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3 Feb 2009 : Column 1115W—continued

Legal Opinion

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost was of external legal services provided to his Department in each of the last five years. [251349]


3 Feb 2009 : Column 1116W

Mr. Kevan Jones: Specific data on the expenditure by the MOD on external legal fees in each of the last five years are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Merlin Helicopters

Willie Rennie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of Merlin helicopters have been fit for service in each year since 2003. [253219]

Mr. Quentin Davies [holding answer 2 February 2009]: I will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Minesweepers: Research

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether his Department receives information on the work and research of the US Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organisation; and if he will make a statement. [252874]

Mr. Quentin Davies: The MOD regularly exchanges information on work and research with its allies to the mutual benefit of all parties. As part of continuing successful coalition operations, MOD discusses such topics with the US.

Morocco: Joint Exercises

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence with reference to the answer of 13 November 2008, Official Report, column 1301W, on Morocco: armed forces, for what reason a news article of 24 October 2008 on his Department’s website on training and adventure states that a joint exercise had taken place partly in the Atlas Mountains and partly in the Western Sahara. [253796]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Defence intranet site and the MOD internet site contained an article which reported British forces and the Royal Gibraltar Regiment training in Morocco. More specifically it referred to training in the Western Sahara. This article was ambiguous: all training was conducted within Morocco, including areas in the western Sahara desert, not in Western Sahara. The article has been amended to remove this ambiguity. It remains the case that British armed forces do not conduct military activity in Western Sahara, the status of which has yet to be determined by the UN.

Netherlands: Military Exercises

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many joint training exercises involving the UK and the Netherlands were conducted in support of the UK/Netherlands Amphibious Landing Force in 2008; and how many are planned for 2009. [253366]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: There have been three joint training exercises in support of the UK/Netherlands amphibious landing force in 2008. There is one joint training exercise planned for 2009.


3 Feb 2009 : Column 1117W

Personal Protective Equipment

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps are being taken to improve the standard of personal protective equipment issued to service personnel. [252614]

Mr. Quentin Davies [holding answer 2 February 2009]: The need to improve personal protection in response to developing threats is continually assessed. Further improvements to body armour and helmets are being developed and are planned to be introduced later this year. In the longer term, the Personal Equipment and Common Operational Clothing (PECOC) programme, which is currently in its assessment phase, will deliver further upgrades to items of personal protective equipment.

Service Personnel: Fitness for Duty

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence How many (a) officers and (b) personnel in other ranks in each regular infantry and Royal Marine battalion were unfit for duty at the latest date for which figures are available. [253658]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 2 February 2009]: Unfit for duty has been interpreted as medically unfit to perform any duty. Personnel unfit for duty in their primary role but who can perform a role in an alternative capacity are not included in the following tables.

The figures given include personnel filling all roles within each battalion, not just infantrymen. Separate figures for officers and soldiers are not held centrally.

As at 1 December 2008, the figures requested for the infantry were:


3 Feb 2009 : Column 1118W
Div Unit Number of personnel unfit for duty

Guards

1 Grenadier Gds

5

1 Coldstream Gds

0

1 Scots Guards

5

1 Irish Guards

7

1 Welsh Guards

5

Scots

1 Scots

2

2 Scots

4

3 Scots

2

4 Scots

28

5 Scots

13

Queens

1 Princess of Wales Royal Regiment

4

2 Princess of Wales Royal Regiment

8

1 Royal Regt Fusiliers

6

2 Royal Regt Fusiliers

32

1 Royal Anglian

4

2 Royal Anglian

1

Kings

1 Lancs

11

2 Lancs

4

1 Yorks

9

2 Yorks

1

3 Yorks

4

PoW

1 Mercian

0

2 Mercian

3

3 Mercian

8

1 Royal Welsh

4

2 Royal Welsh

13

Rifles

1 Rifles

(1)0

2 Rifles

11

3 Rifles

2

4 Rifles

2

5 Rifles

0

RI

1 Royal Irish

11

Para

2 Para

30

3 Para

0

RGR

1 Royal Gurkha Rifles

8

2 Royal Gurkha Rifles

0

(1) 1 Rifles data are as at 29 January 2009.

In addition, there are three incremental guards companies that are primarily for public duties but can also be used to augment the other guards battalions as required:

Unit Number of personnel unfit for duty

N Coy Grenadier Gds

0

7 Coy Coldstream Gds

0

F Coy Scots Gds

0


As at 29 January 2009, the figures for the Royal Marines Commando Units were:

Unit Number of personnel unit for duty

40 Cdo RM

0

42 Cdo RM

0

45 Cdo RM

3


Somalia: Piracy

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many force generation conferences have there been for Operation Atalanta; and how many are planned. [253357]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: There has been one force generation conference for Operation Atalanta. Any future force generation conferences will be called as required but none are currently planned.

Unmanned Air Vehicles

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many non-UK owned or operated unmanned aerial vehicles transited through UK airspace in 2008. [252110]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: There were no non-UK owned or operated unmanned aerial vehicle transits through UK airspace in 2008.


3 Feb 2009 : Column 1119W

Transport

Aircraft and Shipping: Safety

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many safety inspections have been carried out on ( a) aircraft at airports and (b) ships in port in each of the last 12 months. [252444]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) carried out 594 inspections of foreign aircraft at UK airports in 2008. These inspections are carried out on behalf of the Department for Transport and form part of the European Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft programme. The number of inspections conducted each month was:

Number of SAFA inspections January to December 2008

January

28

February

71

March

10

April

55

May

80

June

53

July

68

August

56

September

44

October

74

November

36

December

19

Total

594


The CAA's Airworthiness Division also carried out approximately 900 safety inspections on UK registered aircraft during 2008. These inspections were carried out at maintenance organisations as well as at airports and formed part of a pre-planned monitoring programme that is applied to each UK aircraft owner or operator. The inspections varied in depth and scope between a simple ‘in service’ ramp inspection through to a more in depth inspection during maintenance.

In addition, the CAA's Flight Operations Division has a system of planned audits of UK commercial operators which includes inspections of aeroplanes at airports. There were approximately 129 such inspections evenly spread throughout 2008. A further 20 inspections were specifically conducted on UK cargo aircraft.

Details of these inspections are not recorded centrally and therefore providing either an exact number of inspections or the months in which they took place would incur disproportionate cost.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency carries out inspections to check safety standards and living conditions on UK and dependent territory ships, as well as port state control inspections for foreign ships visiting UK ports. Over the last 12 months we have carried out the following number of targeted inspections and port state control inspections.


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