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Mr. Kevan Jones: In financial year 2008-09,759 people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds applied to join the naval service, 2,555 to join the Army and 657 to join the RAF. These figures do not include Ghurkha applications.
The under representation of women in the armed forces is recognised and we continue to encourage women to join through recruitment campaigns which raise awareness of the benefits of a career in the armed forces. These campaigns concentrate on the opportunities for training and the acquisition of professional qualifications, and to dispel fears and myths about life in the services. The armed forces also offer a generous maternity scheme to provide supportive arrangements to enable servicewomen to accommodate pregnancy and maternity absence within their careers.
The armed forces are exempt from the employment provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. However, we demonstrate our willingness to follow the spirit of disability legislation by recruiting people who may have some degree of impairment and by retaining a significant number of personnel who have become disabled in the course of their duties.
The armed forces are equal opportunity employers and therefore are only interested in the individual's qualities and abilities not in such issues as their background, religion or sexual orientation which are considered private matters and not relevant to an individual's suitability for a career in the armed forces. We aim to provide a working environment where individuals can freely practise their religious observances or where individuals are free to be open about their orientation should they wish. Recruitment strategies encourage lesbian, gay and bisexual people to consider a career in the armed forces. For example, representatives from all three services took part in uniform in a parade as part of the London Pride event in July 2009.
Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence to what (a) type and (b) level of mine resistance tests the Navistar Defence Husky vehicle tactical support has been subjected; and if he will publish the results. 
Mr. Quentin Davies: Husky has successfully passed stringent mine blast protection tests. I cannot, however, comment on the specific types and levels of mine resistant tests, as disclosure could prejudice the security of the armed forces.
Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 2 July 2009, Official Report, column 374W, on armoured fighting vehicles, what roles the 334 Panther vehicles not upgraded for deployment in Afghanistan will have. 
Mr. Quentin Davies: The Panther vehicles that have not been upgraded for deployment in Afghanistan will be used for pre-deployment training, individual and collective training, and trials and development.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) whether the proposed terms of business agreement between his Department and BVT Shipyards includes provision for rationalisation of BVT facilities during its lifetime; 
Mr. Quentin Davies: As stated in the 2005 Defence Industrial Strategy (DIS, Cmnd 6697), MOD is committed to sustaining key sovereign capabilities, particularly in high end design, systems engineering and combat systems integration, to support the needs of the Royal Navy today and well into the future. As well as securing future capability, the DIS also signalled the need for a sensible balance between supply and demand over time. MOD is working with industry to make best use of taxpayers' money in seeking opportunities for rationalisation and the delivery of efficiencies wherever possible.
As part of ongoing commercial negotiations on a 15-year Terms of Business Agreement with BVT Surface Fleet Limited (BVT), we are discussing the workload required to sustain these key skills and capability in the
shipyards. In return, BVT will be expected to achieve efficiency targets. This will provide a sound, long-term basis for the future of naval shipbuilding.
It is quite normal in long-term industrial partnership agreements between the MOD and defence suppliers that provision should be made for redundancy costs to be met at customer expense in certain circumstances, but MOD has made no plans for redundancies in the shipyards.
Mr. Kevan Jones: During the four-year period ending 31 March 2008, 12 significant breaches of information security were centrally reported within the Ministry of Defence. Figures for 2008-09 are currently being compiled, audited and verified prior to laying before Parliament in the Department's Annual Report and Accounts 2008-09.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what categories of personal information on members of the public will be held on each of his Department's and its agency's databases expected to become operational in the next five years; what estimate he has made of the likely number of individuals' details each such database will hold when fully operational; and if he will make a statement. 
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) photocopiers, (b) scanning devices and (c) fax machines, excluding multi-function devices, there are in his Department; how many there were in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. 
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what change in the number of jobs at his Department's bases in each (a) county in England and Wales and (b) local authority area in Scotland was in each year since 1992; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Kevan Jones: This information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Expenditure on IT training must be necessary, appropriate, cost-effective and an admissible charge to public funds.
Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will bring forward proposals to provide pensions equal to those for UK soldiers for Gurkhas who retired from the armed forces prior to 1997. 
Mr. Kevan Jones: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Minister for Armed Forces on 7 July 2009, Official Report, column 659W, to my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Betts)
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Heywood and Middleton (Jim Dobbin) of 19 June 2009, Official Report, column 512W, on Gurkhas: pensions, what proportion of the £1.5 billion estimated cost to his Department he expects to be incurred in each of the next 20 years. 
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 19 June 2009, Official Report, column 512W, on Gurkhas: pensions, what methodology his Department used to calculate the figure of £1.5 billion; and what estimate he has made of how much of this expenditure would be incurred in each year over which such expenditure is planned. 
Mr. Kevan Jones: I refer the hon. Members to the answer I gave on 8 July 2009, Official Report, column 788W, to my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Drew). A breakdown of the estimated cost could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Arbuthnot: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether (a) he and (b) officials of his Department plan to meet private sector stakeholders as part of his Department's ongoing review of the Met Office. 
Mr. Kevan Jones: The Operational Efficiency Programme (OEP) Met Office Review Group is comprised of officials from the Ministry of Defence, Shareholder Executive, HM Treasury and the Met Office and meets regularly in undertaking the review.
This group is responsible for taking forward all aspects of the Met Office review as set out in the OEP Final Report published April 2009. In exploring all options and opportunities, this has included initial discussions regarding opportunities for engaging with private sector partners, although to date the group has not met with private sector stakeholders. This aspect of the work is at an early stage, and more detailed work on this topic will
be taking place over the coming months. A further update on progress of the review will be provided with the pre-Budget report.
Mr. Arbuthnot: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what date he and officials of his Department will first meet the Operational Efficiency Programme project team to consider the future of the Met Office. 
Mr. Kevan Jones: The Operational Efficiency Programme (OEP) Met Office Review Group is comprised of officials from the Ministry of Defence, Shareholder Executive, HM Treasury and the Met Office and meets regularly in undertaking the review. The group first met on 19 January 2009. The Secretary of State for Defence has no current plans to attend Review Group Meetings, but receives regular updates on the work of the Review Group.
Mr. Kevan Jones: The Operational Efficiency Programme has taken a tailored approach to each of the studies in its remit, and carries out a rolling programme of work that reports at six-monthly intervals. Work is now under way on the next steps set out for the Met Office review in the OEP Final Report published April 2009, with the findings of this work dictating the timing of the study's recommendations. Progress will next be reported at the pre-Budget report 2009.
Mr. Arbuthnot: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will commission research into international comparisons with public sector weather service providers as part of his consideration of the future of the Met Office. 
Mr. Kevan Jones: The Secretary of State for Defence has no current plans to commission research into international comparisons with public weather service providers as part of his consideration of the future of the Met Office.
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