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4 Nov 2008 : Column 303W—continued

Departmental Visits

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost to the public purse has been of visits by the Defence Information Infrastructure (Future) project programme to (a) Belize, (b) the Falkland Islands, (c) Germany, (d) Kathmandu, (e) Naples and (f) other overseas sites; if he will place in the Library the itinerary of each of these visits, detailing who was present, for how long the visit took place, and what progress was achieved as a consequence of each visit; and if he will make a statement. [232101]

Mr. Quentin Davies: This information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Gurkhas: Females

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made on allowing women to join the Gurkhas. [233120]

Mr. Kevan Jones: Following the recommendation of the 2007 review of Gurkha Terms and Conditions of Service, the intention that Nepalese women should, in due course, be recruited into the Brigade of Gurkhas in the Corps unit—Engineers, Signals and Logistics—was announced on 8 March 2007. Since then work has been done to test the recruitment, selection and training processes, and to identify options for the way ahead. This work is due to be considered by the Army Board early next year.

Information Warfare

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent representations he has made to NATO with respect to cyber defence. [230578]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Secretary of State for Defence has made no recent representations to NATO with respect to cyber defence. The UK MOD is represented at various NATO Cyber Defence symposiums and workshops throughout the year. These meetings include the annual NATO Information Assurance Symposium and the two NATO Cyber Defence Workshops that are held bi-annually.

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Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what definition his Department uses of (a) cyber terrorism and (b) cyber warfare; and what assessment he has made of the cyber threats posed to the UK. [230580]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 27 October 2008]: Although we do not have specific definitions for the term cyber terrorism and cyber warfare, we have produced assessments and developed policies in specific areas related to this terminology.

The MOD works in close co-operation with those Government Departments and agencies engaged in assessing threats to the UK. The classification of these assessments prohibits disclosure of their content.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what contribution his Department has made to the development of (a) the NATO Cyber Defence legal framework and (b) the cyber security doctrine and strategy. [230582]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The information is as follows:

Iraq: Peacekeeping Operations

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 27 October 2008, Official Report, column 635W, on Iraq: peacekeeping operations, (1) what issues were covered in the discussions with Jaish-al-Mahdi; [232850]

(2) what the outcome was of the discussions between UK forces and Jaish-al-Mahdi; [232851]

(3) with which organisations discussions were held; [232852]

(4) when the discussions between the armed forces and Jaish-al-Mahdi (a) began and (b) were completed; and what the dates were of meetings. [232853]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 3 November 2008]: Discussions with senior figures in Jaish-al-Mahdi in Basra commenced in the summer of 2007 and continued until the end of the year. In a similar manner to other dialogue between the coalition, the Government of Iraq and militia groups, these discussions covered a wide range of issues, including the local security situation, future economic and redevelopment plans and the future role of militia groups within a democratic Iraq. The benefits of this strategy were demonstrated by the fact that on 4 December 2007 all the major parties in Basra—including the Sadrists—signed a document that committed them to supporting the rule of law in the city and the
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Iraqi Security Forces as its guardian. Across Iraq, dialogue between the coalition, the Government of Iraq and militia groups continues.

Lynx Helicopters: Procurement

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he has received proposals to expedite progress on Future Lynx. [232046]

Mr. Quentin Davies [holding answer 30 October 2008]: The Future Lynx programme remains on schedule to achieve an in-service date of 2014 (for the Army's Battlefield Reconnaissance helicopter) and 2015 (for the Navy's Surface Combatant Maritime Rotorcraft).

We continue to work closely with AgustaWestland to identify and explore opportunities to improve speed of delivery, reduce costs and increase operational availability and the contract includes mechanisms to incentivise this process. We are not, however, presently exploring specific opportunities to significantly advance the above dates.

Military Aircraft

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) aircraft and (b) helicopters his Department has leased from commercial contractors in each year since 2003; and what the total cost in each year was. [227873]

Mr. Quentin Davies: The number of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters leased in each year since 2003 was as follows:

2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08

Training Aircraft






C-17 Globemaster












The figures for helicopters correct the answer given to the hon. Member for North Devon (Nick Harvey) on 29 February 2008, Official Report, columns 2014-15W.

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Aircraft leasing costs are not identifiable uniquely from other associated costs, as they may form part of Multi-Activity Contracts which include flying hours, engineering support, simulator hours and in some cases civilian flying instructors and station/airfield support. On this basis, the overall costs for each financial year, were as follows:

£ million

2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08

Training Aircraft












The four C-17 aircraft were leased between 2001 and June 2008, after which the leases were ended. As each lease has ended, the last concluding in September 2008, MOD has taken ownership of the aircraft. In accordance with the contractual agreement I am withholding the in-year costs. However, the cost of the lease and support package for a seven-year contract between 2001 and 2008 was £769 million.

Military Aircraft: Training

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many training flying hours crews of the (a) Hercules C-130, (b) Tristar, (c) VC-10 and (d) C-17 Globemaster aircraft flew on average in each year since 2001. [230175]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: I will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Substantive answer from Bob Ainsworth to Liam Fox:

Financial year Hercules C-130 TriStar VC-10 C-17 Globemaster Average flying hours per crew
































Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of performance under the NATO transformation agenda. [232610]

Mr. Hutton: NATO has come a long way in recognising the importance of expeditionary capabilities in dealing with the broad range of security threats the alliance is likely to face. It continues to make progress, but not as quickly as we—and others—would like. The alliance needs to do more to provide the capabilities it needs for current and future operations, such as strategic and intra-theatre lift and contributions to the NATO Response Force. The UK and other allies have sought to find innovative ways of developing such capabilities through initiatives to make more helicopters and strategic lift available for operations, but ultimately these capabilities depend on sufficient investment by allies in defence, and prioritisation on the capabilities the alliance needs most. NATO Defence Ministers met in London in September to inject more dynamism into this transformation process. NATO's agreement in Budapest the following month to increase targets for the deployability of allies' land forces is a welcome step in the right direction.

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Nuclear Weapons

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library a redacted copy of JSP 440 Supplement 1: The Defence Manual of Security, Directive for the Security of Nuclear Weapons and Special Nuclear Materials. [232438]

Mr. Quentin Davies: I am withholding Supplement 1 of JSP 440 on the security of nuclear weapons and special nuclear materials in the interests of national security.

Nuclear Weapons: Transport

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what criteria the nuclear weapons convoy group has to meet to pass the annual nuclear standardisation test. [232442]

Mr. Quentin Davies: Joint Service Publication (JSP) 471, Defence Nuclear Accident Response, and JSP 538, Regulation of the Nuclear Weapon Programme, require exercises to be conducted to demonstrate Nuclear Accident Response capabilities. The Defence Nuclear Weapon Regulator assesses nuclear weapon transport accident response exercises in accordance with the criteria in JSP 471 and JSP 538, including the Nuclear Accident Response Organisation Standardisation Test.

An unclassified version of JSP 471 is available from the MOD website at:

A redacted copy of JSP 538 is available in the House of Commons Library.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what guidance his Department has issued on the conduct of risk assessments of potential routes for nuclear warhead convoys; and what factors are taken into account in such assessments. [232443]

Mr. Quentin Davies: Guidance on the selection of nuclear weapon convoy routes is set out in Joint Services Publication 483, Nuclear Weapon Logistic Movement and Associated Nuclear Accident Response. Factors in the assessment of routes include the type of road, its surroundings and its proximity to hazards. All potential routes for nuclear warhead convoys are assessed by a qualified team to ensure the safety and security of the operation and the public.

RAF Welford

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether a Ministry of Defence Police complement is stationed at RAF Welford. [232437]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Ministry of Defence Police currently have an interim complement at RAF Welford.

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