29 Jan 2008 : Column 181W

29 Jan 2008 : Column 181W

Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 29 January 2008

House of Commons Commission

Members: Information and Communications Technology

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission whether he plans to make BlackBerry machines available for use by hon. Members. [181570]

Nick Harvey: Personal digital assistants (PDAs) and Smartphones are available to Members via PICT, the parliamentary ICT service. This service has been available since June 2006. The devices and their voice and data costs are met by individual Members while the supporting infrastructure is funded centrally. The product range is regularly reviewed and at present four different devices can be selected. BlackBerries are not available under this service because none of the responses received to the full EU tender proposed that product.

Northern Ireland

Intimidation

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many cases of bullying were reported in (a) his Department and (b) its agencies in each of the last 12 months. [182843]

Mr. Woodward: The NIO has procedures in place for dealing with complaints of harassment and bullying. Where staff wish complaints to be dealt with informally, they can approach their line management, but no central record is maintained of such approaches. During the last 12 months there has been only one formal complaint of bullying reported in the NIO core, and none in its agencies.

Until recently, all staff joining the NIO underwent mandatory equal opportunities awareness training as part of their induction, which included guidance on appropriate behaviour in the workplace. This has been replaced by a new diversity course, concentrating on treating others with dignity, which is also currently being rolled out to the whole Department.

Electoral Commission Committee

Political Parties: Finance

Mr. Hoban: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission what guidance on (a) loans and (b) donations has been sent to regulated donees by the Electoral Commission in the last 12 months. [182799]


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Peter Viggers: The Electoral Commission informs me that it published new guidance on donations for regulated donees in Northern Ireland in October 2007. The Commission wrote to all MPs, MEPs and MLAs representing Northern Ireland or Northern Ireland constituencies, setting out the broad scope of the donation controls and alerting them to publication of the guidance.

Additionally, it wrote to the Labour leadership and deputy leadership candidates in May 2007 and the Liberal Democrat leadership candidates in October 2007. These letters summarised the donees’ requirements to record, check permissibility and report in relation to both donations and loans.

The Commission regularly gives advice on request to regulated donees on particular issues related to loans and donations.

Recruitment of Chairman

Ann Clwyd: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission, what are the arrangements for the recruitment of a new Chairman of the Commission when Mr Sam Younger’s term expires on 1 January 2009. [183627]

Peter Viggers: Under section 3 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, the appointment of the Chairman of the Electoral Commission is subject to the agreement of Mr. Speaker. The Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission has proposed a panel to recommend the appointment and Mr. Speaker has invited the following to serve on this panel:

Defence

Armed Forces: Casualties

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of HM Armed Forces were killed in off-duty road traffic accidents in each of the last five years for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [182789]

Derek Twigg: Information on the detailed causes of deaths to UK regular armed forces personnel is only currently available up to December 2006. The numbers killed in off-duty road traffic accidents (on the public highway) in each year between 2002 and 2006 are shown in the following table.

Deaths due to off-duty road traffic accidents: UK regular armed forces, numbers, 2002-06
Number

2002

55

2003

40

2004

46

2005

44

2006

49

Total

234


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Armed Forces: Deployment

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many UK armed forces personnel were deployed on operations at the most recent date for which figures are available, broken down by location of deployment. [181208]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The following table shows the number of UK service personnel deployed on operations by location at 14 January 2008. The number of personnel in theatre will naturally fluctuate on a daily basis for a variety of reasons, including leave (rest and recuperation), temporary absence for training, evacuation for medical reasons, the roulement of forces and other factors.

Number of personnel deployed by location( 1)
Location Number

Total

13,480

Of which:

Afghanistan

6,800

Iraq

4,600

At Sea

620

Qatar

410

Cyprus

280

Kuwait

350

Oman

180

Kosovo

120

Bahrain

60

Bosnia

10

Other

30

(1) Countries with 10 or more personnel are shown separately. Other countries with fewer than 10 personnel per country include Georgia, Nepal, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia.

Armed Forces: Schools

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the total budget was for Service Children’s Education schools in each of the last five years. [177529]

Derek Twigg: Service Children’s Education’s overall R-DEL (Resourced Departmental Expenditure Limit) Control Totals (CTs) for each of the past five years was as follows:

£ Million

2003-04

65.634

2004-05

73.705

2005-06

74.769

2006-07

75.600

2007-08

73.347


The reduction in Resource Control Totals between 2006-07 and 2007-08 reflects the internal transfer of responsibility and funding for Estates Maintenance to Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) with effect from 1 September 2006.

Civilians: Pay

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many British citizens employed overseas at Ministry of Defence establishments receive wages lower than the UK minimum wage; and if he will make a statement. [182792]


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Derek Twigg: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. There are no UK-based civilians (UKBCs) employed overseas at Ministry of Defence establishments in receipt of pay below the UK minimum wage. MOD does employ locally engaged civilians (LECs) overseas. The majority of civilian personnel employed overseas by MOD are LECs and not civil servants. LECs are recruited locally, and may be nationals of the host country, expatriates or accompanying dependants of MOD personnel (UKBCs or service personnel). LECs are employed on terms and conditions analogous with local employment law and market forces, and not those of the UK.

Clause 21

Richard Younger-Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence by what means he has implemented Clause 21 of the military covenant. [172887]

Derek Twigg: The Military Covenant is a stand-alone paragraph contained within the Army Doctrine (Land Operations); it does not contain any clauses.

Under the War Pensions Scheme, the Department has the discretionary power in article 21 of the Service Pensions Order to meet the cost of any necessary expenses in respect of the medical, surgical or rehabilitative treatment of a member of the armed forces that arise wholly or mainly arise as a result of the disablement due to service where it is not provided for free of charge under other legislation of the United Kingdom. This power predates the NHS and is now little used. The two main areas of expenditure under this provision are (1) the individual costs of war pensioners undergoing ‘remedial treatment’ at homes run by Combat Stress and (2) treatment costs for war pensioners who reside overseas.

Departmental Computers

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the statement of 21 January 2008, Official Report, column 1225, on MoD (data loss), how many of the 347 laptops stolen or lost from the Ministry of Defence since 2004 have been recovered. [182359]

Des Browne: As a result of the theft of the Royal Navy laptop, the Ministry of Defence has initiated an investigation into the details of all computers lost or stolen since 2003. This investigation is under way and I will write to the hon. Member when the information is available and arrange for a copy of my letter to be placed in the Library of the House.

Departmental Data Protection

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many security breaches regarding access to personal data have occurred within his Department in each year since 1997. [170832]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Department’s security incident reporting system does not currently identify breaches relating to access to personal data as a separate category. We are now putting in place arrangements to identify such incidents on the database.


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Educational Support

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the Oral Answer of 21 January 2008, Official Report, column 1195, on educational support, when the service indicator was introduced into the annual school census; and if he will make a statement. [182427]

Derek Twigg [holding answer 28 January 2008]: The service indicator on the annual school census in England was introduced in January 2008.

Iraq: Hercules Aircraft

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 28 November 2007, Official Report, column 452W, on Iraq: Hercules aircraft, when his Department plans to implement the recommendations (g) and (k) of the Board of Inquiry report. [173855]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 13 December 2007]: Recommendation G stated that the Hercules C130K should be fitted with a basic aircraft data recorder. This is not a safety feature but an air accident investigation tool.

This recommendation was not pursued following a cost-benefit analysis which concluded that it was not cost-effective given the time it would take to fit the equipment compared with the expected out of service date for Hercules.

For recommendation K, a draft Information Exchange Agreement on the routine sharing of transport aircraft vulnerability data has been passed to the US. We are working to bring this work to a conclusion as soon as possible.

Iraq: Military Equipment

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 19 November 2007, Official Report, columns 480-1W, on Iraq: military equipment, what personnel training and mentoring of Iraqi forces, UK troops are providing at (a) brigade, (b) division and (c) battle group level. [181712]

Des Browne: The provision of training, mentoring and monitoring of Iraqi Security Forces is a primary task for UK forces in Iraq, with training provided to 10(th) and 14(th) Iraqi Army Divisions at divisional, brigade and battalion level. At the divisional level, training and mentoring focuses on the appropriate structures required of a divisional HQ.

At brigade level, it focuses on the practicalities and execution of joint operations, while the battalion level receives dedicated infantry training.

Training is also provided to The Department for Border Enforcement and the Iraqi Police Service.


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