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Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what fleets of helicopters are available to UK armed forces in (a) Afghanistan and (b) Iraq; and what future (i) enhancements and (ii) changes to the number of helicopters are planned by his Department. 
Des Browne [holding answer 4 March 2008]: As of February 2008, the UK routinely deployed Chinook, Sea King, Lynx and Apache helicopters in Afghanistan and Merlin, Puma and Lynx helicopters in support of operations in Iraq.
The Ministry of Defence keeps helicopter numbers and capability under constant review and the nature and scale of the assets we deploy can and does vary over time. I am withholding further details of our helicopter deployments as disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the armed forces deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq.
As a result of experience on operations, we are taking steps to increase the robustness of our existing helicopter fleets, such as the purchase of the six Danish Merlin helicopters and the conversion of the eight Chinook Mk3 helicopters to a support helicopter role. We have carried out extensive modifications to improve the operational capability of our helicopters in response to urgent operational requirements, including fitting new rotor blades to a number of our Sea Kings to improve their performance in hot and high conditions, enabling their deployment to Afghanistan. We are also increasing the number of flying hours we will deliver each month to commanders on the ground in Afghanistan from our Chinook and Apache fleets.
As we have made clear previously, UK forces in Afghanistan make use of civil helicopters provided through a NATO contract and our forces also routinely draw upon helicopters provided by other ISAF nations.
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of the armed forces have not been provided with Osprey body armour on deployments in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. 
Des Browne [holding answer 4 March 2008]: A range of personal protective equipment is available to troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and commanders on the ground are able to choose the correct equipment appropriate for any particular set of operational circumstances. Enhanced combat body armour is provided as standard to all personnel in both theatres. Osprey body armour provides additional protection but at the expense of reduced mobility and increased heat retention. Osprey is not therefore issued as standard to all deploying forces but it is made available wherever and whenever commanders on the ground believe it to be the most appropriate protective equipment.
We do not hold records centrally of which individuals have and have not been issued with Osprey body armour at any particular time. But sufficient sets of Osprey body armour are available in both Iraq and Afghanistan for all those personnel who require it.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 4 March 2008]: The in-year budget for 2007-08 for all helicopter procurement projects is £317 million. By the end of March 2008, we forecast that we will spend almost all of the budget. Support and capability upgrade costs are not included in this figure.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many times a (a) C17A Globemaster, (b) Hercules C-130K, (c) Hercules C-130J, (d) Tristar, (e) VC-10 and (f) Nimrod MR2 was cannibalised for spare parts in each year since 2001; 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The removal of serviceable parts from one aircraft for use on another is a routine and temporary measure to ensure that the maximum numbers of aircraft are available to the front line.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment his Department has made of the capability of the UK armed forces to (a) participate and (b) assist in the African Union/United Nations hybrid operation in Darfur; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The United Nations/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) is a hybrid mission, which succeeded the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS). As such it was agreed on creation that the majority of its units would be from the African Union. Furthermore, due to our heavy commitments elsewhere, the MOD is not in a position to offer, or contribute, force elements or enablers to a United Nations mission in Sudan.
However, the UK has provided several staff officers who are holding key positions in the UNAMID HQ in Sudan in order to increase the mission's capacity to deploy and operate effectively in Darfur. The UK Government are also working to support this Mission by helping troop contributing countries with the provision of equipment and training packages.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: As explained in my predecessor's letter to the hon. Member for New Forest, East (Dr. Lewis) on 6 March 2007, extended readiness is not a term currently used by the MOD, in regard to the fleet. The normal operating cycle of every ship includes periods of low readiness, and in the course of 2008 a number of ships will enter periods of low or very low readiness depending on their programmes and departmental planning requirements.
As outlined in the aforementioned letter, with the exception of HMS Invincible and ships in, or preparing for, refit, it remains MOD policy not to publish details of the readiness states of individual Royal Navy vessels or types for reasons of national security.
In line with this policy, I can confirm that the following RN surface ships are currently at low or very low readiness: the aircraft carrier HMS Invincible; and the amphibious assault ship HMS Ocean, and three destroyers and frigates, HMS York, HMS Sutherland and HMS St. Albans, all of which are in refit.
Jonathan Shaw: The single payment scheme was introduced in 2005. The regulatory payment window for each scheme year commences on 1 December in the year of claim and ends on 30 June in the following year.
For the 2005 scheme year, 25,690 claimants received either a full payment or the balancing sum, following an earlier manual or partial payment, after the payment window had closed. Nine claims are yet to be paid. For the 2006 scheme year, the equivalent figure is 2,533 claimants, with 69 claims yet to be fully processed. These figures exclude cases where top up payments have been made following corrections to entitlements or where other changes have been made to claim values following representations by claimants.
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the value was of interest payments made to claimants who received their full Single Payment scheme payment after the regulatory payment window in the (a) 2005 and (b) 2006 scheme years. 
Jonathan Shaw: The value of interest payments made to claimants who received their full Single Payment scheme (SPS) payment after the closing of the regulatory payment window are £2.4 million for SPS 2005 and £400,000 for SPS 2006.
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the (a) number and (b) value of overpayments made to Single Payment scheme (SPS) claimants was in the (i) 2005 and (ii) 2006 SPS; and what the amount recovered was in each case. 
Jonathan Shaw: Overpayments are currently estimated to total some £20.0 million to 10,299 applicants under the 2005 Single Payment scheme (SPS) and £17.6 million to 6,925 applicants under the 2006 SPS.
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the (a) number and (b) value of underpayments made to Single Payment Scheme (SPS) claimants was in the (i) 2005 and (ii) 2006 SPS; and what amount is still owed in each case. 
Jonathan Shaw: RPA does not keep separate data on cases where a top up payment was required after a single payment scheme claim has been corrected. Nor can such data now be readily identified. RPA does retain data on changes in claim values but there is no automatic relationship between those data and underpayments because manual or partial payments may have been made to the claimant. The latest available data shows that claim values in respect of 2005 were increased by £28.6 million for 12,611 claimants.
Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department has taken to ensure that UK pig farmers are not operating at a competitive disadvantage to those in other EU member states. 
Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 4 March 2008]: DEFRA is very aware of the challenges currently facing the pig livestock sector and their efforts to maintain competitiveness. The leading concern of the industry is the increase in feed costs, which is a global phenomenon affecting producers across the EU.
UK producers have also been affected by last years animal disease outbreaks. DEFRA put together an aid package last October for all livestock sectors, which included £2 million to promote red meat, including pork.
Regulation in the pig and other livestock sectors is essential to protect public health, animal health and welfare, and the environment. Many UK regulations follow common EU standards and requirements and it has been a priority for the UK in negotiating these to ensure that controls are proportionate and avoid placing unnecessary burdens on producers and others.
One area in which we are ahead of the EU is our unilateral ban, agreed in 1991 for good welfare reasons, on close-confinement sow stalls and tethers from 1999. Tethers have now also been banned in the EU and the UK pressed for and succeeded in obtaining an EU ban on sow stalls, which will take effect from 2013 onwards and have a levelling effect. We have encouraged the pig industry to take advantage of high UK welfare standards to promote the attributes of UK pigmeat in the market place.
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will reclassify the glycerol by-product from bio-diesel production from used cooking oil as fuel rather than waste; and if he will make a statement. 
Joan Ruddock: Whether or not a substance is waste within the meaning of Article 1(1)(a) of the Waste Framework Directive (WFD) is a matter that must be determined on the facts of the case and the interpretation of the law is a matter for the Courts. It is not a function of the Government to classify or to declassify any particular substance as waste or non-waste.
The Environment Agency is designated as a competent authority for the purpose of implementing the WFD in England and Wales and is required to give effect to the directives definition of waste, as interpreted by the European Court of Justice and our national Courts.
In April 2007, the Environment Agency issued a regulatory position statement on glycerol produced during the manufacture of biodiesel. It is available on the Agencys website and states that used vegetable oil is waste and that wastes which are processed for use as a fuel normally remain waste until they are burned. However, in July 2007 the Court of Appeal ruled that a waste substance may cease to be waste before being burned if it has been converted into a distinct marketable product which can be used in exactly the same way as an ordinary fuel and with no worse environmental effects.
In light of this, organisations are free to present to the Environment Agency any information they consider relevant to satisfy the Agency that the substance has ceased to be waste before being used as a fuel.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether there have been changes to the funding allocated to the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science for the next five years since the answer given on 4 December 2007, Official Report, column 1089W, on the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture: finance; and if he will make a statement. 
Jonathan Shaw: The only formal change to the response provided in December 2007 is for the year 2008-09; in this year committed funding has been reduced to £29.7 million. Subsequent years are still subject to approval.
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make it his policy to ensure that the implementation of proposals on coastal access do not lead to any capital or income financial loss for landowners and rural businesses. 
Jonathan Shaw: We are in the process of developing the detail of coastal access legislation and are seeking to identify an appropriate opportunity to introduce such legislation. Implementation will be undertaken in line with an approved statutory methodology and in discussion with local interests, including landowners and managers. We will ensure that any proposals strike a fair balance between the interests of the public in accessing the coast and the interests of landowners and rural businesses.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department and its agencies spent on (a) first and (b) other class travel by Eurostar in the last 12 months for which figures are available. 
Jonathan Shaw: For the period January 2007 to December 2007 inclusive, from information held centrally, the core-Department spent £394,735 on first class travel, and £254,124 on second class travel, by Eurostar. All official travel is undertaken in accordance with departmental travel policy.
Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) mobile telephones, (b) personal digital assistants and (c) laptop computers issued to departmental staff were reported (i) lost, (ii) missing and (iii) stolen in each year since 2001. 
|Mobile phones||Personal digital assistants including Blackberry and palm top devices||Laptops|
|(1) Following the outsourcing of IT services to IBM in October 2004, computers/laptops are no longer classed as departmental assets as they form part of the overall contract for the provision of IT services. All IT equipment therefore belongs to IBM. However, in an effort to reduce the losses of laptops, advice and guidance on the security of portable computer equipment is regularly issued to users.|
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