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16 Dec 2009 : Column 1216W—continued


Blenheim Crescent is made available to the United States visiting force and is commanded by a US officer. RAF Digby and RAF St. Mawgan are commanded by an RAF Station Commander.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reasons there are no RAF personnel at (a) RAF Barford St John, (b) RAF Blenheim Crescent, (c) RAF Welford, (d) RAF Molesworth, (e) RAF Upwood, (f) RAF Feltwell, (g) RAF Brampton and (h) RAF Henlow; and who the commanding officer is at each base. [307290]

Bill Rammell: RAF Barford St. John, RAF Welford, RAF Molesworth, RAF Upwood, RAF Feltwell and Blenhiem Crescent are all made available to the United States visiting force (USVF). These bases are all administered by other USVF sites, and as such, there are no RAF personnel at these sites with the exception of RAF Molesworth where there is one RAF officer present. As with all RAF stations where the USVF are present, the base commander is usually a United States Air Force officer, at colonel rank.

With regard to the numbers of RAF personnel at RAF Brampton and RAF Henlow, I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 7 December 2009, Official Report, column 90W.

RAF Fairford

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what emergency services will be maintained at RAF Fairford following the withdrawal of the US Air Force in 2010. [306812]

Bill Rammell: The current planning intent is to retain 24-hour fire and rescue services making use of Defence Fire Risk Management Organisation (DFRMO) personnel. Details surrounding shift patterns and numbers of personnel are being progressed with DFRMO and US Fire Service personnel at RAF Croughton, with formal trade union consultation expected to commence in January 2010.


16 Dec 2009 : Column 1217W

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the effect on emergency plane diversion plans from RAF Brize Norton of the US Air Force's withdrawal from RAF Fairford in September 2010. [306813]

Bill Rammell: The withdrawal of the United States Air Force from RAF Fairford will have no effect in the event of an aircraft having to make an emergency diversion from RAF Brize Norton.

RAF Lyneham

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the cost of decontamination at a vacated RAF Lyneham were the site to be sold for (a) commercial development, (b) agricultural purposes and (c) continuing military use. [307119]

Bill Rammell: It is the Department's policy to undertake a Land Quality Assessment (LQA) in advance of disposal of any site. Until an LQA to support disposal has been completed, it is not possible to give an estimate of costs relating to land contamination. We currently anticipate that an initial LQA of the site will be undertaken in financial year 2010-11.

If no further defence or wider government use can be found for RAF Lyneham, the site will be handed over to Defence Estates late 2012 for disposal on the open market or to former owners. However, it is too early to speculate at this stage what alternative non-military uses of the site might be.

RAF Welford

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether there are Ministry of Defence Police Agency staff based at RAF Welford. [307291]

Bill Rammell: There are currently both MOD police officers and members of the MOD Guard Service based at RAF Welford.

Rescue Services: Pembrokeshire

Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the likely effects of reduced operational hours at RMB Chivenor on search and rescue operations in Pembrokeshire. [306657]

Bill Rammell: With regard to current helicopter Search and Rescue: RMB Chivenor are due to provide 12-hour daytime cover only between 31 December and 7 February as part of a short-term programme of rotating night time closures. However, it is hoped that recent increases in trained SAR personnel may enable a return to 24-hour cover during this period. Arrangements are in place for all UK SAR helicopter units to provide temporary cover if required. The provision of adjacent SAR cover is standard practice and occurs routinely when a SAR helicopter is airborne on a search and rescue sortie or is unserviceable.

When the new Search and Rescue Helicopter (SAR-H) service takes over sometime after 2012, the service provided from RMB Chivenor will operate in the daytime only. In reaching this decision very careful consideration
16 Dec 2009 : Column 1218W
was given to ensuring that the future coverage would still be able to fully meet our national requirement for a night-time SAR Helicopter service to be able to reach all very high, high and 75 per cent. of medium risk areas within one hour from take off. The future SAR Helicopter service will benefit from new modern helicopters which will enable faster transit times to incidents in and from take off. The future SAR Helicopter service will benefit from new modern helicopters which will enable faster transit times to incidents in and around the UK including Pembrokeshire. These helicopters will be some 30 per cent. faster than the current MOD Sea Kings. As a result, the average transit time to all incidents in the Pembrokeshire area and its surrounding coastal waters during the night time (when it would be served by an adjacent base) will be comparable to the current transit times. Historically, over the last five years, RMB Chivenor has responded to a maximum of five incidents per year at night off the coast of Pembrokeshire.

Security Companies

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) complaints and (b) reports of human rights abuses in relation to activities of private military and security companies have been received by his Department awarded contracts by his Department in each of the last five years. [307010]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: No complaint or reports of human rights abuses have been received in connection to the activities of private security companies contracted by the MOD in the last five years.

Translation Services

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Punjabi speaking translators were available to (a) British and (b) coalition forces in (i) Iraq and (ii) Afghanistan in 2004. [305846]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Punjabi was not identified as an operational language in 2004 and has not been identified as such subsequently. There is therefore no record of Punjabi speaking translators available to British forces in 2004 in Iraq or Afghanistan. The MOD does not hold information on the number of Punjabi speaking translators available to coalition forces in either country.

Trident

Willie Rennie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department has paid Rolls-Royce for extending the life of the reactors for the Trident submarines. [305482]

Mr. Quentin Davies [holding answer 9 December 2009]: The Department has spent around £7 million with Rolls-Royce to assess the implications and undertake research work required to support the planned design life extension of the reactor plants, as advised in the 2006 Defence White Paper: The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent (Cm 6994).

Mrs. Cryer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence with reference to his letter of 28 August 2009 to the hon. Member for Keighley, ref: D/Min(AF)/BR
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MC03817/2009, on Trident replacement programme, when he expects to make the initial gate decision on the replacement of the Trident nuclear weapons system; and if he will make a statement. [307605]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: We had originally planned to consider the Concept Phase in autumn, but further time has been required to ensure that we take decisions based on robust information. We are aiming to be in a position to make an announcement early in the new year.

Olympics

Departmental Conferences

Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Minister for the Olympics how many (a) away days and (b) conferences that took place outside her Office's buildings attended by civil servants in her Office there have been since 2005; and what the cost was of each. [307466]

Tessa Jowell: Information on away days and conferences attended by civil servants in the Cabinet Office and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will be covered in the answers provided by the Minister of State for the Cabinet Office and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at DCMS, respectively.

Olympic Games 2012: Culture

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Minister for the Olympics how many programmes have been launched in each region as part of the Cultural Olympiad. [307133]

Tessa Jowell [holding answer 14 December 2009]: The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) works with the Cultural Olympiad Board and delivery partners throughout the cultural sector to deliver the Cultural Olympiad.

Many of the Major Projects that form the centerpiece of the Cultural Olympiad will have a regional dimension. Three of these have already launched-'Artists Taking The Lead', 'Stories of the World' and 'Unlimited'.

There is also a grassroots programme of cultural celebration led by LOCOG. This forms two parts. Firstly, London 2012 Open Weekend was held in September 2008 to launch the Cultural Olympiad, and then again in July 2009 to mark '3 Years To Go'. Secondly, LOCOG has developed the 'Inspire Mark', a version of the London 2012 brand for community use to launch or support local and legacy projects genuinely inspired by the Games. Details of these appear in the following table.


16 Dec 2009 : Column 1220W
Grassroots Cultural Olympiad projects by region, December 2009
Region Open weekend 2008 Open weekend 2009 Inspire mark

Northern Ireland

20

19

11

Scotland

2

4

1

Wales

5

19

8

London

311

230

63

East

49

27

21

East Midlands

15

72

10

South East

74

189

23

South West

45

47

25

North East

38

33

13

North West

41

55

19

West Midlands

39

54

14

Yorkshire

16

49

10

UK/multi-region

-

-

43

Total

655

798

261


Olympic Games 2012: Security

Tom Brake: To ask the Minister for the Olympics (1) what estimate she has made of the cost of the installation of the biometric hand and iris scanners for workers at the Olympic Park; [304865]

(2) how many biometric hand and iris scanners (a) have been and (b) are planned to be installed at the Olympic Park; [304918]

(3) what recent estimate she has made of the unit cost of obtaining iris information from an individual scanned at the Olympic Park; [304919]

(4) what the cost is of each biometric (a) hand and (b) iris scanner installed at the Olympic Park. [304864]

Tessa Jowell: The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) is committed to ensuring that the Olympic Park, venues and the work force engaged there are protected through proportionate security measures. Access controls, including the use of the latest technology, enable properly authorised, equipped and trained workers to enter and leave the Olympic Park quickly and safely.

To date, 43 hand readers and nine iris readers have been installed on the Olympic Park. The total number planned for installation is 65 and 13 respectively. The cost of each biometric hand and iris scanner is £1,416 for hand readers, and £2,824 for iris readers.

The estimated total cost of the installation of both hand and iris readers will be approximately £180,000, including installation and maintenance costs.

The iris biometric is an alternative to the hand geometry biometric, to facilitate the biometric enrolment of those workers on the Olympic Park who may have difficulty using the hand geometry system. Biometric access controls are routinely used on many major UK construction sites. The Olympic Park is the largest construction site in Europe, and we take our responsibility for the health and safety of the work force, and local residents very seriously.

Biometric checks are used to control access to the site only after the identity of individuals has been verified, including by the UK Borders Agency. After verification of identity, individuals go through an enrolment process, a small part of which is the capture of biometric data, which carries no additional cost. When individuals are then scanned upon entry to the park site, biometrics are checked against the data captured during the enrolment process.


16 Dec 2009 : Column 1221W

Olympic Games 2012: West Midlands

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Minister for the Olympics how many new sporting facilities are to be created in (a) the West Midlands and (b) Staffordshire arising from the London 2012 Olympics. [301614]

Tessa Jowell: Exchequer funding for sport has almost doubled since London's Olympic win in Singapore. In the three years up to the IOC vote in 2005 the amount of Exchequer funding from DCMS was £313 million, in the three years following it was £580 million.

Sport England is investing £480 million of Exchequer and lottery funds through 46 national governing bodies over the next four years to deliver this target and increase participation throughout the country. A proportion of the £480 million will be invested into capital facilities throughout the country.

The Government have provided £140 million for Free Swimming. This has helped deliver 10.4 million free swims for under 16s and over 60s around the country between April and September 2009. There are two new swimming pools in the West Midlands that have received funding from the Free Swimming Capital Modernisation Fund which will be completed in the next few months. Between June and September 2009 there have been 1,414,817 free swims in the West Midlands.

In the West Midlands the percentage of adults participating in sport at least three times a week increased from 14.5 per cent. in 2005-06 to 14.9 per cent. in 2007-08. In Staffordshire the percentage of adults participating in sport at least three times a week increased from 15.8 per cent. to 17.4 per cent. (The national average was 15.5 per cent. in 2005-06 and 16.5 per cent. in 2007-08).

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is actively seeking a games-time football venue in the Midlands.


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