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|Convictions of desertion|
|(1 )This figure does not include the last quarter of 2008 for the RN.|
Mr. Hutton: Every effort is made to ensure that VIP visits to operational theatres proceed smoothly. However, on occasion, there are inevitably difficulties due to adverse weather, equipment serviceability and competing operational requirements for finite air and aviation resources. Visits are also on occasion cancelled for reasons without the control of my Department. We do not collate detailed statistics on the number of VIP visits delayed or cancelled and generating robust statistics could be achieved only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Hutton: It is expected to cost around £50 million to modify the Merlin helicopters for use on operations in Afghanistan. We are doing all we can to ensure a swift transition to Afghanistan. Nevertheless, we envisage a short period of around four months for the Merlin force to prepare for operations in Afghanistan after extraction from Iraq.
Mr. Carswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what multi-activity contracts (MACs) the Royal Air Force has; and what the (a) scope, (b) monetary value and (c) date of expiry of each MAC is. 
Mr. Quentin Davies: The scope of each individual multi-activity contract (MAC) is different, covering a range of services that support the operation of the station. These services may include, for example, cleaning, waste disposal, transport and supply and management of consumables. For large training units the MAC is often linked directly with the contract to provide the training output.
|Location of MAC||Expiry date||Current estimated annual monetary value (£ million)|
Mr. Kevan Jones: Details of all military tattoos and locations are not retained centrally by the MOD. The MOD does not currently run any tattoos; they are operated by commercial organisations who will hold their own records.
Mr. Hutton: I have regular discussions with representatives of the defence industry and defence trade associations on a range of issues, but to date have not specifically discussed the proposed Arms Trade Treaty.
The Ministry of Defence fully supports the Governments effort to establish an Arms Trade Treaty that will help prevent the irresponsible trade in conventional weapons. The Department is an active member of the cross-Whitehall team led by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that is taking forward this work within the United Nations. The cross-Whitehall team maintains a dialogue with the defence industry through regular stakeholder group meetings. During 2009 this work will support the UN process, which is considering elements that might be included in an eventual legally binding treaty.
Mr. Quentin Davies: I refer the hon. Member to the answer my predecessor gave on 15 June 2006, Official Report, column 1384W, to the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker), which provides the size of the Defence intelligence staff (DIS) for the years 1997 to 2006. The information for subsequent years is: April 20074,748; April 20084,308 staff; and is forecast as 4,365 staff for April 2009.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues on measures to retain (a) skills and (b) employees vital to the defence industry in the current economic climate; 
(2) what recent assessment he has made of the effect of the economic climate on the defence industry, with particular reference to the industry's capacity to (a) retain skilled workers and (b) meet procurement deadlines. 
Mr. Quentin Davies: The Defence Industrial Strategy (DIS) promotes a sustainable and competitive UK defence industrial base. This ensures the retention of the specialist skills necessary to deliver the capabilities needed by our armed forces. Defence Ministers have regular discussions with representatives from the defence industry both individually and in the forum of the National Defence Industries Council on a wide range of issues including the effect of the current economic climate on the industry.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 14 January 2009, Official Report, column 486W, on departmental catering, which ethically traded products the defence food services integrated project team has introduced; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Quentin Davies: Ethically traded products purchased by defence food services integrated project team, which is responsible for the procurement of food for the armed services on operations and on exercises overseas, are set out in the following list:
90 per cent. of tea and coffee from fair trade sources
100 per cent. of pork from British sources
100 per cent. of milk from British sources
100 per cent. of eggs from British sources
100 per cent. of whole gammons from British sources
100 per cent. of fish from managed sources
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 14 January 2009, Official Report, column 486W, on departmental catering, what recommendations the Sustainability Working Group has made on the procurement of Fairtrade goods for use in (a) his Department's London headquarters and (b) the military establishment; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Quentin Davies:
The Sustainability Working Group was established within the Defence Food Service Integrated Project Team (DFS IPT) to identify opportunities to extend sustainable procurement of food for the armed
services on operations and on exercises overseas. The procurement of catering for MOD's London headquarters and for all military establishments is therefore outside the scope of the Working Group.
Where, however, the DFS IPT identifies Fairtrade products that meet MOD quality requirements and offer value for money, they may be listed on the core range of products supplied for operational feeding to UK armed forces personnel "in barracks" not covered by the Pay As You Dine programme.
Catering in MOD's London headquarters is provided as part of a multi-activity contract. An extensive range of Fairtrade products is available that includes all coffee served in the deli bar, coffee bar and in the vending machines. A range of other Fairtrade beverages, fruit juices, snack bars and cakes is also available.
For those military establishments where catering is provided through the Pay As You Dine programme, or as part of a multi-activity contract, the catering contractor may choose to offer Fairtrade products as part of his strategy, although the requirement does not specify that he must. There are a wide variety of such contracts in place across the Department and information on Fairtrade products on offer is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Quentin Davies: MOD procurement practices are designed to ensure that our armed forces have the best equipment available while at the same time ensuring value for money for the taxpayer. The defence industrial strategy recognises the crucial role that the UK defence industry plays in delivery of capability to the front line and promotes a sustainable and globally competitive UK defence industrial base. Defence Ministers have regular discussions with representatives from the defence industry both individually and in the forum of the National Defence Industries Council.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to paragraph 90 of the Explanatory Memorandum of 11 December 2008 on the French Presidency Report on European Security and Defence Policy, European Union Document No. 16686/08, (a) how many troops and (b) what military assets the UK has contributed to the Force Catalogue. 
A contract has now been signed with Dockwise who will return HMS Endurance to the UK by the heavy lift vessel MV Target. It is currently estimated that the ship will return to the UK around 20 March 2009, weather permitting. Subject to detailed survey, our intention is that the ship will then be repaired prior to her return to service at a date yet to be agreed. I am withholding the cost of the heavy lift contract and the projected repair costs as they are commercially sensitive.
Mr. Kevan Jones [holding answer 9 February 2009]: In addition to the increased investment in service accommodation in recent years, over £8 billion will be spent in the next decade, including some £3 billion on improving and upgrading accommodation. The MOD is restrained in much of the work on SFA by the contract with Annington Homes signed in 1996.
Regarding service family accommodation (SFA), over 13,000 properties have been upgraded to the highest standard for condition since 2001, with a further 600 planned in this financial year (FY) and 800 in each year thereafter.
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