Norman Baker: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission how many full-time equivalent officials were employed to deal with hon. Members allowance claims in the Department of Finance and Administration and its predecessor department in (a) 2006, (b) 1996 and (c) 1986. 
Nick Harvey: At 1 April 2006 approximately 30 full-time equivalent, permanent staff were employed to deal with hon. Members allowance claims in the Department of Finance and Administration. Comparable figures are no longer held for 1996 and 1986.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department has paid local transporters in (a) Afghanistan and (b) Pakistan to transport British goods for resupply in each year since 2002. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The cost of onward movement from Kandahar to other UK bases in Afghanistan between April 2006 and March 2007 was around £3.2 million. Data prior to April 2006 are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
The cost of transport through Pakistan is subsumed in the costs associated with the contract for the transport of supplies from the UK to the UK logistics hub in Afghanistan. A breakdown cannot be provided of the amount paid to local transporters as the MOD does not have visibility of such sub-contracts.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many visits were made by personnel from his Department to detainees transferred from British forces to the government of Afghanistan in each year since 2005; and what the purpose was of each visit. 
Des Browne: Records show that, since 27 April 2007, UK armed forces personnel have made 13 visits to see detainees transferred to the government of Afghanistan, normally seeing several detainees in one visit. The purpose of the visits was to check on the welfare and status of the detainees.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Personnel at Camp Bastion have access to a contract laundry facility to wash clothing. This facility is provided free of charge. The frequency of the laundry service currently allows for two 5 kg bags per person per week. Washing powder is available from the NAAFI should personnel wish to wash items by hand.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The armed forces ensure that families are kept informed of all developments, regarding investigations into the deaths of service personnel, through their respective visiting officers. Where there is a board of inquiry, families will be given personal briefings on the process, findings, conclusions and recommendations.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of the armed forces reported absent without leave between January 2004 and October 2007 were aged between (a) 18 to 20, (b) 21 to 25, (c) 26 to 30, (d) 31 to 35 and (e) 36-years-old or above. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The breakdown of personnel reported absent without leave by age group between January 2004 and October 2007 for the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Army is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. The number of Royal Navy personnel broken down by age group who have been reported absent without leave between January 2004 and October 2007 is shown in the following table.
|Age 18-20||Age 21-25||Age 26-30||Age 31-36||Age 36+||Total|
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of the cost of the free postal service for troops announced on 12 November will be paid by (a) Royal Mail and (b) the British Forces Post Office; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Ministry of Defence does not maintain details on the cost to Defence of providing a postal service to operational theatres as the value varies according to the volume of mail presented. If volume rises significantly then costs will increase exponentially due to additional air charter and personnel deployment costs.
For illustrative reasons, the current full commercial cost of sending a 2 kg airmail packet to Iraq or Afghanistan via Royal Mail is £20.72. If this cost is taken as being representative of the total cost of sending a 2 kg package to Iraq or Afghanistan then the Ministry of Defence was paying 69 per cent. prior to the introduction of the freepost service on 3 September. The remaining 31 per cent. was paid by the consigner. As a result of the extension of the freepost service jointly announced with Royal Mail on 12 November, the Royal Mail will fund approximately 15.5 per cent. of the illustrative cost, with Ministry of Defence funding the remaining 84.5 per cent.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average tour interval was for the (a) infantry, (b) Royal Artillery, (c) Royal Engineers, (d) Royal Corps of Signals, (e) Royal Armoured Corps, (f) Household Cavalry, (g) Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers and (h) Army Medical Services in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The average unit tour intervals for the Infantry and those units of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, the Royal Armoured Corps and the Army Medical Services which deploy as fully formed units, are 23.5, 20.8, 23.1 and 24.5 months respectively. This is calculated on the basis of the mean time between the start of the most recent deployment and the end of the previous deployment.
The Household Cavalry has only deployed as a unit twice since January 2003: Iraq (April 2004-October 2004) and Afghanistan (October 2007-April 2008). As such, its average unit tour interval and actual unit tour interval is 35 months.
The unit tour interval is a less relevant measure when applied to the Corps of Royal Engineers, Royal Corps of Signals and the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. This is due to the frequency with which personnel move between formed units within these Corps (the personnel deployed with a unit will be substantially different from the personnel deployed with the same unit on a previous occasion). Consequently, unit tour interval data for these Corps are not routinely collated.
Des Browne: The US plans to place further missile defence assets in Europe are an important step towards providing a defensive capability against potential future ballistic missile threats to the UK. We will continue to discuss with the US how this coverage will be achieved as the system evolves.
There is no international definition of a cluster munition, nor of the number of sub-munitions a weapon must carry in order to be classed as a cluster munition. An element of the UKs own understanding of a cluster munition is that a weapon should carry more than 10 sub-munitions in order to be classified a cluster munition.
The term Hydra refers to an American rocket system which we do not use. The Canadian Rocket Vehicle 7 (CRV-7) is manufactured in Canada and is the version currently in-service with UK forces. Multi Purpose Sub Munition is one of the rocket variants of the CRV-7 system.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many British (a) 20 foot and (b) 40 foot shipping containers used for resupply have been reported as (i) missing and (ii) stolen in Afghanistan and Iraq in each year since 2002. 
The Government do not hold information on the value of arms and related equipment exported from the UK, but can provide information on the value of licences issued for export. The Government publish detailed information on export licences issued, including the overall value and number of export licences approved for Libya and a summary of the items covered by these licences, in its Annual and Quarterly Reports on Strategic Export Controls.
The Government have published quarterly reports on Strategic Export Controls since January 2004 and these are also available from this website. Please note that the Annual Reports for 1997 and 1998 do not give the total value of Standard Individual Export Licences issued as this information was not collected at the time.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the adequacy of security at his Department's bases and headquarters in the UK; what steps are taken to deter unwanted intrusion; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The state of security across the Defence estate is generally satisfactory. The Department, in common with similar large organisations, faces ever-changing threats and challenges to its security. High priority is given to security at MOD establishments, the risks posed to buildings and staff are kept under constant review to ensure that appropriate levels of security are applied through a process of risk management. For obvious reasons it is not practice to reveal MOD security measures publicly. However, I can assure the hon. Member that wherever a security incident occurs, it is speedily investigated and remedial action is taken if appropriate.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: In addition to their extensive naval training, British Sea Fishery Officers attend a three week shore course and a 10 day practical sea training course specifically for the purpose. This training is primarily sponsored by the Marine and Fisheries Agency (MFA) and is taught by both MFA (District Inspector (Training)) and Royal Naval (Fishery Protection Inspector) instructors.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The UK permanent joint headquarters (PJHQ) at Northwood is one of five national operational headquarters (OHQ) declared available for European Union military operations. The others are at Larissa (Greece), Potsdam (Germany), Rome (Italy) and Mont Valerien (Paris). In addition, access to NATO OHQ at SHAPE, Brussels, is assured for EU military operations.
PJHQ will provide the OHQ building and technical and administrative support, including trained core staff, for the Nordic Battle Group during its time as one of the two EU battle groups on standby between January and June 2008.
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