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7 Jan 2008 : Column 19W—continued

7 Jan 2008 : Column 20W

Des Browne: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 13 December 2007, Official Report, column 777W.

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence by whom each soldier killed during the 1st Battalion The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment/2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiments’ recent operational tour in Helmand Province was replaced in the order of battle. [175622]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: I will write to the hon. Member.

Airborne Manned Surveillance

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the status is of the Airborne Manned Surveillance urgent operational requirements; and if he will make a statement. [174485]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: There have been a significant number of urgent operational requirements relating to surveillance capabilities for manned airborne platforms. Some are in service delivering capability on operations. Others are in progress.

I am withholding further information as its release would, or would be likely to, prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of our armed forces.

Aircraft Carriers: Finance

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the estimated cost to his Department is of extending the out-of-service date of (a) HMS Illustrious and (b) HMS Ark Royal caused by the delay of the in-service dates of the CVF Carriers from 2012 and 2015 to 2014 and 2016. [169346]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: There has been no delay to the future aircraft carriers' in-service dates of 2014 and 2016 as announced on 25 July 2007, Official Report, column 865 and no subsequent changes to the out of service dates of the current carriers. These out of service dates have been adjusted as planning assumptions for the introduction of the new aircraft carriers have been developed. There have been no significant extra costs associated with these adjustments.

Aircraft Carriers: Procurement

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the current status is of the order for two future aircraft carriers; and if he will make a statement. [137888]

Des Browne [holding answer 17 December 2007]: As I announced on 25 July 2007, Official Report, column 865, we have committed to placing an order for two future carriers. Contracts will be placed with the industrial participants in the Aircraft Carrier Alliance delivering the project, when the joint venture between BAE Systems and VT Group has completed the necessary approvals to allow it to receive a contract. This process is nearing completion.

7 Jan 2008 : Column 21W

Animal Experiments

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his timetable is for concluding the review into hyperbaric experiments excluding the use of (a) goats and (b) any other animals; and which alternative methods are being considered. [175990]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The team of experts has now concluded its stage of the review and its recommendations are to be considered. I will write to the hon. Member when the whole process has concluded.

Armed Forces: Deployment

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 10 December 2007, Official Report, column 394W, on armed forces: deployment, from which units the 200 regular army reinforcements came; and how many of them have been operationally deployed in the last six months. [174765]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 18 December 2007]: The Regular Army reinforcements required by the 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment to provide the particular skill sets and rank structure required in its role as the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team came primarily from other units in 52 Infantry Brigade.

Units within the brigade have not deployed on an operational tour at either unit or sub-unit level in the last six months. The trawl process used by the Army prevents individuals from deploying on operations within six months of a previous deployment, unless the individual is a volunteer or there is a pressing operational requirement.

Armed Forces: Finance

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much in near cash terms was spent on service retention in each financial year since 2002-03. [176278]

Derek Twigg: The cost of Financial Retention Initiatives (additions to basic pay for groups or trades with particular shortages) and Commitment Bonuses (cash payments at particular times throughout the career progression of personnel to encourage a continuance of service) is shown in the following table.

Financial year £ million











Many disparate activities within the Services could be considered as measures to improve retention, from the improvement of accommodation to the implementation of welfare lines or services. Information about these activities could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

7 Jan 2008 : Column 22W

Armed Forces: Health Services

Richard Younger-Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) by what means he monitors whether servicemen and women discharged with combat stress receive continuing treatment from the NHS; [172885]

(2) what arrangement his Department has in place for the transfer of the medical care of discharged service men and women to the NHS. [172893]

Derek Twigg: The Ministry of Defence is committed to doing all it reasonably can to ensure successful transition to civilian life. On discharge, all ex-service personnel are provided with a medical summary record, and this can be presented at the GP’s surgery when they register with a civilian doctor. If the doctor has a requirement for the full medical record, we will provide this upon request.

For the vast majority of service personnel these procedures are sufficient to ensure a seamless transition to the NHS. However, for those who are medically discharged with significant ongoing physical or mental health conditions, the care is formally handed over to appropriate medical staff by MOD specialists as the patient is medically discharged.

In the case of physical illness or injury, social work teams at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre or the single service welfare organisations ensure this seamless transfer. For those with ongoing mental illness, the specific Defence Medical Services mental health team who have been caring for that individual will begin a liaison with appropriate civilian healthcare providers (e.g. general practitioner civil mental health team) to ensure that transfer of care and patient history takes place. Additionally, we have specific mental health social workers who manage the individual’s wider resettlement issues, liaising with relevant civil agencies such as local housing authorities, financial authorities, service welfare and charitable organisations. These MOD mental health social workers ensure that the individual's transfer into the civilian environment is as smooth as possible.

Since the beginning of 2007, we have also put in place arrangements for the Department’s Veterans Welfare Service to monitor those discharged with a seriously disabling injury; this covers cases of both physical and psychological injury. While this monitoring is primarily focused on welfare matters, the service will also identify sources of medical assistance where appropriate. In cases where there is a mental health issue, this could include if appropriate a NHS/MOD Mental Health Pilot team, the Medical Assessment Programme at St. Thomas’ Hospital London, or the charity Combat Stress.

Richard Younger-Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost to his Department of health provision for service men and women in the (a) Army, (b) Royal Navy and (c) Royal Air Force was in 2006-07. [172894]

Derek Twigg: The information is not held in the format requested.

The Defence Medical Services (DMS) are headed jointly by the Deputy Chief of Defence Staff (Health) (DCDS(H) and the Surgeon General (SG). They oversee the work of three separate organisations:

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DCDS(H) and SG also produce medical policy for the three single services. However, the Royal Navy (RN), Army and Royal Air Force (RAF) Medical Services are responsible for delivering primary healthcare to their respective service commanders in chief and for providing the requisite medical support on operations.

The overall expenditure for the DCDS(Health) organisation for the financial year 2006-07 was £268 million. The organisational structure of the DMS in its entirety means that comprehensive primary care and operational costs cannot be provided without disproportionate effort as they are disaggregated and embedded in individual military units’ budgets.

Armed Forces: Housing

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of (a) single and (b) family defence estate accommodation is classed as (i) category 1, (ii) category 2, (iii) category 3 and (iv) category 4; what criteria he uses for deciding whether accommodation is sub-standard; and what assessment he has made of the findings of the Public Accounts Committee report on managing the defence estate. [175298]

Derek Twigg [holding answer 18 December 2007]: Service Families Accommodation (SFA) and Single Living Accommodation (SLA) is assessed by Grade for Charge, while most SFA is also assessed by Standard for Condition. Grade for Charge takes account of an assessment of the physical condition of the accommodation and other factors such as location and closeness to amenities.

As at 30 June 2007, our worldwide SLA stock of some 165,500 bed spaces was at the following Grade for Charge.


Grade 1


Grade 2


Grade 3


Grade 4


At 1 April 2007, the worldwide SFA stock of some 70,193 properties is at the following Grade for Charge.


Grade 1


Grade 2


Grade 3


Grade 4


Below Grade 4


Of the 70,193, some 55,548 have also been assessed by Standard for Condition (SfC). These are broken down as follows:

7 Jan 2008 : Column 24W









All occupied accommodation is considered of a habitable standard. The Department currently expects to publish its response to the Public Accounts Committee report on managing the defence estate in February 2008.

Armed Forces: Influenza

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make it his policy to ensure that sufficient quantities of (a) influenza vaccines, (b) anti-virals and (c) face-masks are held by armed forces operating in (i) Iraq, (ii) Afghanistan and (iii) elsewhere in the world for them to cope with a potential influenza pandemic; and if he will make a statement. [172797]

Derek Twigg: The best method to prevent infection with influenza is by prior immunisation with an appropriate vaccine. The Department of Health (DH) has purchased a quantity of the H5N1 Avian Flu vaccine, which could be offered to key occupational groups when the risk of a pandemic increases as it may give a degree of protection should the pandemic strain be a variant of H5N1. Supplies of this vaccine are being held by the DH on behalf of the MOD and in the event of an outbreak will be deployed by MOD in accordance with DH guidelines.

When an influenza virus is already circulating, therapeutic antiviral agents can help to lessen the severity of illness, reduce deaths and contain spread. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommends that during an influenza pandemic, patients with a flu-like illness should be treated with zanamivir (“Relenza”) or oseltamivir (“Tamiflu”). The DH has arranged for an appropriate stockpile quantity of Tamiflu to be purchased, which is also being held centrally, and includes an allocation for MOD. For armed forces personnel employed at one of MOD’s Permanent Joint Overseas Bases (PJOBs), stockpiles of the Tamiflu antiviral have been pre-positioned within the PJOB logistics chain for rapid deployment if necessary. For those on operational deployment in Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere, supplies are held by Permanent Joint Headquarters, and will be deployed to theatre as required.

Supplies of face-masks are already held in-theatre and will be used with other appropriate preventative measures in the event of a pandemic outbreak of influenza.

Armed Forces: Leave

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he plans to reduce leave entitlement during operational tours. [175320]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Armed forces personnel take rest and recuperation (R and R) while on operational tours. R and R is not leave. There are no plans to change the amount of R and R for which personnel are eligible.

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Armed Forces: Legal Opinion

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether armed forces chiefs receive allowances for the commissioning of legal advice. [172005]

Des Browne: There are no allowances payable to service personnel for the commissioning of legal advice.

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what legal advice is available to armed forces chiefs for official purposes; and whether such advice was sought before the invasion of Iraq in 2003. [172006]

Des Browne: Internal legal advice is available to armed forces chiefs from the legal branches of their respective services and from the MOD's Director General Legal Services as appropriate. Any such advice is subject to legal professional privilege.

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