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13 Nov 2008 : Column 1293W—continued

It has an employee support service that provides a confidential telephone service 24 hrs a day, seven days a week. One to one counselling can also be arranged and managers and staff can also receive occupational health advice and support.

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A recent initiative is the development of an Employee Support Service externally hosted website for staff use. This includes information on services, factsheets on mental health issues; links to external sources of help and support. This website can be accessed from any computer and can, therefore, be used in complete confidence. This internet based provision is further supported by training and awareness sessions for staff and managers.

DEFRA's guidance on making adjustments for disabled staff provides advice and examples of the types of support that may be appropriate for people with mental health impairments, for example; job redesign, counselling or time off for therapy.

The Department fully supports the right of all employees to be treated with dignity and respect at work. DEFRA's Dignity at Work policies have been reviewed to ensure that they are effective at tackling the sorts of unacceptable behaviour that people with mental health issues may experience in the workplace. There are trained Bullying and Harassment Officers and Mediators to support staff in the resolution of their complaints.

Additionally DEFRA is joining a working group on Civil Service employment set up by the Cabinet Office. This group has been set up to support delivery of the Socially Excluded Adults Public Service Agreement which aims to significantly increase the number of people with learning difficulties and severe mental health issues (as well as ex-offenders and young adults leaving care) in employment by April 2011.

The public sector bodies sponsored by my department that are subject to these requirements are responsible for publishing and implementing their own disability equality schemes.

In line with the Disability Equality Duty, a report will be published every three years by the Secretary of State for the Environment to show: progress towards disability equality in his policy sector; and proposals for co-ordination of future work by relevant public authorities within his policy sector. These reports will show what impact, if any, policies have had on the recruitment and retention of disabled people including those with mental health conditions, and set out proposals to address any gaps identified when establishing the progress made across the policy sector. The first report must be published by December 2008.

National Parks: South Downs

Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his planned date is for making an announcement on the possible designation of the South Downs as a national park. [234428]

Huw Irranca-Davies: We are awaiting receipt of the inspector’s report which he has indicated he will submit at the end of November. We anticipate that a decision will be made in early summer 2009.

Nature Conservation

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to allocate funding under the Environment Transformation Fund International Window for the conservation of endangered species. [233426]

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Huw Irranca-Davies: The aim of the Environmental Transformation Fund (ETF) is to support poverty reduction through environmental protection and help poor countries respond to climate change.

The UK intends to make available the £800 million from the ETF for the new multi-donor Climate Investment Funds (CIFs). UK and other donors have committed US$6.1 billion to the funds.

These funds are a three year initiative as an interim, international financing arrangement to help developing countries respond to the challenges posed by climate change. They will help promote clean technology, tackle unsustainable deforestation, and help developing countries better deal with the impact of climate change.

Environmental sustainability, biodiversity, climate change and poverty reduction are closely interlinked, so we are working hard to ensure the maximisation of environmental co-benefits. The main focus of the funds will be climate change (including energy and forestry), but we have ensured that their remit explicitly includes the maximisation of other natural resource benefits including the conservation of endangered species.

International ETF is now the responsibility of the Department of Energy and Climate Change, though DEFRA will still be working to incorporate environmental co-benefits.

Plain English

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many documents produced by his Department were submitted to the Plain English Campaign for approval for Crystal Mark status in each year since 2005; and how many documents achieved such status in each year. [230652]

Huw Irranca-Davies: My Department does submit documents for approval for Crystal Mark Status. However, information on the number of documents submitted and approved is not collated centrally and the figures could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Soil: Research

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent research he has commissioned or evaluated on soil quality. [233868]

Huw Irranca-Davies: DEFRA has a dedicated Soil Protection Research Programme with an annual budget of £1.3 million, but also funds research relating to soil quality throughout its research programme.

Examples of recent research include:

All DEFRA research is available on the DEFRA website.

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Armed Forces: Hospitals

Frank Dobson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which armed forces hospitals have been closed in the last 30 years; and what the date of each such closure was. [226658]

Mr. Kevan Jones: [holding answer 15 October 2008]: Details of the British Military Hospitals (BMH) that have closed since 1978 are shown as follows.

Country Hospital Closed


Princess of Wales RAF Hospital, Ely


Royal Naval Hospital, Stonehouse (Plymouth)


Queen Elizabeth Military Hospital, Woolwich


Cambridge Military Hospital, Aldershot


Princess Alexandra RAF Hospital, Wroughton


Princess Mary RAF Hospital, Halton


Duchess of Kent Military Hospital, Catterick


Duchess of Kent Psychiatric Hospital, Catterick


Royal Hospital Haslar, Gosport



BMH Dhekelia(1)



Royal Naval Hospital, Gibraltar(2)


Falkland Islands

Military Wing at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital



BMH Dharan


Hong Kong

British Military Hospital, Kings Park


(1) The Princess Mary Hospital at Akrotiri remains in operation.
(2) Medical care is provided by the new, purpose built Princess Royal Medical Centre.

Officials are working to retrieve information on BMHs in Germany and to identify other overseas hospitals that closed during the last 30 years. However any records retained will have been archived and cannot be immediately accessed. I will write to my right hon. Friend once this exercise is complete to advise him of the results.

Substantive answer from Kevan Jones to Frank Dobson:

Country Hospital Closed


BMH Munster


BMH Hannover


BMH Berlin


BMH Iserlohn


BMH Rinteln


BMH Wegburg


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Country Hospital Closed


Royal Victoria Military Hospital, Netley


RAF Nocton Hall(1)



Royal Naval Hospital, Mtarfa


(1)Used as a British military hospital until 1984 when the US Air Force took it over.

Armed Forces: Housing

Willie Rennie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment his Department has made of the merits of allowing additional departmental housing sites with no medium-term requirements to be made available to the public on short-term leases. [234206]

Mr. Kevan Jones [holding answer 10 November 2008]: The Department is currently exploring the possibility of sub-letting further service family accommodation properties via a commercial agent in locations where there is no medium term requirement but where a longer-term requirement remains. To date, a total of 27 properties have been made available in the Innsworth area and 21 properties at Woodbridge.

Armoured Fighting Vehicles

Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) Mastiff and (b) Jackal armoured vehicles are available for training purposes in the UK. [234393]

Mr. Quentin Davies: There are 13 Mastiff Troop Carrying Vehicles and 34 Jackal Armoured Vehicles currently available for training purposes in the UK. A further four Mastiff Troop Carrying Vehicles are available for training purposes to UK forces based in Germany. In addition, 46 Mastiffs and 33 Jackals are expected to become available over the course of the next five months which will also be used to support training.

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the comparative performance in protecting troops of the Snatch Land Rover and alternative American vehicles; and if he will make a statement. [234627]

Mr. Quentin Davies: No direct comparison with alternative American vehicles has been made. Vehicles are procured to meet the user defined requirement.
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While it is not possible to make any vehicle invulnerable to every possible attack, there has been a programme of continuing improvement to the protection level of vehicles in service. Snatch in particular has been reconfigured for Afghanistan, with a new variant, Snatch Vixen. As a result of modifications to the running gear, chassis, engine and other automotive components, the Snatch Vixen benefits from an increased payload, which has been used to enhance both the mobility and protection of this vehicle. These modifications mean that the new variant offers the highest levels of protection for its size and weight.

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what types of vehicles are being considered to fulfill the Wolfhound designation; and whether the preference will be given to vehicles offering the greatest (a) level of protection and (b) load capacity. [234773]

Mr. Quentin Davies: As contract negotiations for the fulfilment of the Wolfhound designation are continuing, it is too early to confirm vehicle types. There are, however, a number of key user requirements that define the overall capability; the level of protection and load capacity are not exclusive requirements. I am able to confirm, however, that Wolfhound will have the highest levels of mine blast protection available.

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with the US administration on the potential for UK participation in the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle programme. [234955]

Mr. Quentin Davies: Defence Ministers have not had any discussions with the US Administration about the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle programme. Since the establishment of the USA/UK Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV)/Operational Utility Vehicle System (OUVS) Working Group in July 2008, a number of discussions on participation have taken place by officials.

The JLTV capability is a replacement for HUMVEE and performs both a utility vehicle and patrol vehicle role. It therefore goes beyond the requirement for OUVS and the two parties have agreed that there is not enough synergy to warrant collaboration on the acquisition of vehicles at this time. The Working Group does however, continue to share research and development between the two programmes.

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