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For the purposes of the answer late is defined as not meeting the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency (SPVA) internal target for the payment of terminal benefits (i.e. to authorise payment within five working days of receipt of all relevant documents or from the discharge date, whichever is the later).
In order to reduce late payment and to meet the target turn around time a dedicated service leavers team has been created and personnel have undergone additional training which is having a positive impact.
Mr. Duncan Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what the cost of the Military Corrective Training Centre, Colchester was in the latest 12 month period for which figures are available; 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Pay rates for UK Service personnel are recommended annually by the independent armed forces' pay review body (AFPRB). The AFPRB bases its recommendations on broad compatibility with the pay of civilian occupations of similar job weight and responsibility within the UK. The 2008 report of the AFPRB was published on 7 February, and copies are available in the Library of the House.
Pay scales for members of the armed forces employed at the Military Correction Training Centre, Colchester, are the same as those for individuals serving elsewhere. The scales for the ranks employed at MCTC are as follows:
|Service/Rank||Pay scale (£)|
Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the cost of training new recruits to the armed forces to meet the rate of resignations as a percentage of each force's total salary bill; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The services set Gains to Trained Strength (GTS) targets for five years in advance, based on forecast strength requirements. These are then translated into annual recruiting targets taking into account phase 1 and phase 2 training wastage rates (both current and predicted), the previous years GTS achievement, and any planned changes to training and their expected affects (for example, higher or lower wastage rates).
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The broad projection of the through-life (30 years) savings of the DTR Package 1 project is approximately £400 million, although this continues to be subject to development of the Metrix solution. As previously announced, the way ahead for Package 2 is the subject of further work and therefore no specific estimate of the likely savings can yet be made.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will ensure that pelts used to provide bearskin do not come from mother bears shot in front of their cubs; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: There have been no pelts procured to produce bearskin caps for the MOD since 2003. Any future requirement would be sourced under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species from licensed traders operating under the jurisdiction of the Canadian authorities.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the alternatives to using bearskin for the manufacture of Guards caps; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The MOD has been actively seeking an acceptable alternative to real fur for some years and continues to invest in samples and treatments of imitation bearskin. Although successful in identifying fur alternatives for other aspects of ceremonial dress, replicating the complex structure of bear's fur has proven to be a significant challenge and no suitable fur alternative to the Guards bearskin cap has yet been identified. A number of trials have taken place but unfortunately proved unsuccessful. Further trials will take place once suitable products have been identified.
Mr. Arbuthnot: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many armed forces widows voluntarily surrendered their pensions on remarriage or cohabitation in each of the last five years; and what the associated saving to the defence budget was in each year. 
Derek Twigg: I am aware that a number of months have now elapsed since I agreed to write to the right hon. Gentleman following his parliamentary question on 3 December 2007, Official Report, column 824W, about how many Armed Forces widows in each of the last five years voluntarily surrendered their pension on remarriage or cohabitation; and what the associated saving to the defence budget was in each year.
As I explained in my answer, an exercise is currently being undertaken to provide detailed figures. This has involved the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency conducting a bespoke exercise in order to generate the necessary data required by the scheme actuary to conduct an analysis to answer the second part of your question.
Unfortunately, this exercise has taken longer than originally anticipated, but I can advise that it is nearing completion and I hope to be in a position to respond to you shortly after the Easter recess.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The recent cost estimates for the Bulldog conversion and Vector vehicle procurement programmes are £184 million and £40 million respectively, excluding through life support costs. The estimates also exclude expenditure on additional Urgent Operational Requirements, which are ongoing or that have recently been delivered, as these remain commercially and operationally sensitive.
Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence at how many events held by his Department (a) wine and (b) Fairtrade wine were served in the last three years; and what assessment his Department has made of the merits of serving Fairtrade wine at future events. 
Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which companies have been awarded contracts by (a) his Department and (b) its agencies for (i) IT projects and (ii) human resources projects in each of the last five years; what the value of each contract awarded was; and what the purpose of each contract was. 
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he takes when it appears that personal data held by his Department has been (a) lost and (b) disclosed without authorisation; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Ministry of Defence views the loss of any personal data seriously and takes all the necessary steps following a loss to ensure that individuals are protected as far as possible against the unauthorised use of their personal information. In the recent case of the loss of recruitment data, this has included providing banks with account details where they were held in order that they can monitor accounts for unauthorised activity. In addition, MOD officials were in contact with the Department for Work and Pensions, HM Revenue and Customs, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, Identity and Passport Service and the Border and Immigration Agency.
As announced to the House on 21 January 2008, the Secretary of State for Defence has invited Sir Edmund Burton, Chairman of the Information Assurance Advisory Council, to establish the exact circumstances and events that led to the loss of personal data. Specifically he will examine: the adequacy of the steps taken to prevent any recurrence; MOD policy, practice and management arrangements in respect of the protection of personal data more generally; and make
recommendations. It would therefore be premature to comment on any possible findings from the report.
The Ministry of Defence has formal processes in place to ensure that suspected leaks of official information, including personal data, are thoroughly investigated. Such enquiries may be conducted by the Ministry of Defence police, service police forces or the civilian police as appropriate. Memorandums of Understanding between the Ministry of Defence and the civilian police are in place detailing respective responsibilities.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many requests his Department has received in each year since 1997 from the National Audit Office for access to databases containing personal information on members of the public. 
Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what visits he made to (a) Harrogate International Centre, (b) International Conference Centre, Birmingham, (c) Manchester Central, (d) Scottish Exhibitional and Conference Centre, Glasgow, (e) Edinburgh International Conference Centre, (f) Bournemouth International Conference Centre, (g) the Brighton Centre, Brighton, (h) the Riviera Centre, Torquay, (i) Queen Elizabeth Centre, London, (j) Excel Conference Centre, Docklands, London, and (k) Business Design Centre, Islington, London, in the period 1 January 2005 to 31 December 2007; and what events he attended at each. 
Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the arrangements are for (a) communication of pension entitlement, (b) payment of lump sum payment and (c) confirmation of pension estimate for those officials from his Department who retired under the voluntary early redundancy scheme on 31 March 2008. 
Derek Twigg: The arrangements for estimating and paying those who leave the Department under the voluntary early release scheme are governed by the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme. The process includes providing an estimate some four months before departure, and then a defined series of steps to enable the correct sum to be confirmed and to be paid as soon as possible following departure.
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