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27 Jan 2009 : Column 304Wcontinued
Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he plans to increase British military participation in restoring security within Kabul. 
Mr. Hutton: There are no plans to increase UK troop levels in Kabul. Security for Kabul remains the responsibility of Regional Command (Capital), which is currently led by French forces and supported by the Afghan National Security Forces.
Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) establishment and (b) strength is of each of the three battalions of the Parachute Regiment; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The current strength of 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment and 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment is 506 and 507 respectively. The establishment of both Regiments is 556. It is not our policy to release corresponding data for 1(st) Battalion the Parachute Regiment.
These figures relate to Infantry soldiers at Regimental Duty and are the battalions' established strength rather than its deployable strength.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his Departments policy is on the provision of emergency fire cover by armed forces in the event of a (a) local and (b) national fire strike. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 1 September 2008, Official Report, columns 1440-41W.
Willie Rennie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many requests for repair call-outs were received by Modern Housing Solutions in each of the last 12 months. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 26 January 2009]: The number of requests for repair call outs received by Modern Housing Solutions (MHS) is not separately identifiable, however, the number of repair jobs raised in 2008 was as follows:
|Month||Number of repair jobs raised|
MHS provides a comprehensive repair and maintenance service to occupants of Service Family Accommodation in England and Wales. Repair requests range from emergencies such as burst water pipes to routine tasks associated with the everyday wear and tear of domestic occupation. Figures also include work orders raised in relation to communal areas, childrens playgrounds and other facilities managed by MHS.
Willie Rennie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the Answer of 20 January 2009, Official Report, column 1264W, on departmental housing, how many houses owned by his Department were rated as grade (a) one, (b) two, (c) three and (d) four in (i) 2005, (ii) 2006 and (iii) 2007. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Officials are working to identify what information can be provided. I will write to the hon. Member and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.
Willie Rennie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the most recent estimate is of the number of his Department's offices which contain asbestos. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The information requested can be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what stage negotiations on procurement contracts have reached in respect of the (a) Airbus A400M military transport aircraft, (b) future strategic air tanker, (c) third tranche Eurofighter, (d) joint strikefighter, (e) defence training review, (f) future aircraft carrier, (g) Apache block three upgrade and (h) Tornado capability upgrade strategy (pilot); 
(2) what financial penalties for (a) full cancellation and (b) reduction in numbers ordered would fall to be paid by his Department to the prime contractor under the contract for (i) A400M, (ii) Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft, (iii) 3rd Tranche Eurofighter, (iv) Joint Strike Fighter, (v) Defence Training Review, (vi) CVF, (vii) Apache block 3 upgrade and (viii) Tornado Capability Upgrade Strategy (Pilot) project; and at what procurement stage they would fall to be paid in each case for each project. 
Mr. Quentin Davies: Information regarding the current stage of negotiations for each of the projects listed is as follows:
A contract for the development and production of the A400M aircraft was signed with Airbus Military on 27 May 2003 by the Organisation for Joint Armaments Co-operation (OCCAR) on behalf of participating nations (Germany, France, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg, Turkey and the UK). Airbus has recently proposed a new approach for the A400M programme. OCCAR and the Partner Nations are not in negotiation with Airbus in relation to the contract.
(b) Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (TSTA)
Contract negotiations with AirTanker Ltd. were successfully concluded on 6 June 2007, Official Report, column 21WS, and the contract was formally signed in March 2008, Official Report, column 31WS.
Negotiations with partner nations and industry are continuing.
Negotiations for production contracts for JSF are conducted annually. UK participation in the forthcoming negotiations remains subject to formal departmental approval.
Package 1, which aims to deliver technical training, is currently near the end of the Assessment Phase. A Final Clarification and Confirm (FC&C) exercise is now ongoing. The Metrix Consortiums revised proposals have been received and are being evaluated.
Package 2, to deliver specialist training for Logistics and Personnel Administration and Policing and Guarding (both Military and MOD Police), has just started a two year Assessment Phase.
The manufacture contract was signed on 3 July 2008 but further negotiations to agree a way forward are now underway with the Aircraft Carrier Alliance following the recent announcement of the intention to delay the in-service dates of HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales by between one and two years.
We have had early discussions with the US Army about their Block III upgrade programme but, to date, have not made any decisions about whether to adopt elements of the Block III programme as part of our own plans to sustain UK Apache capability through-life.
(h) Tornado Capability Upgrade Strategy (Pilot)
The contract for the Design, Development and Integration stage was awarded on 21 December 2007.
I am withholding information relating to the detail of any financial remedies that may be incurred as its disclosure could prejudice the commercial interests of the contractors and the Department.
Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence against what timetable and in what instalments expenditure on the (a) future strategic air tanker and (b) Airbus A400M military transport aircraft will be incurred. 
Mr. Quentin Davies: The Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) service is planned to begin in 2011 with the full service being available by 2016. The MOD will not pay instalments but will pay for the service as it is used.
Expenditure on the A400M programme is allocated separately to development and production activities. Development is funded in instalments by all partner nations against an agreed profile that started in 2003 and is on-going. Production is funded as a series of six payments against each individual aircraft, with the final payment occurring on actual delivery.
Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what the estimated cost is of extending further the lives of the C-130K aircraft; 
(2) what steps are being taken further to extend the lives of the C-130K aircraft; 
(3) what assessment he has made of the cost-effectiveness of further extending the lives of the C-130K aircraft; and if he will make a statement; 
(4) what the current out-of-service date is for the C-130K aircraft. 
Mr. Quentin Davies: I refer the hon. Member to my answer on 24 November 2008, Official Report column 903W. No steps have been taken to extend the out of service date of the C130K fleet as work to assess the cost-effectiveness of options to mitigate any potential capability gaps that might arise as a result of delays to the A400M programme is ongoing.
Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many C-130K aircraft are to be retired in the current financial year. 
Mr. Quentin Davies: We expect to retire one C130K aircraft before the end of the current financial year.
Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what options there are for bridging the potential capability gap if the A400M programme experiences further delays. 
Mr. Quentin Davies: Following the announcement of delays by Airbus Military on the A400M programme, we are considering a number of options as a contingency to mitigate any potential capability gaps that may arise. These include an extension to the life of the C-130K fleet and leasing or procurement of additional C-17 and C-130J capacity.
Rob Marris: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department took in (a) 2005-06, (b) 2006-07 and (c) 2007-08 to reduce its use of fuel derived from petroleum; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Quentin Davies [holding answer 26 January 2009]: The Ministry of Defence has been working on alternative energy sources for several years. The RAF has led on examining fuel efficiency and alternative fuel sources, including the wider application of biofuels across the land, sea and air environments. In 1999, RAF aircraft were among the first in the world certified to fly on up to 50 per cent. non-crude oil derived synthetic fuel. Since 2008, RAF aircraft, excluding the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and a few small training aircraft have been certified to use 100 per cent. synthetic fuel.
The MOD is also working with industry to develop ideas to achieve reduced dependency on fossil fuels.
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much has been spent on the banner stands bearing his image and title placed in his Department's main building; and how many such stands have been purchased. 
Mr. Hutton: Two pictures were purchased for a total cost of £381. Pictures of this type are routinely produced by the Department for new Secretaries of State as a part of the internal communications process. The stands were already owned and there was no cost involved in their use.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much capital expenditure has been brought forward in response to the economic downturn by his Department, its agencies and non-departmental public bodies to (a) 2008-09, (b) 2009-10 and (c) 2010-11; from which years such expenditure has been brought forward; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: No Ministry of Defence capital expenditure has been brought forward in response to the economic downturn.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the current in-service date is for the Meteor missile. 
Mr. Quentin Davies: Following a major review of the programme during 2007-08, the Meteor In-Service Date has been redefined to reflect a two-stage approach to delivering the capability:
a fully developed missile standard ready for delivery and platform integration in August 2012; and
the first front-line Typhoon unit declared Meteor-capable in July 2015.
The review of the Meteor programme was made in light of changes to the perceived threat and to seek benefit from aligning integration of Meteor with other planned major Typhoon enhancements.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which brigade forms the Joint Rapid Reaction Force (JRRF); whether it is fully equipped; whether the present JRRF is deployed; and when the future JRRF will take over from the present JRRF. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Joint Rapid Reaction Force (JRRF) is a high readiness contingency capability which is deployed in support of the UK's foreign and security policy objectives. Each deployment is tailored to meet the operational requirements of the mission, and can draw from a pool of highly agile and adept units.
JRRF commitments currently held at high readiness are the Spearhead Land Element (SLE) and Small Scale Contingent Battle Group (SSCBG). The SSCBG is provided by 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment until December 2009 and the SLE is based on 1st Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment until 31 July 2009.
For non-discretionary JRRF tasks, equipment holdings exist to ensure mission success. However, some equipment might need to be re-apportioned from other activities depending on the task, to ensure that appropriate quantities are available in the short term to meet the emergent need.
No JRRF Brigade is currently deployed.
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