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Mr. Bob Ainsworth: As at 1 January 2008 there were 5,940 trained regular personnel, of which 170 were officers and 5,770 were soldiers, with a Commonwealth nationality other than British Commonwealth recorded.
I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 29 February 2008, Official Report, column 2010W, to the hon. Member for North Devon (Nick Harvey) which gives a further breakdown by country of personnel with a Commonwealth nationality.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The MOD takes all measures possible to ensure that the equipment issued to the armed forces meets their requirements. The quality and versatility of the equipment issued to the armed forces is better than it has ever been and we are continually working to improve the range and reliability of all types of equipment.
The Defence Technology Strategy published in 2006 and the Defence Technology Plan announced in November 2007 provide clear direction in bringing the benefits of advanced technology rapidly to the frontline.
In addition the urgent operational requirement process continues to deliver new equipment with the speed and flexibility needed to adapt and respond to specific operational environments and emerging threats.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of whether the military forces of (a) Albania, (b) Croatia and (c) Macedonia are capable of interoperability with those of other European states. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Albania, Croatia and Macedonia are each participating in a NATO membership action plan, a programme of advice, assistance and practical co-operation designed to help them in their preparations for potential membership and in their drive to meet NATO standards, including their ability to contribute to collective defence and participate in NATO missions. Their progress is assessed by the North Atlantic Council against Annual National Programmes under five chapters: political, economic, defence, resource, security and legal aspects. Decisions on their readiness for NATO membership will be made at the Bucharest Summit in April. Albania, Croatia and Macedonia are already operating alongside NATO nations and their partners, making a valuable contribution to ISAF in Afghanistan.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 3 March 2008, Official Report, column 2053W, on EU defence policy, how many times votes took place under qualified majority voting in the European Defence Agency; and on what topics. 
an amendment to the Staff Regulations on parental and family leave; the deletion of Chapter III of the Draft Revised EDA Procurement Rules; and the insertion of a paragraph on conciliation in the Draft Revised EDA Procurement Rules.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Fair Trade Fortnight 2008 has been variously supported by food and drink outlets serving staff in MOD buildings. This support has included the use of Fair Trade Fortnight 2008 promotional materials and offering incentives to buy fair trade products, such as special offers and tasting events.
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what criteria have been decided for the design of the Future Surface Combatant; and when he will determine the number of ships which will be required for this programme. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 11 March 2008]: The Future Surface Combatant is at the early stages of concept design and the detailed criteria have yet to be defined. The number of ships required will be determined when the programme is more mature.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many new British Apache AH Mk1 helicopters were in service in (a) Afghanistan and (b) Iraq in each year since British forces were engaged in each of these countries. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: I am withholding the information requested for Afghanistan as its release would, or would be likely to, prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the armed forces. British Apache helicopters have never been in service in Iraq.
Des Browne: Of the 136 inquests that have been held into the deaths of soldiers who have died during the current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, two narrative verdicts have been recorded following deaths in Iraq where equipment was raised as an issue by the coroner.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many service personnel have served in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan since 2002; and how many have received a medal in recognition of that service. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The following table below shows the number of VIP(1 )visits arranged under the auspices of the Ministry of Defence to Iraq and Afghanistan in each of the last twelve months for which information is available.
(1) On visits to operational theatres, a VIP is defined as either a member of the senior civil service or Crown servant equivalent; a military officer at or above the rank of Commodore RN, Brigadier, or Air Commodore; a Member of the House of Commons or of the House of Lords who is not a Member of the Cabinet; or a civilian of a similar status to the preceding individuals. Members of the Royal Family and Members of the Cabinet, or equivalent, are classified as VVIPs.
|Number of VIP visits|
This data relates solely to those VIP visits organised by the UK Ministry of Defence: UK units in these theatres also receive many VIP visitors from other nations, as well as UK VIPs whose trips are organised separately (including through the NATO system).
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of the armed services stationed in Iraq were (a) killed, (b) seriously injured and (c) slightly injured in Iraq in each year since 2003, broken down by (i) sex, (ii) age, (iii) regiment and (iv) service. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: As at 25 February 2008, 173 UK service personnel have died while on deployment, or as a result of injuries sustained in Iraq. Of the 173 service personnel who have died, information for two soldiers have not been publicly released and thus their detailed information has been excluded from the following tables. This is consistent with the order of the coroner. In the event that this order changes, I will inform the House.
|Table 1: Operational fatalities in Iraq: UK armed forces personnel, by age and calendar year, number, 2003-07|
|Table 2: Operational fatalities in Iraq: UK armed forces personnel, by corp( 1) /unit and calendar y ear, number , 2003-07|
|(1) The breakdown for Army Corps is presented for the current Army structure (following the merger of many regiments over the last few years).|
(2) Naval Service includes Royal Navy and Royal Marines.
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