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19 Oct 2009 : Column 1227W—continued

19 Oct 2009 : Column 1228W

Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 16 October 2009]: The total cost for the two gifted helicopters was £2.5 million, £1.25 million per aircraft.

Information on the purchase price of a new helicopter at the time the gift was made is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Nuclear Submarines: Decommissioning

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence who the advisers are to his Department's interim storage of laid-up submarines (ISOLUS) programme; for what reason (a) Dr. Jane Hunt and (b) Dr. Bill Thompson are no longer advisers to the programme; how many participants in the programme have left it since the departure of Dr. Hunt and Dr. Thompson; and how much is being spent on the ISOLUS programme in 2009-10. [293623]

Bill Rammell: The Submarine Dismantling Project (SDP-formerly the ISOLUS project) Advisory Group provides independent scrutiny and advice to the MOD on SDP activities and plans. There are 25 non-MOD members, who represent a range of organisations, covering inter alia industry, academia, regulatory bodies and non-governmental organisations.

A full list of the members of the SDP Advisory Group can be found on the SDP website:

Drs. Hunt and Thompson were employed under a contract to Lancaster university to provide communications support to the project. On the expiry of that contract in March 2009, a new contractor was employed following an open competition. Lancaster university did not bid for that contract. Following a subsequent review of the group's membership, it was assessed by the MOD that the two individuals' skills were duplicated elsewhere within the group. It was therefore decided that their continued membership was not necessary and, as members' attendance is funded by the MOD, did not represent good value for taxpayers' money.

Since the departure of Drs. Hunt and Thompson in August 2009, two other members of the group have tendered their resignations.

The current forecast spend on SDP in financial year 2009-10 is £3.9 million.

Party Conferences

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether any of his Department's non-departmental public bodies sent representatives to attend one or more political party conferences in 2009. [293473]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: None of the Ministry of Defence's Executive, Advisory or Independent Monitoring Board non-departmental public bodies sent representatives to any of the political party conferences in 2009.

Royal Regiment of Scotland: Manpower

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) trained, (b) actual strength and (c) numbers fit for duty requirement is for each (i) regular and (ii) territorial infantry battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland. [293428]

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Bill Rammell: Infantry manning deficits have been reduced markedly and the situation continues to improve fast due to a number of factors including the introduction of exceptional action measures, financial incentives, improved marketing and the current economic situation. However, the strength of individual battalions will tend to fluctuate naturally over time, according to their planned duties.

"Trained Requirement" has been interpreted as the maximum number of trained posts in a battalion's peace time configuration.

"Actual strength" has been interpreted as the number of personnel assigned to a battalion for its planned duties. It will also include augmentees who are temporarily assigned if needed to support the role of the battalion, for operational military tasks and events that cannot be achieved within required strengths. Similarly, the figures exclude those assigned out of the battalion to augment other units.

"Fit for duty" has been interpreted as fit for primary role, including personnel listed as having limited deploy ability, plus personnel who are unfit for deployment but who can perform a role in an alternative capacity. The difference between the actual strength and number fit for duty represents those who are medically non-effective and therefore unfit for any form of duty.

As at 1 October 2009, the figures for Royal Regiment of Scotland regular battalions are provided in the following table.

Battalion Trained r equirement Actual s trength Scots

1 Scots




2 Scots




3 Scots




4 Scots




5 Scots




As at 1 October 2009, the figures for Royal Regiment of Scotland Territorial Army battalions are provided in the following table.

Battalion Trained r equirement Actual s trength SCOTS









n/a = not available.

Data concerning fit for duty personnel are not collected for the Territorial Army.

Service Complaints Commissioner

Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what changes have been made to the location of offices of the Service Complaints Commissioner for the Armed Forces in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. [294188]

Mr. Kevan Jones: The Service Complaints Commissioner has been in her independent external office (Victoria Street, London, SWl) since July 2008. We have secured an additional office within that building to accommodate recent increases in support staff and equipment.

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Somalia: Armed Conflict

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what British military assistance has been provided for operations in Somalia; and if he will make a statement. [293164]

Bill Rammell: The UK armed forces have provided a colonel to the UN political office in Somalia, which is attempting to co-ordinate international policy towards Somalia, and in so doing works closely with Africa Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which directly supports the stand up of the Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu.

We are working comprehensively with other Whitehall Departments on a broad Somalia strategy. In line with this, we are providing training and support to Uganda and Burundi who are providing troops for AMISOM, and are working to build the capability of the Somaliland Coastguard. We are also engaged with international partners, including through the international Contact Group on piracy off the coast of Somalia, to deliver regional capability building projects.

Furthermore, we are currently at the forefront of three international counter-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia: the EU Operation Atalanta; the NATO Operation Ocean Shield; and the coalition Combined Task Force 151.

Territorial Army: Medals

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will reduce the requirement for members of the Territorial Army to have qualified for bounty from nine out of 10 years to eight out of 10 years for applications for the Volunteer Reserve Service Medal. [293128]

Bill Rammell: There are currently no plans to amend the eligibility criteria for the Volunteer Reserve Service Medal. To receive this award, reserve forces men and women, regardless of rank, must be certified efficient, as required by their obligatory training commitment defined in individual service regulations.


Joan Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his estimate is of (a) the cost and (b) the length of time it would take to decommission Trident and its facilities; and if he will make a statement. [289768]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: When nuclear submarines leave the naval service, they will be subject to a process known as Defuel, De-equip and Lay-up Preparation, which will involve spent nuclear materials being removed for storage at Sellafield, and any remaining irradiated material being secured within the reactor compartment. In line with current practice for other submarines now leaving service, the submarines themselves will then be stored afloat at either Devonport or Rosyth, pending final disposal.

The submarines will then be dismantled, a process that will take approximately 12 months. The current budget for this process (known as the Submarine Dismantling Project) is some £1.5 billion. This covers the dismantling of 27 nuclear submarines from HMS Dreadnought through to HMS Vengeance, the 4th boat in the current nuclear deterrent fleet. At present costs of decommissioning cannot be broken down by class.

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Faslane and other facilities associated with the submarine flotilla will remain in service to support the future deterrent and the Astute class submarine. There are no plans for decommissioning these facilities.

Type 42 Destroyers

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what official visits he has made to Type 42 destroyers in the last 12 months. [293815]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: None.



Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will make an assessment of the potential impact of implementation of the UN Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance on British counter-terrorism policy. [293124]

Mr. Wills: The Government support the International Convention and believe that it will have an important role in preventing enforced disappearance and secret detention in the future. The UK played an active part in the negotiations prior to the drafting of the convention and supported its adoption in 2008 at the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly.

The UK is prepared to give its signature to treaties only when it has a clear intention to ratify within a reasonable timescale. The Government are conscious of
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the potentially significant impact of the convention in the domestic context, and we are therefore continuing our detailed assessment of the provisions of the convention and their effect across all areas of UK law and policy.

In particular, we are analysing the extent to which common law provisions may need to be replicated in statute law; whether any new criminal offences would need to be introduced; and whether the UK would enter any reservations or declarations on ratification.

Ratification will require primary legislation to facilitate changes to domestic law and the introduction of such primary legislation will depend on securing parliamentary time. The complexity of the issues still under consideration means that we are not setting a deadline for completion of our analysis, but work is being progressed as rapidly as possible.

Departmental Dismissal

Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many staff have (a) been dismissed and (b) had their contract terminated by his Department in each of the last five years; what the primary reason was in each case; and what the severance costs in relation to (i) dismissal and (ii) contract termination were in each such year. [290250]

Mr. Straw: The number of staff dismissed and who have had their contracts terminated over the last five years together with the reason for dismissal is shown in the following table. The figures given over this period represent the Ministry of Justice (from May 2007) and its predecessor organisations.

Reason for dismissal 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09

Dismissal for inefficiency during probation






Dismissal on disciplinary grounds






Dismissal for inefficiency






End of conditional appointment (failed pre-employment checks)






End of fixed term contract






Voluntary early severance on compulsory terms






Voluntary early severance on flexible terms






Grand total






The number of dismissals as a proportion of the Ministry's work force (based on headcount) is 1.73 per cent. for 2007-08 and 1.48 per cent. for 2008-09.

The costs associated with these dismissals and contract terminations are not recorded centrally. In the last five years, there have been no compulsory redundancies. The severance costs related to voluntary early departures (as a result of re-organisations and restructurings) are not distinguishable from the costs of other types of dismissal, for example, compromise agreements. A manual check of each individual file would need to be undertaken to establish these figures, and this would incur disproportionate cost.

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