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20 Jan 2009 : Column 1264Wcontinued
Mr. Graham Stuart:
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what use (a) his Department and (b) service providers under contract to his Department make of (i)
0844 and 0845 telephone numbers and (ii) revenue-sharing telephone numbers for calls from members of the public; for which services such numbers are used; what prefixes are used for revenue-sharing numbers; how much revenue has accrued from revenue-sharing numbers in each of the last five years; what consideration his Department has given to introducing 03-prefixed telephone numbers for calls to all such services; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Kevan Jones: The use of 0844, 0845, revenue-sharing telephone numbers and those with an 03 prefix is determined at local level in accordance with individual business requirements and obtained directly from the supplier. Records of such numbers are not held centrally and information relating to them, including any revenue accrued, could be provided at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much the Estonian government paid for the three British Sandown-class minehunters; and what Treasury guidelines were followed in this case. 
Mr. Quentin Davies: The sale price for the three Sandown class ships to Estonia was £32 million (the gross return to MOD). The net return to MOD, however, will be adjusted by costs for regeneration of the vessels and training of crew prior to delivery. Regeneration is being carried out under incentivised arrangements and thus the final costs will not be known until completion of the work. In accordance with HM Treasury delegations, a business case was prepared and scrutinised by the appropriate authorities.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much was spent on the three Sandown-class minehunters in the year prior to their sale to Estonia; and whether their sale was conditional on this work being carried out on them. 
Mr. Quentin Davies: No work was undertaken, other than normal decommissioning activities, on these three vessels, in the year prior to the signature of the sales agreement in September 2006. Therefore no additional costs were incurred.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many former servicemen and women are homeless in (a) London and (b) North Yorkshire. 
Mr. Kevan Jones: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 5 November 2008, Official Report, column 484W. The Ministry of Defence (MOD) does not collect this information. Independent research was commissioned from the University of York by MOD and its colleagues in the Ex-Service Action Group on Homelessness (ESAG), the research found that the percentage of veterans among Londons homeless population was 6 per cent. in 2007 compared with 22 per cent. in separate research in 1997. We are exploring opportunities for further research to find out the extent of veterans homelessness in the rest of the country.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what facilities are provided to former servicemen and women with post-combat stress disorder living in (a) London and (b) North Yorkshire. 
Mr. Kevan Jones: The health care of all veterans has been the responsibility of the NHS since 1953. Former service personnel with mental health problems, including post traumatic stress disorder will benefit from the Governments decision to extend priority treatment to all veterans whose condition is considered by their GP to be due to service. Veterans are also designated as a Special Interest Group (SIG) in the Department of Healths Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) Programme. This will train 3,600 new therapists by 2010-11 in England. Additionally, five NHS trusts across the UK are piloting a new model of mental health care for veterans, one of which is located in Camden and Islington, and another one is based at the Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust. These will provide a holistic service with social support networks complementing health care. Since 1996, the NHS Trauma Service in Hull has worked with veterans to develop and raise awareness of a suitable care pathway.
The MOD also provides a Medical Assessment Programme at St. Thomass hospital for those that have concerns about their health due to service, since 1982.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many veterans have been treated for post-combat stress disorder in each of the last three years in (a) London and (b) North Yorkshire. 
Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many veterans have been treated for post-combat stress disorder in (a) Hemel Hempstead, (b) Hertfordshire and (c) England in each of the last three years. 
Mr. Kevan Jones: The health care of veterans is a matter for the national health service and the four UK health Departments. Information is not held by the MOD on how many veterans have been treated for post-combat stress disorder in each of the last three years in London and North Yorkshire.
Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many aircraft in the Hercules C-130 fleet are currently unfit for operational use; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Quentin Davies: The numbers of Hercules C-130J and C-130K that are not fit for purpose (FFP) are provided in the following table. The figures shown reflect the position on 13 January 2009.
|Aircraft type||Total fleet||Numbers of Hercules not FFP|
|(1)This figure includes 4 retired aircraft which are awaiting disposal.|
Aircraft are classed as not FFP if they are undergoing scheduled maintenance, modification programmes and any other unforeseen rectification work that can arise on a day to day basis or awaiting disposal. The figures do not reflect the fact that an aircraft assessed as not FFP may be returned to the front line at very short notice to meet the operational need.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the (a) coverage and (b) accuracy of radar monitoring of rainfall for catchment areas of (i) rivers in England and (ii) the River Severn by the Met Office; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Kevan Jones: Weather radar coverage over England was reviewed in 2001. As a result new weather radars have been installed in Kent and County Durham. The density and coverage quality of the network in England is considered to be among the best in the world.
The catchment of the River Severn mainly falls under the coverage of the weather radar on Clee Hill, Shropshire. The coverage quality is assessed as being in category one (the highest of three categories used to classify network coverage) for that part of the catchment lying between Newtown and Gloucester, and category two above and below these points.
The Met Office routinely assesses the accuracy of rainfall estimates derived from radar. The assessment is made by comparing rainfall accumulations recorded by rain gauges with accumulations derived from the collocated radar data.
The Met Office does not routinely derive statistics which are catchment specific.
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made in addressing the issues identified in the Millen Report. 
Mr. Kevan Jones: All the recommendations from the Service Pension Taxation Inquiry (Millen Report) have been implemented. Identified Armed Forces Pension Scheme underpayments and overpayments have been rectified. Her Majestys Revenue and Customs has paid back tax to those affected by the incorrect taxing of invaliding pensions and compensation payments have also been made.
To prevent further issues, business process and legislation recommendations have also been implemented or subsumed by wider changes. These changes include the creation of the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency, and the introduction of Armed Forces Pensions Scheme 2005 (AFPS 2005), the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme and the Compensation and Pensions System (CAPS).
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many times Russian military aircraft approached British airspace in (a) each month in 2008 and (b) each year since 2006. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The following table details how frequently Quick Reaction Alert aircraft have been launched to identify Russian military aircraft approaching the NATO Air Policing Area for which the United Kingdom has responsibility, in each month of 2008.
The following table details how frequently Quick Reaction Alert aircraft were launched to identify Russian military aircraft:
All Russian military Aircraft have remained in International airspace and have not entered UK airspace.
Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the size of the stockpile of white phosphorus shells held by the armed forces is; and what criteria control the use of such shells. 
Mr. Quentin Davies: UK armed forces possess white phosphorus munitions for the purpose of producing a smoke screen to provide cover and thus protection for our soldiers on the battlefield. These are conventional munitions that are not outlawed or banned by any convention or protocol. I am withholding information on the size of the stockpile of these munitions on the grounds that its disclosure would be likely to prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the armed forces. UK training in the use of white phosphorus emphasises that it should be used solely for its intended purpose and not as an anti-personnel weapon.
10. Mr. Randall: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent assessment she has made of the effectiveness of (a) penalties and (b) enforcement procedures for non-payment of council tax. 
John Healey: No specific assessment has been made of council tax penalties and enforcement, but collection rates have improved every year for the last eight years, underlying the efforts of all councils and the effectiveness of the system.
11. Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will revise the guidance to local authorities in respect of the application of race relations legislation to planning applications involving Gypsy and Traveller sites to clarify the roles and responsibilities of the police and local authorities in managing such sites. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The Government have no plans to revise the guidance contained in ODPM Circular 1/06 as suggested by the hon. Member. Local authorities have a general duty under the Race Relations Act 1976, as amended, to actively seek to eliminate unlawful discrimination and to promote good race relations in all they do. We will be publishing good practice guidance on the management of Gypsy and Traveller sites shortly.
20. Mrs. Laing: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans her Department has for the future of Gypsy and Traveller site provision. 
Mr. Iain Wright: Planning policy for the provision of Gypsy and Traveller sites is set out in ODPM Circular 01/2006: Planning for Gypsy and Traveller Caravan Sites. Local authorities have a duty to assess the accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers and identify enough land to meet the number of pitches set out in the regional spatial strategy. The Homes and Communities Agency will continue to provide funding for the provision of new public sites.
David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when her Department next plans to review its planning guidance and circulars relating to Travellers. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The Independent Task Group on Site Provision and Enforcement concluded the Government's planning policies for Gypsy and Traveller sites in England are sound. The Government have committed to keeping Parliament informed on the work undertaken to address the issues they highlighted. We will publish a progress report later this year.
12. Mr. Benyon: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps her Department is taking to achieve community cohesion; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Khan: In 2007 we announced a renewed commitment to community cohesion with a £50 million investment over three years and a new public service agreement to build cohesive, active and empowered communities. We continue to support local authorities in delivering improvements in cohesion by providing a framework of guidance and targeted local support. We are also working with faith communities to build interfaith work and support social action.
14. Linda Gilroy: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps her Department plans to take to assist local authorities in the current economic climate. 
Hazel Blears: People need their council to offer real help through improved services and low tax. We have given them billions of pounds of extra funding, and financial freedoms, to help them do so, including putting in place the first-ever three-year settlement last year which gave councils an extra £8.9 billion.
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