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16 July 2009 : Column 585W—continued

Digital Broadcasting: Northern Ireland

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will take steps to bring the level of take-up of digital broadcasting in Northern Ireland up to average levels in the rest of the UK. [284161]

Mr. Simon [holding answer 3 July 2009]: As digital switchover in Northern Ireland in 2012 draws closer, Digital UK will run a communication programme in the area covered by the Ulster TV region about switchover and what people need to do to ensure that they can receive digital television services.

There are no steps envisaged to increase digital radio take-up specifically in Northern Ireland, or in any other part of the UK. However, as set out in the recently published Digital Britain White Paper, the Government recognise that building out a Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) infrastructure across the UK which meets the needs of broadcasters, multiplex operators and listeners, including improving the quality of the signal, will require additional investment. We will work closely with the BBC, transmission providers and Ofcom to agree a plan for the extension and improvement for local DAB coverage, and where the cost would most appropriately fall.

Digital Broadcasting: Radio

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) what the extent of coverage of digital radio in (a) Powys, (b) Wales and (c) each region will be after the analogue radio switch-off; [286371]

(2) when the analogue radio signal will be switched off in (a) Powys, (b) Wales and (c) each region. [286372]

Mr. Simon [holding answer 13 July 2009]: Details of the extent of digital radio coverage and when the Digital Radio Upgrade will be implemented in (a) Powys, (b) Wales and (c) each other UK region following the Digital Radio Upgrade programme are not currently available.

In the coming months we will be working with broadcasters and transmission providers to consider how and when the coverage of DAB will be extended and improved. The intention is to give a clearer indication of future coverage in the spring 2010 review which was proposed in the Digital Britain White Paper.

However, we have been clear from the outset that coverage of DAB needs to be at least comparable to current FM coverage before the Upgrade can begin. We are also aware that in Wales specific regard needs to be made to those listeners that only have access to radio via MW.

No date has been set for the Digital Radio Upgrade programme. The top-level principle of the upgrade programme is that it should not result in reduced access
16 July 2009 : Column 586W
to radio services. The Digital Britain White Paper set out our intention to deliver a Digital Radio Upgrade programme across the UK by the end of 2015, when we would expect all analogue services also carried on the national and local DAB multiplexes to cease broadcasting on analogue. The Digital Radio Upgrade will be implemented on a single date, which will be announced at least two years in advance.

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what provision will be made for radio reception by residential properties where digital radio signals cannot be received after the discontinuance of analogue radio signals in (a) Powys, (b) Wales, (c) each region of England, (d) Scotland and (e) Northern Ireland. [287169]

Mr. Simon: The Digital Britain White Paper made clear our intention that the Digital Radio Upgrade programme should not result in listeners losing access to radio. We have also been clear that before the upgrade can begin DAB coverage must be comparable to the existing FM coverage, particularly for the BBC's services. In the case of Wales, we are also examining closely the impact of ceasing radio broadcasts on MW, which many listeners in Wales rely upon.

Therefore we are not, at this time, planning specific provisions to address residential properties in (a) Powys; (b) Wales; (c) each region of England; (d) Scotland; and (e) Northern Ireland which are not able to receive digital radio signals once services migrate to digital. However, we will keep this under review.

Digital Switchover Help Scheme

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent estimate he has made of the number of people eligible for assistance under the Digital Switchover Help Scheme in (a) the Vale of York, (b) North Yorkshire and (c) England; and if he will make a statement. [285757]

Mr. Simon: Those eligible for the help scheme can only be broken down by ITV regions. The Help Scheme estimates around 640,000 people in the ITV Yorkshire region will be eligible to receive help, although this number is likely to change between now and when the region switches in 2011. It is estimated that around seven million people in the UK will be eligible to receive help from the Switchover Help Scheme.

Television: Licensing

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when it became a requirement to have a television licence to receive television signals on mobile telephones in the home; how many prosecutions there have been of people who have received signals on mobile telephones without a licence; and if he will make a statement. [286187]

Mr. Simon: The legislation on TV licensing refers to television receivers and does not refer specifically to mobile phones.

Government do not hold figures on what particular type of television receiver was being used in any particular breach of the television licensing regulations.

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The interpretation of the TV licensing legislation, including an assessment of whether a mobile phone meets the definition of a television receiver under the legislation, is a matter for the BBC.


Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the armed forces rules of engagement in Afghanistan were last reviewed. [284852]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The UK's Rules of Engagement are reviewed regularly to ensure that they remain effective and compliant with international law.

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he plans to deploy in Afghanistan helicopters which are out of service for repair or maintenance work on completion of that work. [287180]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: On completion of repair or maintenance work, helicopters are returned to the Forward Fleet where they are used for operational or training purposes.

Those aircraft which are equipped to Theatre Entry Standard are likely to be deployed to Operational Theatres to allow other airframes to return to the UK to undergo regular, programmed servicing and maintenance.

The remaining aircraft in the Forward Fleet are with Front Line Squadrons, primarily for training purposes.

Armed Forces

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many serving officers there are in each of the three services. [287198]

Bill Rammell: As at 1 May 2009 the trained strength of UK Regular Forces(1) included 6,480 officers in the Naval Service, 13,800 in the Army and 8,420 in the Royal Air Force.

A full breakdown of the strength of UK Regular Forces by officer/other rank, training indicator and service can be found in Tri-Service Publication 1, which is published on a monthly basis at the following link:

Due to ongoing validation of data from the Joint Personnel Administration System, all strength statistics are provisional and subject to review.

Armed Forces: Health Services

Willie Rennie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions officials of his Department have met Scottish Executive health officials in each year since 2007; and at how many such meetings (a) the care of soldiers and veterans and (b) the sharing of best practice between the Defence Medical Services and NHS Scotland have been discussed. [282937]

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Mr. Kevan Jones: The main forum for discussions between the Ministry of Defence and Scottish Executive health officials is the MOD/UK Health Departments Partnership Board, at which a range of issues of mutual interest are discussed. The board meets three times a year, with a core remit to ensure that the MOD and UK Health Departments share best practice and work together to improve the health and healthcare of the UK armed forces, plus dependents and veterans, and such issues form the basis of its discussions. The Senior Medical Officer at the Scottish Executive is a standing member of the board and attends, or is represented at, its meetings.

In addition, there are three official level working groups that take forward specific works strands identified by the Partnership Board, and which meet on average four times a year. Scottish Executive officials are members of each of these Working groups, and attend meetings either in person or by video link.

Finally, numerous other official level discussions, both formal and informal, take place as required at both national and local level, to address the health needs of service personnel and their dependants across the entire patient care pathway.

Departmental Lost Property

Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many laptop computers belonging to (a) his Department and (b) its agencies have been lost or stolen in the last five years. [281076]

Mr. Kevan Jones: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 22 January 2009, Official Report, column 1669W, by my right hon. Friend the previous Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Mr. Ainsworth) to the hon. Member for Newark (Patrick Mercer).

Departmental Procurement

Lorely Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress his Department has made in implementing the recommendations of the Glover Report in its procurement processes. [287136]

Mr. Quentin Davies: The MOD is working with other Government Departments toward the implementation of all 12 key recommendations of the Glover Report. The MOD is participating fully in the Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) and Office of Government Commerce (OGC) led Glover Programme Board which oversees the implementation of the recommendations across Government.

Departmental Property

Mr. Neil Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) one, (b) two and (c) three or more bedroom properties are owned by or managed for his Department in inner London boroughs; and what his most recent estimate is of the average annual net cost of managing properties in each category. [287190]

Mr. Kevan Jones: For accommodating single Service personnel, this Department owns some 1,586 Single Living Accommodation (SLA) units in the inner London boroughs.

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For accommodating entitled Service families in the same area, the Department currently holds the following number of Service Family Accommodation (SFA) properties, the majority of which are leased from Annington Homes Ltd:

Property Type Number of Bedrooms Number of Properties

















Other Ranks













No separate estimate is made of the costs of living accommodation broken down by location and type.

In, cases where SFA or SLA is required but not available, substitute accommodation might be sourced from the commercial rental markets. The Department currently rents 1,245 Substitute Single Service Accommodation and 41 Substitute SFA properties in the inner London boroughs at an approximate monthly cost of £1.47 million.

Military Aircraft

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the cost of the future aircraft carrier programme in each of the next five years. [284532]

Mr. Quentin Davies: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 20 November 2008, Official Report, column 667W.

Following the equipment examination (EE) we decided to delay the carriers by one to two years, recognising that this would add cost. The new cost will be at least £4.6 billion but we are not yet able to provide a final estimate.

We do not release annual funding profiles as these are planning assumptions that are inevitably subject to a significant amount of variation, and their availability could also prejudice commercial interests.

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) required and (b) actual crew number for each helicopter type was in each of the last five years. [284543]

Bill Rammell: Historical figures for helicopter crew numbers are not held in the format requested. The numbers of aircrew personnel for each helicopter type are provided in the following tables.

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Royal Navy
As at 1 July 2009 Required strength Actual strength

Lynx Mk3/8



Lynx Mk7/9



Merlin Mk1



Sea King Mk4/6



Sea King Mk5



Sea King Mk7



Army Air Corps
As at 6 July 2009 Required strength Actual strength

Apache AH Mk1



Lynx Mk7/9



Gazelle Mk1



Dauphin N3 AH Mk1



Bell 212






(1) SAAVN figures cannot be split by aircraft type (AH/Squirrel/Lynx/Gazelle).

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