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14 July 2008 : Column 155W—continued

Afghanistan: Pakistan

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the
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role of elements of the Pakistani (a) military and (b) intelligence services in assisting (i) the Taliban and (ii) other insurgents in Afghanistan since 2001. [218255]

Des Browne: We do not comment on the detail of intelligence assessments but the Ministry of Defence continually analyses how the Taliban and other extremists operate in support of the insurgency in Afghanistan. International cooperation is central to our efforts and we welcome the Government of Pakistan's commitment to countering terrorism as a top priority. We continue to press them to ensure that the Afghanistan insurgency cannot draw support from within their own borders.

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many rounds of ammunition were discharged in Helmand province in each roulement since Operation Herrick 4, broken down by type. [216076]

Des Browne: The amount of ammunition used by UK forces in each Operation Herrick roulement since Herrick 4 is set out in the following table:

Type of nature Herrick 4 (August 2006 to October 2006) Herrick 5 (October 2006 to April 2007) Herrick 6 (April 2007 to October 2007) Herrick 7 (October 2007 onwards) Herrick 8 (April 2008 onwards)

7.62mm all natures






5.56mm all natures






0.5 inch all natures






12.7mm all natures






9mm all natures












12 bore shotgun all natures






105mm all natures






30mm Armoured Fighting Vehicle rounds






30mm Attack Helicopter rounds






Where applicable, figures have been rounded either to the nearest 10,100 or 1,000.

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much has been spent on providing bottled water to British troops operating in Afghanistan in each of the last 12 months; and how much has been purchased in each month. [216242]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The following table sets out the volume and cost of water supplied to UK troops in Afghanistan over the last year through our enabling contract:

Volume/litre Value (£)

July 2007



August 2007



September 2007



October 2007



November 2007



December 2007



January 2008



February 2008



March 2008



April 2008



May 2008



June 2008



We have invested around £7 million on the provision of a water bottling plant in Camp Bastion to provide bottled water from natural sources in theatre. This has been running since the end of February 2008, at maximum capacity can produce 50,000 litres of bottled water per day and has produced over 2 million bottles since production began.

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence by what means water is supplied to troops operating in Afghanistan. [216243]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Water is supplied to UK forces in Afghanistan by a number of methods. Bottled water is provided to troops where water is not available locally from other sources, and it is supplied either through a contract or using the water bottling plant at Camp Bastion. The water is distributed to troops by a
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range of methods, depending on the location, including truck, helicopter or air dispatch.

In many forward bases, water is supplied locally from boreholes established by the UK military. Water from these is purified by reverse osmosis plants and tested for purity. Samples are regularly taken to ensure that the water is safe to drink.

Soldiers are also provided with purification tablets for use in extremis, although these are not relied upon as an enduring means to provide troops with drinkable water.

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the performance of (a) British forces and (b) ISAF forces in Afghanistan against their objectives; and if he will make a statement. [217652]

Des Browne [holding answer 10 July 2008]: The presence of UK and other ISAF troops has already contributed significantly in transforming Afghanistan from a pariah state that harboured international terrorists, into a functioning democracy with a legitimate Government and Parliament. Security conditions are broadly stable if fragile in places, particularly in the South and East of the country. Overall in 2007, 70 per cent. of security incidents were confined to 10 per cent. of Afghanistan’s 398 districts, which together contain less than 6 per cent. of the Afghan population.

UK forces continue to expand the authority of the Government of Afghanistan in Helmand and, together with Afghan forces, are expanding areas of security around the major towns in the province, allowing civilian-led reconstruction and development work to take place.

Afghanistan: Prisons

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what security reviews (a) the British armed forces and (b) other NATO forces have carried out on Afghan prisons in the last five years. [214376]

Des Browne: The security of prisons in Afghanistan remains the responsibility of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Consequently, UK forces do not conduct formal security reviews of these facilities.

However, our deployed forces clearly have a strong interest in ensuring that security in the prisons in Afghanistan is adequate and therefore, we do work with the Afghan authorities in this area: for example, a team from the Helmand Task Force visited the prison in Lashkar Gar recently in part to assess the local security arrangements and provide advice on how these might be improved. The UK Prison Service is also working with the responsible local authorities to enhance security in Pol-e-Charki prison in Kabul.

We do not hold detailed records on the extent to which NATO allies undertake security reviews of Afghan prisons.

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Armed Forces: Amphibious Vehicles

Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which vessels comprise the amphibious fleet; and how many (a) officers and (b) crew serve on each. [218347]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 6 March 2008, Official Report, column 2707W.

Armed Forces: Cadets

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he is taking to acknowledge the work of cadet forces as part of the Cadet 150 celebrations. [217509]

Derek Twigg: Work is currently under way between the MOD, the cadet forces and their supporting associations to develop a programme of events and activities to celebrate and promote the success and values of the Cadet Movement in its 150th year. A broad outline of events around the UK showcasing adventure, sports and cadet skills has been agreed, including at least one organised by each of the single-service cadet forces as well as a major national commemorative event to be taken forward under the stewardship of the MOD’s ceremonial events and commemoration team in the summer of 2010.

In addition to demonstrating the wide range of developmental opportunities available to young people in cadet units across the entire UK, it is intended that the events will help stimulate interest from adults who will be willing to come forward and dedicate their free time to becoming adult volunteers for this most worthwhile cause.

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will take steps to offer equal access to Ministry of Defence logistical support to cadet force units based in rural and urban areas. [217721]

Derek Twigg: All cadet forces have equal access to MOD logistical support and this is provided on a regional basis, irrespective of whether the unit is based in a rural or urban setting.

Armed Forces: Coroners

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reasons the Government have legal representation at all inquests involving deceased military personnel. [218195]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: For the majority of inquests, MOD does not have legal representation because they are non-adversarial, fact-finding proceedings. However, on some occasions the MOD, as an “interested person” may engage Counsel to assist the coroner in establishing the relevant facts surrounding the death, particularly in cases which are complex, often involving sensitive matters relating to national security.

14 July 2008 : Column 159W

Armed Forces: Eyesight

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many applicants to the armed forces have been rejected due to poor vision or visual impairments in the last 12 months. [218451]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The armed forces do not record centrally the exact reason for a medical rejection of an application; only that an individual has been medically rejected. The only way to determine the exact answer would be to manually trawl through the individual files for all rejected applicants and this could be done only at disproportionate cost.

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much of the annual defence medical budget is allocated to eye care. [218452]

Derek Twigg: The figure requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many personnel have been taken off front-line duty due to visual impairments sustained in service. [218454]

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

Armed Forces: Mental Health Services

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average (a) start up and (b) running cost of a Department of Community Mental Health is. [216248]

Derek Twigg: The MOD has 15 departments of community mental health (DCMHs) in the UK with additional satellite centres in Germany, Cyprus and Gibraltar. Responsibility for their individual management is shared between the single service commands.

DCMHs came into being in April 2004. Prior to 2004 community-based mental health services were provided by what were known as departments of community psychiatry (DCPs). The conversion of DCPs to DCMHs involved providing uplifts of funding to the single services for the creation of specific staff posts and improvements to IT resources. The amount of funding provided to each of the single services varied depending on their needs, however in financial year 2004-05 it totalled approximately £7.5 million.

Each service funds its respective DCMHs differently, with funding provision coming from a number of areas. Estimated annual costs for an average Army DCMH are approximately £543,000, which covers staff pay and other associated costs, such as allowances, training, equipment and line rental.

Due to the number of budgets to which costs would be attributable any detailed study of DCMH finances would incur disproportionate costs.

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