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Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 17 March 2009


Armed Forces: Deployment

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many UK service personnel are stationed at each location overseas. [249731]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Data on the number of UK Regular service personnel stationed at each location overseas as at 1 October 2008 are available in TSP 10 ‘UK Regular Forces Stationed Location’, Table 1.1. This can be found at:

Copies of TSP 10 are available in the Library of the House.

Armed Forces: Hearing Impaired

Mr. Goodwill: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make an assessment of the need to provide for hearing specialists at Camp Bastion hospital to treat servicemen and women whose hearing has been affected by explosions or the use of munitions. [262185]

Mr. Kevan Jones [holding answer 10 March 2009]: The medical facilities at Camp Bastion already include the means of examining the hearing of personnel who have been exposed to explosions or the use of munitions, and medical staff at Camp Bastion already institute hearing conservation measures when audiometry indicates that it is appropriate to do so for an individual.

The Ministry of Defence takes the issue of Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) seriously and we are continually looking at ways of monitoring and mitigating the risk in operational scenarios, including the development of improved hearing protection, while not hampering the operational effectiveness of combat personnel. A study is currently under way to determine the numbers of personnel that have been affected by acute acoustic trauma, the results of which will help to inform future policy on treatment and the provision of specialist support. I have met with The Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) to discuss how they can further assist us and it has been agreed that they will have a representative at the Surgeon General’s Working Group on Hearing Loss.

Armed Forces: Housing

Willie Rennie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 23 February 2009, Official Report, column 20W, on armed forces: housing, if he will make an assessment of the reasons for the changes in numbers of houses at grade (a) one and (b) four for charge between 2005 and 2007. [264226]

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Mr. Kevan Jones: Given the way Grade for Charge data are collated officials need to identify and analyse information to answer this question. I will write to the hon. Member when this work is complete and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.

Armed Forces: Leave

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what mechanisms are in place for the granting of home leave to (a) recent recruits and (b) personnel under the age of 18 in the armed forces. [263454]

Mr. Kevan Jones [holding answer 16 March 2009]: All service personnel have the same basic allocation of leave although recent recruits, including under-18s, may have leave restricted according to the stage of training they are undertaking. Compassionate leave, however, is always accessible on a case by case basis. It should also be noted that under-18s must provide evidence that they will be suitably accommodated while on leave.

Personnel in the first three years of full-time service are entitled to Get You Home Early Years Scheme which provides assistance (rail warrants or mileage claim) with leave travel up to four times a year.

Defence: Internet

James Brokenshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what role the UK has in (a) supporting and (b) participating in the work of the NATO Co-operative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence; and if he will make a statement. [263181]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The United Kingdom is fully supportive of this Estonian-hosted Cyber Defence initiative and their endeavours in this important area. However, given the need to co-ordinate Cyber Defence with a number of other Government Departments and Allies, the MOD’s preferred means of support is via virtual participation rather than attach personnel permanently to Estonia. The United Kingdom is not a founding signatory nation to this Centre of Excellence (CoE) but this position will be kept under review.

Both the Head of the MOD Defence Security and Safety Assurance organisation and a senior officer from the MOD’s Joint Security Co-ordination Centre (JSyCC) have visited the Co-operative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCD CoE) and have subsequently provided additional assistance to its development over the past two years.

Departmental Data Protection

Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what IT security strategy his Department has in place; what steps are being taken to ensure the strategy is being followed; what policy is in place on the use of encryption when data are sent externally; and what sanctions are in place for use should the policy not be followed; [259003]

(2) what IT security policy his Department has; what procedures are in place to ensure the policy is being followed; what his Department's policy is on encryption of data when it leaves departmental premises; and what sanctions are in place for failure to comply with this policy. [259856]

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Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 26 February 2009]: Information is a key asset to Government and its correct handling is vital to the delivery of public services and to the integrity of HMG. The Security Policy Framework, the Data Handling Report and the National Information Assurance Strategy produced by the Cabinet Office provide a strategic framework for protecting information that Government handle and put in place a set of mandatory measures which Departments must adhere to.

The Department is compliant with the security policies contained in the Government Security Policy Framework including those for information security and assurance. Depending upon the circumstances, a range of sanctions are available including disciplinary or administrative action, and in extreme or persistent cases, termination of employment/services and, if appropriate, criminal proceedings.

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many civil servants in his Department have been (a) investigated, (b) suspended and (c) dismissed for (i) losing and (ii) deliberately disclosing (A) data stored on departmental equipment and (B) confidential information in each year since 1997. [263650]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 15 December 2008, Official Report, column 333W, to the hon. Member for Chesterfield (Paul Holmes).

Joint Strike Fighter

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Mid Sussex, of 6 November 2008, Official Report, column 676W, on the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, when he expects a decision on the integration of future weapons capability to be made. [244618]

Mr. Quentin Davies: In order to provide Joint Combat Aircraft (JCA) with an initial baseline air to air and precision air to ground capability, a decision has already been made to integrate Advanced Short Range Air to Air Missile and Paveway IV on to the aircraft. We plan to make decisions on the integration of the weapons systems in good time before the introduction to service of the JSF.

Met Office

Mr. Mark Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions Ministers in his Department have had with the Shareholder Executive as part of the Government’s Trading Fund Review in advance of the 2009 Budget. [263880]

Mr. Kevan Jones: As part of the Department’s Owners Advisory Council for each of its trading funds, Defence Ministers were briefed by a Shareholder Executive official on both the Trading Fund Assessment study, and on the Asset Management Strand of the Operational Efficiency Programme. I discussed the subject separately last November in a meeting attended by a Shareholder Executive official.

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Navy: Military Bases

Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost was of relocating ships’ personnel and their families from Plymouth to (a) Portsmouth and (b) Faslane in each of the last 10 years. [263989]

Mr. Kevan Jones: This information is not held centrally.

Performing Arts

John Mason: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether his Department has engaged any (a) actors, (b) musicians and (c) other performers to support its initiatives over the last five years. [264063]

Mr. Kevan Jones: Many actors, musicians or performers have worked to support MOD initiatives either voluntarily or having been engaged by a third party.

Submarines: Accidents

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his Department's estimate in its risk assessments of the probability of a British nuclear submarine colliding at sea with a foreign nuclear submarine was prior to 3 February. [262628]

Mr. Hutton: My Department was satisfied that the estimate of the risk of a collision at sea between a British SSBN and a foreign nuclear submarine prior to 3 February was extremely low.


Olympic Games 2012: Fairtrade Initiative

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Minister for the Olympics what representations she has received from Tearfund on fair trade products and the 2012 Olympic Games. [263544]

Tessa Jowell: We can find no record of representations from Tearfund on fair trade products for the London 2012 Games.

Culture, Media and Sport


Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether it is his Department's policy to offer staff (a) additional leave entitlement for Christmas shopping and (b) Christmas bonus payments. [262807]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport does not offer its staff Christmas bonus payments or additional leave entitlement for Christmas shopping.

Churches: Conservation

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much in Heritage Fund grants has been made available for the preservation of historic churches in the last 12 months. [263872]

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Barbara Follett: The Heritage Lottery Fund advises that, for the financial period 2007-08, the fund awarded £30,013,041 to conserve the fabric of 531 historic churches and chapels.

Coastal Areas

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps his Department (a) has undertaken and (b) plans to undertake in respect of its policy on (i) economic competitiveness and (ii) quality of life for residents of seaside towns in England with specific reference to sporting and cultural activities and amenities. [262990]

Barbara Follett: At the tourism summit convened by VisitBritain on 8 January this year, we considered ways to help support the industry, including that in seaside towns, through the economic downturn and beyond. We will continue to work with our NDPBs and the industry to maximise the economic competitiveness of our sectors, and people's quality of life through the provision of sporting and cultural activities and amenities, in seaside towns and other communities across the country.

The Department also has a programme specifically for seaside towns, known as Sea Change. It places culture at the heart of efforts to regenerate England's seaside resorts through investment in arts, public space, cultural assets and heritage projects. The scheme, which will run for three years from 2008-11, and which will dispense £45 million in total, will encourage new visitors to coastal areas and help to support and enrich existing communities. It is being delivered through a partnership involving Arts Council England, the Big Lottery Fund, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, English Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council and the regional development agencies.

Departmental Absenteeism

Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many staff of his Department were recorded absent for non-medical reasons on (a) 2 February 2009 and (b) 3 February 2009; what estimate he has made of the (i) cost to his Department and (ii) number of working hours lost due to such absence; and what guidance his Department issued to staff in respect of absence on these days. [260475]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The offices of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport were closed at 3 pm on 2 February owing to a lack of security staff caused by travel restrictions caused by the extreme weather. On 3 February 2009, we estimate that around 40 per cent. of staff attended the office. We do not hold central records of absence or the hours worked by staff on the relevant days and are not able to make an estimate of (i) the cost to the Department nor (ii) the number of working hours lost.

On the days in question, staff were able to access information about whether the offices were closed on the internet and recovery phone line.

Further guidance was issued on 5 February, reminding staff that when DCMS buildings are open staff are expected to take all reasonable steps to get into work
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without endangering themselves; that if they cannot get to the office they must notify their line manager that morning; and that if they do not notify their line manager they will be expected to take any days out of the office as annual or unpaid leave.

Departmental Bank Services

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport with which banks his Department has or has had contracts for the provision of financial advice, for the financial year 2008-09. [262762]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The Department has held an agreement with Goldman Sachs for the provision of financial advice in connection with the possible sale of the Tote.

Departmental Disciplinary Proceedings

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many staff in his Department (a) were disciplined and (b) had their employment terminated as a result of a poor sickness record in each of the last 12 months. [262247]

Mr. Sutcliffe: No staff in my Department have been disciplined or had their employment terminated as a result of a poor sickness record over the last 12 months.

Departmental Lost Property

John Mason: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what property has been lost or stolen from his Department in the last 12 months; and what the estimated cost was of replacement of such property. [263122]

Mr. Sutcliffe: During the period 1 March 2008 to 28 February 2009 the following items were lost or stolen.

Item Date Lost/Stolen Estimated cost of replacement (£)

Memory stick

March 2008



Disk drive

May 2008



Mobile phone

May 2008




May 2008




29 January 2009



Mobile phone

25 February 2009



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