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10 Mar 2008 : Column 12W—continued


Over the next decade the MOD will spend over £8 billion on accommodation, including some £3.1 billion on bringing accommodation up to the top condition. This will include the delivery of some 30,000 new or improved SLA bedspaces by 2013.

Armed Forces: Inheritance Tax

Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if, after consultation with HM Revenue and Customs, he will seek the help of ex-service associations in making known to the executors and heirs of armed forces members, whose death may have been brought forward by injury in qualifying circumstances, how to obtain relief from inheritance taxes. [191906]

Derek Twigg: There is no automatic exemption for veterans from inheritance tax, but information on exemptions, under S154 of the Inheritance Tax Act 1984, is available to executors, the next of kin or the veterans themselves, in booklets provided by the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency (SPVA), and through the SPVA helpline. A short article on the exemption was also included in the most recent edition of the Veterans World Newspaper (issue 9: winter 2008), which is distributed to civilian and service organisations that assist the public and service community. I am aware that the War and Service Widows Associations and SAGA, Help the Aged, and mainstream newspapers have run articles on this exemption in the recent past. Advice is also contained in the Community Legal Service Direct Information Leaflet 25 (Rights for Former Servicemen and there Women and their Families), which is available from a variety of sources.

Officials are also writing to the Confederation of British Service and Ex-Service Organisations in order to further highlight the exemption.

Bradley and Others v. the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the implications are of judgment in Bradley and Others v. the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on the treatment of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration's findings for his response to the Debt of Honour report; and if he will make a statement. [191992]

Derek Twigg: In the light of further work undertaken following the publication by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman of her report on the Government's ex-gratia payment scheme for former far east prisoners of war and civilian internees, the Ministry of Defence accepted in full her recommendations. On that basis, the Department does not consider that this judgment has any implications for its response.

Departmental Data Protection

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 600,000 individuals who registered an interest in an armed forces career whose details were on recently stolen Ministry of Defence laptop computers subsequently joined the armed forces. [182360]

Des Browne: Early analysis of the details held on the stolen MOD laptop computer indicated that some 63,000 individuals either subsequently went on to serve in the armed forces (but have since left) or are currently serving. A more precise figure would require a comprehensive cross-check with data-sets held on our main Joint Personnel Administration System. This could be done only at disproportionate cost.


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Departmental Equality

Roger Berry: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what conclusions his Department has reached in fulfilment of the duty under section 3.111 of the statutory code of practice of the disability equality duty. [190676]

Derek Twigg: The conclusions we have reached can be found in our annual progress report which will be published in April 2008. The report will be placed in the Library of the House and published on the Ministry of Defence website.

Departmental Eurostar

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence 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. [187751]

Derek Twigg: There is an agreement in place with Eurostar for discounted fares for duty travel originating in the UK. The 2007 expenditure under this agreement was:

Number

Business class tickets

329,349

Other class tickets

65,390


These figures do not include any bookings made through the normal Eurostar reservations using a Government Procurement Card, for which figures are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Manpower

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the mean cost was to his Department of employment of one member of staff in each of the last 10 years. [189603]

Derek Twigg: We estimate the average cost of employment as follows:

Average cost( 1) (£)

1997-98

20,000

1998-99

20,000

1999-2000

21,000

2000-01

22,000

2001-02

23,000

2002-03

24,000

2003-04

25,000

2004-05

26,000

2005-06

28,000

2006-07

30,000

(1 )The average cost has been calculated using (i) the number of full-time equivalent civilian employees, excluding those in Trading Funds (which lie outside the departmental accounting boundary) and (ii) the expenditure recorded in the MOD’s Annual Report and Accounts for financial years 2001-02 onwards. The figures represent the cost of salary and wages, overtime, social security costs, pension costs and redundancy and severance payments. Information for the financial years before 2001-02 has been derived from an analysis of the Appropriation Accounts which reflects a different and not directly comparable accounting regime from resource accounting.

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Departmental Travel

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department and its agencies spent on first class travel in the last 12 months for which figures are available, broken down by staff grade. [187525]

Derek Twigg: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 3 September 2007, Official Report, column 1620W, to the hon. Member for Fareham (Mr. Hoban).

Ex-servicemen

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much was allocated by his Department to services for members of the armed services who had been invalided out of the service in each year since 2003, broken down by (a) sex, (b) regiment, (c) service and (d) age cohort of recipient. [190803]

Derek Twigg: The information is not held in the format requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Iraq: Peacekeeping Operations

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many cases of (a) meningitis, (b) food poisoning, (c) pneumonia and (d) gastroenteritis there have been among members of the armed services serving in Iraq since 2003, broken down by (i) sex, (ii) age and (iii) regiment. [190879]

Derek Twigg: This information is not held centrally in the form requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence with reference to the answer of 14 March 2007, Official Report, column 335W, on Iraq: peacekeeping operations, how many requests from Iraqi authorities have been received by British forces to re-intervene in (a) Muthanna, (b) Dhi Qar and (c) Basra provinces since the handover of security responsibility to the Iraqis in these provinces. [192241]

Des Browne: UK Forces have not received any requests from the Iraqi authorities to re-intervene in Muthanna, Dhi Qar or Basra since the handover of security responsibility to the Iraqis in these provinces. However, we have provided specialist support to operations led by the Iraqi security forces on a number of occasions.

NATO: Ballistic Missile Defence

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he expects a new agreement at the forthcoming NATO conference in Bucharest (a) to seek to integrate the US Missile Defense system and NATO's European theatre missile defence system and (b) enable NATO to share authority for the current US Missile Defense system. [193135]


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Des Browne: Ballistic missile defence (BMD) is an important issue for NATO and it will be discussed at the Bucharest summit. Further work is required to assess the political and military implications of BMD on the alliance; it is too early to judge the outcome of this work.

Official Engagements

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his official engagements were between 13 January and 24 February 2008. [190451]

Des Browne: The information is as follows:

Throughout the period 13 January to 24 February, I had various meetings in London and Scotland, including with ministerial colleagues and officials from the MOD and Scotland Office.

In addition, on 14 January, I had a meeting with the mother of an injured soldier.

15 January, I met representatives of the Mull of Kintyre Group, spoke by telephone with the US Secretary of Defense and had dinner with Lord Glenarthur.

16 January, I attended a Veterans Day event for MPs in the House of Commons.

17 January, I met representatives of the Royal British Legion and gave evidence to the Quadripartite Committee of the House of Commons.

21 January, I answered Defence questions in the House of Commons and gave an oral statement to the House on the theft of a laptop containing personal information relating to service personnel.

22 January, I had meetings with the wife of a deceased soldier and her local MP, the Macedonian Defence Minister and the Turkish Chief of Defence and I attended the opening of the “Scots in Quebec” Exhibition at Canada House.

23 January, I answered Scottish questions in the House of Commons.

24 January, I met Baroness Nicholson to discuss the situation in Iraq, attended receptions for UK4UTHANKS and SSAFA and spoke by telephone with the Danish Defence Minister.

25 January, I visited 51 Brigade in Scotland, met the First Minister of Scotland, and visited the Solve It Project in Falkirk and the Glasgow Works Project.

28 January, I met representatives of Shell UK, hosted a lunch in the Ministry of Defence with nine injured service personnel and subsequently gave a speech to the Senior Defence and Diplomatic Service Conference.

29 January, I gave evidence to the House of Commons Justice Select Committee on Devolution and met MPs from the Glasgow area to discuss our plans for the future aircraft carriers.

30 January, I met Michael Wareing, the UK's representative on the Basra Development Commission, and attended an EDS Defence Ltd. reception at RUSI.

31 January, I visited injured service personnel in Headley Court and paid a visit to Cavalry Barracks, Hounslow, following which I had a video-telephone conference with the NATO Secretary-General.


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5 February, I gave a speech at a Nuclear Disarmament Conference in Geneva and subsequently had a meeting with the Polish Chief of Defence.

6 February, I had lunch with a representative of the media.

7-8 February, I attended the NATO Defence Ministerial meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania.

11 February, I visited Babcocks Marine at Rosyth Dockyard.

12 February, I addressed the Higher Command and Staff Course at the Defence Academy in Shrivenham and had dinner with Ambassador Daithi O'Ceallaigh, Irish ambassador to the UN.

13 February, I had lunch with Ambassador David Cooney, the Irish ambassador to the UK, as well as meetings with Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, the Iraqi National Security Adviser and Sir David Richards, Chairman of the Premier League.

15 February, I visited Thales Optronics in Glasgow to announce the award of a contract for the Surveillance System and Range Finder.

16 February, I attended a presentation for veterans in Glasgow.

19 February, I had lunch with representatives of the media, and then a meeting followed by dinner with the families of deceased Service personnel.

21-22 February, I attended the EU Defence Ministerial meeting in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

RM Condor

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his answer of 14 January 2008, Official Report, columns 889-90W, on RM Condor, for what reasons each unit of single accommodation at RM Condor in condition grades 3 and 4 has been given that grading. [183573]

Derek Twigg [holding answer 31 January 2008]: All single living accommodation (SLA) at RM Condor has been subject to a Grading Review in accordance with this Department’s 4-Tier Grading system, which provides the means of determining accommodation charges for differing standards of SLA. In this system, Grade 1 for Charge (GlfC) is the highest and G4fC the lowest. The grading system assesses 14 different criteria relating to accommodation such as condition (including decoration), scaling, provision of local amenities and environmental factors. All the different factors are taken into account, and when targets are not met a graduated number of points are deducted from the overall score. The more deductions there are, the lower the grade allocated to the SLA.

Of the 1,021 SLA bed-spaces at RM Condor, 383 have been assessed at being GlfC, 566 are at G3fC and 72 at G4fC. SLA bedspaces at RM Condor, while not new, are generally in a reasonable standard of condition and the main reasons for the number of G3fC and G4fC bedspaces is due to either Scaling (e.g. size of rooms) or Location (e.g. proximity to local amenities). Given the number of bed-spaces assessed as G3fC and G4fC, details of individual assessments could be provided only at disproportionate cost.


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Work and Pensions

Departmental Data Protection

Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether personal data for which his Department is responsible are (a) stored and (b) processed overseas; and if he will make a statement. [176010]

Mr. Timms: A small number of departmental staff are attached to UK embassies and high commissions in certain countries. Their main task is to collect information for claims to certain UK benefits and carry out related duties on behalf of the Department. They will, in the course of their work, hold some personal data for some individuals.

Other than this no significant personal data in respect of customers or employees, for which the Department is responsible, are processed or stored overseas.


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