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Mr. Woodward: It is not appropriate to disclose pension information for civil servants other than board members whose details are shown in the Remuneration Report in annual Resource Accounts. A copy of the Northern Ireland Office Resource Accounts for financial year 2007-08 can be found in the Library or accessed electronically using the following link:
Paul Goggins: The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has no ministerial responsibility in respect of the appointment of the Northern Ireland Certification Officer for Trade Unions and Employers Associations. This is a devolved matter for the Northern Ireland Department of Employment and Learning.
Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what discussions the Northern Ireland Parades Commission has had with the organisers of the Belfast Pride Parade since 2 August 2008. 
Paul Goggins: This is an operational matter for the Parades Commission. I have asked the Parades Commission Secretary to reply to the hon. Member directly, and will arrange for a copy of the letter to be placed in the Library of the House and the Official Report.
Gwyn Prosser: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what steps the Commission takes to encourage House of Commons staff to adopt sustainable travel to work options. 
Nick Harvey: The Commission and the Management Board are committed to increasing environmental sustainability in the services the House Service delivers and in the way they operate. There are a number of initiatives which encourage staff to adopt sustainable travel to work options:
Transport loansavailable to permanent and fixed-term employees with more than two months service. Loans are available for either a season ticket to cover journeys to and from work by public transport and/or a bicycle for travel to and from work. In the last financial year there were 345 season ticket loans and seven bicycle loans.
The House encourages cycling to work by providing a range of facilities across the Estate for bicycle storage and shower facilities for cyclists and others. There are currently 175 bicycle parking spaces on the House of Commons estate. Of these spaces, 36 have been added since 2007; 12 in Norman Shaw North inner courtyard and 24 in Canon Row.
Following discussions with the parliamentary authorities, Westminster city council has provided 46 additional on-street bicycle parking spaces on Millbank and six on Victoria Embankment just north of Portcullis House since 2007.
There will be a significant amount of work in the coming months to develop an environmental strategy for the House, and there is scope to develop a sustainable travel to work policy as part of that wider strategy.
Gwyn Prosser: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what plans the Commission has to encourage House of Commons staff to purchase bicycles under the Cycle to Work scheme. 
Nick Harvey: The possibility of implementing a cycle to work scheme for staff of the House is currently being investigated. There are a number of issues still to be resolved, but it is hoped to reach a decision in the next two months.
Mr. Hutton: Since May 2006 a total of 1,840 British casualties have been admitted to a field hospital in Afghanistan. 485 of these casualties were admitted to a field hospital as a result of military action (defined as wounded in action) and a further 1,355 were admitted with disease or non-battle injuries over the same period.
Mr. Hutton: The highly changeable nature of operations means that we are not able to provide accurate forecast costs for operations in Afghanistan until the winter supplementary estimates published later this month and for 2009-10 in the MOD's main estimates due to be published in April 2009.
Mrs. Humble: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what guidance is given to members of the armed forces on (a) completion of a will prior to initial deployment and (b) the review of the will prior to each subsequent deployment; and what provision is made to ensure (i) the personal privacy of the individual making a will and (ii) the availability of an officer qualified to give advice. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Service personnel are reminded of the importance of making a will or reviewing it prior to each operational deployment. Service personnel may opt to use an MOD form or make private arrangements through a solicitor. Where an individual chooses to use the MOD form, they seal it, once completed and signed by a witness, in an official envelope that lists the service persons basic details. The envelope is then stored securely at the Document Handling Centre until discharge or the submission of a revised will, when the sealed envelope is returned to the individual, or the death of the service person when the will is sent to the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre for forwarding to the executor. Although the services do not give advice on making a will, service personnel serving overseas can obtain guidance on what factors should be considered from service legal branches.
Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average length of time spent in decompression was in (a) Cyprus and (b) elsewhere by troops returning from (i) Iraq and (ii) Afghanistan in the most recent period for which figures are available. 
We believe this duration strikes the right balance between giving our people the opportunity to wind down at the end of an arduous operational tour whilst also meeting their very understandable desire to be reunited with friends and family as quickly as possible after a lengthy period away from home.
Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what proportion of regular troops returning from theatre undertook decompression in (a) Cyprus and (b) elsewhere in the most recent period for which figures are available; 
Mr. Kevan Jones: Regular and reserve troops from all formed units returning from active service in Iraq and Afghanistan undertake a period of decompression after leaving theatre. This decompression either takes place in Cyprus, if the troops are returning to permanent bases in the UK or Germany; or at the Al-Udeid base in Qatar, if returning to permanent bases in Cyprus.
Mr. Kevan Jones:
Yes. MOD facilitates through commercial providers two commercial insurance schemes; PAX and Service Life insurance (SLI). PAX provides
personal accident cover and SLI provide life cover for service personnel. However, these schemes are voluntary and are additional to the benefits which MOD already provides under the Armed Forces Pension and Compensation schemes.
Both PAX and SLI provide war risks cover, and neither increases its premiums for personnel deployed on operations. PAX premiums are the same for all personnel regardless of risks and the scheme has a membership of roughly one-third of the armed forces. The premiums of SLI vary according to gender, age and smoking history and are competitive because of a unique partnering agreement between MOD and the insurers.
Mr. Kevan Jones: The information requested for 2008 is not yet available as the Resource Accounts for the Armed Forces Pension Scheme (AFPS) for financial year 2007-08 have yet to be finalised. They will be available in the Library of the House by 31 January 2009.
|Pensions in payment as at 31 March 2007|
Mr. Kevan Jones: The armed forces pension scheme (AFPS) resource accounts for financial year 2007-08 have yet to be finalised, but will be available in the Library of the House by 31 January 2009. However, the average annual pension paid to members as at 31 March 2007 was £6,936.46(1).
(1) This figure is based upon pensions paid to former members of the armed forces, their spouses and dependants.
Mr. Kevan Jones: The armed forces pension scheme (AFPS) resource accounts for financial year 2007-08 have yet to be finalised, but will be available in the Library of the House by 31 January 2009. However, as at 31 March 2007, the number of members of the AFPS 1975 and AFPS 2005 are shown as follows:
|Pension scheme||Active( 1)||Pensioners( 2)||Deferred( 3)|
|(1) Active members are those currently serving in the armed forces, who have not yet been awarded a pension.|
(2) Pensioners are those who have left the service, their spouses and dependants, who are in receipt of a pension.
(3) Deferred are preserved pensions that are payable when an individual reaches the age of 60 (AFPS 1975) or 65 (AFPS 2005). A separate breakdown of personnel who are members of AFPS 1975 and AFPS 2005 cannot currently be provided.
Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what limits have been placed on the (a) size, (b) weight and (c) number of parcels sent through the Christmas Parcel Appeal for members of the armed forces serving in theatres abroad; on what criteria these limits were established; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: There is no Christmas parcel appeal. Members of the public are being asked not to send unsolicited mail and packages, which could slow down the mail from friends and families of loved ones deployed away from home at Christmas time.
Under the Christmas freepost or the free mail service, however, small packets and packages (not exceeding the size of a shoe box, or weighing more than 2 kg) may be sent to a named individual. There is no limit to the number of these which may be sent. These conditions were set to optimise weight distribution on RAF aircraft en route to theatre, and on transport used within theatre, where HM forces mail, while given a very high priority, is only carried using spare capacity behind essential supplies of ammunition, medical supplies, food and water.
Mrs. Humble: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) applicants to and (b) recruits into each of HM armed services came from each ethnic origin in 2007; and what targets he has set for recruitment of members of ethnic minority groups in 2008. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The information is not held in the format requested. Nevertheless, I am able to provide the following details of the overall number of UK based (i.e. not Commonwealth) ethnic minority (EM) recruits:
|Financial year 2007-08|
|UK EM goals (Percentage)||Applicants||Number||Percentage|
|(1) Army officer applicants only: Other ranks details not available due to problems with new management information system.|
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