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Mr. Carswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what assessment his Department made of the capability of the EADS Eurocopter UH-145 to fulfil the light utility role prior to awarding the Future Lynx contract to Finmeccanica; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what assessment his Department made of the capability of the US Sikorsky Seahawk to fulfil aspects of the capability role identified in the Future Rotorcraft Capability programme prior to awarding the Future Lynx contract to Finmeccanica; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) whether his Department considered procuring different helicopter types to fulfil separately the different capability requirements detailed in the Future Rotorcraft Capability programme prior to awarding the Future Lynx contract to Finmeccanica; and if he will make a statement; 
(4) what alternatives to the Future Lynx helicopter his Department considered to fulfil the Battlefield Light Utility Helicopter requirement before awarding the contract; and what the average cost per helicopter was of each contract considered. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Future Rotorcraft Capability (FRC) programme explored the capabilities of many different helicopter types from all major western helicopter manufacturers, including products from EADS Eurocopter and Sikorsky. It also explored whether certain helicopter types could contribute to more than one area of our overall capability need, thus helping reduce through-life costs, though the wide spectrum of tasks required of our helicopter fleet means that no single type is able to meet the required capability in full.
The through-life military capability, cost and risk of various mixes of different helicopter types was assessed. These mixes included options that used different aircraft types to deliver the Land and Maritime capabilities now contracted to be provided by Future Lynx.
This analysis concluded that, alongside other investments arising from the FRC programme, the delivery of the British Armys Battlefield Reconnaissance Helicopter (BRH) and the Royal Navys Surface Combatant Maritime Rotorcraft (SCMR) through a single helicopter type (Future Lynx) provided the best combination of through-life military capability, cost and risk.
Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what fuel with additives is being used for light A class, B class wheeled and C class platform vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan; who is contracted to supply such fuel; what effect use of this fuel has had on fuel costs; how many engine breakdowns and write-offs have occurred attributed to use of such fuel in 2007; and what the cost of repairs and replacements arising has been. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: In Iraq, Class A, B and C vehicles are fuelled using diesel (F-54) with no additives during the winter months. In the summer a 50/50 blend of diesel and aviation fuel (F-34) known as F-65 together with a lubricant additive, Lubrizol 539M, is used. The fuels are obtained from the US military in Kuwait under the UK-US Fuel Exchange agreement, with logistic support provided by two contractors. F-65 is approximately 11 per cent. more expensive than plain diesel.
In Afghanistan, vehicles are operated in accordance with the NATO single fuel policy where this is technically feasible. The fuel is aviation fuel (F-34) (which has already been treated with AL41 Icing Inhibitor and AL61 Lubricity Improver) to which Lubrizol 539M is also added, the resulting mixture being referred to as F-63. A number of vehicle types are being fuelled with F-54 at certain locations for operational reasons, these include engineering plant, Warrior and CVR(T) vehicles. These fuels are provided under a NATO contract with a civilian contractor. In Afghanistan, F-34 is approximately two per cent. more expensive than F-54.
No breakdowns have been apportioned to the use of any of these fuel types. During the transition from diesel to F-65 or F-63 use, there can be a transient increase in fuel filter use as the F-34 component has a cleansing effect on the engine.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department spent on repairing (a) armoured vehicles, (b) aircraft, (c) helicopters and (d) weapons systems damaged in use in Iraq and Afghanistan in each year since 2003-04; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 10 December 2007]: RAF logistics flights into and around Iraq are undertaken in a way that strikes the correct balance between minimising risks and meeting operational requirements. Generally this means that flights are undertaken during the hours of darkness, but the most appropriate scheduling of each flight is considered on a case-by-case basis.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many of his Departments personnel were assigned to the British provincial reconstruction team in (a) Basra and (b) Lashkar Gah in each year since 2005; what contact those personnel have with local people on reconstruction issues; and if he will make a statement. 
Since 2005, four UK service personnel have been attached to the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Lashkar Gar. In addition, a further contingent is assigned to the Security Sector Reform cell, which has gradually grown to its present size of 15 personnel.
The Provincial Reconstruction Teams in both Basra and Lashkar Gar pursue a comprehensive approach to reconstruction. This includes: making regular contact with local Iraqis and Afghans through the mentoring of the Iraqi and Afghan National Security Forces and Judiciary; attendance, as appropriate, at shuras; meeting with representatives of the Governments of Iraq and Afghanistan at regional, provincial and district levels; and routine patrolling.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will introduce safeguards to ensure that UK submarine commanders are unable to launch a nuclear attack on their own initiative under any circumstances; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what purposes he used each category of River Class offshore patrol vessels in each year since 1997; for how many patrol days in each category; and if he will make a statement. 
For the remaining time the vessels were used for standoffs (periods off task for activities such as handovers, stores replenishment, and rest and recreation for the crew), training, maintenance, passage and visits, and unused days owned by VT Group plc.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what maximum number of patrol days each River Class offshore patrol vessel may undertake (a) operationally and (b) under the terms of his Departments (i) agreement with DEFRA and (ii) the contract with Vosper Thornycroft. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Royal Navy Plan specifies that each River Class vessel undertakes up to 230 Patrol Days each year depending on the requirement of the MOD/DEFRA contract. Remaining days are taken up by standoff (ie periods off task for activities such as handovers, stores replenishment and crew rest and recreation); training; passage and visits, and 45 days, including 25 for maintenance, which are owned by the VT Group plc, from whom the vessels are, leased.
The current agreement with DEFRA does not specify the type(s) of vessels to be used but does state the proportion of total patrol days to be provided by Offshore Patrol Vessels. In 2007-08 800 patrol days are to be provided, of which 560 must be Offshore Patrol Vessel days.
The contract with the VT Group plc does not include a maximum number of patrol days. It specifies that each of the three River Class patrol vessels must be available to the Royal Navy for 320 days per year.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) for what purposes the River Class offshore patrol vessels have been used in addition to fisheries protection; how many patrol days this has required in each case since the River Class were commissioned; and if he will make a statement; 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The operational focus of the River Class vessels is fishery protection. When not being used for this purpose their time is used for stand-offs, training, passage, visits and maintenance. They must also be available for the VT Group plc unused days (days for which the ships are not contracted and therefore unavailable for any FLEET tasking). They may also be programmed by the Commander in Chief Fleet for other tasks, such as maritime security, in the case of an urgent operational requirement. These cases are likely to be rare. None of these tasks are carried out at the expense of the agreed number of fishery patrol days provided by the Ministry of Defence to DEFRA. There are currently no plans to change the purposes for which River Class vessels are used in the future.
Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans his Department has for extending the life of the RAFs existing fleet of Puma HC1 helicopters; when the proposed Puma Mk 2 helicopter will come into service; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth:
The Ministry of Defence announced in June 2007 the award of a contract to EADS Eurocopter to assess the timescale, cost, performance and risk issues associated with the enhancements of the
capability and the extension of the in-service life of the Puma HC1 helicopter until 2022. This assessment will explore issues relating to the upgrade of avionics systems and the replacement of engines and obsolete items. It is scheduled to conclude in 2008 to inform an investment decision to undertake the capability enhancement and life extension programme. It is envisaged that the resultant aircraft would be known as the Puma HC2. In-service duties will not be decided until the main investment decision is made.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what formal procedure has to be followed for submarine commanders to launch Trident missiles; and what role security codes play in that procedure. 
Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will assess the merits of the use of pre-movement testing as a strategy for containing bluetongue disease; and if he will make a statement. 
Jonathan Shaw: The strategy to manage movements of animals from bluetongue restricted zones has been agreed at EU level and is set out in Regulation 1266/2007. The regime is based around the scientific evidence base, with movement conditions intended to provide appropriate assurance that animals are not infected before moves can be allowed. Pre-movement testing forms an integral part of this regime, but testing must be used in conjunction with other measures to provide appropriate guarantees, due to the nature of bluetongue spread by midges.
These measures include testing during the vector free period when temperatures have dropped significantly and midge activity is greatly reduced, or isolating animals in midge-proof buildings before testing. In each case, the aim is to ensure that the animal is safe to move. Guidance on these provisions, and on movement in the vector free period in particular, will be published shortly (the most likely window for such a period if it can be declared is January to March).
Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what account is taken of (a) county boundaries and (b) distance from outbreak in determining foot and mouth disease restriction zones; and if he will make a statement. 
Jonathan Shaw: EU legislation sets out that a Protection Zone must be imposed for a minimum of 3 km, and a Surveillance Zone for a minimum of 10 km, around each infected premises. Our Protection and Surveillance Zones have always followed these minimum requirements and have not been demarcated by county boundaries.
The wider Restricted Zone originally covered the whole of Great Britain and implemented the national movement ban, but was subsequently reduced in size to be based on administrative and county boundaries, based on a veterinary risk assessment. In addition, the EU export areas have been delineated by administrative and county boundaries on the same basis.
Barbara Follett: For the first time, we have an indicator to narrow the pay gap in the Equalities Public Service Agreement. The Government have announced their decision to extend the right to request flexible working to parents of older children, and we are considering responses to our consultation on the Equality Bill about how the law on equal pay could be strengthened.
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