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Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Defence Secretary has had numerous recent discussions on this important subject with Cabinet Colleagues, ex-service organisations and others. As part of the recently announced Service Personnel Command Paper discussions are being held with key stakeholders from the charity sector, service families federations and across Government.
Des Browne: The early warning radar at RAF Fylingdales will process and pass on tracking data into both the UK's own US ballistic missile warning system, the US ballistic missile defence (BMD) system. RAF Menwith Hill will continue automatically to route information from US satellites but will now also pass this data into the US communications network for BMD. This data will also alert our own missile warning radar at RAF Fylingdales as part of its long-standing UK mission to provide missile attack warning.
The Royal Navy is also contributing to a wide range of standing and contingent military tasks, including the defence and security of overseas territories and contributing to the NATO Rapid Reaction Forces.
12. Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many British armed forces personnel have been trained in Afghan Persian, Dari, Pashto, Turkic and other languages of Afghanistan. 
Des Browne: There are around 39 languages spoken in Afghanistan. 188 personnel have received training in Pashto and 56 personnel have received training in Dari, the two most significant languages for UK deployments. One individual has received training in Balochi. No training has been given in the other languages.
13. Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made by UK armed forces in Helmand Province over the last three months; and if he will make a statement. 
Des Browne: UK forces have continued to clear the Taliban from the Gereshk and Sangin Valleys, and to provide the Afghan National Army with the training needed to take increasing responsibility for operations.
Derek Twigg: NHS priority treatment has been restricted to veterans with disablements accepted under our no fault compensation schemes as service-related. I am pleased to confirm the Health Secretary's announcement on 23 November that eligibility will now be extended to any veteran whose condition the general practitioner suspects is due to service. This will offer a significant enhancement to the veterans health care and I welcome the decisions in Scotland and Wales to follow this lead.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Our judgment remains as set out in the 2004 Defence White Paper, Delivering Security in a Changing World, that a fleet of eight of the current classes of attack submarines will be sufficient in the medium term to meet the full range of tasks. We expect to reduce to a fleet of eight attack submarines by December 2008.
For the future, the more capable Astute submarines will represent a significant addition to the delivery of effects-based warfare. Our current planning assumption envisages an attack fleet of seven submarines after 2022, but this will remain subject to review. Over the next 15 years, attack submarine numbers will fluctuate between seven and eight as the Astute submarine replaces the Swiftsure and Trafalgar class submarines.
21. Greg Mulholland: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what information the Government will receive from the US Administration on the operation of the US missile defence system in the event of missile engagements taking place that are wholly or partly informed by data from the radar at RAF Menwith Hill. 
Derek Twigg: During 2005 and 2006 the Ministry of Defence through the British embassy in Paris, discussed with the French authorities protection for the wreck of HMT Lancastria, which lies in French territorial waters and which we consider to be a military maritime grave. These discussions were positive and in the summer of 2006, the French authorities gave the wreck legal protection.
Derek Twigg: We are always looking to improve the clinical, welfare and administrative care of wounded personnel. Earlier this year we created the Standing Joint Commander Medical post at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine in Birmingham to coordinate the operational patient pathway. A new Defence Patient Tracking System was launched on 8 October 2007 for patients evacuated to the UK, to ensure that they receive the right care in the right place at the right time.
Des Browne: Since taking on the primary role in providing security for Basra city, the Iraqi Security Forces have proved able to deal effectively and efficiently with security related incidents as they arise.
As the Prime Minister of Iraq announced in October, the formal transfer of Basra province to Iraqi control is expected to take place later this month. This is in no small part due to the increased capability of the Iraqi Security Forces.
Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence at what level in his Department the decision by British military commanders to support district centres in northern Helmand province was approved; and whether the Prime Minister was aware of Governor Daud's request prior to deployment of British forces in support of their district centres. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Decisions on how UK forces are deployed in the military conduct of the ISAF mission in support of the government of Afghanistan are an operational matter. These decisions are taken by the military command structure in theatre supported by the permanent joint headquarters (PJHQ) in the United Kingdom. Ministers are informed and fully briefed on all key operational decisions by PJHQ and the Ministry of Defence as appropriate.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what new contributions to the International Security Assistance Force operational requirements of equipment, personnel and other resources have been provided since 19 September 2007 as called for in UN Security Council Resolution 1776. 
Since 19 September there have been a number of new contributions pledged and provided by
various nations. In the wake of the NATO Force Generation Conference (6-8 November) there have been renewals or further contributions made by 13 nations with a 14th pending political approval and a 15th under consideration. Capabilities committed have included Hercules transport aircraft, support helicopters and training teams for the Afghan National Army. The specific details are a matter for each individual country concerned.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Departments financial contribution will be to the EU military mission to Chad and the Central African Republic under the 2004 ATHENA mechanism. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Force generation for the EU military mission to Chad/Central African Republic has not yet been completed; therefore the EU Special Committee ATHENA has not yet screened and agreed a budget. I am therefore unable to say how much the Departments financial contribution will be to the mission.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Planning for the EU military operation to Chad/Central African Republic is ongoing and the EU Force has not yet deployed. The Operation Commanders assessment on obtaining Full Operational Capability cannot be made until the EU Force is established in theatre.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The UK has placed no caveats or national restrictions on our military contribution for Op Althea. Any national caveats by other EU member states are classified and not normally available within the public domain. Individual member states may make their caveats public (for example as part of their national parliamentary process), but details of such public notifications are not declared to the EU or to other member states as a matter of course.
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the likely effect on expenditure on minibuses by army cadet groups of
the London low emissions zone in the first 12 months of its operation. 
Derek Twigg: The minibuses operated by Army Cadet groups will not incur any additional charges in the first 12 months of the operation of the London low emissions zone. We are currently reviewing which vehicles may attract charges when charging for minibuses comes into effect in October 2010.
Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average daily cost to the public purse was of food provided to a member of (a) the Army, (b) the Royal Navy and (c) the Royal Air Force in the most recent period for which figures are available. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The average daily cost, known as the daily messing rate (DMR), is based on a basket of nearly 100 basic catering items, and is calculated on a quarterly basis by applying prices obtained from the MOD's food supply contractor to the appropriate ration scale. The DMRs for 1 October 2007 to 31 December 2007 are as follows:
Army personnel: The DMR in their home posting is £1.63;
Royal Navy personnel: The DMR in port is £1.78 (unless on duty watch, when at sea rates apply);
RAF personnel: The DMR at home bases is £1.63.
For personnel on active duty, such as on exercise, on operations or at sea, the rate can rise to £2.69 per day. These apparently low amounts are achieved by the scale of purchase of the 'basket items1 and the associated economy of scale. Furthermore, DMR is the cost of the raw materials only and does not include transport or other costs.
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