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9 July 2008 : Column 1602W—continued


9 July 2008 : Column 1603W

Des Browne: The Department takes the health of its soldiers very seriously and guaranteeing access to clean drinking water is particularly important to the well being of the armed forces, especially in the very hot climates of Iraq and Afghanistan.

For service personnel and their families posted to Germany or Permanent Joint Operating Bases such as Cyprus, Gibraltar or the Falkland Islands, this is provided to homes and workplaces via normal infrastructure, and to troops on exercise via tankers or jerrycans.

For troops serving on operations, water is provided through a number of means and distributed by the most expedient fashion. The majority of water is sourced from boreholes, purified by reverse osmosis, checked for purity and then distributed. In Afghanistan the UK also has its own water bottling plant at Camp Bastion. Where sufficient water cannot be sourced locally, we import significant quantities of bottled water. This is distributed by a variety of means depending on the destination but can be by truck, helicopter or even air dispatch for the more austere locations. Finally, soldiers are provided with water purification tablets for use in extremis, but these are not viewed as a long term method of providing access to a safe water supply.

Chinook Helicopters: Greater London

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what (a) routes and (b) altitudes Royal Air Force Chinook helicopters regularly fly over the London area; and what mechanism exists for concerns about altitude and noise levels resulting from such flights to be expressed by members of the public. [217131]

Derek Twigg: Military helicopters (including RAF Chinook) operating in the London area use the same fixed helicopter routes as civilian helicopters, and operate at such height as they are instructed to by air traffic control. Members of the public wishing to express concern may contact the Directorate of Air Staff Complaints and Enquiries Unit on 0207 218 6020, or by e-mail at: lowflying@mod.uk.

Departmental Manpower

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the change has been in the number of employees in his Department and its agencies since July 2006. [217073]

Derek Twigg: The following table shows the change in the number of personnel in the MOD between July 2006 and April 2008.

Total Department Strength( 1)

Full-time equivalent

July 2006

102,970

April 2008

90,600

Change

-12,370

(1) Total strength includes personnel in core top level budgets, trading funds, royal fleet auxiliaries and locally engaged civilians.
Notes:
1. Numbers have been rounded to the nearest 10, numbers ending in five have been rounded to the nearest multiple of 20.
2. Totals and subtotals have been rounded separately and so may not equal the sums of their rounded parts.

9 July 2008 : Column 1604W

Data provided are based on DASA's quarterly product, ‘CPS01—Civilian Personnel Statistics Quarterly Return’, the most recent version of which was issued for April 2008 and can be found at

Departmental Nurseries

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average annual running cost of a crèche run by his Department is. [216244]

Derek Twigg: This information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Secondment

Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what procedures his Department uses to ensure equal opportunities in relation to staff secondments to the Department. [214722]

Derek Twigg: The principle that appointments to the civil service must be made on merit on the basis of fair and open competition has been the basis of civil service recruitment policy for over a century. It underpins the maintenance of a civil service which is highly competent, politically impartial, has high standards of integrity and which avoids unfair discrimination.

The Ministry of Defence can however waiver this policy if the secondment is part of an interchange programme or other exchange arrangement, is intended to foster contact with a particular body with which the Department has, or is developing, links, or the source of supply is very restricted. These secondments are intended to be temporary (normally up to three years, but not exceeding five years), and must not affect the employment status of the secondee.

Departmental Visits Abroad

Mr. MacNeil: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost of overseas visits by each Minister in his Department has been since 1997. [214655]

Derek Twigg: Since 1999 the Government have published the total cost of all overseas travel by Ministers and a list of all overseas travel by Cabinet Ministers costing over £500. Information for the last financial year was published on 25 July 2007, Official Report, column 1112W. Details for the financial year 2007-08 will be published before the summer recess and will include details of overseas visits undertaken by all Ministers. All ministerial travel is undertaken in accordance with the “Ministerial Code”.

Information in respect of overseas visits by all Ministers for the period 1997-99 could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Iraq: Peacekeeping Operations

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department has paid in compensation to wounded servicemen and women and the families of those killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. [203677]


9 July 2008 : Column 1605W

Derek Twigg: Information on the total amount paid out to wounded servicemen and women and the families of those killed since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan under the Armed Forces Reserves and Compensation Scheme could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

A total of £8.1 million in common law compensation claims has been paid out to wounded service personnel or the families of those killed while serving in Operations Telic and Herrick since 2001. Common law compensation claims are for people injured or having suffered loss allegedly due to the MOD’s negligent actions. This is a separate claims system to the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. The figure quoted includes related payments such as legal fees and medical expenses.

Military Bases: Northern Ireland

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether any changes will be made to the financial arrangements regarding the sale of redundant military sites following recent talks between the Government, Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party. [213117]

Derek Twigg: No changes are planned. All receipts from the disposal of military sites in Northern Ireland are expected to be retained by the Ministry of Defence and re-invested by the Department in our key priorities.

Shipping: Fuels

Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost was to the Royal Navy of marine diesel per tonne plus lighterage on 30th May (a) 2008, (b) 2007 and (c) 2006. [216990]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 7 July 2008]: As the Defence Fuels Group buys the majority of the Royal Navy’s requirement for marine diesel in bulk for onward issue as required, it is not possible to provide a price for a specific date; however, the average costs of marine diesel for the last three years are as follows:

Financial year £ per metric tonne

2006-07

316

2007-08

380

2008-09 to date

570


The cost of lighterage is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.


9 July 2008 : Column 1606W

Justice

Approved Premises: Planning

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) if he will make it his policy to restrict the use of houses previously used as privately occupied residences as bail hostels in residential areas; [216617]

(2) what the process is for establishing a bail hostel in a house previously used as a private residence; and whether conditions may be applied to such an establishment. [216632]

Mr. Hanson: The process for establishing properties for the Bail Accommodation and Support Scheme (to which I understand this question refers) is as follows.

The Regional Offender Managers, and the Directors of Offender Management for Wales and London, identify in which towns accommodation is needed and in what numbers, based on the distribution of origins, of prisoners. It is for ClearSprings to seek properties in those locations. There are currently around 160 properties in the service providing about 550 beds. ClearSprings are required to consult the local authority, police and the probation in selecting properties, in order to avoid inappropriate locations. The accommodation used must meet standards set by the local authority in relation to the accreditation of private rented housing.

Prisoners released on Home Detention Curfew are subject to electronically monitored curfew. For defendants on bail the courts may impose such other conditions as are considered necessary to mitigate any risks of abscond, offending or interference with witnesses. These conditions may include a curfew which may be electronically monitored.

Cannabis

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many people have been sentenced for (a) trafficking and (b) selling skunk cannabis in each of the last 10 years. [217026]

Mr. Hanson: The following table shows the number of persons sentenced for offences involving the trafficking of class B and class C drugs.

It is not possible to identify separately on the Courts Proceedings Database trafficking of cannabis from other class B and class C drugs. Courts proceedings data for 2007 will be published in the autumn of 2008.


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9 July 2008 : Column 1608W
Number of persons sentenced( 1) for offences involving trafficking of class B and class C drugs, all courts, England and Wales, 1997-2008
Number of persons

1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006

Offences in relation to the unlawful importation of a drug controlled under Misuse of Drugs Act 1971—Class B drugs(2)

437

421

335

401

463

269

120

49

29

Offences to relation to the unlawful importation of a drug controlled under Misuse of Drugs Act 1971—Class C drugs(2)

12

5

19

26

23

11

100

151

159

Offences in relation to the unlawful exportation of a drug controlled under Misuse of Drugs Act 1971—Class B drugs(2)

14

6

3

2

3

1

3

Offences in relation to the unlawful exportation of a drug controlled under Misuse of Drugs Act 1971—Class C drugs(2)

1

1

4

6

Supplying or offering to supply (or being concerned in supplying or offering to supply) a controlled drug—Cannabis and cannabis resin(2)

1,400

1,458

1,209

870

623

598

514

444

367

352

Having possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply—Cannabis or cannabis resin(2)

2,475

2,713

2,316

1,872

1,401

1,383

1,462

1,210

950

884

(1) The data are on the principal offence basis.
(2) On 29 January 2004 Cannabis was reclassified from a class B to a class C drug.
Note:
These figures have been drawn from administrative data systems. Although care is taken when processing and analysing the returns, the detail collected is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large scale recording system.
Source:
OMS, Analytical Services

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