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Derek Twigg: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 2 June 2008, Official Report, column 680W, and 9 January 2008, Official Report, column 517W, to the hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr. Hammond).
Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans are in place to ensure that those armed forces veterans who have developed mental health conditions receive sufficient support. 
Derek Twigg: The MOD is working with the four UK Health Departments in piloting a new expert mental health care service for veterans in the UK. The pilots will run for two years and, following independent evaluation, the intention is to roll the model out nationwide. Veterans with mental health problems, in particular those from areas not yet involved in the pilots, may attend our Medical Assessment Programme based at St. Thomas hospital, London if they have served on operations since 1982; this offers an expert mental health assessment from a psychiatrist who has an extensive background of service in the armed forces. Veterans will also benefit from the decision last November to extend priority treatment to all veterans in Great Britain whose condition is considered by their GP to be due to service.
The MOD funds war pensioners undergoing remedial treatment at Ex Service Mental Welfare Society (Combat Stress) homes. MOD gave Combat Stress £2.5 million in fees in 2006-07 and agreed in October to a phased increase in the fees, rising to 45 per cent. from 1 January 2008, to enable them to enhance their capability to treat veterans.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 15 May 2008, Official Report, column 180W, on fuels, in what ways his Department has worked in conjunction with the Health and Safety Executive to maintain security and safety at the Redcliffe Bay oil storage depot site. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Responsibility for site security at the Redcliffe Bay oil storage depot rests with the Oil and Pipelines Agency (OPA) on behalf of the MOD. In discharging this responsibility the OPA works closely with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on matters relating to site safety including regular top level management meetings and programmed HSE site visits.
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the state of preservation of HMS Victory, with particular reference to (a) rot and (b) distortion of timbers. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 18 June 2008]: The MOD is committed to maintaining HMS Victory in a sound material state for the nation for generations to come. To achieve this, a planned maintenance regime is in place that includes regular whole ship surveys.
In the late 1990s a new technique was adopted to ascertain the extent of rot in the ships timbers and in particular the ships hull planking. A survey in 2002 identified an increase in the rot in the hull planking; it also enabled the Department to predict the rate of decay. Subsequent surveys have confirmed these findings.
As a result of the 2002 survey, we started work to secure legal and sustainable hull planks to replace the rotten ones. Sufficient material has now been obtained and work on the hull is scheduled to start towards the end of 2008.
A system for monitoring the movement and form of HMS Victory has been in place since the 1970s, with an improved system being installed in 2005 that allows accurate measurements to be taken on a monthly basis. The movement of the ship is well understood and there is no evidence of any movement of the ship as a result of the degradation of the hull planking.
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what funding has been made available for the preservation of HMS Victory; and what programme of work (a) has been carried out and (b) remains to be completed. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth
[holding answer 18 June 2008]: Since HMS Victory's restoration was completed for Trafalgar 200 in 2005, returning the ship to its 1805 Battle of Trafalgar condition, only essential repair work has been carried out. Since then, MOD has undertaken detailed research to develop a full understanding of the structural condition of the ship and its construction.
This has enabled the Department to select the correct materials for future repairs and to fully understand where and how repairs are to be carried out.
The most significant task to be completed is the replacement of much of the hull planking. In addition, a structure in the After Hold that was removed many years ago, before restoration commenced, is to be reinstated to improve the structural integrity of the ship.
Mr. Tom Clarke: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether his Department makes arrangements to provide protection for Iraqi people working for the British Army and for their families. 
Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of (a) 1 star, (b) 2 star, (c) 3 star and (d) 4 star officers in the armed forces were deployed to (i) Iraq and (ii) Afghanistan in each year since 2001. 
Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether any (a) replacement lifting gear and (b) temporary alternative arrangements were considered for those Chinook helicopters in theatre which had their winches removed. 
My Rt hon. Friend the Defence Secretary undertook to write to you in answer to your Parliamentary Question on 19 February 2008, (Official Report, column 569W) about replacement and alternative winches for Chinook helicopters. I am sorry that it has taken so long to respond.
Researching the answer to this question has required an examination of detailed Supply Chain records to provide information
on the question of the availability of specific items of lifting gear within theatre. Regrettably, this work took longer than expected.
I have taken your question to arise from the incident in Kajaki, Afghanistan in September 2006 during which Corporal (Cpl) Mark Wright GC was killed. This incident was the subject of an internal Board of Inquiry (BOI), the results of which were given to the next of kin of those involved. The BOI found: that a number of British soldiers entered an unmarked minefield; that multiple mine detonations over a short period of time followed; and, that the injured were eventually extracted by a US helicopter. The BOI also found that the arrival of this helicopter was delayed by mechanical problems, and although a British Chinook helicopter arrived at the scene earlier it did not attempt to extract the soldiers, in part, because it was not fitted with a winchall such items having been withdrawn from the Chinook force some months earlier.
The BOI concluded that no winches were available for the Chinook but the more recent Supply Chain investigation found that not all winches were affected by the maintenance issue that resulted in those fitted to Chinooks in Afghanistan being withdrawn back to the UK. In fact, a small number were available to the Chinook force at around the time of the Kajaki incident.
On first inspection it seems odd that winches could have been available to the Chinook force but not deployed forward immediately to replace the winches which were recalled. This seems particularly odd in the light of the media reporting that had the Chinook which was called to assist in the incident had a winch, it would have been able to rescue those trapped in the minefield.
The reason that the replacement winches were not deployed forward immediately can be explained by the fact that, in September 2006, there was no formal requirement for UK Chinooks in Afghanistan to be fitted with winches. Chinooks have role equipment which can be taken off or put on the airframe as and when it is considered necessary by the military chain of command. The aircraft that went to Afghanistan did have winches already fitted when they deployed but without a formal requirement for them, once the winches had been removed there was no immediate pressure to replace them, and there were no requests from the military chain of command in Theatre for the winches to be replaced.
This can be further explained by the fact that using helicopters to extract personnel from minefields is widely recognised as being an extremely hazardous undertaking, only to be used in exceptional circumstances; our preferred approach to minefield extraction is either through the use of Explosive Ordnance Disposal assets or through self-extraction using techniques in which all deployed personnel are trained. Given this, it is understandable that no Standard Operating Procedures existed in theatre at the time governing the use of Chinook helicopters in extracting injured personnel from minefields, and that Chinook crews are not routinely trained in winch operations in such circumstances. Indeed, the Chinook crew involved in the incident has confirmed that, even if a winch had been fitted to their Chinook they did not consider it safe, either for those on the ground or in the aircraft, to attempt a winch extraction.
It is worth pointing out however that even though the UK Chinook fleet at the time did not have a formal requirement for winches there was a winch capability available to UK forces in Theatre. Coalition helicopter assets were pooled and winch capability was available from US assetsthrough both a US Combat Search and Rescue capability with a HH-60G helicopter, and a US Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) Team, also with a HH-60G. And it was the US Combat Search and Rescue capability which successfully extracted Cpl Wright. That it did so successfully was testament to the ability and courage of the crew who the Board of Inquiry found acted with complete disregard for their own safety. In fact, this was such an exceptionally brave manoeuvre that their actions were recognised by Her Majesty with a Queen's Commendation for Bravery in the Air.
Thus there was an available winch capability in theatre but not through a formal requirement placed upon UK helicopter assets, and replacement winches were not requested. Moreover, the introduction of other temporary alternatives would not have been a practicable proposition as they would have required detailed
testing to be carried out and appropriate clearances to be obtained; a process which typically takes approximately six months to secure.
You would wish to be aware that all Chinooks, Merlins and Sea King helicopters deployed on operational Immediate Response Team tasks now have a winch capability to provide greater flexibility of response to the different kinds of incidents they face.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Given that the majority of the helicopters in our current fleets have out of service dates prior to 2020, and that investment decisions are yet to be taken, it is not possible to predict with any certainty the number and type of helicopters which will be in service in 2020.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Department currently has no plans to place any information in the public domain relating to either the procurement of the Orchid vehicle tracking system or its operational capacity/use. The Ministry of Defence Police have not used the Orchid system since 2004-05.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Orchid system was procured by the MOD police in 2000. The decision to procure the Orchid patrol vehicle tracking system was made in financial year 1999-2000. The system was identified as a safety solution, enabling tracking of MOD police vehicles (cars and boats) that were used by the area policing teams (APT) which had a roaming police role. APTs were restructured in 2004 and re-tasked without need to continue the Orchid contract.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The following defence contractors were engaged in supplying components and providing services which related to the Orchid patrol vehicle tracking system: Orchid, Global Telematics (now Thales Telematics), Siemens and VDO.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The original purchase order for Orchid was approved for £352,500 (including VAT). By the end of the contract in 2005, a total of £385,860 had been spent. The £33,360 overspend was largely attributed to the extension of the contract to roll Orchid out to a further 14 vehicles in 2001.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many reservists were on active service as part of British military operations at the latest date for which figures are available. 
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the forecast expenditure on Trident 2 is in real terms, expressed in 2008 prices, for each future year for which forecasts have been made. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The estimated costs of the programme to maintain the United Kingdom's deterrent capability beyond the life of the current system, as set out in the December 2006 White Paper, The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent (Cm 6994), and endorsed by Parliament on 14 March 2007, over the next three years are:
|£ million at 2008 prices|
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