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Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 8 June 2009, Official Report, column 697W, whether his Department has procedures to (a) (i) minimise and (ii) record the risk to civilians from use of enhanced blast munitions and (b) investigate cases of injury and death caused to citizens by such munitions in Afghanistan. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth:
We regret incidents where civilians are accidentally killed as a result of actions by international forces. Procedures are in place, and constantly updated in the light of experience, both to minimise the risk of these casualties occurring and to investigate any incidents that do happen. UK personnel operate at all times under rules of engagement which ensure that force is used in accordance with international humanitarian law. This ensures that civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure are minimised. Wherever possible, local populations are warned of impending operations. We should remember the insurgents are the real threat to the safety and security of the Afghan people by their
indiscriminate use of violence. ISAF forces are not present on a permanent basis in many parts of Afghanistan, which makes it difficult to monitor atrocities against the civilian population by the Taliban. The UK Government do not collate or publish figures for civilian casualties in Afghanistan because of the immense difficulty and risks of collecting robust data, including the nature of any munitions involved.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many soldiers of (a) the Welsh Guards and (b) the Royal Welsh Regiment deployed in Afghanistan have been (i) killed, (ii) injured, (iii) seriously injured and (iv) very seriously injured in each month of the deployment; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Between the commencement of operations in Afghanistan in 2001 and 8 July 2009, five members of the Welsh Guards and one member of the Royal Welsh Regiment have died while on deployment or as a result of injuries sustained on deployment, all were the result of hostile action. All six deaths happened in 2009, of which one occurred in each month from March to June and two in July.
Since operations began in Afghanistan in 2001 and 15 June 2009, the latest date for which casualty information is available, 13 members of the Welsh Guards and 18 members of the Royal Welsh Regiment have been injured while on deployment in Afghanistan. These figures are provided in the following table:
|Regiment||All||2001||2002||2003||2004||2005||2006||2007||2008||2009 (as at 15 June)|
The figures represent UK operational casualties in Afghanistan from 7 October 2001 to 15 June 2009. The figures include injuries as a result of hostile action and non-battle injuries, and exclude all casualties from natural causes.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the cost to his Department of its operations in Afghanistan in (a) 2009-10 and (b) 2010-11; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The estimated cost of operations in Afghanistan for this financial year is £3.5 billion as recently published for the first time in MOD's main estimates. The cost of military operations is dependent on a number of variable factors which are difficult to predict, including changes to operational tempo and the actual conditions in theatre at the time. We do not, therefore, attempt to project costs for subsequent years.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 24 June 2009, Official Report, column 899W, on Afghanistan: peacekeeping operations, how many British troops were required to serve in the Regional Command South Headquarters between May 2007 and February 2008. 
Between May 2007 and February 2008, the UK was responsible for filling approximately 80 posts within Regional Command South Headquarters from a
total of some 400 posts. The actual number of UK personnel would have fluctuated over this period due to individual tour lengths.
Mr. Russell Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent representations he has received on formal commemoration of the achievements of the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes. 
Mr. Kevan Jones: I can confirm that the Secretary of State for Defence has not received any recent representations regarding formal commemoration of the achievements of the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI). I am however pleased to express my gratitude to NAAFI for their continued worldwide support to our Service personnel.
Mr. Kevan Jones: There is one recorded case only of funding not being granted to an event. This related to an event where Ministry of Defence funding had already been given to the local council. The organisers were advised to join forces with the council to create one larger event.
The National Arboretum
Isle of Man
Ryde, Isle of Wight
Coppice Park, Notts
Surrey (Royal British Legion)
Greater London Authority
Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what targets his Department has set for the timetable against which inquests into the deaths of members of the armed forces killed in action should be completed; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer my predecessor gave her on 12 January 2009, Official Report, column 6, where he stated that it has been one of his priorities to eliminate unnecessary delay and I am pleased that we continue to make progress on this.
The timing of individual inquests is a matter for the coroner to decide, taking into account all relevant circumstances, including in particular the availability of the bereaved family and demands for other, non-military inquests. So it would be inappropriate for MOD to set targets. But we have been working closely with families and coroners to provide them with all the information they operations need so that inquests into the deaths of Service personnel who die on operations can be held as quickly as possible. Some such inquests are now being held as little as seven months after the death and others within eight to 10 months. Some inquests have to await the outcome of complex technical or other investigations and it is right that they do so. I remain committed to doing all we can to reduce the timeframe in which such inquests are held so that families can get the answers to their questions and be helped in coming to terms with their tragic loss.
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