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10 Dec 2007 : Column 50W—continued


Airborne Task Force

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) which battalion forms the Airborne Task Force (ABTF); whether it is fully equipped; whether the ABTF is deployed; and when the next ABTF will take over from the current ABTF; [170803]

(2) which brigade forms the Joint Rapid Reaction Force (JRRF); whether it is fully equipped; whether the JRRF is deployed; and when the next JRRF will take over from the current JRRF. [170806]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 4 December 2007]: The Joint Rapid Reaction Force (JRRF) is made up of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines, 16 Air Assault Brigade and the High Readiness Mechanised or Armoured Brigade. None of these units is currently deployed in a JRRF capacity. The elements of the JRRF that are currently held at high readiness, therefore, are the Lead Commando Group (LCG) and the Lead Airborne Task Force (ABTF). The LCG is made up of elements of 3 Commando Brigade, while the ABTF is currently provided by the 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment (2 PARA). The remaining element of the high readiness reserve is provided by the Spearhead Land Element. The ABTF is due to be replaced by a Small Scale Focused Intervention Battlegroup, based on a Light Infantry Role Battlegroup, between February 2008 and January 2009; its readiness may vary over time depending on the unit rostered.

For non-discretionary JRRF tasks, equipment holdings exist to ensure mission success. However, some equipment types might need to be re-apportioned from supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, dependent on the task, to ensure that appropriate quantities were available.


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Armed Forces Compensation Scheme: Scotland

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many veterans in Scotland have made successful claims from the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. [172607]

Derek Twigg: The number of successful claims made under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme from claimants living in Scotland is shown in the following table.

Awards made under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme to claimants living in Scotland by financial year( 1,2)
Awards

Total

45

2005-06

(3)

2006-07

30

2007-08(4)

15

(1) Data have been rounded to the nearest five. Numbers may not add to totals because of rounding.
(2) Data will include claims made from serving personnel as well as veterans.
(3) Negligible value, (greater than zero, but less than five).
(4) This covers the period from 1 April 2007 to 30 September 2007.

Armed Forces: Compensation

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many veterans in Edinburgh have received compensation from the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. [172415]

Derek Twigg: The number of claimants living in Edinburgh who have received compensation under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme is shown in the following table.

Awards made under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme to claimants living in Edinburgh by financial year( 1, 2)
Awards

Total

10

2005-06

2006-07

5

2007-08(3)

*

(1) Data have been rounded to the nearest five. “—” refers to a value of zero, while “*” refers to a negligible value (greater than zero, but less than five). Numbers may not add to totals because of rounding.
(2) Data will include claims made from serving personnel as well as veterans.
(3) This covers the period from 1 April 2007 to 30 September 2007.

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many veterans in Edinburgh have been found to have suffered disability as a result of their service in the armed forces but are not eligible for assistance through the (a) Armed Forces Compensation Scheme and (b) War Pension Scheme. [172416]

Derek Twigg: Under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme there have been less than five cases in Edinburgh, of claimants with injuries or conditions assessed as being due to service, not having met the minimum tariff level for compensation. Note that it is only possible to identify these cases for claims registered after 11 November 2005.


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The number of first claims made by claimants living in Edinburgh which resulted in a nil award under the War Pension Scheme since the financial year 2003-04 are shown in table 1 as follows. A nil award is made when the injury or condition claimed for is found to be attributable or aggravated by service, but disability is assessed at 0 per cent. and so no monetary award is made.

Table 1: Number of Veterans in Edinburgh given a nil percentage assessment, by financial year( 1)
Nil percentage assessment

2003-04

10

2004-05

10

2005-06

10

2006-07

(1) Figures have been rounded to the nearest five, “—” represents a figure less than five.

Armed Forces: Absence Without Leave

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many service personnel were reported as absent without leave in the (a) Royal Air Force, (b) Royal Navy and (c) Army in each year since 1997. [171474]

Derek Twigg: The following table shows absence without leave statistics by calendar year for each Service since 1997:

RN Army RAF

1997

30

1,450

15

1998

30

1,850

15

1999

35

2,055

20

2000

60

2,710

25

2001

95

2,650

25

2002

105

2,950

25

2003

120

2,820

35

2004

185

3,030

55

2005

195

2,715

35

2006

155

2,330

10

2007

105

2,060

20

Notes: 1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 5 and are as at 20 November 2007. 2. Differences in figures for individual years compared to previous answers occur because personnel may have been wrongly reported as AWOL in the first instance, or conversely they may have subsequently been found to have been AWOL and the records rectified later. AWOL statistics are recorded by the number of incidences of AWOL rather than the number of people who have gone AWOL, so there may be a number of people who are represented more than once in these figures.

Armed Forces: Ethnic Groups

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) members of ethnic minorities and (b) women were serving in the armed forces in each of the last 10 years. [171853]

Derek Twigg: The information requested is available in Table 3 of the Tri-Service Publication 4—UK Armed Forces Quarterly Manpower Report. The most recent publication is available at

http://www.dasa.mod.uk/natstats/tsp4/tsp4tab3.html


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Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department is taking to encourage more (a) women and (b) members of ethnic minorities to join the armed forces. [171854]

Derek Twigg: The armed forces continue to undertake numerous and varied initiatives, both at national and local level, aimed at encouraging more women and members of the ethnic minority communities to consider a service career.

The recruiting organisations include female personnel to assist a fair gender representation in recruiting activities. Female service personnel are also used appropriately in advertising, to help illustrate life in the armed forces. Furthermore all three services have Presentation Teams to raise awareness of the armed forces, and they include visits to girls' schools.

All three services have Specialist Diversity Teams which are heavily engaged in raising awareness and the profile of the armed forces and promoting service careers among the UK's ethnic minority and faith communities. The wide programme of events include: setting up and maintaining community partnerships across the UK; school, college and community visits; major ethnically centred events, including sports with particular ethnic minority interest; gatekeepers (e.g. teachers, community leaders, parents, etc.) visits; and extended campaigns in focused areas of high ethnic minority population.

Armed Forces: Health Services

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what financial contribution he has made to those primary care trusts with the greatest number of serving and veteran service personnel within their areas. [170214]

Derek Twigg: While they are in the armed forces, British service personnel receive free medical treatment through the Defence Medical Services. When they leave the armed forces and when reservists are demobilised, the responsibility for their health care is transferred to the NHS. For in-service personnel and reservists, the Department annually commissions some £29 million of activity (out-patients and in-patient care) from the five NHS trusts hosting MOD Hospital Units (MDHUs) and from University Hospital Birmingham NHS foundation trust (UHBFT). This includes approximately £6.5 million for emergency care that we pay the MDHU host trusts and which is delivered under emergency access standards.

The remainder (some £22.5 million annually) is used to commission accelerated access care over and above current NHS waiting times. Many service personnel are also referred into their local district general hospital by their referring GPs. In addition, we spend just over £1 million annually for other fast track access outside our MDHU host trusts.

Introduced in 1953, NHS Priority Treatment was restricted to veterans with disablements accepted under our Armed Forces Compensation Scheme as service-related. The Health Secretary announced on 23 November that extended priority treatment will be available to all veterans whose conditions are suspected by the general practitioner of being service-related.
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Any costs will be paid for by the NHS. I announced the launch of the new veterans' mental health pilots in parallel as an important initiative to improve services for those with mental health problems. The MOD will provide start up costs to the six pilot sites participating in the scheme and cover the cost of project evaluation; we expect the total cost of the pilots to the Department to be some £500,000. Any pilot cost beyond this will be the responsibility of the local NHS trusts.

Armed Forces: Housing

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether receipts resulting from the return of void married quarters to Annington Homes will be used to improve the quality of the married quarters estate. [166117]

Derek Twigg: Within the terms of the Annington contract the return of void married quarters to Annington Homes does not generate a receipt for the MOD. Under the terms of the Profit Share Agreement with Annington Homes Limited, however, when MOD hand back surplus married quarters to Annington Homes and subsequently Annington Homes sell the properties, 22 per cent. of the proceeds of the sales of surplus MOD properties is returned to HM Treasury. These monies enter a consolidated general cash account and are not paid directly back from HM Treasury to the MOD.

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence in what timescale a service personnel family must leave service quarters (a) on the death of a serviceman or woman and (b) in respect of a wounded serviceman or woman who is medically discharged; and what assistance is provided for finding civilian quarters in such circumstances. [167747]

Derek Twigg: The policy applied in these situations is set out in Tri-Service Accommodation Regulations.

Following the death in service of a serviceman or woman, the bereaved spouse/civil partner and their family have continued entitlement to Service Families Accommodation (SFA) for a reasonable period to assist them in coming to terms with their bereavement and to enable them to determine their longer term housing requirements. A period of two years is offered. Retention of SFA may be extended beyond the two year period at the discretion of the local service commander in consultation with welfare, medical, and educational authorities and with Defence Estates Operations—Housing. The objective of the policy is to help the bereaved spouse/civil partner in their transition back into the civilian community. At no time will a bereaved spouse/civil partner and their families need to leave a property until they have secured suitable alternative accommodation.

Once a decision has been taken to medically discharge an individual from the service, the Defence Medical Services health team who have been caring for that individual will liaise with appropriate civilian healthcare providers (e.g. General Practitioner, primary care trust, civilian mental health team, or NHS Hospital Trust) to ensure the transfer of care and patient history takes place. In addition, specialist health social workers will manage the individual’s
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wider resettlement issues, liaising with relevant civil agencies such as local housing authorities, financial authorities, service welfare and charitable organisations. The objective is again to ensure that the individual’s transfer into the civilian environment is as smooth and as seamless as possible.

For personnel compulsorily discharged on medical grounds, 93 days continued use and occupancy of the SFA is permitted after the date of discharge. Thereafter, extensions of up to 93 days at a time may be granted on compassionate grounds at the discretion of Defence Estates Operations—Housing, in consultation with the appropriate local service commander. No personnel discharged will need to leave SFA until an appropriate alternative accommodation has been secured.

The Joint Service Housing Advice Office (JSHAO) is available to all service personnel and their families, offering advice and guidance in sourcing social and private accommodation.


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