Age Concern, the Royal National Institute for the Blind, and the Royal National Institute for the Deaf and the Citizens' Advice Bureau.
Copeland borough council hosts the Digital Switchover Steering Group which meets every month. There are a number of joint events with Digital UK, including public meetings. In addition, Digital UK contributes to the council's newsletter with contributions, information and updates on switchover in the area.
In Copeland, Digital UK co-locate their offices with Age Concern North West Cumbria (ACNWC) and all ACNWC staff have been trained to provide support on the digital switchover. Digital UK also work closely with the West Cumbria Society for the Blind, with whom they held a joint event at the beginning of the month. Digital UK also hold joint events with the Cumbria Deaf Association and have worked with the local Citizens Advice Bureau.
Mr. Jamie Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what work her Department is undertaking to develop public service applications delivered via digital television; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Woodward: A return path, which would facilitate interactivity with public service applications via digital television, is not currently a requirement for set-top boxes provided by the Digital Switchover Help Scheme. However, officials continue to have discussions with various parties about how these services might be delivered, and the requirements for Help Scheme set-top boxes are kept under review so that equipment will be updated so as best to meet the needs of the groups the scheme is intended to serve.
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