17 Sep 2007 : Column 2167W

17 Sep 2007 : Column 2167W

Written Answers to Questions

The following answers were received between Thursday 13 September and Monday 17 September 2007

Leader of the House

Official Residences

Mrs. May: To ask the Leader of the House what the address is of (a) the offices and (b) any official residences she is entitled to use in her capacity as a Minister. [155431]

Helen Goodman: The Private Office for the Leader of the House of Commons is currently based at 26 Whitehall, London, SW1A 2WH.

No official residence has been allocated to the Minister.

Prime Minister

Committee on Standards in Public Life

Norman Baker: To ask the Prime Minister what the date was of the last day in office of the former Chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life; for what reason his successor has not been announced; and if he will make a statement. [155372]

The Prime Minister: Rita Donaghy CBE took over as interim Chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life with effect from 26 April 2007. The recruitment process for a permanent Chair is under way.


Richard Ottaway: To ask the Prime Minister what steps he plans to take to fight poverty in the next 12 months. [147802]

Mr. Plaskitt: I have been asked to reply.

For individuals and families, work is the best route out of poverty.

Pathways to Work will be rolled out across Britain by April 2008 and this will support the introduction of the new Employment and Support Allowance later in 2008. Both of these measures will encourage and support incapacity benefit claimants into work.

Furthermore, our Welfare Reform Green Paper “In work, better off” Cm7130, published on 18 July 2007, sets out how the Government aims to continue to move towards full employment, giving everyone the chance to work and contribute to society.

Earlier this year DWP published Working for Children, our strategy for parental employment, and this year’s Budget announced that the child element of child tax credit will rise by £150 from April 2008. This, along with a package of reforms to the personal tax
17 Sep 2007 : Column 2168W
and benefit system in Budget 2007, will help lift 200,000 children out of poverty by 2008-09. As part of the 2007 comprehensive spending review, DWP is working closely with HM Treasury, the Department for Families, Children and Schools, and other government departments on producing a child poverty Delivery Agreement.

For pensioners, our strategy is to target help on the poorest pensioners, while providing a solid foundation of support for all. This approach has been successful but we are not complacent, and realise there is more to do to ensure that pensioners get the money they are entitled to by raising awareness and encouraging people to claim.

We also intend to strengthen State Pensions as a credible foundation for private saving. The Pensions Bill, which is currently before Parliament, will make State Pensions more universal and more generous, and will include a commitment to uprate the Pension Credit Minimum Guarantee in line with earnings growth, locking in the gains made in combating poverty.

International Development

Democratic Republic of Congo

Mr. Joyce: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what support the UK plans to provide to local civil society organisations working in the field of governance and democracy in the Democratic Republic of Congo. [154886]

Mr. Thomas: The UK has an existing three-year £24 million community recovery programme in three provinces in DRC, which started in April 2007 and is being implemented by three international NGOs (the International Rescue Committee, the International Foundation for Care and Self-Help (IFESH) and CARE). The programme includes work on local governance and will support the creation of community level development committees that collectively plan and manage development projects such as re-building clinics, schools and bridges destroyed by fighting.

DFID has established a central Governance and Transparency Fund which will commit up to £100 million to civil society organisations working in the area of governance and transparency. Overall, civil society organisations are developing nearly 300 projects and final selection will take place later this year. The DFID office in DRC has been active in encouraging civil society organisations based in DRC to apply to this fund.

We are also working with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to develop a democracy and accountability programme of around £40 million. Through this programme UNDP will establish a mechanism to provide sustainable funding to a range of civil society organisations (local, international and faith-based) working on governance and democracy themes. We expect this to become operational in 2008.

17 Sep 2007 : Column 2169W

Eritrea: Overseas Aid

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make UK aid and development funds for Eritrea conditional on the improvement of the observance of (a) human rights and (b) religious freedoms in that country in 2008. [155407]

Mr. Thomas: DFID does not have a development programme in Eritrea because it has not been possible to establish the basis for a development partnership with the Eritrean Government in light of human rights abuses and other problems. We do have a humanitarian programme targeted directly at those in need, which is channelled through international relief agencies.

Minister for Women


Mr. Bone: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what discussions she has had with ministerial colleagues on initiatives to support women who are breastfeeding; and if she will make a statement. [147868]

Mr. Plaskitt [holding answer 5 July 2007]: I have been asked to reply.

I expect to discuss these issues within Government in the coming months.

Departments: Ministerial Red Boxes

John Hemming: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality how many ministerial red boxes were provided to her office in each of the last five years; what the cost of each was; who the suppliers were; and what tendering process was used in selecting them. [150405]

Ms Harman: Minister for Women red boxes are purchased by the Department in which she is based and are therefore counted in the figures provided by those individual Departments.

In the last five years the Minister for Women has been based in:


Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the status is of Taliban leader Naim Atallah, allegedly responsible for the killing of Captain David Hicks of the 1(st) Battalion the Royal Anglian Regiment, who was captured by British Forces in Helmand Province in August. [155143]

17 Sep 2007 : Column 2170W

Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 12 September 2007]: Captain Hicks was killed when his patrol operating base located to the North East of Sangin, in Helmand Province, came under attack on 11 August 2007. The investigation into his death is continuing.

Persons detained by British Forces are transferred to the Afghan Authorities. For reasons of operational security I am not prepared to comment in detail on individual cases.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Wimik land rovers issued to British forces in Afghanistan were written off in each of the last three years; how many were written off as a result of (a) accidental damage or mechanical failure and (b) enemy action; and how many written off as a result of enemy action were the subject of mine or improvised explosive device strikes. [155174]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 12 September 2007]: Since the deployment of weapons-mounted installation kit Land Rover vehicles in summer 2006 to Afghanistan, a total of 19 have been lost as a result of operational use. Those losses have occurred either as a result of direct enemy action or denial operations by UK forces where vehicles have been extensively damaged (either through enemy action or accidents) and cannot be recovered.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Wimik land rovers were issued to British forces in Afghanistan in each of the last three years. [155175]

Des Browne [holding answer 12 September 2007]: Weapon-Mount Installation Kit (WMIK) equipped Land Rovers were first deployed to Afghanistan in summer 2006. I am withholding the number of vehicles deployed as disclosure would, or would be likely to prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the armed forces.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many British Forces personnel in Afghanistan were (a) seriously injured and (b) killed while crewing Wimik land rovers as a result of (i) accidental damage or mechanical failure and (ii) enemy action in each of the last three years; and of those injured or killed by enemy action, in how many cases this was as a result of mine/IED strikes. [155182]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 12 September 2007] : As of 10 September 2007, five personnel have been killed in WMIK Land Rovers since these were deployed to Afghanistan in summer 2006. Those deaths all occurred in incidents where the vehicle was involved in an explosion due to enemy action. Investigations are continuing into some incidents and it is not possible to say definitively in each case whether these were caused by mine or IED strikes. The number of service personnel injured in incidents involving WMIK Land Rovers is not recorded centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

17 Sep 2007 : Column 2171W

Armed Forces: Compensation

Mr. Marshall: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to increase the compensation paid to armed forces personnel injured in the line of duty; and if he will make a statement. [155527]

Des Browne: The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme was introduced on 6 April 2005 and replaced arrangements under the War Pensions Scheme and Armed Forces Pension Scheme 1975 (AFPS 75) for those injuries, illnesses or deaths caused by Service after this date. It is a modern scheme and provides fair and simple arrangements, which focus help on the more severely disabled. For the first time, a tax-free lump sum is payable in-service to personnel to compensate for pain and suffering based on a range of tariffs graduated according to the seriousness of the condition. A tax-free inflation proof guaranteed income payment, payable for life, is also payable on discharge for those who suffer the more serious injuries. This has the potential to be worth many hundreds of thousands of pounds over the lifetime of the claimant.

We continually monitor the scheme in order to ensure that we provide the best of care for our serving personnel and veterans. As a part of this monitoring process, and in light of recent operational experience I have commissioned a review that is looking at one aspect of the scheme, which is the rules relating to the compensation paid to those personnel who receive multiple injuries as a result of a single incident. I hope to be able to announce the outcome of the review shortly.

Armed Forces: Correspondence

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether regulations are in place governing communications from officers commanding military establishments to (a) the hon. Member in whose constituency the establishment is located, (b) other hon. Members and (c) others. [155391]

Des Browne: The regulations in place that govern communications between Service personnel and any Member of Parliament are set out in the Queen's Regulations for each of the Services, copies of which are available in the Library of the House.

The instruction governing communication between all MOD personnel and the media, and for writing or speaking in public, was updated and reissued in August 2007 as a Defence Instructions and Notice (2007DIN03-006). This document is on the MOD website and a copy will be placed in the Library of the House. Queen's Regulations are currently being revised to reflect the updated instruction.

Arms Trade: Channel Islands

Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what types of military exports have been purchased by the Channel Islands in the last three years from the UK; and what the costs were of such purchases. [155053]

17 Sep 2007 : Column 2172W

Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 10 September 2007]: Information on the types of exports under licence and the total value of single individual export licences issued, including those for the Channel Islands, in each calendar year up to 2004, is included in the printed version of the Strategic Export Controls Annual Report. Thereafter the information is also provided in a CD-ROM that accompanies the Report, and at www.fco.gov.uk. Copies of the reports and the CD-ROMs are available in the Library of the House. Information is also available in the Government’s Strategic Export Controls Quarterly Reports, also available from the FCO website.

The Channel Islands are part of the UK’s Customs and Statistical territories. As such, there is no requirement to record the value of items delivered under export licence to the Channel Islands.

Army Board

Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many internal flights were taken by the (a) Adjutant General, (b) Chief of the General Staff, (c) non-ministerial members of the Army Board and (d) Assistant Chief of the General Staff in 2006; how many of those flights were with (i) military and (ii) commercial carriers; and what the cost was. [127568]

Derek Twigg [pursuant to the reply, 11 June 2007, Official Report, c. 752W]: I stated that the number of military flights taken by the Chief of the General Staff consisted of 26 RAF rotary and fixed wing and 35 Army rotary wing flights. These figures were incorrect and should have read as 23 RAF and 14 Army flights. The error occurred due to double counting.

Army: Training

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many training exercises for (a) active duty regular forces and (b) the Territorial Army were suspended due to the recent foot and mouth outbreak; and what steps are being taken to reschedule those exercises. [155400]

Des Browne: There was one military training exercise only cancelled due to the recent foot and mouth outbreak and this was an Annual Personal Weapons Test for members of the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC). It was not essential for this exercise to occur over this period and it has now been rescheduled for later this year.

Defence Export Services Organisation: UK Trade and Investment

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which (a) defence companies and (b) trade organisations he consulted before the decision was made to transfer the responsibilities of the Defence Export Services Organisation to UK Trade and Investment; and when they were notified of the intention to effect that transfer. [154919]

Des Browne [holding answer 10 September 2007]: The Prime Minister’s decision to move responsibility for supporting defence exports from the Defence
17 Sep 2007 : Column 2173W
Export Services Organisation to UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) was announced in a written statement to Parliament on the afternoon of 25 July. This was a Machinery of Government change and in such circumstances, it is not unusual for announcements to be made quickly and without prior discussion with those outside Government. However, the current and future Chairs of the National Defence Industries Council, Sir John Rose and Mr. Mike Turner, were informed by telephone that morning.

MOD, UKTI and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform are engaging with the defence industry and trade associations as part of the process of developing an implementation plan.

Next Section Index Home Page