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13 Oct 2008 : Column 907W—continued

Departmental Buildings

Willie Rennie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many properties owned by his Department are unused; and how long each such property has been unused. [226631]

Mr. Kevan Jones: The Ministry of Defence (MOD) keeps its estate of around 240,000 hectares, which comprises some 80,000 of built estate and 160,000 of rural estate, under continual review to ensure that it is still required for defence purposes. Details of all MOD properties that are void (not in use for their intended purpose) and how long each has been void is not centrally available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Some details of void living accommodation are held centrally. The following table shows that service family accommodation (SFA) in the UK which was void at 8 October 2008. The majority of these properties are owned by Annington Homes Ltd (AHL) and leased to the Department until it no longer has a use for them and they are returned to AHL.

Timescale Number of SFA

Under 3 months


Between 3 months and 6 months


Between 6 months and 12 months


Between 1 year and 5 years


Over 5 years




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The majority of the SFA properties that have been void for the longest periods are those that are held pending large future redeployments of personnel, pending return to AHL or awaiting demolition, pending decisions on the future of MOD sites or where there is likely to be a long-term (rather than short-term) need for SFA in that area or pending major modernisation or upgrade work.

Departmental Telephone Services

Colin Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which agencies or units for which his Department is responsible require the public to make telephone calls to them on numbers which charge more than the national call rate; and how much income each such agency derived from such charges in each of the last three years. [225748]

Mr. Kevan Jones [holding answer 9 October 2008]: It is MOD policy that all calls made by the general public to MOD civilian/military establishments covered by the Defence Fixed Telecommunications Service contract should either be to a freephone number or be charged at local/national rates.


Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the categories of support his Department makes available to ex-service personnel; what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of such support; and if he will make a statement. [224562]

Mr. Kevan Jones: The Veterans Strategy has three main pillars, delivered in close partnership with other parts of Government and the Third Sector: these are high quality preparation for service leavers returning to civilian life; advice and support for those ex-service personnel who need it and the promotion of understanding and recognition of the role veterans play in society. Support takes many forms including the provision of occupational pensions and no-fault compensation, resettlement training, help with employment and accommodation, as well as welfare support and tailored health care for those areas where veterans have special needs.

The needs of veterans and the provisions to meet these are kept under review in consultation across Government and with the charitable sector. Most recently, the Nation's Commitment outlined in the Service Personnel Command Paper of July 2008 reviewed areas of existing provision and set out the further enhancements that will be delivered in the support for service personnel, their families and veterans. These commitments will be assured by a reference group that will provide regular external and cross-Government audit, including an annual report to the Prime Minister and Defence Secretary.

Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many people in (a) Jarrow constituency, (b) South Tyneside, (c) the North East and (d) England were awarded a veteran's badge in each year since the inception of the award. [224896]

Mr. Kevan Jones: The information is not held in the format requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

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We have, however, identified that 146 individuals applying for the badge have included Jarrow in their address. Between May 2004 and 3 October 2008 over 661,000 HM armed forces veterans’ badges have been issued.

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of servicemen and women leaving the armed forces in each of the last five years for which figures are available had completed (a) 22 years' service and (b) fewer than five years' service. [225023]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The percentage of service personnel leaving the trained UK regular forces in each of the last five years by length of service is provided in the following table:


2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-06

All services

Fewer than 5 years service






5 to 21 years service






22+ years service






(1) Provisional. Due to ongoing validation of data from the Joint Personnel Administration System, all service flow statistics for financial year 2006-07 and 2007-08 are provisional and subject to review.
1. Figures show outflow from UK regular forces including recalled reservists on release and outflow to the Home Service battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment. The Royal Irish Regiment disbanded on 31 March 2008.
2. Percentages are calculated from unrounded data and may not sum to 100.

Helicopters: Finance

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the annual running cost was of (a) HMS Illustrious and HMS Ark Royal, (b) one Harrier GR9, (c) HMS Albion, (d) one Lynx Mk 8 helicopter, (e) one Merlin Mk1 helicopter and (f) one RFA support tanker in each of the last three years. [225079]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The information requested is not held in the format requested. The annual running cost in 2007-08 for the surface ships identified, including depreciation and the cost of capital, was as follows:

Financial year 2007-08 (£ million)

HMS Illustrious and HMS Ark Royal


HMS Albion


RFA Wave Knight (support tanker)


(1 )Total for the two ships.

Directly comparable figures for 2005-06 and 2006-07 are not available.

The total cost per flying hour for the aircraft was as follows:

Financial year Harrier( 1) Lynx( 2) Merlin Mk1













(1 )The available data is not spilt between Harrier GR7 and GR9
(2 )The available data is not split between Lynx Mk3 and Lynx Mk8
(3 )Directly comparable figures for this year are not available

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Peacekeeping Operations

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will bring forward proposals for national events to mark the bravery of UK personnel who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. [226212]

Mr. Kevan Jones: The enormous courage and bravery displayed by the men and women of the armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan is recognised in many ways. For example, returning personnel are often involved in local homecoming parades which are widely reported in the media. At a national level, we recognise the contribution and the sacrifices made by the armed forces at events such as Remembrance Sunday. In addition, the announcement of the six monthly operational honours list of gallantry awards, mostly to those serving in these two operational theatres and who have undertaken acts of particular bravery, are given a high profile.

It is usual for the end of significant operations to be marked in some way, and while we have no specific plans at present, this will be considered when the time is right in the case of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sea Harrier FA2: Finance

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the annual running costs were for one Sea Harrier FA2 in each of the last three years before it was withdrawn from service; and how much was spent on manning in each year. [225080]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Information is not available in the format requested. Operating costs for the Sea Harrier FA2 were calculated on an hourly basis only. These costs include both the fixed and marginal costs incurred in using the assets, comprising servicing costs, fuel costs, crew capitation and training costs, support costs and charges for capital and depreciation.

The cost per funded flying hour for the Sea Harrier FA2 is shown in the following table:

Financial year Total cost per funded flying hour (£)







Manning costs are included in the hourly operating cost, but are not discreetly recorded.


Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what arrangements his Department has in place to assist officials to overcome the effects of stress experienced in the workplace. [222174]

Mr. Kevan Jones: MOD is committed to protecting the health, safety and well-being of its employees and has a number of procedures in place to reduce stress at work. A stress management framework, based on the Health and Safety Executive's management standards, is available to all employees and gives easy to use advice on the successful prevention, recognition and management of stress at work.

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Our Intranet Web Portal complements this with a page dedicated to health promotion which carries specific advice to employees on how to reduce stress. Responsibility for identification of the factors leading to stress rests with business areas, and line managers within these areas are required to use risk assessment to adapt the culture of their business and reduce stress levels. We provide specific training on managing stress and recognising stress in others and have published a guide for line managers, which includes reference to work/life balance issues including long hours, taking work home and recognising and managing stress. The Guide includes Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development indicators for identifying stress. All of this promotes good management practices and actively encourages a positive approach to life at work and at home.

Confidential support for employees affected by stress caused by either work or external factors is also available through the MOD Occupational Welfare Service. This includes “signposting” to external agencies where appropriate. Special arrangements are in place to provide psychological support to any civilian employee affected by post-traumatic stress following deployment in support of operations with the armed forces.

In cases of sickness absence for stress-related illnesses, MOD policy is to make an early referral to our occupational health providers. Outcomes include rehabilitation plans allowing a phased return to work so that employees can adjust gradually to their normal work pattern. We also actively encourage the use of return to work interviews and keeping in touch schemes for staff on long-term sickness absence.

Type-45 Destroyer: Finance

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what he estimates the annual running costs, including manning costs, will be for a Type-45 Destroyer. [225081]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The annual running costs for the Type 45 destroyers have yet to be fully determined and it is departmental policy not to publish such costs until they have been approved in the Main Gate Business Case, which we expect to be early next year.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Amphibians: Conservation

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research his Department is undertaking into the effect of habitat destruction and climate change on European amphibians, with particular reference to common toads; and if he will make a statement. [225437]

Huw Irranca-Davies: DEFRA is not undertaking any specific research in these areas itself.

Natural England, the Government's statutory advisor on nature conservation, believes there is already a good evidence base relating to the loss of amphibian habitat, such as the 1996 Lowland Pond Survey. As a consequence ponds were added to the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) as a priority habitat in 2007. Four species of
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amphibian, including the common toad, are UK BAP priority species and included in the Section 41 list of species of principal importance in England.

Natural England contributes expertise on amphibians to the work of the Amphibian Conservation Research Trust which is funding a project addressing the impacts of climate change.

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