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26 Jun 2007 : Column 664W—continued

Palestinians: Politics and Government

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the effect on stability in the region of the newly formed Palestinian Government. [144774]

Dr. Howells: We have made no assessment of the effect the new Palestinian Government have had on stability in the region. We, along with regional partners, are concerned about the current situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary spoke to Palestinian President Abbas, US Secretary of State Rice and the Egyptian, Omani and Qatari Foreign Ministers ahead of the Arab League Foreign Ministers meeting on 15 June. We support President Abbas and the emergency Government.

Arab League Foreign Ministers on 15 June agreed to support President Abbas and condemned all parties for
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the violence. The Arab League agreed to establish a Fact-Finding Committee (Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Qatar) to engage with the parties.

Defence

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what date the mission in Helmand province was originally expected to end; and what the most recent estimate is of what that date will be. [144778]

Des Browne: The current deployment of UK troops in the South of Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force is planned until 2009, although we have always made it clear that our commitment to Afghanistan is a long-term one. The size and duration of the UK presence in Helmand will depend on a number of factors including the ability of Afghan security forces to take greater responsibility for the security of their own country.

Al Yamamah Project

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which organisations had drawing rights on the special account held at the Bank of England in relation to the Al Yamamah contract; and what information his Department had on the identity of those with drawing rights on accounts to which money was sent from that special account. [144255]

Des Browne: I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 21 June 2007, Official Report, column 1989W.

Armed Forces: Cultural Heritage

Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what advice is given to UK armed forces personnel serving in (a) Afghanistan, (b) Iraq and (c) other theatres overseas on the buying and export from the country of origin of ancient coins and antiquities and other cultural property; and if he will make a statement. [142701]

Mr. Ingram: Guidance on this issue is provided in both a Defence Council Instruction (DCI) and a Defence Operational Instruction (DOI) on the retention of captured enemy equipment as operational memorabilia (OM).

Specifically in relation to OM: the DCI states

and the DOI states

In addition there are provisions within the agreements between UK and the host nation in which our troops are serving that state that personnel will respect the laws, regulations, customs and traditions of the host country insofar as this is compatible with the entrusted task and mandate.


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Armed Forces: Desertion

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) rank, (b) age, (c) sex, (d) regiment and (e) last theatre of operation is of those service personnel classed as being absent without leave and who have not yet been unaccounted for. [145958]

Mr. Ingram: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, as at 25 June 2007, the numbers of personnel who have gone absent without leave from the services since 1 January 2003 and remain so are:

Service Number

Army

960

RAF

10

Navy

15


These figures are rounded to the nearest five. They are subject to daily changes as individuals return to their units.

Armed Forces: Housing

Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of accommodation provided by his Department to non-ministerial members of the Army Board is considered to be of Standard 1 condition. [137729]

Derek Twigg: Of the five non-ministerial members of the Army Board who are provided with accommodation, two (40 per cent.) occupy Standard 1 Condition properties. They are the General Officer Commanding Northern Ireland and the Assistant Chief of the General Staff. The property occupied by the Chief of the General Staff is not owned or maintained by the MOD and therefore is not classified using the MOD system.

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many UK armed services personnel (a) were barracked in the UK and (b) had a private residence that was not provided by the armed forces in each of the last five years. [137899]

Derek Twigg: Figures for the period 2003 to 2006 are set out as follows. The term ‘barracked in the UK’ has been taken to include all Service Family Accommodation (SFA), Single Living Accommodation (SLA), Substitute Service Families Accommodation (SSFA) and Substitute Service Single Accommodation (SSSA). The information requested is currently captured as at 1 April each year, but this only began in 2003 for SFA and 2004 for SLA. The allocation and occupancy of SFA is managed on a single information system, but in the case of SLA differences in reporting, for example over whether SLA is formally allocated to individuals in dormitories, mean that the figures should be regarded as approximate. Information on SLA occupied by those undergoing Phase 1 and 2 training (basic recruit/trade training) is not available for 2004 and 2005, but is included in the 2006 figures. Comparable figures for 2007 are not yet available.


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1 April each year:
2003 2004 2005 2006

Number of entitled Service personnel accommodated in SFA/SSFA in UK

43,148

42,848

42,848

43,339

Number of entitled Service personnel accommodated in SLA/SSLA in UK

n/a

89,990

91,979

108,308

Total number of entitled Service personnel Barracked in UK

132,838

134,827

151,647

n/a = Not available

Information on whether Service personnel own a private residence is not held by the Ministry of Defence. However, estimates derived from surveys indicate that the level of home ownership is approximately 73 per cent. for Officers and 45 per cent. for Other Ranks.

Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the estimated cost is of bringing all family accommodation at Pirbright barracks to an acceptable standard for habitation. [141845]

Derek Twigg: We have not yet made any dedicated estimate of the cost of bringing all Service Families Accommodation (SFA) at Pirbright Barracks to an acceptable standard.

Departments: Common Purpose

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department paid to Common Purpose in each of the last five years; for what purpose; and what the outcome of the expenditure was. [145342]

Derek Twigg: Sums paid to Common Purpose UK in each of the last complete five financial years, inclusive of VAT, are as follows:

Amount (£)

2002-03

56,576.25

2003-04

66,716.50

2004-05

42,958.00

2005-06

58,456.27

2006-07

83,817.89


These payments covered the cost of participation by MOD staff in Common Purpose UK’s training and education programmes. Programmes of this nature help to develop leadership skills, to gain understanding about broader aspects of government and to share experience with and learn from participants from both the private and public sectors.

Departments: Older Workers

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of staff in his Department were over 60 years of age in each of the last three years. [145677]

Derek Twigg: Departmental staffs 60 and over are shown as follows:

Percentage

April 2005

Percentage of staff aged 60 and over

5.8

April 2006

Percentage of staff aged 60 and over

6.5

April 2007

Percentage of staff aged 60 and over

7.6

Source:
DASA (Civilian)

Figures quoted include trading funds, but excludes Royal Fleet Auxiliaries and locally engaged staff. Percentages have been calculated on unrounded figures.

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many people aged (a) over 55 years of age and (b) over 60 years of age have been recruited by his Department in each of the last three years; and what percentage in each case this is of the number of new recruits in each year. [145709]

Derek Twigg: The following table gives details of civilian personnel recruited by the Ministry of Defence:

Civilian inflow to the Ministry of Defence by financial year
Headcount
2004-05 2005-06 2006-07
Age Total inflow Percentage of total inflow Total inflow Percentage of total inflow Total inflow Percentage of total inflow

55 to 59

590

6.3

360

5.8

350

6.2

60+

310

3.3

210

3.3

220

4.0

55+

900

9.6

570

9.2

570

10.2

Notes:
1. This includes industrial and non industrial staff employed by the Ministry of Defence and trading funds, but excludes Royal Fleet Auxiliaries and locally engaged staff.
2. Percentages are calculated on unrounded figures and exclude staff of unknown age.
3. Staff grouped 55+ are a subset of 60+.
4. Due to the rounding methods used, totals may not always equal the sum of the parts. When rounding to the nearest 10, numbers ending in 5 have been rounded to the nearest multiple of 20 to prevent systematic bias.
Source:
DASA (Civilian)

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Departments: Surveys

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many staff surveys his Department undertook in the last 12 months; and at what total cost. [145256]

Derek Twigg: There are a variety of staff surveys conducted by the Ministry of Defence. Details of these surveys are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

The four principal staff surveys conducted in the last 12 months were of the Naval Services, Army, RAF and civilian personnel.

Departments: Written Questions

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many ordinary written questions tabled to his Department by hon. Members have been waiting for a substantive reply for more than (a) one month and (b) two months; and what the subjects are of those questions. [144587]

Derek Twigg: As at 25 June, five ordinary written questions had been waiting for a reply for between one and two months and eight for more than two months. The questions are various and include subjects such as insurgency in Iraq, contaminated land, service personnel issues, and costs and expense claims of Army Board members.

Iraq

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the capabilities of insurgents in Iraq to launch attacks on naval and maritime targets. [110370]

Des Browne: We keep the capability of insurgents in Iraq under constant review, including their capability to launch attacks on naval and maritime targets. This is a credible threat and our current force structure reflects that assessment.


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