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12 Jan 2009 : Column 108W—continued

Airwave handsets are disabled within one hour of being reported lost.

Records of airwave handsets reported damaged or with technical failures are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. All repairable handsets are not disabled but are repaired and reconfigured for use.

Nuclear Submarines

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence with reference to the answer of 1 July 2008, Official Report, column 754W, on nuclear submarines, on what date the number of operative submarine berths at Southampton was increased from one to two; and when such berths were redesignated from Z to operational submarine berths. [244580]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The number of berths, as determined by the Port Authority at Southampton, has always been two; but they are only cleared to support one submarine at any one time. With respect to when berths were re-designated from Z to Operational submarine berth, I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 17 June 2008, Official Report, column 849W.

Nuclear Weapons: Testing

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reason his Department commissioned an exercise to decontaminate the atomic test sites on Kiritimati in 2005. [246872]

Mr. Kevan Jones: Work on Kiritimati Island was commissioned in response to a request from the Government of Kiribati for the removal of the military waste (not necessarily decontamination) resulting from military activity during the 1950s and 1960s.

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what levels of radioactivity were recorded during the 2005 decontamination exercise on Kiritimati; what materials were recovered during the exercise; what types of contamination were removed from the island; and at what levels. [246874]

Mr. Kevan Jones: Removal of waste arising from the UK nuclear weapons test programme on the island of Kiritimati was undertaken between 2005 and 2008. Previous survey work had identified elevated levels of radioactivity associated with the presence of radium-226, commonly used to luminise vehicle instruments at the time of the test programme, but no other elevated levels of radioactivity substances were identified during the 2005 and 2008 programme.

The materials (including non-radioactive) comprised approximately:

Cubic metres/kg


15,000 cubic metres

Metal items

25,000 cubic metres


150 cubic metres


150 cubic metres

Radium luminised dials

175 kg

A total of 111 individual locations were identified where elevated levels of radioactivity associated with radium-226 were present. Removal of the radium required both the actual instrument and a small quantity of soil to be taken from the site.

The highest radioactive material fell into the low level waste category.

All of the sites were extremely localised with radium-226 restricted to an area of no more than a few square metres.


Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many former prisoners are employed by his Department; and what his Department’s policy is on employing former prisoners. [246348]

Mr. Kevan Jones: The information is not held centrally in the form requested. The Department’s policy for recruitment follows the Civil Service Management Code. A criminal conviction or prison sentence does not in itself prevent an individual from being employed by the Department: decisions are based on suitability for employment based on the nature of any convictions and the role for which they are being considered, and
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taking into account legal requirements concerning rehabilitation of offenders. The details of the character enquiries which would show unspent convictions are held on individual personal files, and the number of those who may have served a prison sentence could be established only at disproportionate cost.

Operation Atlanta

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether all vessels comprising the EU Operation Atlanta under the command of Rear Admiral Phil Jones fly the European Union flag; and from what position the flag is displayed on each vessel. [245225]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: On 3 December the EU Force Commander of Operation Atlanta issued an instruction to the EU task force that all vessels in the force should fly the European Union flag in addition to their national ensigns.

The EU flag will be flown from the yard arm; this is the position in which the NATO flag would be flown if the vessels were participating in a NATO operation. National ensigns will continue to be flown from the number one position on the stern or main mast.

Peace Operations Training Centre

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans his Department has to support the Peace Operations Training Centre in Sarajevo after responsibility for running the centre has been transferred to the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities. [244534]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Peace Support Operations Training Centre in Sarajevo is a UK-led organisation that is owned and managed jointly with Bosnia and Herzegovina and 13 other international partners. A date for the transfer of ownership to Bosnia and Herzegovina has yet to be agreed formally but is not likely to be before 2013. Subject to our partners’ agreement we expect the UK to remain the lead nation until then. It is too early at this stage to consider what our involvement might be after that date.

Reserve Forces: Deployment

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average amount of time was between the first contact signalling activation of a reserve member of the armed forces and that individual's mobilisation date in each year since 2000. [246700]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The information requested is not held. I can confirm that in preparation for Operation TELIC in 2003 large numbers of Reservists were called out, some at very short notice. This was because the rapidly developing situation in Iraq at that time required us to act quickly and we were not able to give as much notice to Reservists as we would have wished. Since then, the mobilisation process now ensures that Reserve units receive advance notice that they will be required to provide individuals to support a specific operation (this can be up to six months notice). More importantly, once Reservists have been selected for mobilisation, we
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have tried to ensure that, whenever possible, a minimum notice of 28 days is given to the individual and his employer before the Reservist reports for duty. In many cases it is far more than 28 days. However, it must be accepted that the nature of military operations means that inevitably individuals may receive less notice of mobilisation due to rapidly changing requirements.

Reserve Forces: Training

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions individual reservists’ scheduled two-week training camps have been rescheduled within two months of the scheduled date in each year since 2000. [246702]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The information requested is not held.

Security: Airports

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of security measures at British airports, with particular reference to those used for departures of flights transporting troops overseas. [245863]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: All commercial flights departing the UK are regulated by the National Aviation Security Programme and are subject to routine inspection, audits and tests by the Department for Transport, as well as inspection by EC officials. The security measures applied at airports used for troop movements are commensurate with the current threat.

Somalia: Piracy

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence under what circumstances the cost of pirates arrested by British units off Somalia may be delivered to (a) countries where attached vessels are registered, (b) countries where capital punishment is possible, (c) the UK, (d) jurisdictions within the EU, (e) the UN and (f) a third party. [243699]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Every incident of piracy is different and the decision over the transfer of suspected pirates to a third party state, or to bring them back to the UK for prosecution, will always be considered on a case by case basis.

Nevertheless, the UK transfers to third party states in accordance with its international law obligations and will always seek assurances of fair treatment and international standards of human rights.

The UK recently set up an arrangement with the Kenyan government which allows the transfer of suspected pirates to Kenya for prosecution. This can be called upon when necessary.

Submarines: Construction

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of how the building process of the Trident II will affect the building process of the Astute-class SSNs. [244743]

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Mr. Hutton: Current departmental plans expect that construction of the successor to Vanguard class submarines will occur in parallel with construction of later Astute Class Submarines. The lessons learnt from the Astute programme are being applied to the design and build phase of the successor programme. Any opportunities arising from the successor programme that may benefit the Astute Class will be considered as part of normal business between closely related programmes.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Trident II systems his Department is planning to build; and what his estimate is of the interval between the delivery of each Trident II. [244762]

Mr. Hutton: The Trident II D5 ballistic missile is the delivery system for the UK’s nuclear deterrent that is carried by our Vanguard-class submarines. It is an evolutionary development of the Trident IC4 missile that the UK originally planned to procure but was superseded by a decision in 1982 to procure the Trident II D5 missile. As we made clear in the December 2006 White Paper: “The Future of the United Kingdom’s Nuclear Deterrent” (Cm 6994), we are participating in a programme to extend the life of the Trident II D5 missile until around 2042.

With regard to the new class of submarines to replace the Vanguard-class, as we have previously stated, the first of class is forecast to enter service in around 2024. Also, as explained in the December 2006 White Paper, a final decision on the number of submarines that will be procured will be made when we know more about their detailed design. That decision will determine the timetable for entry into service of further submarines.

Submarines: Safety

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department is planning to spend on submarine safety, with particular reference to (a) hull structure, (b) hydromechanics and (c) maritime life support in each of the next five years. [244736]

Mr. Quentin Davies: Maintaining safety is an integral part of all aspects of submarine development, procurement, operation and support, whether carried out by the MOD, its contractors or the Royal Navy. The total MOD expenditure on submarine safety cannot therefore be distinguished from the wider costs of the submarine programme.

Information about expenditure that relates only to safety is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Territorial Army: Manpower

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the strength of the Territorial Army has been in each of the last 10 years. [245114]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Armed Forces Personnel Statistics are published annually by the Defence Analytical Services and Advice (DASA) and copies are placed in the Library.
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The requested figures are available within DASA’s Tri-Service Publication Number 7 (TSP07—UK Reserves and Cadets Strengths) reports at the following website address:

The latest edition containing figures as at 1 April 2008 was published on 3 October 2008.

Trident Submarines: Maintenance

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the maintenance cost of Trident submarines in (a) 2013-14 and (b) each of the next five years. [246939]

Mr. Quentin Davies: The estimated maintenance costs of Vanguard class submarines in 2013-14 and each of the next five years, which cover fleet maintenance and capital expenditure incurred as part of the Long Overhaul Period (Refuel) maintenance programme, are:

Total (£ million)













Veterans Policy Unit: Finance

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much and what proportion of its staffing budget for 2007-08 the Veterans’ Policy Unit spent in Scotland; and what the equivalent figures were for (a) 2004-05, (b) 2005-06 and (c) 2006-07. [241119]

Mr. Kevan Jones: The Veterans Policy Unit has not employed any staff in Scotland in any of these years.

Veterans: Pensions

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many veterans are members of (a) Armed Forces Pension Scheme 75 and (b) Armed Forces Pension Scheme 05. [244827]

Mr. Kevan Jones: The number of veterans belonging to the Armed Forces Pension Schemes (AFPS) 1975 and 2005 as at 31 March 2008 is shown in the following table.

Pension scheme Pensioners( 1) Deferred( 2)

AFPS 1975


AFPS 2005


Gurkhas and Minor Schemes





(1) Pensioners are those who have left the service, their spouses and dependants, who are in receipt of a pension.
(2) 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 deferred members of AFPS 1975, AFPS 2005 and the Gurkhas and Minor Schemes cannot currently be provided.

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