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3 Nov 2008 : Column 65W—continued

Defence: Internet

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the Government’s policy is on (a) cyber defence and (b) cyber warfare. [229148]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 22 October 2008]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 29 April 2008, Official Report, column 267W, to the hon. Member for Shipley (Philip Davies). It has been the longstanding practice of successive Governments not to comment on security and operational matters of this type.

Departmental Information Officers

Mr. Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many press and communications officers are employed by (a) his Department, (b) its non-departmental public bodies and (c) its agencies; [227229]

(2) how many press and communications officers are employed by (a) his Department, (b) its non-departmental public bodies and (c) its agencies. [230040]

Mr. Kevan Jones: Across the Department a variety of people are involved in communications often as a secondary function or in a very limited local way. There are no definitive central records available and exact data on all these individuals could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

There are 107 people, both civilian and serving military, in press or communications functions in the Directorate General Media and Communication (DGMC), the central MOD communications organisation. This includes staff based across the UK in Regional Press Offices often primarily supporting the armed forces with local media. This also includes MOD press officers deployed with the armed forces on operations to assist journalists in theatre.

The White Book, the Central Office of Information (COI) directory of communications staff in Government Departments and agencies, provides details of a further 157 people in full time communications posts outside of DGMC (as of the September 2008 edition). These are working in single service commands, major civilian top level budget (TLB) areas such as Defence Estates and Defence Equipment and Support and Trading funds such as the Meteorological Office and the UK Hydrographic Office.

The MOD does not hold central lists of communicators employed by non-departmental public bodies.


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Departmental Official Hospitality

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much was spent on entertainment by his Department in 2007-08; and how much of that sum was accounted for by (a) food, (b) alcohol, (c) staffing and (d) accommodation. [232970]

Mr. Kevan Jones: The MOD’s expenditure both service and civilian on official entertainment in 2007-08 is recorded in the MOD’s annual report and accounts (HC 850-I), Volume II, published on 21 July 2008. Copies are available in the Library of the House and the document is available online at:

The MOD’s policy, rules and guidance on the provision of official entertainment are set out in chapter 45 of Joint Services Publication 462 (Financial Management Policy Manual), copies of which are available in the Library of the House.

Departmental Official Visits

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much was spent on overnight accommodation by his Department’s civil servants in the last 12 months. [228767]

Mr. Kevan Jones: In the 12 months ended 20 October, the costs claimed by MOD civil servants for overnight accommodation were approximately £17.4 million. This excludes Trading Fund Agencies which fall outside the Departmental Accounting boundary.

The figure of £17.4 million consists of £13.5 million in UK and £3.8 million overseas. These costs relate to a total of 218,569 nights in the UK and 52,624 nights overseas. That equates to an average claim of about £65 a night for accommodation in UK and £87 overseas.

Hotel bookings and travel for both civilian and service staff are usually made through the mandated Defence Hotel Reservation Service.

Departmental Security

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many departmental security passes were reported lost in the last 12 months. [231395]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Security passes are issued at local level and figures for lost/stolen passes are not held centrally and can be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, details of lost/stolen service identity cards, which are used by service personnel as a security pass for site access purposes, are held centrally and are available from 2004.

The number of lost/stolen service identity cards for the last 12 months (1 September 2007 to 30 September 2008) is 9,667. It is not possible to differentiate between lost or stolen cards.

Ex-servicemen: Criminal Records

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what research is being conducted or evaluated by his Department into the number of criminal convictions of former members of the armed forces; and if he will make a statement. [232237]


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Mr. Kevan Jones: The Ministries of Defence and Justice are working together to collect up-to-date and authoritative data on ex-service personnel in prison. We plan to conduct a survey of the current position and, for the longer term, collect data on the military service of all those entering prison. We are also looking at ways in which we can improve our understanding of the reasons why veterans are in prison and the extent to which their military service may be a factor.

Ex-servicemen: Health Services

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what support is available to former members of the armed forces who, consequent on leaving the armed forces, are thought to be experiencing problems with (a) drugs and (b) alcohol; and if he will make a statement. [232112]

Mr. Kevan Jones: For those leaving the armed forces with an alcohol or drug problem, the three service welfare organisations can signpost to the sources of help that are available after discharge. The UK Departments of Health are generally responsible for the provision, through the national health service, of help to those experiencing problems with drugs and alcohol, including veterans.

However, the Ministry of Defence also provides advice and support to former members of the armed forces through the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency including its Veterans Welfare Service; it can be contacted through it's a free helpline and website. The ex-service charities supplement the various forms of support by Government with their own help for veterans.

Ex-servicemen: Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what resources are available to ensure that former members of the armed forces receive post-traumatic stress disorder counselling where necessary. [232910]

Mr. Kevan Jones: In line with long-standing practice, the health care of veterans is primarily a matter for the NHS which, evidence indicates, meets the needs of a large proportion of those with mental health problems. We are aware that some veterans seek a service that can provide an expert cultural understanding of the military context of their problems. To address this, the Department is working with the four UK health departments in piloting a new expert mental health care service for veterans in six NHS trusts across the UK. The NHS sites undertaking pilots are: Stafford, Camden and Islington, Cardiff, Bishop Auckland, Plymouth and Scotland. In addition, for those veterans and health professionals not in a pilot catchment area, we have expanded our Medical Assessment Programme (MAP), based at St. Thomas’ hospital, London, to include assessment of veterans with mental health symptoms who have operational service since 1982 by a military psychiatrist with considerable service experience. Where appropriate, the Department also funds care at the centres run by the charity Combat Stress for those veterans in receipt of a war pension on the basis that their condition has been accepted as attributable to service.


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Germany: NATO

Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with his German counterpart on Germany’s fulfilment of its NATO obligations. [232603]

Mr. Hutton: I met Dr. Jung, the German Defence Minister, at the meeting of NATO Defence Ministers in Budapest on 9-10 October, where all Ministers reaffirmed the importance of providing the necessary forces for operations and of investing in the capabilities NATO needs.

Gulf of Aden: Piracy

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 23 October 2008, Official Report, columns 475-76W, on Gulf of Aden: piracy, which Departments were involved in the review of the Government’s stance on piracy; which geographical regions the review covered; and what its main conclusions were. [232857]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Government have looked at what more can be done to counter the growing problem of piracy off the Horn of Africa. The review was co-ordinated by the Cabinet Office, in consultation with the Ministry of Defence, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Home Office, The Department for Transport, the Department for International Development, the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and the Ministry of Justice.

The review recognised the increased incidence of piracy in recent months off the Horn of Africa and Gulf of Aden. It noted that this is an international problem which the UK alone cannot solve and acknowledged that the UK was already supporting international efforts to counter piracy through Combined Task Force 150 and that planning was under way for both NATO and EU operations in which the UK would play a part. The review’s main conclusion was that the UK should move beyond simply honouring commitments under international law to respond to individual acts of piracy, towards a more active role in countering piracy.

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 23 October 2008, Official Report, columns 475-76W, on Gulf of Aden: piracy, how many Royal Navy units are in the region engaged in seeking out pirate activity; and how many incidents of contact between Royal Navy vessels and pirates have been recorded. [232858]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: There are currently two ships in the region on operations that include counter piracy. Since August 2008 there have been three incidents of contact between Royal Navy ships and suspected pirate vessels.

Information Warfare

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the NATO (a) cyber threat assessment and (b) cyber defence concept. [230581]


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Mr. Bob Ainsworth: NATO plans to have an operational cyber threat assessment cell by 2010 and this cell will produce NATO cyber threat assessments from that date.

The NATO cyber defence concept was developed following the production of a cyber defence policy paper by the USA. The UK was a co-signatory to this paper, as were France and Estonia. The NATO cyber defence policy and the cyber defence concept were approved by the North Atlantic Council (NAC) earlier this year. The NATO Cyber Defence Management Authority (CDMA) was also given approval by the NAC earlier this year and the concept of operations for the CDMA are soon to be approved. The MoD assisted in the development of these documents through their drafting process to final version.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence in which international organisations the UK has discussed cyber warfare or terrorism in the last three years. [230583]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The UK has numerous multi lateral and bi lateral agreements with a number of different countries concerning the matters involving computer network defence (including cyber warfare or terrorism). The organisations dealt with on a regular basis on this subject are NATO, the International Computer Network Defence Co-ordination Working Group (ICCWG) and the International Network Activity Team (I-NAT).

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what funding was allocated by his Department to (a) the analysis of cyber threats or warfare and (b) the development of strategies to mitigate the impact of such threats in each of the last three years. [230584]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The analysis of cyber threats and the development of subsequent mitigation strategies are addressed in many ways across a variety of programmes and projects. The information requested is therefore not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

NATO

Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the viability of NATO’s security guarantee towards its newest members; and if he will make a statement. [232602]

Mr. Hutton: NATO Defence Ministers have met twice this autumn to consider the evolving security challenges that face the Alliance. NATO continues to underwrite the collective defence of all its allies, and the flexible military capabilities and structures it pursues enable it to respond in a timely fashion to any security threats, wherever they arise.

Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects NATO to produce a new strategic concept. [232604]

Mr. Hutton: We expect work on a new strategic concept to be commissioned at NATO’s summit meeting in Strasbourg-Kehl next April.


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Nuclear Disarmament

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will meet the Parliamentary All-Party CND Group to discuss nuclear disarmament policy. [232155]

Mr. Hutton: My predecessor met the Parliamentary All-Party CND Group on 21 July 2008, explaining and discussing in detail the Government’s position on a wide variety of nuclear issues. I would, however, be happy to meet the Group in due course.

Peacekeeping Operations

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost has been of operations in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan in the last 12 months. [231756]

Mr. Hutton: MOD identifies the costs of operations in terms of the net additional costs it has incurred. The costs that the Department would have incurred regardless of the operation taking place, such as wages and salaries, are not included. Savings on activities that have not occurred because of the operation—training exercises for example—are taken into account in arriving at the net figures.

Operational costs are calculated on an annual basis which are then audited by the National Audit Office. The last annual audited costs for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which can be found in the Notes to the Accounts of the MOD Annual Report and Accounts 2007-08 Volume II, at paragraph 2.3, pages 291/292, are:

£

Iraq Afghanistan

Resource costs

1,054,825

1,071,014

Capital costs

402,658

433,089

Total

1,457,483

1,504,103


RAF Menwith Hill: Security

Colin Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department paid to North Yorkshire Police to cover the cost of the policing of the area around RAF Menwith Hill by armed response teams and the Counter Terrorist Unit in each year from 2001 to 2007. [231796]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Ministry of Defence did not pay any monies to North Yorkshire Police between 2001 and 2007 for the cost of these units at RAF Menwith Hill.


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