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31 Mar 2008 : Column 510Wcontinued
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the maximum (a) loaded weight and (b) take-off weight is for all variants of the CH-47 helicopter used by British forces in Afghanistan. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The RAF currently operates two variants of CH47, the Mk2 and Mk2a. The maximum take-off mass is the same for both CH47 variants and is 22,700 kg for internal loads. When underslung loads are carried, the maximum take-off mass is increased to 24,500 kg. These figures are dependent upon prevailing environmental conditions and the altitudes.
Mr. Duncan Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the maximum period is that UK forces in Afghanistan have subsisted on 24-hour operational ration packs alone. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The information is not held in the format requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
However, a recent study commissioned by the MOD found that there are no nutritional reasons why complete UK 24-hour operational ration packs should not be consumed indefinitely by deployed forces.
Mr. Duncan Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions forward operating bases in Afghanistan have gone for longer than a week without a resupply of fresh rations in the last 12 months; what the reasons were in each case; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: This information is not held in the format requested and could be provided only at disproportionate effort. But we have had no reports of any significant shortages in the supply of food to UK service personnel in Afghanistan.
Mr. Duncan Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many forward operating bases in Afghanistan are supported by (a) the Royal Logistics Corps and (b) contract caterers. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: 10 forward operating bases are currently supported by service catering personnel, predominantly, but not exclusively, drawn from the Royal Logistics Corps.
Two of these forward operating bases are also supported by UK contracted personnel who are employed on catering support tasks such as food preparation.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many complaints his Department received from families of service personnel concerning medical treatment of armed forces' personnel in the last year. 
Derek Twigg [holding answer 6 March 2008]: Armed forces personnel can receive a wide range of medical treatment, from life-saving care on the battlefield and in field hospitals, through in-patient treatment in NHS hospitals in the UK, to out-patient care at numerous military primary care facilities across the UK and overseas, including regional rehabilitation and mental health facilities. It follows from this that complaints about medical treatment can be made at a number of levels. For patients treated in a NHS hospital the complaint will be made to, and dealt with by, the operating NHS trust. As military patients can be treated in any NHS hospital, details of all complaints could be obtained only by contacting each NHS trust in the UK individually, and this could be done only at disproportionate cost.
Complaints about primary health care provided at military medical centres across the country will usually be dealt with at a regional level. Details are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how his Department assesses the accommodation requirements of service personnel; how often this assessment is reviewed; and if he will make a statement. 
Derek Twigg: Accommodation requirements are driven by personnel policy, including terms and conditions of service, societal trends (such as the increase or decrease in home ownership and marriage), changing force structures, including repatriation of forces and major initiatives such as the Defence Training Review.
Service living accommodation requirements are assessed by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) at a strategic, command and local level to ensure that,
where ever possible, good quality living accommodation is provided to service personnel in the right locations to meet current and future defence requirements.
A worldwide audit for all accommodation, both single living accommodation (SLA) and service family accommodation (SFA) is carried out annually to confirm current take-up rates and grading data. Single service requirements are included in the MOD's estate development plans which are regularly updated. Moreover, on a unit-by-unit basis, future SLA requirements are updated on a six-monthly basis.
For SFA in Great Britain, requirements are constantly monitored at a local level by Defence Estates, while the service planning assumptions and policy changes that drive potential changes in future demand for SFA are reviewed quarterly.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence with reference to the Answer of 30 October 2007, Official Report, columns 1348-49W, on military housing, how many thefts have been reported in his Departments empty houses for (a) single living accommodation and (b) service families accommodation in the last 12 months. 
Derek Twigg: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many non-blood relatives of servicemen who had been posthumously awarded service medals received medals on their relatives behalf in each of the last five years for which figures are available. 
Derek Twigg: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the commitment bonus is (a) tax free, (b) tax free while serving in an area which qualifies for the operational allowance, (c) paid in full with one lump sum and (d) paid incrementally over a period of time. 
Des Browne: The commitment bonus is paid to service personnel below officer level and is subject to income tax and national insurance contributions. This applies irrespective of where an individual is serving at the time that payment is made.
Currently, the commitment bonus is paid as a single lump sum of £5,500 or in two stages which, if an individual qualifies for both, total £5,500. Under the revised arrangements to be introduced next year, announced in my written ministerial statement on 19 March 2008, Official Report, columns 65-66WS, payments will range between £3,750 and £15,000 which can be claimed as a lump sum at different lengths of service from four (or five) to eight years, with higher
payments the longer the individual has served. Those who take a payment before eight years, but then give additional service, will be allowed to take a second payment, but the overall amount received will be reduced to reflect the decision to take part of the payment early, thus providing the incentive to wait and take a larger sum later.
Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many officer recruiters are operating in Scotland; how many personnel are detached from the Field Army for unofficial recruiting duties in Scotland; and how many recruits successfully passed (a) into and (b) out of training last year in Scotland. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: There are currently 22 officer recruiters working in Scotland, and 122 Army personnel working in unestablished recruiting posts.
In 2006-07, 1,073 individuals, who had been recruited for the Army through an Armed Forces Careers or Army Careers Information Office in Scotland, commenced Phase 1 training or the combined Phase I/Phase 2 Infantry training at Catterick. In the same year 485 recruits completed basic training and 463 recruits completed the combined Phase I/Phase 2 Infantry training.
However there is no direct correlation between these inflow and outflow figures for some of those who completed their Phase 1 training or the combined Phase I/Phase 2 Infantry training in 2006-07 will have commenced their training in 2005-06 or earlier. Moreover some of those who enlisted in 2006-07 will not have completed their Phase 1 training or the combined Phase I/Phase 2 Infantry training within that year.
Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for procuring additional armoured cars. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: I am assuming armoured cars to mean lightweight armoured wheeled scout vehicles. We provide our forces with a range of vehicles spanning a wide spectrum of protection levels, mobility, profile and armament, depending on their tasks. Vehicles like the CVR(T), WMIK and Panther undertake the sort of tasks that armoured cars might have undertaken. We have no current plans to procure a light, armoured, wheeled scout vehicle.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many soldiers were on active operations overseas in each year since 1997; and what percentage of the Army this represented in each year. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The following table shows the number and percentage of UK army personnel deployed on operations at a specific point in time.
|Number deployed on operations||Percentage of trained strength( 1) deployed|
|(1) Trained strength as at 1 January in each year.|
Due to the manual nature of the data collection, comparable reliable figures are not available prior to December 2005 when a review of the data collation process was undertaken.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much the anti-terrorist unit patrolling RAF Menwith Hill has cost the Ministry of Defence Police Agency in each year since such patrols began. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: I am withholding the cost of the Ministry of Defence police deployed at RAF Menwith Hill for the purpose of safeguarding national security.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) on what date the space based infra-red system at RAF Menwith Hill became operational; 
(2) on what date work began on the installation of equipment at RAF Menwith Hill as part of the US ballistic missile defense system. 
Des Browne: Installation of ground terminal equipment at RAF Menwith Hill to allow missile early warning data to be received from the Space Based Infra Red Satellites (SBIRS) was initiated following the then Government's agreement to the plan in March 1997. The eventual operational date for the SBIRS system is a matter for the US Government.
The necessary components to allow the downlink at RAF Menwith Hill to route satellite early warning data to the US Ballistic Missile Defence system arrived in September 2007, and were installed in November 2007.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what date the component of the US ballistic missile defence system at RAF Fylingdales became operational. 
Des Browne: The upgrade of the radar and associated systems at RAF Fylingdales to allow it to operate as part of the US ballistic missile defence system was completed on 9 August 2007.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many of his Department's civil servants have been recipients of the Civil Service Injury Benefit Scheme in each year since 1997. 
Derek Twigg: Information prior to 2000 is not available. The number of civil servants in the Ministry of Defence receiving awards under the scheme is as follows:
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many former residential properties of his Department in Colchester constituency were sold in each year since their acquisition by Annington Estates. 
Derek Twigg: 1,394 properties in the Colchester area were included in the 1996 sale and leaseback agreement with Annington Homes Ltd. (AHL). Since 1996, the sale and timing of the sale of those properties has been a matter for the company, and the Department has no relevant information.
However, since 1996, we have returned properties to AHL as follows:
|Number returned to AHL|
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many of his Departments residential properties there are in Colchester constituency; how many there were at the time Annington Estates acquired them; and on what date the acquisition was completed; 
(2) what the average price was for his Departments dwellings in Colchester constituency paid by Annington Estates. 
Derek Twigg: The Ministry of Defence (MOD) sold the majority of its service families accommodation (SFA) in England and Wales to Annington Homes Ltd. (AHL). The sale was completed on 5 November 1996. These properties were then leased by the MOD until it no longer has a use for them and they are returned to AHL for disposal on the open market.
Under the Sale Agreement, the 1,394 SFA properties in the Colchester area were sold to AHL in 1996 at an average cost of £24,888 per property. 1,093 of these properties are still leased by the MOD.
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much of the proceeds from the sale of his Departments former housing and other land in Colchester constituency, subsequently sold by Annington Estates, were passed to the Government in each year since such sales have taken place; what this represented as a percentage of the sale price in each case; and if he will make a statement. 
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