Previous Section Index Home Page

16 July 2007 : Column 24W—continued

16 July 2007 : Column 25W

Cannibalisation is an accepted short-term measure employed by aviation forces around the world, to ensure the maximum number of aircraft are available. It is often the only course of action where replacement items cannot be sourced in the required time frame.

The figures shown in the table refer to individual instances of cannibalisation as opposed to the number of aircraft involved. All instances of cannibalisation are authorised and undertaken in accordance with clearly defined regulations. The term ‘cannibalisation’ can refer to the removal of single or small numbers of components, of any size. It does not necessarily refer to the wholesale utilisation of capital components or airframes.

Iraq: Peacekeeping Operations

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 25 June 2007, Official Report, column 125W, on Iraq: peacekeeping operations, what the estimated replacement costs of military equipment damaged and destroyed owing to use in Iraq has been since the start of the war in Iraq (a) in total and (b) for (i) tanks and other armoured vehicles, (ii) aircraft and (iii) helicopters since 1 March 2004. [147488]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 5 July 2007]: I have nothing to add to the answer my predecessor gave on 25 June 2007, Official Report, column 125W.

Military Aircraft: Spare Parts

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many times a (a) C17A Globemaster, (b) Hercules C-130K, (c) Hercules C-130J, (d) Tristar, (e) VC-10 and (f) Nimrod MR2 has been cannibalised for spare parts. [148270]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The removal of serviceable parts from one aircraft for use on another is a routine and temporary measure to ensure that the maximum number of aircraft are available to the front line.

The number of these instances over the last 12 months (June 2006-May 2007), by donor aircraft, is given in the following table.

Aircraft type Number of cannibalisations











Nimrod MR2


Military Bases: Wales

John Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for the future of the Special Forces Support Unit at MOD St Athan; and if he will make a statement. [147284]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The UK Joint Special Forces Support Group (SFSG) is an integral part of the UK Special Forces Group and falls under the operational command of the Director of Special Forces. It is our established policy not to comment on special forces matters.

16 July 2007 : Column 26W

However, I can say that since the SFSG was stood up in April 2006 it has served with distinction in the field and is already providing the UK Special Forces Group with a significantly enhanced capability as envisaged.

Navy: Defence Equipment

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) escort ships, (b) major ships and submarines, (c) minor war vessels and (d) RFA ships were commissioned into the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary in each year since 2000; and how many in each category are planned to be commissioned in each of the next 10 years. [147859]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: In the last 10 years the following ships have entered service with the Royal Navy:

In service date Vessel


1 Type 23 Frigate

2 Sandown Class Mine Hunters


1 Type 23 Frigate

1 Sandown Class Mine Hunter


1 Type 23 Frigate

1 Sandown Class Mine Hunter


1 Landing Platform Dock

3 River Class Patrol Vessels

2 Survey Ships

2 Auxiliary Ships



1 Landing Platform Dock


3 Auxiliary Ships

In-service dates for ships are only fixed when the main investment decision has been taken. Of the ships planned to enter service over the next 10 years, the following have agreed in-service dates:

16 July 2007 : Column 27W
In-service date Vessel


1 Auxiliary Ship

1 River Class Patrol Vessel (Helicopter)



1 Type 45 Destroyer


1 Type 45 Destroyer

1 Astute Class Nuclear Submarine


2 Type 45 Destroyers

1 Astute Class Nuclear Submarine


1 Type 45 Destroyer


1 Type 45 Destroyer

1 Astute Class Nuclear Submarine



1 Astute Class Nuclear Submarine

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the planning assumption is for the service life of (a) Type 23 frigates, (b) Type 45 destroyers and (c) future surface combatants. [147860]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Our current planning assumptions are that on average the Type 23 frigates will be in service for 27 years and the Type 45 anti- aircraft destroyers for 25 years. The programme for the procurement of the future surface combatant is still at an early stage and the service life for these ships has yet to be determined.

Navy: Military Bases

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his timetable is for publishing the results of the naval bases review. [148526]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: We have said from the outset of the naval base review (NBR) that its outcome needs to be coherent with other key maritime industrial strategy projects and programmes. It is of paramount importance that we do this in order to determine an overall ‘best for Defence’ outcome and the best value for the taxpayer.

The Ministry of Defence is therefore engaging with other Government Departments to assess the wider implications for the different NBR options. While this complex work is progressing well, further work is required before final conclusions can be reached.

University Officer Training Corps

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) establishment and (b) strength of the University Officer Training Corps was at 1 March. [148567]

Derek Twigg: The total establishment of the 19 units of the University Officers Training Corps (UOTC) is 3,500 of which 2,946 are officer cadets and 554 Territorial Army staff instructors.

As at 31 March 2007, the actual strength of the UOTCs was 5,031 of which 4,429 were from the student body including approximately 500 Army Bursars who have already passed officer selection and who are committed to join the Army; these officer cadets are on strength but are not counted against the establishment. These figures include all officer cadets who are no longer actively training, but have yet to be discharged from the Service.

I also refer the hon. Member to the answer my right hon. Friend the Member for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow (Mr. Ingram) gave on 16 May 2007, Official Report, column 1292W, to the hon. Member for Colchester (Bob Russell).

16 July 2007 : Column 28W

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Afghanistan: Drugs

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) financial and (b) other assistance was provided to the Government of Afghanistan to tackle the narcotics industry in that country in each year since 2002; and if he will make a statement. [149213]

Dr. Howells: The total financial assistance provided by the Government to the Afghan Government to tackle the narcotics industry each year since 2002 is as follows:

Total Afghan counter-narcotics spend
Financial year £ million











Our support comprises direct financial assistance and practical support, such as developing law enforcement and criminal justice institutions, mentoring police and judges, and technical assistance to build the capacity of government institutions. Of this year’s £82 million, £37.6 million will be invested in alternative legal livelihoods and development. As Afghanistan’s G8 partner nation on counter-narcotics, the UK lobbies for continued and increased international assistance and support for the Afghan Government’s National Drug Control Strategy (NDCS). We are also helping the Afghans to sharpen the implementation of the NDCS which has four priorities: targeting the trafficker; strengthening and diversifying legal rural livelihoods; reducing demand; and developing state institutions.

Colombia: Politics and Government

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the political situation in Colombia. [149177]

Dr. Howells: Colombia has suffered from 40 years of internal conflict, fuelled by the illegal drugs trade. In his five years as President, Alvaro Uribe has achieved remarkable advances: security is much improved; violent crime is hugely reduced; 35,000 paramilitaries have demobilised; and the economy is prospering.

President Uribe's Colombia is a key UK ally in the region. UK co-operation with Colombia focuses on the fight against drugs and improving the difficult human rights situation. It is one of constructive engagement rather than uncritical support. We support the efforts of President Uribe to tackle the country's serious inter-connected problems, but we can and do remind the government of Colombia of the need to address areas of concern vigorously.

On drugs, co-operation is close and effective. President Uribe's Government are committed to improving the difficult human rights situation. But serious concerns remain: illegal armed groups commit wide-ranging abuses, and threats to trade unionists and
16 July 2007 : Column 29W
human rights defenders continue, and are unacceptable. Extra-judicial killings are rising. 49 per cent. of Colombians live in poverty.

We welcomed President Uribe's decision in June to release a number of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) operatives, including Rodrigo Granda, as a positive step forward for a path to lasting peace in Colombia. It has been disappointing that the FARC have not responded positively to President Uribe's bold move. Along with EU partners and others in the international community, we have expressed our outrage at the killings in June of 11 Colombian hostages held by the FARC, and extended our condolences to all those affected by this tragedy.

Convention on Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the United Nations Convention on Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism entered into force; when the United Kingdom (a) signed and (b) ratified the convention; what responsibilities signatory states have to report on implementation of the convention in (i) member states and (ii) their overseas territories; and what steps the Government are taking to encourage non-signatory states to sign. [149504]

Dr. Howells: The International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism entered into force on 7 July. The UK signed the Convention on 14 September 2005. The legislation required to implement the Convention is now in place in the UK, and the Government are currently preparing the necessary documents to be laid before Parliament prior to ratification. The Convention imposes an obligation on States Parties to report to the UN Secretary-General the final outcome of criminal proceedings undertaken in respect of the offences set out in the Convention. States Parties will also be expected to report to the committees of the UN Security Council that monitor implementation of States’ counter-terrorism and non-proliferation obligations, on the implementation of their obligations under the Convention in a more general sense. While the Overseas Territories will not be included at the time of the UK’s ratification, there remains the possibility of extending the Convention to the Overseas Territories following consultation with them and the passing of any necessary legislation in each Territory. With our international partners, the UK has strongly encouraged all States to sign and ratify the Convention. Most recently, in a joint statement on counter-terrorism issued at the Heiligendamm Summit on 8 June, the leaders of the G8 called on all States to ratify the Convention.

Cuba: Biological Weapons

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will hold discussions with his Cuban counterpart on Cuba's biological warfare programme. [149470]

Dr. Howells: The Government keep under review the potential military capability of other states, but it is not our practice to divulge the details including relevant discussions with other states.

Next Section Index Home Page