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28 Apr 2009 : Column 1154W—continued

Armed forces: Parachuting

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) basic and (b) specialist military parachuting courses have been suspended as a result of aircraft unavailability in the last 12 months. [269808]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Over the last 12 months (1 April 2008 to 1 April 2009) a total of 11 parachuting courses were cancelled due to lack of aircraft. Of these, eight were basic courses, including basic regular para; basic TA para; re-qualifying courses, and three were specialist courses including special forces.

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many untrained military parachutists there are in 16 Air Assault Brigade. [269809]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: As at 19 April 2009, 16 Air Assault Brigade was authorised to hold 2,434 qualified parachutists. There are 293 personnel in 16 Air Assault Brigade awaiting the basic parachuting course (BPC). A further 445 personnel are no longer current (i.e. have not completed a parachute jump in the last two years). Therefore 30 per cent. (738) of the military parachutists in 16 Air Assault Brigade are not qualified.

Armed Forces: Rescue Services

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) which military bases have provided search and rescue cover in the last 12 months; and how frequently each has provided such cover; [271460]

(2) what average distance from base to the location of search and rescue activities was in the last 12 months; and what the longest distance from base to such an activity was. [271459]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The following table shows the number of call-outs undertaken by each UK base, the average distance travelled and the longest distance travelled between 1 January and 31 December 2008, the most recent period for which figures are available.

28 Apr 2009 : Column 1155W
Base Call-outs Average distance (nautical miles) Longest distance (nautical miles)

RAF Boulmer




RAF Lossiemouth




RAF Leconfield




RAF Valley




RAF Wattisham




RMB Chivenor




RNAS Culdrose




HMS Gannet




Further data on military search and rescue activities are published by Defence Analysis and Statistical Advice (DASA) and are available to view on the DASA website at:

Armed Forces: Resignations

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many soldiers bought themselves out of the Army in each year since 1998. [270868]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: As soldiers are no longer able to buy themselves out, this question has been interpreted to mean all those individuals who voluntarily left the Army.

Due to the ongoing validation of data on the Joint Personnel Administration (JPA) system, a break down of exit by reason, including voluntary outflow (VO), cannot currently be produced for the Army from 28 February 2007 onwards.

However, the following table shows the number of soldiers leaving under ‘VO' from 1998 to 28 February 2007:

Soldier voluntary outflow from trained strength to civil life
Financial year Number of voluntary outflows

















April 2006 to March 2007(1)




(1) Only 11 months of data currently available.( 2 )— denotes unavailable. Notes: 1. The figures are for trained regular army other ranks (soldiers) only and therefore exclude officers, Gurkhas, Home Service battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment, full-time reserve service, mobilised reserves, TA and all other reserves. 2. For the purpose of this PQ, VO is defined as all exits from trained personnel which are voluntarily generated by the individual before the end of their agreed engagement or commission period (i.e. time expiry). Females who leave on marriage grounds are included in VO exits. 3. Due to the rounding methods used, totals may not always equal the sum of the parts. When rounding to the nearest 10, numbers ending in five have been rounded to the nearest multiple of 20 to prevent systematic bias.

Soldier voluntary outflow figures can be found in Table five of Tri-Service Publication five 'UK Regular Forces Outflow from Trained Strength to Civil Life' which can be viewed on the DASA web at the following link:

Army: Health

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many and what percentage of infantry personnel were (a) unable to deploy and (b) only able to undertake limited deployment for medical reasons in each year since 2001. [271395]

28 Apr 2009 : Column 1156W

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Figures for the period since March 2007 are provided in the following table:

Personnel unable to deploy for medical reasons Personnel able to undertake limited deployment only for medical reasons

Number Percentage of held strength Number Percentage of held strength

March 2007





March 2008





April 2009





The figures are taken from statistics relating to deployable strength of Infantry battalions and include officers and soldiers augmented from other cap badges for deployment purposes.

Following individual risk assessments, including an assessment of medical facilities in Theatre, the majority of soldiers officially listed as being of limited deployability are able to deploy to Theatre.

Figures for earlier years are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Atomic Weapons Establishment: Recruitment

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) scientists, (b) engineers and (c) technicians the Atomic Weapons Establishment plans to recruit in the next five years; and what their areas of expertise will be. [271265]

Mr. Quentin Davies: Based on current contract assumptions and subject to any change in priorities, AWE plc is planning to recruit in the order of 110 scientists, 160 engineers and 180 technicians over the next five years. The areas of expertise are diverse, and will include computer, measurement and material science; decommissioning and waste management; facility design and operations; manufacturing; systems engineering; project management; assurance, and IT/telecommunications.

Defence Equipment: Lost Property

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many instances there were of spare parts lost in transit during each financial year since 2006-07; and what the monetary value was of the loss in each year. [271397]

Mr. Quentin Davies: Data on losses are not held in such a way that enables the separate identification of ‘spare parts’.

Defence: Expenditure

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his Department’s budget for urgent operational requirements (UORs) was in each year since their inception; how much was spent on UORs in each such year; what the (a) budget for and (b) projected expenditure on UORs is for each year to 2011-12; and how much (i) has been repaid and (ii) is projected to be repaid to HM Treasury in respect of UORs in each such year. [270950]

28 Apr 2009 : Column 1157W

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 24 April 2009]: Urgent operational requirements (UORs) are, in most cases, funded from outside of the Defence budget through access to the Treasury Reserve. As such the “budget” for UORs is not a limit, but an agreed estimate which has been established in the last two years in order to assist with planning. For the last financial year (2008-09), that estimate was set at £900 million (with facility to roll over committed spend which had not accrued in the previous year), and for this financial year (2009-10) the estimate currently stands at £635 million (with an expected spend from the Reserve of £424 million on the protected mobility package agreed separately).

Given the urgent and operationally-driven nature of UORs it is not possible to generate long-term estimates with any accuracy and thus no estimates have been made for spend beyond this financial year. For historic expenditure I refer the hon. Member to the answer given in another place by my noble Friend Baroness Taylor of Bolton on 24 March 2009, Official Report, House of Lords, columns WA107-08, to the noble Lord Dr. Moonie. To date no repayments have been made to the Treasury in respect of UORs. Beyond the specific arrangements described in the answer of 12 January 2009, Official Report, column 99W, by the Under-Secretary of State for Defence my hon. Friend the Member for Grantham and Stamford (Mr. Davies), to the hon. Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox), no repayments are currently planned.

Departmental Training

Mr. Hurd: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his Department's policy is on holding departmental away days at locations other than departmental premises. [268465]

Mr. Kevan Jones: There is no specific central guidance on this point which is left to the discretion of local business units to decide based on local requirements. Departmental instructions do make it clear that all expenditure on away days and other similar events should be demonstrably necessary, appropriate, cost-effective and an admissible charge against the Defence budget.

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 20 April 2009, Official Report, column 63W, on departmental training, what training sessions were provided to Ministers in order for them to carry out their duties effectively under the Ministerial Code; and if he will make a statement. [270961]

Mr. Hutton: I refer the hon. Member to the answers I gave on 5 November 2008, Official Report, column 483W, and 11 February 2009, Official Report, column 1994W, to the hon. Member for Hammersmith and Fulham (Mr. Hands). Recent MOD Ministers' training has been mandatory pre-deployment training in preparation for visits to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Iraq and Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library a copy of the standard unclassified visitors command brief given to visitors to (a) Operation Telic and (b) Operation Herrick. [270941]

28 Apr 2009 : Column 1158W

Mr. Hutton: Given the rapid pace of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, command briefs are prepared for individual visitors or groups at an appropriate level of classification for the audience. These briefings do not exist in the format required to be placed in the Library of the House because they are usually verbal.

Military Aircraft: Helicopters

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the current percentage shortfall is of required spares for each helicopter type in the (a) Army Air Corps, (b) Royal Navy and (c) Royal Air Force. [271396]

Mr. Quentin Davies: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 20 April 2009, Official Report, column 68W, to the hon. Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox).


Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 20 April 2009, Official Report, columns 3-4WS, on the NATO Summit, what proposed steps are included in the UK proposal to establish an Alliance Solidarity Force; and if he will make a statement. [271038]

Mr. Hutton: The UK put forward the idea of an Alliance Solidarity Force as a tangible demonstration of NATO's determination to deter aggression at short notice against any of its allies. The proposal is that, within the wider NATO Response Force, there should be a small, about 1,500 strong, rapidly deployable multinational task force with a dedicated collective defence role. This proposal is currently being written by NATO for further consideration by allies.

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