|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
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. 
Further to my letter of 14 April 2008,1 am writing to inform you that the exercise undertaken by the Government Actuary's Department has recently been completed. I am now in a position to provide you with a full answer to your parliamentary question (PQ00549U refers).
You requested details of how many armed forces widows in each of the last five years voluntarily surrendered their pension
on remarriage or cohabitation. The following table provides data in respect of the number of pension cessations due to remarriages and cohabitations over the last 25 years. You may agree that this level of detail provides a more comprehensive overview.
As you are aware, entitlement to an AFPS 75 widow's non-attributable pension ceases in the event of remarriage or cohabitation and the onus is on individuals to notify the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency (SPVA) should there be a change in their personal circumstances. This is a compulsory requirement to comply with the AFPS 75 scheme rules.
Contrary to these statistics representing a saving to the defence budget, I should point out that costs would have been incurred if these spouses' pensions had not ceased on re-marriage or cohabitation. The estimated capitalised cost of paying back payments (plus interest) to those individuals represented in the table, whose pensions were ceased, as well as the cost of paying those pensions in future would be around £150 million.
The capitalised cost of removing the cessation condition completely for the future would be between £70 million and £350 million. The reason for the range in figures is that the AFPS 75 statistics are not consistent with the UK population remarriage statistics. This could be due to a reduction in the reporting of remarriage and cohabitation in recent years.
I am sorry that it has taken so long to provide a substantive reply, but it has required a bespoke exercise to be conducted to generate sufficient data for the scheme actuary to be able to analyse.
I hope this is helpful.
Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Bushmaster vehicles have been ordered; for what purpose they are intended; what the cost of the order is; in which theatre of operation they are to be used; when they will be delivered; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: I can confirm that we have ordered 24 Bushmaster vehicles at a unit cost of about £0.500 million, including spares. I am withholding the further information requested as its release would, or would be likely to, prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of our armed forces
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Army currently has no target for the recruitment of Commonwealth citizens. I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 14 May 2008, Official Report, column 1577W, to the hon. Member for Pendle (Mr. Prentice).
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Army does not actively recruit overseas with the exception of Gurkhas from Nepal. Any Commonwealth or Irish citizen residing overseas who wishes to apply to join the Army must travel to the UK at their own expense to undergo the selection process. However, in recent years the Army has sent selection teams to some Commonwealth countries at the specific request of the government concerned, and even then only when evidence suggests that there is sufficient interest among the local population to merit a visit. The selection teams screen out those who are not thought capable of meeting the full entry standards, to save them the cost of an abortive trip to the UK to undergo the recruitment selection process. The selection team will only see those who have made an application to the Overseas Cell of the Army's Recruiting Group.
Since 1997 Army Overseas Selection Teams have visited Fiji 10 times, St Vincent and the Grenadines three times and St Lucia twice. In addition a team has this month just commenced a visit to St Lucia and Belize.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Foreign and Commonwealth citizens (excluding Gurkhas) currently represent seven per cent. of trained Army strength compared to six per cent. as at March 2007 and six per cent. as at May 2006. No forecasts have been made for future years and it is therefore not possible to provide an estimate for each year from 2009 to 2015.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) pursuant to the answer of 6 May 2008, Official Report, column 835W, on AWE Burghfield, on whose authority live nuclear work was suspended at AWE Burghfield, as described in the Health and Safety Executive Quarterly Report for 1 October to 31 December 2007; on what date work was suspended; what work needs to take place before live nuclear work resumes; on what date work is expected to resume; on whose authority this will take place; and whether he was informed of this suspension; 
(2) on what date the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate stopped live nuclear work at Atomic Weapons Establishment Burghfield; for what reason the work was stopped; when he expects work to recommence; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth:
As a result of temporary disruption due to flooding at AWE Burghfield, the nuclear site licensee, AWE plc, took a decision not to undertake live nuclear working while remedial work was undertaken. This decision was taken on 20 July 2007, in consultation with the nuclear installations inspectorate (NII) and with Ministry of Defence officials, and was consistent
with our planned operational programmes. Precise details on these programmes, including live working dates, are being withheld for the purposes of safeguarding national security.
While necessary work to repair flood damage was ongoing, the opportunity was taken to maximise completion of existing work identified from AWEs routine Periodic Review of Safety (PRS), as a parallel activity. Work varied in different facilities, examples include: replacing floors, plasterwork and doors; replacing electrical equipment; mechanical, electrical and lighting improvements and new vacuum and compressed air systems. Live working has already resumed. Facilities have been subject to rigorous scrutiny through AWE plcs governance process with inspection by, and authority from, the NII.
Ministry of Defence officials maintain a constant dialogue with AWE plc and NII colleagues have been consulted throughout. The disruption did not have an adverse effect on the UK deterrent programme, and AWE Burghfield maintains its capability to support the deterrent safely under highly regulated arrangements.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Bowman VHF manpack battery has an average battery life of approximately four years, based on delivery of 300 life cycles. Within these parameters, the VHF radio battery is expected to last between six to 12 hours before it requires recharging, dependent on the intensity of use and the life cycle history.
There are several types of Bowman radio, which differ in range dependent on radio type, power, antennae, terrain and weather conditions. I am withholding further information as its release would, or would be likely to, prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the armed forces.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 12 May 2008, Official Report, column 48WS, on UN Forces (Cyprus), what the mission of the 250 reservists will be once deployed to Cyprus. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The mission of the 250-plus reservists due to deploy to Cyprus in October will be to contribute to the implementation of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) mandate, which is to prevent a recurrence of fighting, maintain a stable environment and de-escalate the military presence along the Buffer Zone in order to enable a just and lasting political solution.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 12 May 2008, Official Report, column 48WS, on UN Forces (Cyprus), whether the 250 reservists have been notified of their future deployment. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The process of selection and training of Reservists to serve on the next deployment for Op TOSCA with the UN in Cyprus will culminate in full notice of call-out (which is a minimum of 28-days) prior to their mobilisation. This will not need to take place until later this year.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Under the spending review 2004 efficiency programme, the MOD is required to achieve £2.83 billion of cumulative input and output efficiency savings by the end of 2007-08. Defence Equipment and Support is forecasting a contribution of approximately £l billion towards this target, with an additional £150 million being forecast as a result of Logistics Transformation in the Front Line Commands.
Since 2004, when the Cabinet Office set its diversity targets, the Ministry of Defence has made progress towards improving the diversity of its work force. In keeping with a number of Departments, the MOD was set its own targets within the overall civil service target. These targets recognised the lower baseline figure from which the MOD were working, but remained both meaningful and stretching.
We have, as a result, exceeded our targets for those with disabilities within the senior civil service, and narrowly missed our targets for women, and women in top management positions. Nevertheless, we have continued to make good progress in the right direction. We have, however, been unsuccessful in improving the numbers of ethnic minorities in our senior civil service, despite having initiatives in place to try and do so.
We are also making good progress in grades that feed into the senior civil service. For example, the MOD Fast Stream (the civil service graduate scheme), is now just over 48 per cent. women and over 9 per cent. ethnic minorities.
Derek Twigg: Copies of the Ministry of Defences Claims Annual Report have been placed in the Library of the House each year since it was first published in 1997-98. The 2007-08 report is scheduled to be published in July 2008 and a copy will be placed in the Library of the House.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what guidance he has issued on security arrangements to ensure the safe functioning of his Departments petroleum storage depots; and if he will place in the Library a copy of such guidance. 
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|