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As with any planning application submitted to the local planning authority, key stakeholders such as the Environment Agency and Health and Safety Executive will be consulted by the council before a final decision is made. The local planning authority's response will take account of all relevant elements of the area's existing land usage, including the proximity of AWE Burghfield, and any flood protection and safety requirements.

AWE Burghfield: Planning Permission

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether a site development strategy for AWE Burghfield has been (a) prepared and (b) submitted to the local planning authority. [213573]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: A Site Development Context Plan was created in 2005 and represents the site development strategy for both the AWE Aldermaston and Burghfield sites from 2005 to 2015. The original Site Development Context Plan was submitted to the West Berkshire council planning authority in November 2005. An update of the plan was sent on 22 May 2008 and is available on the West Berkshire Planning Application website:

Departmental Buildings

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) new builds and (b) major refurbishments for a cost in excess of £0.5 million were completed by his Department in (i) 2005-06, (ii) 2006-07 and (iii) 2007-08. [213730]

Derek Twigg: The requested information is not held centrally or in the form requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Public Expenditure

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his Department’s current corporate planning assumption rates are for (a) foreign exchange and (b) petrol, oil and lubricants. [210929]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Defence corporate planning assumptions (CPAs) are designed to enable financial planning on a common basis across the Department. The foreign exchange rates are based on the forward rates prevailing at the time the assumptions are prepared. The fuel price assumptions are based on projections produced by the MOD Chief Economist’s staff at the same time. CPAs are updated at regular intervals so that any changes in the projections can be incorporated into forward financial plans.

For Planning Round 2009, which is now under way, the Department’s CPAs for foreign exchange and propulsion fuel (there is no CPA equating to ‘petrol, oil and lubricants’) are shown in the following tables.


30 Jun 2008 : Column 614W
Forward exchange rates( 1) , taken on 19 May 2008
2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13

US dollar

1.87

1.88

1.87

1.86

Euro

1.34

1.30

1.27

1.23

Canadian dollar

1.96

1.94

1.91

1.89

(1) Foreign currency to sterling rates
Source:
Bank of England.

Propulsion fuel prices( 1) , taken on 12 April 2008
2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13

Aviation Fuel

440

390

370

370

Marine Fuel

350

320

300

300

Road Diesel

1110

1060

1050

1070

Other Propulsion Fuels

1030

990

990

1000

(1) £ per cubic metre unless stated.
Source:
MOD calculations.

Departmental Vetting

Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what procedures his Department follows for checking the criminal records of employees; and if he will make a statement. [213126]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: For those positions in the MOD that require national security vetting, applicants are required to complete a security questionnaire declaring both unspent and spent convictions. The data are checked by the Defence Vetting Agency, which has direct access to the Police National Computer, along with a range of other checks as described in the Prime Minister's statement on vetting on 15 December 1994, Official Report, columns 764-66W.

Where it is judged that national security vetting is unnecessary and the level of risk is acceptable, the Government Baseline Personnel Security Standard is applied. This requires recruits to declare unspent convictions against which random checks are carried out. When individuals will be working with children or vulnerable adults, their consent is sought to carry out additional checks through the Defence Vetting Agency with the Criminal Records Bureau.

EU Common Foreign and Security Policy

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many appointments of one star and above there are within the EU military command structure. [214150]

Des Browne: There is no standing European Union (EU) military command structure. The military bodies that support the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) are:

Out of these appointments, the UK currently holds one three star appointment in the EUMS. Other appointments in the EUMC and EUMS are drawn from across the other 26 EU member states.

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the role of the military staff of the European Union is; and what UK contribution there is to that staff. [214151]

Des Browne: The role and tasks of the European Union Military Staff, as set out in the treaty of Nice, are:

18 British military personnel are currently seconded to the European Union Military Staff.

EU Defence Policy

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the Government's policy is on the creation of a European military air transport command under the management of the EU. [214352]

Des Browne: There is no European military air transport command under the management of the EU, nor is one proposed. The European Air Transport Command is an initiative between France, Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands to provide military transport to the participating countries in a more cost effective way. We do not intend to join this initiative.

Falkland Islands: Airbridge

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what timetable he has put in place for awarding the contract for the future provision of the airbridge to the Falkland Islands; [214090]

(2) which organisation operates the flights on the Falkland Islands airbridge; [214091]

(3) how many tenders his Department has received for the new contract to provide the Falkland Islands airbridge; [214092]


30 Jun 2008 : Column 616W

(4) how many airbridge flights to the Falkland Islands there were each week in each of the last three years; and how many flights per week he expects under the new contract to provide the service. [214093]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The MOD issued seven invitations to tender, six of which were returned. Contract award is planned for end of July 2008 with a contract start date of 1 October 2008. The organisation currently responsible for operating the flights on the Falkland Islands airbridge is Omni Air International under contract with Air Partner plc. The schedules were arranged on the basis of three flights each two weeks. The actual number of flights was 73, 75 and 76 for 2005, 2006 and 2007 respectively. The frequency of flights under the new contract will be decided as part of the evaluation process.

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average occupancy rate on a Falkland Islands airbridge flight was in (a) 2008, (b) 2007, (c) 2006 and (d) 2005; and what proportion of such occupancy was accounted for by (i) military and (ii) non-military passengers. [214098]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The average occupancy on a Falkland Islands airbridge is shown in the following table:

2005 2006 2007 2008

Total average numbers of passengers per flight

168

180

190

170

Total average number of non-military passengers per flight (percentage)

14

14

13

15

Total average number of military passengers per flight (percentage)

86

86

87

85


These figures include passengers that disembark/embark in both Ascension Island and the Falkland Islands.

Iraq: Peacekeeping Operations

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many armed forces personnel have lost all or part of their sight through service in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan. [210370]

Derek Twigg: The information is not held centrally, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost by examining the personal medical file of every current and former service man and woman, which would additionally require the permission of all individuals.

Lebanon: Armed Forces

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what contribution his Department has made to (a) the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon and (b) training Lebanese armed forces since August 2006; [214034]

(2) when his Department last reviewed the level of its contribution to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. [214036]


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Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The MOD contributed to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) with the deployment of HMS York from August to November 2006. HMS York formed a part of the UNIFIL Maritime Task Force (TF) responsible for provision of maritime surveillance and protection of the Lebanese coast against illegal smuggling. In addition, the UK seconded a Royal Navy Commander to the UN Headquarters to assist the UN in making logistics and other arrangements for the UN Maritime Task Force.

The MOD last reviewed its contribution to UNIFIL in the summer of 2006 which resulted in these deployments which have now concluded. We nevertheless keep the situation in Lebanon under regular review.

Since August 2006, we have continued to identify training needs and where appropriate and possible, provide a range of training programmes for the Lebanese armed forces. Training provided focuses on officer, staff and command development, in order to build capacity and capability within the Lebanese armed forces.

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assistance on counter-terrorism his Department has provided to the Lebanese army since August 2006. [214035]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: It is not the practice of the Government to make public the details of such assistance to individual countries as this would, or would be likely to, prejudice international relations.

Military Bases: Aviation

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many military airfields within a 30 mile radius of London have runways long enough to accommodate a Boeing 747. [214863]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: There are no military airfields within a 30 mile radius of London with the necessary infrastructure to safely accommodate a Boeing 747.

Nuclear Disarmament

John Hemming: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Portsmouth, South of 5 June 2008, Official Report, column 1062W, on nuclear disarmament, what (a) structure and (b) timetable he plans to establish for the technical conference of P5 nuclear laboratories on the verification of nuclear disarmament. [214002]

Des Browne: As stated in my response on 5 June 2008, the offer is for a P5 conference hosted by the UK rather than a UK conference to which the P5 states are simply invited. Therefore, the structure and timetable, as well as any subsequent publicity, will need to be mutually agreed by all five participating states. MOD and FCO officials continue to actively engage with their P5 counterparts and I will keep the house informed of progress.


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