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Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the assistance of the Royal Navy has been requested by individuals whose vessels have been involved in incidents of piracy or attempted piracy in the last three years. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 27 February 2009]: There are no records held centrally of the Royal Navy having received any direct requests for assistance by individuals whose vessels have been involved in incidents of piracy or attempted piracy.
However, RN vessels have responded to incidents through recognized channels in the Gulf of Aden, acting on behalf of the international counter-piracy operations. Comprehensive statistics are not available.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what the cost of operations in Iraq, broken down on the same basis as note 2.3 of his Department's Annual Report and Accounts 2007-08, was in (a) 2002-03 and (b) 2003-04; 
(2) what the cost of operations in Afghanistan, broken down on the same basis as note 2.3 of his Department's Annual Report and Accounts 2007-08, was in each financial year from 2001-02 to 2003-04. 
Jim Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what (a) ships and (b) other units of the Armed Forces have been committed to the protection of merchant shipping from pirate attack in the Gulf of Aden. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: As part of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2), HMS Cumberland provided protection to vulnerable vessels, including World Food Programme shipping, when it transited through the gulf of Aden between October and December 2008.
The EU counter-piracy mission Operation Atalanta took on this protection role as its primary objective when SNMG2 left the region. As part of this, HMS Northumberland carried out World Food Programme shipping support between January and February 2009.
We are providing a frigatecurrently HMS Portlandto conduct broader maritime security operations within the Combined Maritime Forces in the gulf of Aden. RFA Wave Knight continues to provide shipping and refuelling support to military vessels involved in counter-piracy activities in the region.
The UK takes the protection of merchant shipping very seriously and many personnel both in the UK and overseas are engaged in activities relating to the provision of maritime security. This includes co-ordination of, and support to, merchant shipping, as well as the provision of command and control functions for both UK and international military vessels.
Mr. Gale: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much back pay was owing to Territorial Army soldiers who have seen active service in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan on the latest date for which figures are available; what steps are being taken to make payments which are owed; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the 3P233 runway denial munition carried by RAF Tornado aircraft is a cluster munition within the meaning of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The UK withdrew the JP233 from service in 1998 in order to meet its obligations under the Ottawa Convention. JP233 would also have been rendered prohibited under the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many staff in his Department worked in the Veterans Advice Unit in each of the last five years for which figures are available; how many currently work in the Unit; and how many he estimates will work in the Unit in the next financial year. 
Mr. Kevan Jones: The Veterans Advice Unit (VAU) was staffed by three service personnel from 1999 until 2002 providing veterans with dedicated information and advice. In 2002, its responsibilities were transferred to the Veterans Agency now the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency providing a fully integrated set of through life personnel services to both service and ex-service personnel. It has a single point of access through its free helpline on 0800 169 2277 and website,
The helpline employs a total of 26 staff (21 in whole-time equivalent posts) and its veterans advice team answering written inquiries employs four staff. Manning levels for the next financial year are not yet available.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) in-service dates and (b) current out-of-service dates are for each (i) submarine, (ii) frigate and (iii) destroyer in the Royal Navy. 
Mr. Quentin Davies: It is departmental policy to release in-service dates only for those vessels for which the main investment decision has been taken. Our present planning assumptions, which are routinely updated as required, are as follows:
The MOD currently plans to procure seven Astute submarines. Four submarines are on contract, and in various stages of production at BAE Systems Submarine Solutions facilities at Barrow-in-Furness. The planned in-service dates for HMS Astute, the First of Class, Ambush, Artful and Audacious are subject to continuing detailed review by MOD, BAE Systems and other key stakeholders.
The Royal Navys current Type 22 and Type 23 frigates will be replaced by the Future Surface Combatant but the programme has not yet reached the main investment decision stage. However, on current plans, we expect the first vessel to enter service around the end of the next decade.
It is not possible to give precise out of service dates for the four Vanguard class submarines. As indicated in the December 2006 White Paper on the future of the United Kingdoms nuclear deterrent we believe that we can extend the original design life by around five years and that accordingly the first Vanguard class submarine would go out of service around 2022 and the second around 2024 and work is ongoing to determine the optimum out of service dates for the remaining two.
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