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24 Apr 2008 : Column 2175Wcontinued
Willie Rennie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the competence of non-registered/qualified health care assistants operating the triage system for the telephone assessment service in British Forces Germany. 
Derek Twigg: The primary and community care contract has been commercially let using standard MOD terms and conditions of contract which has clear performance requirements, including the professional standard required of their staff. Previously, out-of-hours services involved 24-hour manning of British Forces Germany (BFG) medical centres. With the introduction of the new contract a telephone advisory service (TAS) triage system for out-of-hours is being operated by qualified nurses, whilst health care assistants provide support. The system was assessed and found successful for over a year in two pilot sites in Germany before its successful introduction on 1 April 2008.
Willie Rennie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the effect on the retention of staff of the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) of the change of terms and conditions in his Department's contract with Guys' and St. Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and SSAFA for health care staff in British Forces Germany. 
Derek Twigg: The primary and community care contract has been commercially let using standard MOD terms and conditions of contract, which were accepted by the SSAFA/GSTT partnership. The contractor has responsibility to manage their own staff retention in order to meet the requirement of the contract. However, evaluation of the contract tender considered the fact SSAFA have provided similar services on a commercial basis to MOD over several years and have been able to offer employment terms and conditions that have ensured a good track record of recruitment and retention. Since contract signature in December 2007, both British Forces Germany Health Services and the contractor have engaged in a comprehensive communication strategy with all staff, to ensure what has been a successful transition to the new contract.
Willie Rennie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of (a) robustness and (b) appropriateness of the clinical interventions and health care provided for servicemen and their families at the Gilead mental health facility in Germany. 
Derek Twigg: Gilead mental health facility is provided by a contract with Guy's and St. Thomas's Trust (GSTT) which has clear performance and clinical governance requirements which are reported and monitored regularly. As such, GSTT are responsible for the clinical governance of this service. This service has been assessed and subsequently validated by the South London and Maudsley (SLAM) NHS Foundation Trust and the Defence Consultant Advisor in Psychiatry.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how the Government classify and define CRV-7 weapons. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: CRV7 is 2.75inch/70mm unguided rocket system offering a range of motors, launchers and warheads depending upon mission objectives. The rocket is classified according to whether it will be fired from a fixed wing or helicopter platform and is further sub-classified according to the warhead that has been fitted to the round.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with his French counterpart on (a) European Security and Defence Policy, (b) NATO and (c) France's EU presidency between July and December 2008; and if he will make a statement. 
Des Browne: I met the French Defence Minister for bilateral discussions during the UK-France summit held in London on 27 March. I also had the opportunity to meet him at the NATO summit held in Bucharest on 2-4 April.
In the course of these meetings we discussed a range of issues, including European Security and Defence Policy, NATO, and France's EU presidency between July and December 2008.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence where HMS Argyll has been deployed in 2008 to date; what plans he has for further deployments prior to its decommissioning; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: HMS Argyll was engaged in sea and pre-deployment training from April to October 2007 and has been deployed East of Suez, taking part in operations in the Arabian Gulf from October 2007 to April 2008. HMS Argyll is due to be removed from service in 2019. I am withholding HMS Argylls future programme as its release would, or would be likely to, prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of our armed forces.
Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether individuals captured by British forces during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have at a subsequent time been held at the United States detention facilities at (a) Bagram Theatre Internment Facility, (b) Balad Special Forces Base, (c) Camp Nama BIAP and (d) Abu Ghraib prison. 
Des Browne: I am withholding the information requested as its release would, or would be likely to, prejudice the effectiveness of our armed forces.
However, I am confident in the processes that are in place to ensure that any persons captured by UK forces in either Iraq or Afghanistan and subsequently detained by US forces are held in accordance with the UK's policy and legal obligations.
Mr. Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he plans to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Walsall North of 25 February on a constituent (ref: MC01269/2008). 
Derek Twigg: I replied to my hon. Friend on 22 April.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the percentage shortfall requirement for a (a) Hercules, (b) Tornado and (c) Typhoon aircraft was at the latest date for which figures are available. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Under the Hercules C-130 availability contract, performance is measured in terms of aircraft available for operations averaged across each calendar month. Spares availability is not measured.
For Tornado, the current figures for spare demands satisfied are 97 per cent. for the Tornado F3 and 98 per cent. for the Tornado GR4, as recorded on 29 February 2008.
Aircraft spares for Typhoon are partly provided direct from industry and partly by the MOD through an international contract. These arrangements are being built up as the RAF fleet grows and demands satisfied from MOD stocks average 68 per cent. as recorded on 29 February 2008.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what dates the last joint US-UK nuclear weapon accident exercise was held; where it was held; on what dates the next joint US-UK nuclear weapon accident exercise will be held; and where it will be held. 
Des Browne: The last joint US/UK nuclear weapon accident exercise (Exercise DIMMING SUN 03) was held in Norfolk over the period 16-20 June 2003. The next joint US/UK nuclear weapon accident exercise is scheduled to be held in 2010, the date and location have yet to be determined.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) names, (b) dates and (c) locations will be of the nuclear weapons emergency exercises being organised by his Department in 2008. 
Des Browne: Exercise ASTRAL CLIMB 08, which will test the operational response to a nuclear weapon convoy accident, will be held on 24 September 2008 in Cumbria.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to publish confidence-building verification methodologies for monitoring nuclear disarmament; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Atomic Weapons Establishment is engaged in developing technical methods and processes for verifying multilateral nuclear disarmament both nationally and in co-operation with several Norwegian defence laboratories. Progress is presented periodically to the conferences of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and related fora.
Additionally, in his speech to the Conference on Disarmament in February this year, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence proposed the development of confidence building activities among the five recognised Nuclear Weapon States (NWS). This proposal has generated considerable interest among the wider international community. We are engaging with the other NWS to consider how this initiative should be taken forward.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reasons no British naval vessels intervened to prevent the hijacking of the ice tug Svitzer Korsakov off the coast of Somalia on 1 February 2008; what the rules of engagement are for British and NATO ships in such circumstances; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: In line with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS Article 100), the Royal Navy may come to the aid of vessels under attack by pirates in international waters. No Royal Navy vessels were in the vicinity of the Svitzer Korsakov at the time of its seizure. A warship was subsequently despatched to the area, ready to assist if required. In the event, British military intervention was not necessary.
In circumstances of this kind, UK Service personnel are permitted to use reasonable force in self defence, or defence of others in accordance with our UK domestic law. It would not be appropriate for me to comment upon the rules of engagement of other nations.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales pursuant to the answer of 20 March 2008, Official Report, column 1329W, on council tax, what assessment has been made of the change in average council tax per dwelling solely as a result of the council tax revaluation and rebanding exercise and the phasing out of transitional relief. 
Mr. Paul Murphy: Year-to-year changes in the level of Band D council tax have been the result of local authority budget decisions as stated in my answer of 20 March 2008, Official Report, column 1329W.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales pursuant to the answer of 20 March 2008, Official Report, column 1329W, on council tax, whether the revaluation and rebanding exercise after the end of the transitional relief was revenue-neutral. 
Mr. Paul Murphy: Yes, the revaluation and rebanding exercise was revenue-neutral in that the overall increase in council tax receipts in the year of revaluation was broadly in line with increases in the previous years. Year-to-year changes in the level of council tax receipts since then as set out in my answer of 20 March 2008, Official Report, column 1329W, are the result of local authority budget decisions.
Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the average time was to process correctly completed application forms for firearms certificates in Northern Ireland in (a) 2005, (b) 2006 and (c) 2007. 
Paul Goggins: The Chief Constable has advised me that the average time taken to process correctly completed application forms for firearms certificates was 139 days in 2005, 80 days in 2006 and 73 days in 2007.
Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what representations he has received on the time taken to process correctly completed application forms for firearms certificates in Northern Ireland in the last three months. 
Paul Goggins: No formal representations have been made to the Secretary of State in the last three months about the average processing time for correctly completed firearm certificate applications.
Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland pursuant to the answer of 26th March 2008, Official Report, column 157W, on departmental data protection, if he will include information assurance data from previous years on data loss incidents in his Department's next annual report. 
David Cairns: I refer the hon. Member to the statement made by my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister on 21 November 2007, Official Report, column 1179 and the written ministerial statement made by my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office on 17 December 2007, Official Report, column 98WS. The review by the Cabinet Secretary and security experts is looking at procedures within Departments and agencies for the storage and use of data.
The interim report of 17 December 2007 committed to put in place a programme to examine and improve data handling procedures. An update on this commitment will be included in the final report, expected in spring 2008, and this report will detail the information to be included by Departments on data loss in their annual reports.
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much was spent on the most recent redesign and implementation of his departmental website. 
David Cairns: The website of the Scotland Office was last redesigned in 2004 at a cost of £23,425.99.
Dan Rogerson: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many (a) permanent civil service posts, (b) permanent non-civil service posts and (c) temporary or agency workers there were in his Department in each month since May 2005. 
David Cairns: The staffing numbers of the Scotland Office are published in the office's annual report; figures are not maintained in the form requested.
Mr. Pope: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much his Department spent on publicity and advertising in 2007-08. 
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what (a) surveys, (b) questionnaires and (c) other services were provided by polling companies for his Department in financial year 2007-08, broken down by company. 
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