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22 Jan 2008 : Column 1829Wcontinued
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many accidents occurred involving (a) road vehicles, (b) aircraft and (c) trains carrying radioactive material in the United Kingdom in each year since 1997. 
Jim Fitzpatrick [holding answer 21 January 2008]: Since 1989 reports detailing all events involving the transport of radioactive material in the UK have been produced by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) working under contract to the Department for Transport.
Copies of these reports have been placed in the House Library and recent ones have been placed on the HPA website and are also available via the Department's website at the following address:
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent representations the UK has made to other NATO countries on provision of troops for operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. 
Des Browne [holding answer 21 January 2008]: NATO nations have made a collective commitment to Afghanistan and to meet the force levels set out in the Combined Joint Statement of Requirements. We routinely raise Afghanistan issues, including force levels, in bilateral and multilateral meetings.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for improving UK combat search and rescue cover in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Combat search and rescue is a specialist subset of Joint Personnel Recovery Operations. It refers to the recovery of trained and equipped isolated personnel, such as downed aircrew, when conducted in a threat environment. Allocation of resources for this task on current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan is a coalition responsibility and we are content the current system provides a satisfactory degree of cover.
Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to agree a manufacturing contract for the building of the two new aircraft carriers; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: I refer the hon. Member to the answer my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence (Des Browne) gave on 7 January 2008, Official Report, column 21W, to the hon. Member for New Forest East (Dr. Lewis).
Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what minimum compensation is paid to the families of servicemen killed in action; how compensation to bereaved families is calculated; what arrangements are in place for the payment of compensation to bereaved families; whether a civilian inquest is necessary before compensation is paid to bereaved relatives; and what arrangements are in place for meeting bereaved families immediate expenses such as a funeral if there is any delay in paying compensation. 
Derek Twigg: Under the Armed Forces and Reserve Forces (Compensation Scheme) Order 2005, benefits are payable to eligible surviving adult dependants/children of servicemen killed in action on or after 6 April 2005. The scheme provides compensation where death was caused by service on or after 6 April 2005 (causes before this date are considered under the war pension scheme).
Benefits are calculated in accordance with the rules of the scheme and consist of a bereavement grant of up
to £20,000, a survivors guaranteed income payment (SGIP) payable for life and payments to eligible children.
The calculation for SGIP is based on the servicemans salary and age at death and is taxable. This is paid monthly for life even in the event of remarriage. Payments to eligible children are based on similar calculations but the payment for children depends on the number of children and whether there is a surviving adult dependant.
It is not normally a necessity that an inquest is carried out before compensation can be paid, the results of an inquest may however be required if there is a question as to whether death was due to service.
The settling of funeral accounts and associated expenses is an entirely separate process and is not affected by any decision on compensation payments. Families may choose between having a service (military) funeral or a private family funeral. In the first instance all approved expense arising from a service funeral is paid by the MOD and the family also receive a cash grant of £500 to use as they wish to defray incidental expenses. If the family elect to have a private funeral then a grant is made, according to the type of funeral or cremation, currently up to a maximum of £2,760.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what the average cost was for upgrading a (a) single living accommodation and (b) single family accommodation from standard 4 to standard 3 in the latest period for which figures are available; 
(2) what the average cost was of upgrading a (a) single living accommodation and (b) single family accommodation from standard 2 to a standard 1 in the latest period for which figures are available; 
(3) what the average cost was of upgrading a (a) single living accommodation and (b) single family accommodation from standard 3 to a standard 2 in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Derek Twigg: MOD does not collect data in the form requested, nor does the Department approach the modernisation or upgrading of service families accommodation (SFA) and single living accommodation (SLA) in the way suggested.
The only time that we would improve a standard 4 for condition property just to standard 3, or simply uplifting any standard to one higher, would be as part of life-cycle maintenance activity; for instance, replacing bathrooms, kitchens or boilers and this would be classified as an upgrade.
It should be noted that 95 per cent. of SFA in mainland Great Britain is already at either standard 1 (60 per cent.) or standard 2 (35 per cent.) for condition. Over the last three years some 5,500 properties in the UK and 20,000 SLA worldwide have been upgraded to standard 1. Another 600 SFA will be upgraded in the current year with funding in place for a further 600 in 2008-09, and 800 per annum in subsequent years. By 2013 the Department is planning to upgrade a further 30,000 SLA to Grade 1.
Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many service families' properties were upgraded to (a) S1fC and (b) S2fC categories under the standard for condition initiative in each of the last four years. 
Derek Twigg [holding answer 17 January 2008]: In each of the last four years the following numbers of service families accommodation (SFA) properties were upgraded to standard 1 for condition (S1fC).
|Financial year||Number upgraded to S1fC|
It is not possible separately to identify the number of properties that were upgraded to S2fC in each of the last four years. The Department only has targets to upgrade SFA to S1fC, other lesser upgrades would only take place as part of life-cycle maintenance activity (for instance replacing bathrooms, kitchens or boilers).
Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much was spent on basic literacy and basic mathematics education in each year since 2000 by (a) the Royal Navy, (b) the Royal Air Force and (c) the Army. 
Derek Twigg: The armed forces recognise that improving basic skills enhances the ability of service personnel to cope with work pressures and increases their potential for career development. Basic skills education is one of several roles for service education officers, but is also delivered by appropriately trained civilian staff. Significant key skills training is also delivered within vocational training programmes.
Establishing the full cost of basic skills education across the armed forces could be achieved only at disproportionate cost. Hence in this response the expenditure identified is that which relates specifically to the employment and support of specialist manpower whose primary role is the delivery of basic skills education.
Basic skills tutors have been directly employed by the RN since 2006 and the costs relating to their role are as follows:
As the largest of the services the army has the greatest requirement for basic skills education and support. The costs directly attributable to Basic Skills Development Managers (BSDM) (salary, travel and subsistence and in-house training) since their engagement in 2002 are shown in the following table.
The RAF has a higher academic entry standard than the Army and RN. Any basic skills educational requirements are met primarily through the use of local college programmes, outside normal working hours and utilising Learning and Skills Council funding. Where literacy and numeracy packages have been delivered on RAF bases they have been funded by the individuals themselves. There are therefore no figures available for directly attributable costs for basic skills education for the RAF in the period 2000-07.
Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will fully implement the forthcoming recommendations of the Armed Forces Pay Review Body; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Armed Forces Pay Review Body (AFPRB) is currently deliberating and will submit its report to my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and Defence Secretary in due course. The Government will then consider whether to implement the AFPRB recommendations.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the current percentage shortfall is of each pinch point trade in the armed forces. 
Derek Twigg: Details of percentage shortfalls for pinch point trades are provided in the following table. The figures are those reported for financial year 2007-08 quarter 3 returns.
|Pinch points||Percentage shortfall|
Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Vehicle Mechanic 1
Queen Alexandras Royal Army Nursing CorpsOperation Department Practitioner
Air Traffic Control/Flight Operations Manager/Flight Operations AssistantSergeant
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