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3 Dec 2007 : Column 842W—continued

Netherlands: International Co-operation

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the status is of plans to create a UK/Netherlands EU battlegroup; and if he will make a statement. [169452]

Des Browne: The UK and the Netherlands have offered to provide an EU battlegroup on standby from January to June 2010. The battlegroup will come from the existing UK/Netherlands Amphibious Landing Force.

Nuclear Responsibilities

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 22 November 2007, Official Report, column 1033W, on nuclear responsibilities, what assessment he has made of the contribution the nuclear non-proliferation treaty has made towards nuclear disarmament. [169469]

Des Browne: The nuclear non-proliferation treaty makes an invaluable and irreplaceable contribution to multilateral nuclear disarmament and is the cornerstone of UK policy in this area. All actions that the UK undertakes on nuclear disarmament are concomitant to our legal obligations under Article VI of that treaty, which are equally applicable to the other recognised nuclear weapons states. The White Paper on The Future of the UK's Nuclear Deterrent (Cm 6994),
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published in December 2006, set out the UK's record on nuclear disarmament and announced the reduction of operationally available warheads to fewer than 160, which has now been achieved.

The NPT has now achieved near universality and includes states which renounced their nuclear weapons programmes when they joined the NPT as non-nuclear weapons states. We continue to call upon those remaining states outside the NPT to accede as non-nuclear weapons states.

Nuclear Weapons

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what meetings have taken place between UK and US officials on concept studies for the development of a new missile system to replace Trident with particular reference to the underwater launched missile system in the last three years. [168881]

Des Browne: Since the vote in this House on the future of the UK nuclear deterrent on 14 March 2007, there have been three meetings of the Joint Steering Task Group that oversees the execution of the Polaris sales agreement. Concept studies for the development of a new underwater launched missile system have been discussed by officials at those meetings.

Reserve Forces: Pay

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) Army Cadet force instructors and (b) Reserve officers on the Army unposted list are owed arrears of pay for a period of more than one month; and what the total of these arrears is. [169206]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 29 November 2007]: There are no systemic problems with the joint personnel administration (JPA) system affecting the pay of Army Cadet Force instructors and Reserve officers on the Army unposted list.

We are, however, aware of 45 Territorial Army personnel formerly on the unposted list who, because they were not on the established strength of a unit, may have experienced delays in receiving their pay. All have now been assigned to a unit and payment via the JPA system can be made. Details of how long arrears of pay may have been due, and the amounts involved are not held and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Where payment cannot be made via the JPA system, arrangements are in place for individuals to receive cash payments at unit level.

Service Personnel and Veterans Agency: Location

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the (a) cost and (b) effect on future expenditure of moving the Services Personnel and Veterans Agency from RAF Innsworth to HMS Centurian, Gosport; and if he will make a statement. [170644]

Derek Twigg: I have yet to receive the Business Case in support of the recent study into the future accommodation requirements of the Service; Personnel and Veterans Agency.


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Sick Leave: Dismissal

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many staff in his Department (a) were disciplined and (b) had their employment terminated as a result of a poor sickness record in each of the last five years. [163704]

Derek Twigg: Staff are not disciplined as the result of their poor sick record. Under the Department’s restoring efficiency procedures, measures are applied to restore and maintain acceptable levels of attendance and deal with staff whose excessive sickness absence and attendance record has become a cause for concern. Employment can be terminated where patterns of irregular attendance from staff becomes unacceptable or where long term sickness absence persists and there is no prospect of a regular return to work. Staff also have their employment terminated when they are medically assessed as being so unwell in the longer term that ill-health retirement is approved. A new method of recording the termination of employment in the above circumstances was introduced in 2003 on a gradual basis. The data for 2003 are therefore unreliable. Data from 2004 until November 2007 are as follows:

Termination of employment for: 2004 2005 2006 2007 Total

Irregular attendance

72

79

64

43

258

Long term sickness absence

59

73

59

48

239

Ill-health retirement

208

193

158

116

675

Grand total

339

345

281

207

1,172


Special Boat Squadron: Pay

Derek Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) when he expects the Special Boat Service personnel serving in Afghanistan to receive their full pay; [169202]

(2) when the Specialist Pay Team last paid the salaries of the Special Boat Service in Afghanistan; [169203]

(3) what steps he has taken with the Specialist Pay Team to ensure the payment of the full salaries of the Special Boat Service in Afghanistan. [169204]

Derek Twigg [holding answer 29 November 2007]: Problems have been identified with the specialist pay components of total salary for a small number of members of the Special Boat Service. This is very much regretted. I have asked for the issues to be investigated and I will write to the hon. Member when the investigation is complete.

Submarines

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether a decision has been taken to reduce the size of the attack submarine fleet below the planned total of eight. [164729]


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Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 19 November 2007]: 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.

Territorial Army: Pay

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he approved the policy that the Territorial Army training bounty was a payment in lieu of pension; and if he will make a statement. [169884]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The annual training bounty is not a direct substitute for pension and takes into account a variety of factors. However, the relationship between pensions and bounty has been recognised for many years. For example, the 1978 Report of the Committee on the Study of Wastage in the Territorial Army Volunteer Reserve (TAVR) headed by Major General P Shapland CB MBE stated:

In a recent employment tribunal it was held that the exclusion of the reserve forces from the armed forces pension scheme was objectively justified in respect of members of those forces undertaking Man Training Days. All forms of reserve service other than Man Training Days are pension earning.

Trident: Finance

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the estimated annual maintenance cost of the Trident weapons system is expected to be in (a) 2007-08 and (b) each year until 2024. [169443]

Des Browne: The annual expenditure for capital and running costs of the current Trident nuclear deterrent, including costs for the Atomic Weapons Establishment, is expected to be around £1,500 million in 2007-08 and 2008-09, some 5 per cent. of the defence budget, and around £1,700 million in 2009-10 and 2010-11, some 51/4 per cent. of the defence budget. Spending plans for subsequent years will be set as part of the Government's spending review process.

United Kingdom Hydrographic Office

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which private stakeholders his Department has met to discuss the review of the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office. [169451]


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Derek Twigg: The UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) is a trading fund within the Ministry of Defence. Departments routinely carry out reviews of trading funds from time to time as part of the ownership role. In February 2007, I announced that we would carry out a review of the structural and ownership options for the United Kingdom Hydro graphic Office (UKHO). This is due to report at the end of the year.

I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 12 November 2007, Official Report, columns 54-55W, outlining the number of private stakeholders the study team, led by members of the MOD, have met to discuss the review of the UKHO. These include trade associations, the Chart and Nautical Instrument Trade Association (CNITA) and the Locus Association, and 14 other private sector industry participants; these were:

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many submissions from private sector companies the team carrying out the review of the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office has received. [169449]

Derek Twigg: The UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) is a Trading Fund within the Ministry of Defence. Departments routinely carry out reviews of trading funds from time to time as part of the ownership role. In February 2007, I announced that we would carry out a review of the structural and ownership options for the United Kingdom Hydro graphic Office (UKHO). This is due to report at the end of the year.

During the course of the study four private sector companies wrote to us expressing their views, and in addition we received two detailed submissions from the Chart and Nautical Instrument Trade Association (CNITA) and Transas Limited. The study team met with a further 12 private sector organisations.

Duchy of Lancaster

Citizens’ Juries

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what the guidelines were for the operation of citizens' juries in the 2006-07 Policy Review; and what the guidelines are for the operation of the citizens' juries announced by the Prime Minister on 3 September; and if he will make a statement. [165553]


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Edward Miliband: The public engagement strand of the Policy Review gave a representative group of the population the opportunity to discuss in deliberative forums key issues around the future of public services. Ipsos MORI was engaged to manage the process including recruiting the population sample, developing stimulus material and running the events. Further information about the forums is available on the Cabinet Office website at the following address:

The Prime Minister announced on 3 September that a number of citizens' juries would be held around the country to bring citizens together to discuss a broad range of issues and potential solutions. Government Departments are leading on arrangements for their own citizens' juries.

Data Protection

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what (a) procedures and (b) protocols govern the transfer of personal data between central Government departments and (i) other Government departments, (ii) local authorities and (iii) other Government agencies. [167683]

Edward Miliband [holding answer 26 November 2007]: I refer the hon. Member to the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 21 November 2007, Official Report, column 1179. The review by the Cabinet Secretary and security experts is looking at procedures within Departments and agencies for the storage and use of data. A statement on Departments’ procedures will be made on completion of the review.

Departmental Data Protection

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) what reviews have been undertaken of the Cabinet Office's rules on data protection in the last two years; if he will place in the Library a copy of the report of the last review of the Cabinet Office's compliance with data protection laws; and if the Office will undertake a review of its compliance with data protection laws; [168081]


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