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|(1)10 January 2008|
(2)31 December 2007
(3)7 January 2008
Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the effect on costs of below strength recruitment to (a) the Army, (b) the Royal Navy and (c) the Royal Air Force in each year since 2000. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: All personnel deploying or on stand-by to deploy on operations receive training that is relevant to their rank and role in theatre. The term public relations in not generally used in a Pre Deployment training context, but topics covered will include: media awareness, language and cultural training, psychological operations, information operations and civil military co-operation.
The precise content of PDT is left to the deploying operational commanders, based on their reconnaissance visits to theatre and direction from the permanent joint headquarters and HQ LAND. The proportions of the overall training package that is devoted to the above elements will therefore vary.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many personnel in the (a) Army, (b) Royal Navy and (c) Royal Air Force are involved in recruitment; and whether these figures meet the manning requirement. 
Derek Twigg: All armed forces personnel, either directly or indirectly, have a recruiting role. Nevertheless, the numbers of Naval Service and Royal Air Force personnel primarily involved in managing or delivering the regular service recruiting process are as follows:
Naval Service: 339, against an establishment of 356;
Royal Air Force: 324, against an establishment of 348.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The in-service date (ISD) for Panther, as stated in the main gate business case, was November 2007. Declaration of this ISD having been achieved has currently been withheld until certain support aspects, not required to be in place until the end of March 2008, have been finalised.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: MODs research and development programme has shifted its focus from dumb munitions to the delivery of precision effects through a variety of weapon concepts. The Department is commissioning a broad programme covering sensor, fuzing and effects technology, as well as modelling performance of components and systems to assess effectiveness against targets, to understand unintended consequences and to reduce collateral damage. This is outlined under the requirements for complex weapons and general munitions in Chapters B7 and B8 of the Defence Technology Strategy published in 2006, a copy of which is in the Library of the House.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The 155 mm L20A1 Extended Range Bomblet Shell is the only cluster munition that the MOD holds as part of its stock pile. There have been a number of trials of the L20A1, which contains M85 bomblets with a self-destruct mechanism. When the totality of test and acceptance firings is analysed over the life of the munition, the average bomblet failure rate is approximately 2 per cent. As part of its ongoing quality and performance regime, the MOD continues to actively monitor the performance of this system and explore, in partnership with the supplier, the factors which might have a bearing on failure rates.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 22 January 2008, Official Report, column 1835W, on Bowman Combat Radio System, what research his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the cost effectiveness of batteries provided by ABSL Power Solutions for Bowman; and whether the National Audit Office has been involved in making an assessment of the cost effectiveness. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Department has not commissioned research on, or evaluated the cost effectiveness of batteries provided by ABSL Power Solutions for Bowman. The Bowman contract for the complete system, including power supplies, was awarded to General Dynamics United Kingdom (GDUK) Ltd. on a firm price basis. GDUK subsequently awarded sub contracts to ABSL following their own competitive selection process. The National Audit Office has examined the overall value for money of the Bowman Combat Infrastructure Platform programme (HC 1050 Session 2005-2006/25 July 2006).
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 22 January 2008, Official Report, column 1835W, on Bowman Combat radio system: batteries, what information the Bowman power study is expected to add to (a) the report on portable power sources compiled by the Defence Scientific Advisory Council and (b) the commissioning of ABSL by the Future Integrated Soldier Technology project team to produce a prototype; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 5 February 2008]: The UK is contributing a total of four military officers to the ESDP mission to Chad/Central African Republic (CAR): two officers in the operational HQ at Mont Valerien in Paris and two officers in the force HQ in Chad/CAR. These staff officers are being provided under standing EU headquarters augmentation procedures.
On 25 January 2008 the EUs Special Committee ATHENA approved a budget for the common costs of EU military operations in Chad/CAR covering the period to the end of 2008. The UK share of the approved budget is £14 million, of which £5.9 million has already been paid. A further budget for 2009 will be prepared by the Operation Commander after six months of the operation for consideration by the Special Committee; this will comprise mainly the costs of recovering force headquarter elements from theatre. The UK share of ATHENA common costs is attributed to the FCO peacekeeping budget.
Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent support (a) his Department and (b) the armed forces have offered to the government of Colombia in combating the smuggling of illegal drugs across the Colombia-Venezuela border. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Preventing the cross-border flow of illicit drugs from Colombia to neighbouring countries is a top priority for the UKs international counter-narcotics efforts. The UK is investing in projects in Colombia and Venezuela to tackle the cross-border flow of illicit drugs. These projects have helped to build capacity among Colombian and Venezuelan law enforcement agencies and the judiciary. In addition, funding of a United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime project on cross border co-operation has recently been approved.
We take a broad regional approach to tackling the trade in illicit drugs, through a mixture of political engagement, capacity building and law enforcement support in producer, transit and consumer countries. This includes working with Governments of other producer and transit countries in Latin America and countries along the main trafficking routes for drugs via the Caribbean and West Africa.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: In 2004, the Sovereign Base Area Administration (SBAA) enacted the Protection and Management of Game and Wild Birds Ordinance 2004, which includes provisions for strict penalties for poaching and other offences relating to birds. It also provides for the designation and management of Special Protection Areas.
Where poachers/trappers are arrested, the aim is for the case to be heard within seven days. Whenever a shot gun is involved, the judge is urged to consider confiscation and destruction. In addition, the law provides for a penalty of up to €17,000 or three years imprisonment or both if they are found guilty of illegal bird killing.
Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library a copy of his Departments forecast asset and stock price reports provided by the Defence Analytical Services Agency to the (a) fixed asset processing centre and (b) directorate of defence resources and plans. 
Since 1999 the Government have published a list of all overseas travel by Cabinet Ministers costing over £500. Information for the last financial year was published on 25 July 2007. Details for the current financial year will be published as soon as possible after the end of the financial year. From next year, the list will include details of overseas visits
undertaken by all Ministers. All ministerial travel is undertaken in accordance with the ministerial code.
Derek Twigg: Accurate information on this is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, I can say that there are currently 191 staff employed by the Ministry of Defence's central Directorate General Media and Communications. Of these, 22 are press officers in its London office and eight in its regional press offices. The others carry out various communications and supporting tasks.
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