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1 Dec 2009 : Column 607W—continued

Departmental Public Relations

Mr. Hurd: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what payments his Department has made to (a) Brunswick Group, (b) Weber Shandwick, (c) LLM Communications, (d) Financial Dynamics, (e) Cubitt Consulting and (f) Bell Pottinger Public Affairs in the last 12 months; for what purpose; and if he will place in the Library a copy of each contract under which such payments have been made. [302210]

Mr. Michael Foster: The Department for International Development (DFID) has not made any payments to the listed organisations in the last 12 months.

United Nations: Females

Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 23 November 2009, Official Report, column 27W, on the United Nations: females, if his Department will prepare a list of UK women nationals to be considered for nomination to senior positions on (a) the Committee on the Elimination of Violence Against Women and (b) the United Nations Agency for Women. [303347]

Mr. Michael Foster: The UK Government are committed to promoting a good quality field of candidates for the heads and senior leadership of all institutional institutions. In all cases we will promote open, transparent and merit-based processes. In some cases we may wish to promote a UK candidate where they are best qualified for the post. We have no plans to promote a UK candidate for either of these two appointments.


Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many coalition helicopters which can be called on by UK forces are available in Helmand province; and if he will make a statement. [302093]

Bill Rammell: It is not possible to provide details of the numbers of helicopters available to UK forces in Helmand province for operational security reasons; the release of this information would, or would be likely to, prejudice the capability, effectiveness, or security of our armed forces.

I can confirm that, in addition to our own helicopters, we draw on helicopter assets provided by our allies, including the Dutch, Canadians, Australians and Americans. Helicopter support to international security assistance force operations in southern Afghanistan is provided from a multi-national pool of helicopters allocated by regional command (south).

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Armed Forces: Cadets

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much funding his Department has provided to the (a) Air and (b) Sea Cadets in each year since 1997; and how much such funding has been allocated for each of the next two years. [300276]

Mr. Kevan Jones: In broad terms, the MOD spends approximately one in every 250 defence pounds on Cadets. The Air Cadet Organisation (ACO) has received the following funding from the Department:

Period Amount received (£ million)



























The figure for 2006-07 includes a funding allocation of £1.6 million for infrastructure modernisation and an Adult Volunteer Recruitment Campaign.

With effect from FY 2008-09 the funding of works services (comprising maintenance, refurbishment and replacement of the ACO estate of over 1,000 buildings) was transferred to Defence Estates and no longer falls within the ACO budget. Service manpower pay (estimated at approximately £3 million currently) was, from FY 2007-08, transferred to the Single Point Accounting system covering all RAF personnel and thus no longer forms part of the ACO budget. These funding allocations have been changed to reflect a more efficient way of paying for essential elements. The overall level of funding provided for cadet activities has not fallen and reflects our continued commitment to the Air Cadet Organisation.

The Marine Society and Sea Cadets are a registered charity and are supported by the MOD through a Grant in Aid. Figures prior to 2006 are not held in the format requested and could only be provided through a manual search of earlier records at disproportionate cost.

Period Amount received (£ million)









In respect of future allocations, the available resources for Defence expenditure are set during spending rounds. The most recent comprehensive spending review set the Department's budget for the financial years 2008-11.

Departmental expenditure plans for 2010-11 and beyond have not yet been agreed.

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Armoured Fighting Vehicles

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Mastiff 2 armoured vehicles are (a) deployed in Afghanistan, (b) owned by his Department and (c) on order. [302816]

Mr. Kevan Jones: I am withholding details on the number of Mastiff 2 protected vehicles deployed in Afghanistan as disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the armed forces. As at 23 November 2009, the Department owned 163 Mastiff 2s, with a further 35 on order.

Chelsea Barracks

Willie Rennie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence to what specific purposes revenue raised from the sale of Chelsea barracks in 2007-08 has been allocated. [303195]

Mr. Kevan Jones: I refer the hon. Member to the answer my predecessor gave on 15 September 2008, Official Report, column 2074W. There is no specific link between disposal receipts and individual elements of defence expenditure. Exceptionally, however, the disposal of Chelsea barracks for a total of £959 million, was included in the plans of the Department and underpinned investment in service accommodation of £250 million in 2007-08.

It was agreed as part of the 2007 comprehensive spending review that a further £550 million should be invested over the following three years with plans for the balance of the proceeds of £159 million, to be agreed with HM Treasury as part of the next spending review.

The disposal of Chelsea barracks has, therefore, secured the major investment in service accommodation through Project SLAM (single living accommodation modernisation), the service housing upgrade programme and many other significant accommodation projects in the UK and overseas to improve the living conditions for our service personnel.

Chinook Helicopters

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to upgrade former USAF CH-47D Chinook helicopters to the UK configuration. [303007]

Bill Rammell: The UK does not own any former USAF CH-47D Chinook helicopters and therefore has no plans to upgrade any of them to the current UK configuration.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he plans to purchase new Chinook helicopters; and if he will make a statement. [303008]

Mr. Kevan Jones: We have made clear in recent months that we are re-examining our future helicopter plans. We anticipate concluding this work shortly and will make any announcements thereafter. In the meantime, options for replacement for the two Chinook recently lost on operations are currently being pursued, and we are continuing to take measures to improve the capability
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of our Chinook fleet. This includes fitting the entire fleet with more powerful engines and modern avionic and cockpit displays, enhancing its ability to operate in the toughest of operational conditions. The delivery of eight reverted Chinook Mk3s in 2010 will also provide the Chinook fleet with increased resilience and the capacity to increase our heavy lift capability on operations.

Colombia: Military Aid

Anne Moffat: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence with reference to the Answer to the hon. Member for Richmond Park of 24 November 1999, Official Report, column 115W, on Colombia, when the UK ceased to provide the Colombian security forces with advisory visits and information exchanges on counter-guerilla strategy. [300413]

Bill Rammell [holding answer 23 November 2009]: The answer cited in the hon. Member's question refers to an element of a UK Army visit, which took place in 1997. The UK has not subsequently provided any specific counter-guerrilla or counter-insurgency assistance to the Colombian security forces.

Defence Support Group

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he plans to sell the Defence Support Group; and if he will make a statement. [303002]

Mr. Kevan Jones: We have no current plans to sell the Defence Support Group.

Defence: International Cooperation

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with other members of the European Defence Agency on joining the joint airlift capability. [303006]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The European Defence Agency's work on military strategic airlift is known as the European Air Transport Fleet (EATF) programme. We hold discussions with allies regularly on defence matters, including on the EATF. The UK's position, confirmed at formal European Defence Agency meetings, is that we have no current plans to participate in the EATF programme. We will continue to monitor the programme and keep our position under review.

Departmental Internet

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) page hits and (b) visitors his Department's website received in 2008-09. [301847]

Mr. Kevan Jones: The Ministry of Defence and armed forces collectively maintain four corporate websites. The number of page views and visitors during 2008-09 is detailed as follows. This analysis complies with the guidance issued by the Central Office of Information (COI) on the methodology for identifying website usage in response to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Sixteenth Report. This guidance can be found at the following link;

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Website URL Page impressions Unique visitors/browsers

MOD corporate website(1)



Royal Navy



British Army



Royal Air Force



(1) Page impression figure includes robot/spider activity.

A number of other websites are run by different parts of the Ministry of Defence, but these are not managed centrally, and the information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Ministerial Policy Advisers

Willie Rennie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what expenditure his Department incurred on the employment of special advisers to Ministers in the last 12 months. [301949]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Government are committed to publishing an annual list detailing the number and costs of special advisers. Information for 2008-09 was published by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 16 July 2009, Official Report, column 74WS.

Departmental Public Expenditure

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reasons the capital receipts in respect of Northern Ireland referred to in his Winter Supplementary Estimate for 2009-10 were lower than in his Department's estimates for 2008-09. [302863]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 30 November 2009]: The difference between the main estimates and those at winter supplementary estimates is because the Government have decided to gift, subject to parliamentary approval, a number of sites in Northern Ireland, which are no longer required for defence purposes, to the Northern Ireland Executive. The MOD has agreed £15 million capital relief from HM Treasury in respect of the consequent reduction in receipts.

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence under what budget headings funding from the non-budget non-voted grants-in-aid to the (a) Council of Reserve Forces and Cadets Association, (b) National Army Museum and (c) Royal Hospital Chelsea referred to in his Department's Winter Supplementary Estimate for 2009-10 will be spent. [302864]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 30 November 2009]: The additional sums sought in the Winter Supplementary Estimate cover the following:

(a) Reserve Forces and Cadets Association relates to the maintenance budget for the Volunteer Estate which was finalised too late for inclusion in the Main Estimates. The balance was for additional in-year staff and IT costs for the Association, vehicle provision for the Army Cadet Force and utility and other support costs for the Volunteer estate.

(b) National Army Museum Costs were for replacement boilers, removal of asbestos and staff costs.

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(c) Royal Hospital Chelsea covers higher utilities, superannuation costs and maintenance of the infirmary and care of pensioners in the Margaret Thatcher infirmary.

These costs are additional to the grants given in main estimates which covered pay and the general running costs of the organisations such as utilities, maintenance, works plus minor capital items.

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost to his Department was of provision of office facilities to (a) special advisers and (b) press officers in the 2008-09 financial year. [302975]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The MOD's Press Office and Special Advisers are provided with office facilities within the main building, the costs of which cannot be separately identified. No specific or additional provision was made for these facilities in Financial Year 2008-09.

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