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16 Jan 2008 : Column 1242W—continued

Whales

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) which governments he plans to make representations to support the international moratorium on whaling prior to the IWC60 meeting; and if he will make a statement.; [177611]


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(2) whether he plans to ask non-International Whaling Commission countries to join the IWC prior to the IWC60 meeting to support the international moratorium on whaling; and if he will make a statement; [177614]

(3) what discussions he has had with representatives of foreign governments in relation to whaling since the IWC59 meeting; and if he will make a statement. [177658]

Jonathan Shaw: The UK forms part of a core anti-whaling grouping within the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and supports the IWC’s moratorium on commercial whaling. The UK remains strongly opposed to any attempt to lift or weaken the moratorium and, in the longer term, wishes to see it strengthened. We will be meeting with the core anti-whaling group in the run up to IWC60. Posts abroad will also lobby a wide range of governments prior to the meeting to ensure support for the moratorium.

The UK has led efforts to recruit more conservation-minded countries to the IWC through our publication ‘Protecting Whales—A Global Responsibility’. This publication has recently been updated and was re-released on 21 December 2007. In the coming weeks, posts will deliver the updated version to host governments, and will continue to engage in discussion with their counterparts on whaling at every appropriate opportunity.

This year, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will write to 18 countries encouraging them to join the IWC for the greater protection of whales.

The UK Government have consistently voiced their opposition to Japanese “scientific” whaling. Most recently, on 8 January, I called in the deputy ambassador from the Japanese embassy in London to express the UK’s outrage and urge Japan to end its slaughter of whales.

On 21 December 2007, the UK along with 29 other countries took part in a demarché to the Japanese Government calling on Japan to

Wales

Tower Colliery

9. Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the closure of Tower Colliery. [177791]

Mr. Hain: I would like to commend the team at Tower Colliery on their tremendous success and inspiring journey, demonstrating how a self-managed coal mine can work.

Defence

10. Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Defence on the transfer of jobs from RAF Cosford to RAF St. Athan. [177792]


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Huw Irranca-Davies: The Secretary of State and I have regular discussions with the Secretary of State for Defence on a range of defence issues.

I understand that the relocation of jobs from RAF Cosford to St. Athan will be completed by 2013.

Economy

11. Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the First Minister on the future of the economy in Wales. [177793]

Huw Irranca-Davies: My right hon. Friend has had regular discussions with the First Minister on all aspects of the Welsh economy.

13. David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the First Minister on the future of the economy in Wales. [177795]

Huw Irranca-Davies: I have regular discussions with the First Minister on all aspects of the Welsh economy.

World Heritage Sites

12. Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent representations he has received on the world heritage sites in Wales. [177794]

Huw Irranca-Davies: My right hon. Friend and I have recently received representations to support the World Heritage bid for Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which lies within my hon. Friend’s constituency.

We were proud to add our support to this world class piece of British engineering; and I would like to thank and congratulate all those who have worked so very hard and put so much dedication into campaigning to get the aqueduct recognised as a World Heritage site.

Seaside Towns

14. Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what meetings he has had with Cabinet and Welsh Assembly Government colleagues on the co-ordination of policy on seaside towns in Wales. [177796]

Huw Irranca-Davies: My right hon. Friend and I regularly meet ministerial colleagues and Welsh Assembly Government colleagues to discuss issues affecting Wales, including the co-ordination of policies affecting Wales.

I pay tribute to the tireless work of my hon. Friend in campaigning for the improvement of the seaside towns in his constituency.

Prisons

15. Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent assessment he has made of levels of prison overcrowding in Wales. [177797]

Huw Irranca-Davies: The Government are committed to ensuring that there are enough prison places throughout England and Wales.


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Health Services: Cross Border Cooperation

Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the First Minister on cross-border health service issues affecting England and Wales. [177907]

Mr. Hain: I have regular discussions with the First Minister on a range of issues, including the provision of cross border health services affecting Wales and England.

Child Poverty

Hywel Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on the further steps he is taking to meet the Government’s target to reduce child poverty in Wales. [177786]

Mr. Hain: The reforms set out in Ready for Work; next steps to full employment will reduce child poverty by getting more parents, particularly lone parents off benefits and back into work.

Defence

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 7 January 2008, Official Report, column 19W, on Afghanistan: peacekeeping operations, how many civilians are employed by his Department for the take-off and landing phase of unmanned aerial vehicles; from what company these civilians are contracted; and what the nationality of each civilian so employed was in each year since 2005. [178533]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: One civilian contractor is deployed in Afghanistan to assist UK forces with the take-off and landing phases of UAVs. The individual deployed at any one time is drawn from a pool of five trained personnel, all of whom are American nationals. The civilian contractors are not directly employed by the MOD but supplied through Brandes, a sub-contractor of Thales, the prime contractor for this system. A civilian has been employed in this role since September 2007, the date on which UAV operations of this type commenced in Afghanistan.

Armed Forces: Deployment

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps the Government has taken to assist personnel with settling back into the community on return from operational duties. [179178]

Derek Twigg [holding answer 15 January 2008]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 14 January 2008, Official Report, columns 877-78W, to the hon. Member for North Cornwall (Dan Rogerson).


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Armed Forces: Driving

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library copies of his Department's Annual Road Safety Report issued since 1997-98. [175451]

Derek Twigg: I will arrange for the documents to be placed in the Library of the House. The reports can also be found at:

Armed Forces: Housing

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many housing association tenants live in his Department's accommodation. [171105]

Derek Twigg: There are no housing association tenants living in service accommodation.

Armed Forces: Mental Health

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps the Government have taken to tackle mental health issues arising among armed forces personnel, with particular reference to those returning from operational duty. [179180]

Derek Twigg [holding answer 15 January 2008]: We recognise that operational deployments can be very stressful experiences and to that end measures are in place to increase awareness at all levels and to mitigate the development of operational stresses. Medical staff and the Chain of Command are trained to recognise signs of mental illness and stress and where practicable a period of “decompression” is arranged for the returning unit between the end of the operational deployment and post operational leave. Additionally pre- and post-deployment talks are given to educate personnel and their families to the possible after-affects of an operational deployment and, if required, what medical and welfare support is available.

For those who require it, we provide treatment primarily through our 15 military Departments of Community Mental Health across the UK (plus satellite centres overseas), which provide out-patient mental healthcare. A wide range of psychiatric and psychological treatments are available, including medication, psychological therapies, and environmental adjustment where appropriate. The Defence Mental Health Services have extensive experience in psychological treatments for mental health problems in general, and psychological injury in particular.

In-patient care, when necessary, is provided in psychiatric units belonging to the Priory Group of Hospitals, through a central contract with MOD. The arrangements with the Priory Group mean that the majority of patients can be treated much closer to their parent units than was the case when we maintained the last of our own psychiatric hospitals.

Armed Forces: Peace Establishment

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what the peace establishment was of the 4th Regiment of the Royal Artillery before its deployment
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to Afghanistan; what the strength was of the Regiment on deployment; how many reinforcements to the Regiment were received from (a) the regular Army, (b) the Territorial Army and (c) the regular Army Reserves; how many of all ranks were (i) left behind on recruitment duties, (ii) physically unfit to deploy and (iii) left behind in barracks to form a rear party; and what the Regiment's battle casualty replacement policy is; [177936]

(2) what the peace establishment was of the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards before its deployment to Afghanistan; what the strength was of the Battalion on deployment; how many reinforcements to the Battalion were received from (a) the regular Army, (b) the Territorial Army and (c) the regular Army Reserves; how many of all ranks were (i) left behind on recruitment duties, (ii) physically unfit to deploy and (iii) left behind in barracks to form a rear party; and what the Battalion's battle casualty replacement policy is; [177938]

(3) what the peace establishment was of the Household Cavalry Regiment before its deployment to Afghanistan; what the strength was of the Regiment on deployment; how many reinforcements to the Regiment
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were received from (a) the regular Army, (b) the Territorial Army and (c) the regular Army Reserves; how many of all ranks were (i) left behind on recruitment duties, (ii) physically unfit to deploy and (iii) left behind in barracks to form a rear party; and what the Regiment's battle casualty replacement policy is; [177940]

(4) what the peace establishment was of the 1st Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles before its deployment to Afghanistan; what the strength was of the Battalion on deployment; how many reinforcements to the Battalion were received from (a) the regular Army, (b) the Territorial Army and (c) the regular Army Reserves; how many of all ranks were (i) left behind on recruitment duties, (ii) physically unfit to deploy and (iii) left behind in barracks to form a rear party; and what the Battalion's battle casualty replacement policy is. [177942]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The following table provides the information requested. Numbers are rounded to the nearest 100 or where less than 100 to the nearest 10, as appropriate:

Number
4th Regiment Royal Artillery 1st( ) Battalion Coldstream Guards Household Cavalry Regiment 1st Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles

Peacetime establishment prior to deployment.

600

600

500

600(1)

Strength on Deployment

400

500

200(2)

600

Level of reinforcement from Regular Army

40

0

0

<10

Level of reinforcement from regular Army Reserves

<10

<10

0

0

Level of reinforcement from Territorial Army

20

0

10

<10

Unit personnel left behind on recruiting duties or were physically unfit to deploy

100

70

30

50

Rear Party Strength(3)

80

70

100

200

(1) Prior to deployment 1 RGR were manned over their establishment requirement, their actual strength was 800. (2) Only one squadron of the Household Cavalry Regiment has deployed. (3) Figures for rear party strength exclude those personnel listed as physically unfit to deploy or on recruiting duties.

I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 7 January Official Report, column 50W that outlines the policy on battlefield casualty replacement which applies across the Army.


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