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10 Oct 2007 : Column 636W—continued

EU Defence Policy

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he next plans to meet his counterparts in (a) France and (b) other European states regarding the establishment of an autonomous European military capability. [155834]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Secretary of State meets with the French Defence Minister as well as his other European Defence ministerial colleagues on a regular basis to discuss the European Security and Defence
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Policy (ESDP). This includes at meetings of EU Defence Ministers such as that held by the EU presidency last week in Portugal where, collectively, Ministers met to take forward work on ESDP.

European Defence Agency: Finance

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much the UK has contributed to the European Defence Agency in each year since 2004. [154240]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Since the establishment of the European Defence Agency in July 2004, the UK has contributed:










Iraq: Peacekeeping Operations

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects UK forces to leave Iraq completely. [156084]

Des Browne: As the Prime Minister announced on 8 October, the number of British forces based in southern Iraq will reduce to around 4,500 by the end of the year. Our forces continue to have important work to do helping the Iraqi security forces further develop the capacity and capability to take over responsibility for the security of their own people. We keep force levels under constant review and will continue to make reductions as and when conditions on the ground allow. It is therefore wrong to set an arbitrary date for British forces to leave Iraq.

Military Exercises

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many urban warfare exercises have been conducted in each year since 2001. [154232]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The information is not held in the format requested as all three services conduct urban warfare exercises at varying scales.

Land units are mandated to conduct urban training throughout the training cycle. However, urban training does not take place in isolation but is integrated into wider exercises. Training may involve low level activity focusing solely upon the urban environment or as part of wider collective training. The intensity of this urban training differs according to time and exercise area. By way of example, for the period September 2006 to September 2007(1), the Copehill Down Urban Training Village on Salisbury Plain was used for 296 days of urban training.

Both the RN and RAF also conduct urban warfare exercises but at a much smaller scale. Since 2001 the annual programme for Commando Training Centre Royal Marines has routinely included urban warfare exercises, specifically 22 for Recruit Training, five for the All Arms Commando Course and two for Young Officer Courses, making a total of 29 annually. For the
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RAF, 14 urban warfare exercises were conducted in each year in the period 2001-03, rising to 18 annually thereafter.

The individual training programme also includes urban training, though to varying degrees dependent upon the assessed need. By way of example, training at both the Infantry Battle School and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst routinely incorporates urban exercises as part of their courses.

Urban training is extensively practised within Pre Deployment Training for current operations, and incorporated into all unit training packages for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The exact emphasis upon urban operations is driven by the role of the unit concerned.

Navy: Bermuda

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Royal Navy craft of what classes have been deployed in Bermuda's territorial waters to promote law enforcement and national security in the last two years; what the estimated number is of Royal Navy personnel deployed; and if he will make a statement. [155825]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: In the past two years four naval units have visited Bermuda: two ships were on Atlantic Patrol Task (North) and two were on routine transit visits. Although none of the ships went there with the specific purpose of promoting law enforcement, they bolstered national security by virtue of their presence.

The Royal Navy does not track vessels in and out of territorial waters. Details of actual port visits to Bermuda are as follows:

Ship Company Visited

HMS Cumberland


29 November to 2 December 2005

HMS Torbay


25 March to 30 March 2006

HMS Iron Duke


29 June to 3 July 2006

HMS Scott


21 May to 26 May 2007

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what financial contribution has been made by the Government of Bermuda towards the cost of the Royal Navy’s deployment in Bermuda’s territorial waters on the task of promoting law enforcement and national security in the last two years; and if he will make a statement. [156335]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: None. The Government of Bermuda does not pay for Royal Navy deployments in Bermuda’s territorial waters. The security of UK Overseas Territories is the responsibility of the UK Government.

Nimrod Aircraft

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to provide the (a) Nimrod
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and (b) Nimrod MRA4 with (i) armour and (ii) fuel tank protection before deployment in theatre; and if he will make a statement. [156605]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Our aircraft are fitted with defensive systems and survivability aids to reflect the operational environment in which they are deployed. We keep the requirement for such systems under review for all our aircraft deployed on operations including the Nimrod MR2. This will continue to be the case for future aircraft, such as Nimrod MRA4. I am withholding further information as its release would, or would be likely to prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of our armed forces.

RAF Halton

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many powered take-offs took place at RAF Halton in each calendar year since 2003; how many were carried out by each unit in each year; and if he will make a statement. [155902]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The annual number of powered take-offs from RAF Halton is capped at 16,300 per year as a result of a decision made by the then Under- Secretary of State for Defence in 2004. This figure has never been exceeded.

The total number of powered take-offs from RAF Halton in 2003 was 14,143 and in 2004 was 13,293. A full breakdown by unit is not available for those years. The powered take-offs from RAF Halton for 2005 and 2006 broken down by unit are shown as follows:

Units 2005 2006

613 Volunteer Gliding Squadron (613 VGS)



Joint Services Gliding Centre (JSGC)



RAF Gliding and Soaring Association (RAF GSA)



Halton Aeroplane Club (HAC)



Halton Microlight Club (HMC)






Annual total



St. Malo Agreement

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on progress with achieving the objectives of the St. Malo Agreement. [155831]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The 1998 St. Malo text from the summit between the UK and French Governments declares the intentions of the two countries to enable the European Union to play a full role on the international stage. It concentrates particularly on what is now known as European Security and Defence Policy, while recognising the need for ESDP to develop in a way which is both supportive of and supported by NATO’s crisis management activities.

Since 1998 ESDP has developed considerably. It has enabled the EU to launch four peacekeeping operations: in the Democratic Republic of Congo (2003 and 2006);
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Macedonia (2003); and Bosnia (launched in December 2004), as well as numerous smaller civil-military operations. The current Bosnia operation took over from NATO’s SFOR and has proven the efficacy of the Berlin Plus arrangements agreed in 2003 for EU access to NATO assets.

Other successes include the establishment of the European Defence Agency in 2004 to drive forward capability development and improve defence/industrial co-operation; the continuing development of a capacity for military and joint civil/military planning, based on agreed consultation arrangements with NATO; and the establishment of full operating capability for the rapid-response Battle Groups initiative, achieved in January 2007.

The Government are therefore fully satisfied with progress to date, and we will continue to play a leading role in further progress.

Home Department

Animal Experiments: Violence

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of legislation to deter violent action against research facilities that use animals in their testing; [154373]

(2) if she will review the effectiveness of the law on the use of blackmail in the context of the activities of protesters against research facilities that use animals in their testing; [154378]

(3) how many convictions there have been for criminal acts for which responsibility was claimed by the Animal Liberation Front; [154381]

(4) what discussions she has had with zoos and aquariums on security protection from animal rights extremists. [154380]

Mr. Coaker: The Government are committed to eradicating the threat of animal rights extremism and has in place a robust interdepartmental strategy to achieve this. The strategy is centred on an improved law enforcement approach, with additional resources provided to the police to tackle animal rights extremism, a central police team set-up to drive forward police action nationally, and legislation enacted to protect animal research organisations. The strategy has been overseen by a Cabinet Committee which has been encouraged by the significant fall in illegal extremist activity, and the many significant convictions of animal rights extremists in the past 18 months, some for blackmail. A number of other animal rights extremists are awaiting trial and other major investigations remain ongoing.

While the Government respect, support and will protect the right to peaceful protest, we are equally clear that it is wholly unacceptable that a very small number of animal extremists should mount campaigns of fear and intimidation in an attempt to stop individuals and companies going about their lawful and legitimate business whether it is connected with animal research, farming or zoos and aquariums. The Government will continue to drive and review the strategy to eradicate the extremist threat.

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Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will take steps to shut down the websites of the (a) Animal Liberation Front and (b) Animal Liberation Front Suppliers Group under the Terrorism Act 2006. [154374]

Mr. Coaker: The investigation and prosecution of offences under the Terrorism Act 2006 (including offences involving websites) are matters for the police and the Crown Prosecution Service respectively.

Antisocial Behaviour

Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many incidents of anti-social behaviour were (a) recorded and (b) detected in each London borough in 2006-07. [153899]

Mr. Coaker [holding answer 8 October 2007]: The Home Office does not collect this information centrally.

Border Police

Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the estimated cost of providing a unified border force is in (a) 2007 and (b) each of the next five years. [156509]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 8 October 2007]: In his announcement of 25 July, the Prime Minister commissioned the Cabinet Secretary to report to him on the stages ahead in implementation of a unified border force and whether there is a case for going further while ensuring value for money. The Cabinet Secretary is due to report in October.


Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what rules apply to mobile police units on (a) carrying breathalyser kits and (b) the procedure to be followed in deciding to take citizens to the police station for breathalysing when kits are not carried; and if she will make a statement. [156639]

Mr. Coaker: Breath test devices currently available for use outside police stations are screening devices, used for a preliminary test to obtain an indication whether a person’s alcohol level is likely to be above the prescribed limit. If a person tests positive, he can be arrested, taken to a police station and required to take an evidential test.

There is no statutory requirement on mobile police units to carry breath screening devices. Vehicles engaged in traffic law enforcement or responding to traffic incidents are however very likely to, and other vehicles may do. This is an operational equipment matter for the chief officer. If the vehicle does not have a screening device, one will normally be readily available and the person to be tested can be required to remain a reasonable length of time for it to arrive. Failure to co-operate with a preliminary test when the officer reasonably suspects there is alcohol in the person’s body is an offence for which the person can be arrested.

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In addition to the offence of driving while over the prescribed limit, there is a separate offence of driving whilst under the influence of drink. An officer can arrest for this offence and subsequently require an evidential test provided he has reasonable grounds for suspecting the offence and an arrest is necessary for its prompt and effective investigation.

Decisions as to arrest, etc are operational matters for the police on each occasion.

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