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Royal Engineers: Deployment

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average tour intervals were for each unit of the (a) Royal Engineers and (b) Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in the latest period for which figures are available. [186034]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 26 November 2007, Official Report, column 3W.

Service Personnel and Veterans Agency: RAF Innsworth

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the reasons are for moving the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency from RAF Innsworth; and if he will make a statement. [177863]

Derek Twigg [holding answer 14 January 2008]: I am currently considering the business case in support of the recent study of the future accommodation requirements of the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency. The decision will be announced in due course, and I shall write to the hon. Member.

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Space Technology

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what UK assets in space his Department is responsible; and what the purpose is of each. [186348]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: I have placed a copy of the current UK Registry of Space Objects in the Library of the House. This document includes details of the owner/operator and general function of all space objects licensed by the UK including those that are, or have been, owned or operated by the Ministry of Defence. The UK Registry of Space Objects is maintained by the British National Space Centre.

Territorial Army: Pensions

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what consideration he has given to making the remuneration of serving members of the Territorial Army pensionable on the same terms as those serving in the armed forces. [186783]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: There are arrangements in place to ensure that reservists who are mobilised for permanent service with the armed forces are not disadvantaged in pension terms. Individuals may have a number of pension options depending on their personal circumstances. Also, reservists who undertake service under sections 24 and 25 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 (full-time reserve service and additional duties commitments) receive a pension under the Reserve Forces Pension Scheme.

The terms and conditions of volunteer Territorial Army (TA) reservists serving on man training days, voluntary training or other duties are such that they do not attract entitlement to an armed forces pension. Typically the service is short and intermittent, unlike regular service, and would produce trivial pensions under an occupational pension scheme.

An employment tribunal held in June 2007 accepted that the MOD had justifiable reasons for excluding reservists serving on man training days, voluntary training or other duties from the armed forces pension schemes. It affirmed that the Department's long-standing approach of paying an annual bounty for volunteer reserve service, in recognition of the different terms and conditions, remains valid.

Terrorism: Ethiopia

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will ensure that the British defence attaché in Addis Ababa is given the necessary resources to provide security training advice in support of the Ethiopian Government's action against international terrorism. [186390]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Ministry of Defence co-ordinates its overseas training programmes with other Departments, and resources are allocated according to overall Government priorities on counter-terrorism. It is not the practice of the Government to make public the details of such assistance to individual countries as this would, or would be likely to, prejudice international relations.

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Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his answer of 21 January 2008, Official Report, column 1605W, on Trident, how much highly enriched uranium the UK had on the latest date for which data are available. [185356]

Des Browne: The most recent published figure for the Department’s holdings of highly enriched uranium is 21.86 tonnes held as at March 2002. This figure was published in the “Historical Accounting for UK Defence Highly Enriched Uranium” report, published in March 2006, which is available via the MOD website:

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what contingency arrangements are in place for the operation by civilian contractors of unmanned aerial vehicles in the event of their unavoidable unavailability. [185431]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The civilian contractors providing support for Hermes 450 Unmanned Air Vehicle operations in theatre maintain a team of five trained individuals for this role, although only one is deployed to theatre at any one time. This provides some contingency should any one individual become unavailable.

Other work is in hand to develop additional contingency support, including for the unlikely eventuality that all civilian contractor support become unavailable. This includes the planned introduction of an automatic global positioning system take-off and landing system.

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the watchkeeper unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) will come into service; and when the contracts of the Hermes 450 UAV end. [186728]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Watchkeeper unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has an approved in-service date of February 2011, but it is currently expected to enter into service in 2010. The existing contract for the Hermes 450 UAV runs until July 2009 and allows for extensions as necessary to meet operational requirements.

Veterans Day

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans his Department has to mark Veterans day 2008. [182328]

Derek Twigg: The date 27 June 2008 marks the third annual Veterans day event. As in the last two years, the MOD has allocated substantial funding to support community Veterans day events across the UK. Further details of the criteria and how to apply for funding are on the Department's veterans' website at

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All MPs were invited to a Veterans day reception at Portcullis House on 16 January, at which I encouraged all MPs to support Veterans day events in their own constituencies. An important way in which MPs can become involved in Veterans day is through a presentation of the HM armed forces veterans badge. This provides a clear opportunity to celebrate the achievements of veterans by showcasing their individual stories and demonstrating how they personify the qualities we respect in our armed forces.

I announced on 29 January that Blackpool would host the national Veterans day event in 2008. To date we are aware of around 30 other UK towns and cities which will be hosting large Veterans day events on or around 27 June, with many other smaller events around the country. I will be in a better position to advise on the overall level of funding support that we will provide after the closing date for funding applications, which is 31 May. Advice is being promulgated to the armed forces to encourage senior staff and units to support Veterans day events where operational commitments allow it. We are also working closely with ex-service organisations to facilitate their involvement. Consideration is being given to a number of other ways of promoting Veterans day 2008, but I cannot give details at this time.

I will make a statement to the House in due course.

Warships: Devonport

Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects final decisions on the base-porting of ships at Devonport Naval Base to be made. [186103]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: A number of maritime change programmes are currently in progress that will impact on all three HM naval bases. These include work resulting from the Naval Base Review decision to retain and optimise all three naval bases, changes to equipment and platform support arrangements, and our evolving strategic partnership with industry. Each is designed to ensure that waterfront activity is delivered in an efficient and sustainable manner.

No decisions on changes to base-porting of ships at Devonport, or the other two naval bases, will be taken until these programmes are sufficiently mature and the full impact is known.

Written Questions: Government Responses

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he will answer question 170212 tabled by the hon. Member for Portsmouth, South on 29 November 2007. [185016]

Derek Twigg: I replied to the hon. Member today.


Members: Correspondence

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Minister for the Olympics when she plans to reply to the letter dated 19 September 2007 from the right hon. Member for Banff and Buchan about his constituent W. J. Wood of Longside. [183939]

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Tessa Jowell: The letter from the right hon. Member for Banff and Buchan has been forwarded to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which is the Department with responsibility for this matter.

A response to the right hon. Member from the Minister for Sport was sent on 7 February 2008.

Olympic Games 2012: Construction

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Minister for the Olympics how many (a) fatalities and (b) serious injuries incurred in the construction of the Olympic precinct for the 2012 Olympic Games have been recorded to date. [186777]

Tessa Jowell: Since work started at the Olympic Park site in the autumn of 2005, there have been no fatalities on site. The Olympic Delivery Authority has also just marked its second period of 1,000,000 worker hours without a reportable incident.

Since 2005, there have been 11 personnel accidents reportable to the HSE under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR). One of these incidents is classified as major, but the individual who sustained a major injury, as classified under RIDDOR, has now returned to work.

The ODA’s current accident frequency rate (reportable accidents measured against working hours) is 0.17, compared with an estimated average construction industry AFR (accident frequency rate) of 1.2.

Olympic Games 2012: Disabled

Mr. Harper: To ask the Minister for the Olympics pursuant to the answer of 4 February 2008, Official Report, column 746W, on Olympic Games 2012: Disabled, what barriers there are to building all Olympic village units to the lifetime homes standard. [185741]

Tessa Jowell: In my previous answer of 4 February 2008, Official Report, column 746W, to the hon. Member for Forest of Dean, I stated that as many of the Village units as is practicable would be built to Lifetime Homes Standards. This commitment is reflected in the Section 106 agreement (clause 13.10.1) to, the Planning Permission for the Village site.

Lifetime Homes incorporate 16 design features that apply to both the interior and exterior of a home, ranging from socket positions to the structural capacity to install hoists. There are challenges in meeting all these features in the nearly 4,000 residential dwellings that will form the Olympic Village legacy. For example, the Lifetime Homes requirement for parking, proximity to the home and space width, may not be achievable for all residential dwellings in the Village given the nature of the build as multi-level blocks in an urban environment.

Despite these constraints, the ODA’s vision for the accessibility of the Village is ambitious. It is working to ensure that the Village project not only meets all legal requirements on accessibility, but places the needs of future residents at its core. The Access and Inclusion Forum and Access Panels (Transport and Built Environment) play a key role in the ODA’s consultation
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and assurance process. Each stage of the build is subject to rigorous review, and the principal access officer works alongside the Village project team to advise on specific inclusive design features.

Olympic Games 2012: Facilities

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Minister for the Olympics what involvement the London Fire Brigade has in the design and construction of Olympic facilities. [184809]

Tessa Jowell [holding answer 5 February 2008]: The London Fire Brigade is fully engaged with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games and the Olympic Delivery Authority in planning for the Olympics. A fire engineer seconded to the ODA from the brigade has been in post since September 2006. He provides on-site fire safety and risk assessment advice and ensures that the design and construction of facilities meets regulatory requirements.

The London Fire Brigade also works on Olympic planning with relevant Government Departments, with the Metropolitan police and with other partners, and is a key part of the Olympic Security Directorate which co-ordinates security issues for the games.

Olympic Games 2012: Fairtrade Initiative

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Minister for the Olympics what discussions she has had with (a) Cabinet members, (b) representatives of other Government departments, (c) the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games 2012 and (d) the Olympic Development Agency on (i) ethical and fair trade issues and (ii) the use of child labour in the manufacturing of merchandise for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games; and on which dates such discussions took place. [185661]

Tessa Jowell: The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) and the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) are committed to promoting ethical principles consistent with the Olympic Charter.

Following correspondence with Ministers from the Department for International Development, a meeting of officials from the Government Olympic Executive and DFID will discuss how to encourage fair and ethical practices as an integral part of delivering the Olympic programme. The letter of invitation was copied to Cabinet Office, CLG, DEFRA, FCO and HMT.

As a result, on 23 October, officials from the Government Olympic Executive met officials from the Cabinet Office, DFID, the Foreign Office, the ODA and LOCOG to discuss ODA and LOCOG commitment to the ethical and fair trade agenda.

The ODA seeks to work with suppliers who have a good track record in human rights and use goods and materials produced ethically. This includes seeking suppliers who do not have discriminatory practices and who do not use child or bonded labour. Officials from DFID are also discussing with ODA officials whether it can play a role in the Construction Sector Transparency
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Initiative’s (CoST) development and implementation, which aims to increase transparency and accountability in construction procurement.

On 27 November 2007, I helped to launch the London 2012 Sustainability Plan, ‘Towards a One Planet Olympics’. This sets out that LOCOG suppliers, sponsors and licensees are required to comply with the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) Base Code, which addresses child labour as well as broader labour conditions, trade union membership, and non-discrimination issues and will be applied to all appropriate contracts.

Olympic Games 2012: Visits Abroad

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Minister for the Olympics how many working days have been spent to date by people employed in connection with hosting the London 2012 Olympics on study visits to (a) former Olympic venues and (b) China. [178226]

Tessa Jowell: The experience of past Olympic host cities and that of the organisers of the forthcoming Games in Beijing is invaluable in informing our preparations for the London 2012 Games.

Since London won the bid on 6 July 2005, in my role as Minister for the Olympics at the DCMS and now at Cabinet Office, my right hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Central (Mr. Caborn), officials and I have been on six Olympic study visits to Beijing, Turin and Barcelona. Relevant staff accompanied Ministers on these visits, and records indicate that officials (including press officers and a special adviser) have spent a total of around 57 working days in these cities.

According to ODA records, it is estimated that around 40 working days to date have been spent on study visits by employees, focusing in particular on transport, security and legacy.

In addition LOCOG, the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, which is a private company, also regularly undertakes visits to former host cities. These are not publicly funded.

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