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Athena

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much expenditure from the public purse has been spent on European Security and Defence Policy military operations (a) under the Athena mechanism and (b) not under the Athena mechanism since January 2004, broken down by operation. [177526]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 10 January 2008]: The amount spent on ESDP military operations since January 2004 under the Athena mechanism is set out as shown.


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The amount spent on ESDP military operations since January 2004 not under the Athena mechanism format includes national borne costs which are held theatre wide rather than for NATO/ESDP (for example in the Balkans). Further work is therefore required to determine these costs as accurately as possible. I will write to the hon. Member as soon as this work is complete.

EU operation Where When Under ATHENA (£ million)

ALTHEA

(Bosnia and Herzegovina

Since July 2004

15.177

EUFORDRC

Democratic Republic of Congo

April 2006 to November 2006

1.417

EUFOR CHAD/CAR

CHAD/ Central African Republic

Yet to deploy

5.902

Total

22.496


Christmas

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his Department’s policy is on the selection of (a) real and (b) artificial Christmas trees for his Department’s festive decorations; and how real trees are disposed of. [173530]

Derek Twigg: The Government’s timber procurement policy, which requires that all timber and wood-containing products procured by Departments, including the Ministry of Defence, must come from legal, and preferably sustainable, sources, applies to the selection of real Christmas trees. There is no central Departmental policy on the selection of artificial Christmas trees. It is our policy that Christmas trees should be recycled after use.

Defence Aviation Repair Agency: Privatisation

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will visit the Defence Aviation Repair Agency Fleetlands and Almondbank to discuss with staff the reasons for the consideration of the privatisation of the agency and to inspect facilities. [178924]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: My right hon. Friend Baroness Ann Taylor, the Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, has already met with trade union officials at local and national level on this matter.

In addition, MOD officials have and continue to consult with all staff and relevant trade unions on matters concerning the future direction of the businesses.

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the (a) benefits and (b) risks of privatising the Defence Aviation Repair Agency. [178926]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: I announced on 25 July 2007, Official Report, column 74WS, that, following a robust evaluation of bids from industry, work would continue to assess whether sale offers best overall value for
14 Jan 2008 : Column 880W
Defence for the remaining Defence Aviation Repair Agency Rotary Wing and Components businesses that would not be merging into the Defence Support Group.

As part of this assessment, officials are currently considering the benefits and risks before a final decision is made.

Defence: Finance

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the defence budget was for Northern Ireland in each of the last 30 years at 2007 prices. [176663]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The information is not held in the format requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

General Officer Commanding (GOC) Northern Ireland was established as a separate Top Level Budget Holder (TLB) between 1992-93 and 2006-07. However, I provided information on all MOD Budget Holders (Sub Head) allocations for the last seven years in my letter of 30 November 2007, to the hon. Member for West Dorset (Mr. Letwin). A copy of my reply and the relevant information is available in the Library of the House. The HM Treasury website provides information regarding comparative pricing (the GDP deflator) at:

Defence: Northumberland

Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the Department’s grounds for objection to recent wind farm planning applications in Northumberland apply to other proposed wind farm sites in the parts of Northumberland identified in the regional planning strategy as areas of least constraint for wind farm applications; and whether he is proposing any modification of the strategy to meet defence operational requirements. [177446]

Derek Twigg: The decision whether or not to object to a planning application for one or more wind turbines is taken on a case-by-case basis and the decision in one case does not automatically relate to another. The key issues are whether proposed turbines will affect Ministry of Defence (MOD) interests such as operations and safety, and, if they do, whether the predicted effects will be manageable.

The Government office for the north east is in the process of drafting the north east regional spatial strategy and their officials are in discussion with MOD to ensure that MOD interests are adequately represented and protected in all relevant new and revised strategy and guidance documents.

Departmental Catering

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of (a) beef, (b) lamb, (c) pork and (d) dairy products used in his departmental headquarters were imported products in the most recent period for which figures are available. [166646]


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Mr. Bob Ainsworth: I refer the hon. Member to the data published in the report deposited in the House of Commons Library on 8 November 2007 giving the proportion of UK produce supplied to Government Departments, the NHS and HM Prison Service. A copy of the report is also available on the Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative (PSFPI) website at:

Departmental Domestic Visits

Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what plans (a) he has and (b) his ministerial colleagues have to visit wounded service men and women; [167156]

(2) on which occasions (a) he and (b) his ministerial colleagues visited wounded service men and women in each of the last two years; [167157]

(3) on which occasions (a) he and (b) his ministerial colleagues attended (i) funerals and (ii) memorial services of service men and women in each of the last two years. [167158]

Derek Twigg: Defence Ministers make, and shall continue to make, frequent visits to wounded service personnel both in the UK and overseas. Since 1 January 2006 a total of 42 visits have been made to visit wounded personnel in hospitals in the UK and overseas, including field hospitals in the operational theatres in Iraq and Afghanistan. The following list gives the visits made by each Minister.

In addition, Ministers meet personnel in the UK once they have returned from operational duty. On some of these occasions Ministers have met with injured personnel and their families.

Secretary of State for Defence (Total 14)


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Minister for the Armed Forces (Total 11)

Minister for Defence Equipment and Support (formerly Minister for Defence Procurement) (Total 3)

Under Secretary of State (Total 16)


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Funeral services of deceased service personnel are private events and it is for the family of the deceased service person to decide who they wish to attend the funeral. No Defence Minister has been invited to attend any funeral of any service person in the past two years. Ministers have attended services of remembrance when invited.

Departmental Freedom of Information

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of Freedom of Information requests received by his Department have given rise to responses that have been published by his Department. [175708]

Derek Twigg: The following table details the number of requests received, and the number and percentage of these which have been published via the online Disclosure Log in each of the last three years since the FOI Act came into force. Figures for 2007 are currently available only up until the end of September of that year.

RFIs received Responses published on the Disclosure Log Percentage of published responses as a proportion of the total of RFIs received

January to December 2005

4,604

127

2.8

January to December 2006

3,300

63

1.9

January to September 2007

2,287

132

5.8

Total

10,191

322

3.2


The Disclosure Log is available at the MOD's website at:

and is easily accessible from the main FOI website, www.foi.mod.uk

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what criteria are used to decide which of his Department’s responses to requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 are published on the Department’s website; and if he will make a statement. [175715]

Derek Twigg [holding answer 7 January 2008]: Where responses to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act are judged to be of wider public interest, the Ministry of Defence publishes them through the Department’s online Disclosure Log. In determining which responses are of wider public interest, the Ministry of Defence assesses whether responses meet one or more of the following criteria:


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