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Defence

Armed Forces: Manpower

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many personnel left (a) the Army, (b) the Royal Navy and (c) the Royal Air Force in each of the last five years. [225669]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Data on the number of Personnel leaving each of the UK regular armed forces can be found in tables 6, 7,9,10 and 11 of Tri-Service Publication (TSP) 4 - UK Armed Forces Quarterly Manning Report. TSP 4 is publishedquarterly and the most recent publication shows figures for the 12 months to 1 July 2008 and can be found at:

Copies of TSP 4 are available in the Library of the House and also at

Armed Forces: Uniforms

Mr. Mullin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent steps have been taken to assess alternatives to bear fur for use in guardsmen’s busbies; and if he will make a statement. [225305]

Mr. Quentin Davies: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by Baroness Taylor on 29 September 2008, Official Report, column WA385, in the other place to the noble Lord Corbett.

Armoured Fighting Vehicles

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of the armed forces (a) Apache, (b) Lynx and (c) Gazelle vehicles were (i) fit for purpose and (ii) out of service at the latest date for which figures are available. [223847]


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Mr. Quentin Davies: The percentages of the (a) Apache, (b) Lynx and (c) Gazelle aircraft considered (i) fit for purpose are detailed in the following table. For (ii), the term ‘out of service’ is not used in describing the
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management of helicopter fleets, however, for the purpose of this answer, ‘out of service’ is defined as those aircraft which are in the Depth fleet and those which are classified as non-effective aircraft.

July 2008 Fit for purpose as percentage of Forward fleet total Forward fleet as percentage of Departmental fleet total Depth as percentage of Departmental fleet total Effective fleet (Forward fleet + Depth fleet) as percentage of Departmental fleet total Non-Effective as percentage of Departmental fleet total

Apache AH1(1)

39

73

27

100

0

Lynx Mk3

60

56

28

83

17

Lynx Mk7

64

52

35

87

13

Lynx Mk8

70

57

37

94

6

Lynx Mk9

60

63

29

92

8

Gazelle

87

46

8

54

46

(1) The Apache Operational fit for purpose for July 2008 was 72 per cent. of the Forward fleet. The Apache fleet is exceeding fit for purpose targets in theatre and is fully delivering the required capability. Priority is always given to operational commitments.
Note:
The figures shown in the table are the average for the month of July 2008. The number of helicopters ‘fit for purpose’ will vary from day to day due, primarily, to routine maintenance requirements. Operational capability is measured in terms of flying hours rather than the number of airframes available.

The Departmental fleet comprises the effective and non-effective aircraft. The effective aircraft comprise those in the Forward fleet and those in the Depth fleet. Forward fleet are those aircraft that are available to the front-line command for operational and training purposes. Aircraft defined as ‘fit for purpose’ are those within the Forward fleet that are considered capable of carrying out their planned missions on a given date at short notice. The Depth fleet are those aircraft which are undergoing modification, depth maintenance and repair, are in storage (including attrition aircraft), surplus aircraft awaiting classification as ‘ineffective’, or Trial aircraft.

Non-effective aircraft are those aircraft still on the Military Register which are declared surplus and awaiting disposal and are no longer expected to be flown.

Erskine Barracks

Robert Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make it his policy to dispose of Erskine Barracks, Wilton, on the open market; and if he will make a statement. [225204]

Mr. Kevan Jones: Erskine Barracks has been identified for disposal in the Defence Estates Development Plan 2008. A small area of the site is not Ministry of Defence (MOD) freehold and this will be returned to the owner. It is anticipated that the MOD owned area will be disposed of on the Open Market, once the site has been vacated.

European Fighter Aircraft

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he plans to place the order for the third tranche of the Typhoon. [225724]

Mr. Quentin Davies: Negotiations with partner nations and industry on tranche three are continuing; decisions will be taken once these negotiations are complete.

Members: Correspondence

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reasons his Department has not written to the hon. Member for Thurrock with details of the plans to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the First World War's armistice on 11 November 2008; and if he will make a statement. [225397]

Mr. Kevan Jones: My predecessor wrote to the hon. Member on 25 February 2008 setting out our initial proposals. Plans for an event to mark the 90th anniversary of the Great War Armistice at the Cenotaph in London on 11 November 2008 are still being finalised but I intend to provide further information to the House next week.

Electoral Commission Committee

Conflict of Interests

John Austin: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission whether any Commissioner has withdrawn from a meeting of the Commission or part of a meeting on the grounds of a possible conflict of interest in the last 10 years. [224675]

Sir Peter Viggers: The Electoral Commission informs me that there have been three occasions on which a Commissioner has withdrawn from discussions in a Commission meeting on the grounds of a possible conflict of interest.

In addition, the Commissioner who chairs the Boundary Committee for England always withdraws when decisions are taken on Boundary Committee reports and recommendations.

Political Parties: Finance

John Austin: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission whether he has made representations to the Commission about Parliament's view on the Commissions' work on political donations; and if he will make a statement. [224676]


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Sir Peter Viggers: I personally have made no such representations.

The Electoral Commission is always willing to receive the views of Members of Parliament on any aspect of its work.

John Austin: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission what steps the Commission is taking to ensure that all relevant information on its register of regulated donees is published on the Commission's website for the years 2001 to January 2008 including details of donations received, name of donor, name of donee, amount, type of donation and whether the donation was notified to the Commission on time. [224677]

Sir Peter Viggers: The Electoral Commission informs me that it is required under section 69 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 to maintain a public register of donations to regulated donees. The legislation requires that the register includes the name of the donor, the amount or value of any donation and the date the donation was accepted. The register also includes type of donation. All of these entries from 2001 can be viewed on the Commission's website.

The legislation does not require that donations reported late to the Commission be listed separately in the register. However, since 20 February 2008 the Commission has published a list each month of donations to regulated donees identifying those donations reported late.

In addition to this information the Commission has also published on its website, and placed in the House of Commons Library, a list of 527 donations to regulated donees reported late since 2001.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture: Subsidies

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which Commoners' Association is able to negotiate single farm payments on behalf of its members; and what progress is being made in enabling other associations to establish similar arrangements, with particular reference to Minchinhampton Commoners' Association. [222670]

Hilary Benn: At the present time Hatherleigh Moor Management Committee is the only commoners' association that has been able to claim under the single payment scheme on behalf of its members.

A number of other commoners' associations including Minchinhampton Commoners' Association have submitted requests to make applications on behalf of their members. These requests are currently under consideration.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many new cases of non-payment of Single Farm Payment claims since 2005 have been recorded in the last three months. [223902]


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Hilary Benn: No new cases of non-payment of single farm payment claims since 2005 have been recorded in the last three months.

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) if he will provide financial assistance for farmers using additional fuel to dry grain following the 2008 harvest; [224148]

(2) what assistance from his Department is available to farmers who have lost their harvest due to extreme weather conditions in 2008; and if he will make a statement. [224150]

Hilary Benn: The Government have great sympathy for those farm businesses affected by the extremely wet weather that has hampered this year's harvest. However, the Government do not provide compensation for crop losses as a result of extreme weather or financial assistance for additional fuel used to dry grain.

Farmers have a range of risk and crisis management methods available, including tax averaging, diversification, some limited weather insurance, crop selection and ‘self-insurance’ through saving and borrowing. An increasing number of farmers are making use of such tools and DEFRA is continuing to support their take-up, including by sponsoring risk management workshops in partnership with the industry

Animals: Imports

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs by what means his Department ensures that animals imported into the UK for the purposes of scientific research are free from infectious disease. [222775]

Hilary Benn: In general, there are no separate import conditions for animals imported for research purposes. They must just comply with the normal import requirements set out in the Importer Information Notes (IINs), that can be found on the DEFRA website.

Rabies-susceptible animals imported for research must be travelling to quarantine approved premises where they must remain in quarantine for six months.

The exceptions to these rules are rodents and lagomorphs (a category which includes animals such as rabbits), which when imported into the UK for research must be licensed by Animal Health and use Supplementary Certification, signed by the responsible veterinary or medical supervisor (or other appropriately qualified responsible person) of the research establishment/premises. This certification states that:


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All of the said premises above must hold current Home Office approval and regular veterinary inspections are also required.

Mr. Cameron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the UK has placed a moritorium on the importation of non-domestic animals from non-EU countries, with particular reference to South African white rhinoceroses, in advance of EU-wide agreement on the harmonisation of rules on such imports; which other EU member states have put such a moritorium in place; and if he will make a statement. [222849]

Hilary Benn: No moratorium was placed on imports of non-domestic animals from non-EU countries. I am not aware of any other member state having placed a moratorium on imports at this time. Harmonised rules on imports of such animals are currently being developed. A new EU directive 2008/73 came into force on 3 September 2008 which amends the EU legislation for imports of non-domestic animals and gives member states the powers to prepare national rules in event of no harmonised rules. Following an inquiry regarding the import of white rhinoceroses, a veterinary risk assessment was carried out, and a licence containing health conditions which the animals must meet to be eligible for import was prepared and sent to the South African veterinary authorities for agreement. We are awaiting a response.

Mr. Cameron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what consultation he undertook with zoos and similar institutions, with particular reference to the Cotswold Wildlife Park, prior to establishing the moratorium on the importation of non-domestic animals from non- EU countries.; and if he will make a statement. [222959]

Hilary Benn: There is no moratorium on imports of non-domestic animals from non-EU countries. DEFRA holds regular quarterly meetings with zoos and other similar institutions to discuss matters of interest. Notes of these meetings are available on the DEFRA website. At the last two meetings—one of which was prior to Cotswold Wildlife Park advising of their wish to import non-domestic animals—the development of an EC proposal for harmonised rules was discussed. Since Cotswold Park contacted DEFRA, a risk assessment has been carried out and a draft licence has been sent to the South African veterinary authorities for agreement.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what recent steps the Government has taken to improve the monitoring of wildlife imports; [224176]

(2) what recent steps the Government has taken to reduce illegal imports of wildlife. [224177]

Hilary Benn: Together with the Home Office DEFRA has recently approved a three-year financial settlement for the National Wildlife Crime Unit. This is a multi-agency unit which works closely with officers in Animal Health, who form the UK CITES Management Authority, and with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) staff in the UK Border Agency.


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