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15 Jun 2010 : Column 340W—continued

Departmental Official Cars

Ian Austin: To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities what her policy is on the use by Ministers in the Government Equalities Office of cars allocated from (a) its pool and (b) the Government car pool which are manufactured in the UK; whether Ministers in that Office are entitled to request the use of a car manufactured in the UK; and if she will make a statement. [2399]

Lynne Featherstone: The Government Equalities Office does not have a pool of cars for use by its Ministers.

Arrangements are changing following the publication of the new Ministerial Code which contains changes that affect ministerial entitlement to travel by Government car. The code states that

Cabinet Office has provided clarification on how the code should be interpreted. The expectation is that Ministers not in the Cabinet will use the pool service and that Cabinet Ministers who have an allocated car will wish to consider how that car might be utilised by other Ministers within the Department before calls are made on the Government Car Service Pool.

The Department for Transport and its Government Car and Despatch Agency are working with Departments to effect the transition to the new arrangements.

Departmental Official Residences

Ian Austin: To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities whether any domestic properties in the gift of the Government have been allocated to the use of Ministers in her Department. [1794]

Lynne Featherstone: No domestic properties have been allocated to Ministers by the Government Equalities Office.

Departmental Translation Services

Ian Austin: To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities what (a) documents and (b) other information for which (i) the Government Equalities Office and (ii) its associated public bodies are
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responsible are published or provided in the UK in languages other than English; for what reason each such publication is required to be made available in a language or languages other than English; and what estimate she has made of the cost to the public purse of the translation work so incurred in the latest period for which figures are available. [1770]

Lynne Featherstone: The Government Equalities Office has arranged for the following documents and information to be published in Welsh: Equality Bill:

Framework for a Fairer Future; Equality Bill Consultation (Age)-Easy read; and Public Appointments cards.

The Government Equalities Office has also arranged for the Forced Marriage fact sheet in Urdu and Arabic; and the Female Genital Mutilation fact sheet in Somali.

The translations were produced in the appropriate language because the documents provide advice or policy statements that could have a bearing on those people whose first language is not English. The estimate cost of the above translations is £19,251.24.

The Women's National Commission (WNC) has arranged for documents to be published in Welsh at the request of WNC partners as part of our regular outreach activities. In September-October 2007, two Welsh events were held which required the translation of some documents for use on the day. This work amounted to £69.45 in total. In February 2008, event documentation was translated into Welsh costing £178.70.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission uses its Welsh Language Scheme to assess the need to publish documents in the Welsh language. Publications are assessed on a case by case basis. Criteria used will include the extent to which publications are to be used by the general public and stakeholders in Wales.

On average the Commission spends between £120,000 and £140,000 per year on all Welsh translation.

The Commission rarely translates its publications into other languages. This is again assessed on a case by case basis, with consideration given to the objectives of the project and needs of the target audience. For example, the Commission's recent inquiry into employment and recruitment in the meat processing industry took evidence from migrant workers who predominantly only spoke eastern European languages. Therefore additional translation of materials was undertaken. The cost of this translation was less than £5,000 in total.


Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the Talisman route clearance system is (a) fully operational and (b) being used. [2132]

Peter Luff: The Talisman route clearance system is being used in Afghanistan and has been fully operational since April 2010.

Derek Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the timetable is for the entry of the Watchkeeper air system into service in Afghanistan. [2517]

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Peter Luff: Watchkeeper is planned to be introduced into Afghanistan incrementally during 2011.

Andrew Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made towards awarding Afghan campaign medals to those who have served in the aero-med teams; and if he will make a statement. [2639]

Mr Robathan: The case for awarding the operational service medal (Afghanistan) to aero-medical evacuation teams is being actively considered.

Armed Forces Day

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to mark Armed Forces Day; and if he will make a statement. [2082]

Mr Robathan: Armed Forces Day is an annual opportunity for the nation to show their support for the men and women of the armed forces community: from currently serving troops to service families; and from ex-service personnel to cadets. This year the national event will take place in Cardiff and will begin with a parade from Cardiff castle to the millennium centre followed by many other events, including: a drumhead service; a fly past from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and the Red Arrows; a Campaign Reunion centre; displays and exhibitions from the Royal Marines Commando display team; as well as many non-military, family orientated activities, culminating with a firework display in Cardiff Bay.

Other initiatives include 'Fly the Flag', in which Government Departments and local councils are encouraged to fly the Armed Forces Day flag from 21 June until Armed Forces Day. Retail flags and window stickers are available to members of the public, there will be uniform to work and uniform to school days, and a special magazine is being produced. We are also making use of the internet and are happy to be supported by platforms such as Twitter, Flickr and YouTube, among others.

Across the country people are getting involved in hundreds of different events. Further information about these events or how individuals can organise their own can be found at

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which events Ministers of his Department will attend in connection with Armed Forces Day; and if he will make a statement. [2150]

Mr Robathan: On current plans, the Secretary of State for Defence will be attending the National Event in Cardiff on 26 June; the Minister for the Armed Forces will be attending the events in Plymouth; the Minister for International Security Strategy will be attending the events in Nottingham while the Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology will be attending the events planned in Manchester. I will be attending a flag raising event in London on 21 June. Ministers will continue to examine the possibility of being involved in other events to show support for the service community where the opportunity arises.

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Armed Forces: Contraceptives

Mr Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department has spent on condoms for members of the armed forces in each of the last five years for which figures are available; and for what reasons. [2377]

Mr Robathan: The Ministry of Defence's Defence Health Strategy (DHS) has as one of its targets the promotion of sexual health across the armed forces. This makes an important contribution to the aim of maximising the number of personnel fit to perform the tasks required of them. Within the Surgeon General's Department (SGD), the Defence Sexual Health Working Group provides guidance and promotes a range of promotional initiatives.

Since August 2008, SGD has held a health promotion budget to support the DHS, and has spent a total of around £80,000, £45,000 in 2008-09 and £35,000 in 2009-10, on provision of condom machines in service clubs and messes, as well as on individual packages of condoms for distribution throughout the armed forces. Further campaigns may have been funded by the single services, or even more locally at unit level, but expenditure in these areas is not readily available and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Armed Forces: Dogs

Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many dogs of each breed there are in each service of the armed forces; and what functions they carry out. [2056]

Mr Robathan: There are 399 military working dogs across the armed forces. Animal records are kept by function rather than by breed. Information by breed could be provided only at disproportionate cost, but breeds used are primarily labradors, German shepherd dogs, mallenots and English springer spaniels. The numbers of dogs are split across the services as follows:


Navy Army RAF









There are a further 503 dogs within the Ministry of Defence Police and Guarding Agency and other guarding organisations.

David Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether dogs are permitted in officers' messes; and if he will make a statement. [2060]

Mr Robathan: It is for the local commander to establish clear guidelines on the keeping of pets in messes.

Armed Forces: Health Services

Bridget Phillipson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for the future of the Army Recovery Capability; and if he will make a statement. [2637]

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Mr Robathan: The Ministry of Defence (MOD) remains committed to the Army Recovery Capability, as set out at the launch on 11 February this year. This new capability marks a further step forward in the support to our armed forces and will ensure the best possible care and management is provided to our wounded, sick and injured personnel.

The MOD has committed £30 million over the next four years to manage and deliver the Army Recovery Capability in partnership with the Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes, who have both generously committed £20 million towards the operational and build costs.

The Army Recovery Capability will bring together a range of separate services, such as the NHS, the charitable sector and other Government Departments, into a single coherent programme and will either return individuals to duty or prepare them for civilian life, however long that takes. For those who leave the armed forces, it will provide the right training, civilian employment advice and work placements.

A key element of the concept is the provision of purpose built centres. These will build on the experiences of the Pathfinder Centre that was established in Edinburgh on 17 August 2009. It is currently envisaged that there will be four centres, in Colchester, Catterick, Tidworth/Bulford and in Edinburgh. They will be located near or in Army garrisons to allow personnel the use of Army facilities and support from the Army. Members of all three services will be able to access them.

Armed Forces: Horses

David Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many times horses in the armed forces have been transported abroad in the last 12 months; and for what reasons; [2057]

(2) how many horses there are in each of the armed services; and how many carry out each function. [2058]

Mr Robathan: Neither the Royal Navy nor the Royal Air Force own any horses. There are a total of 485 horses in the Army, all of which are used for ceremonial purposes. 71 of these are based at the Defence Animal Centre for training and to provide a reserve to cover injury and sickness.

In the last 12 months horses have been transported abroad twice. A breakdown is shown in the following table:

Date Purpose Number

July 2009

Basle Military Tattoo


October 2009

Abu Dhabi International Equestrian Exhibition


In both cases there was no additional charge to the public purse as costs were met by the event organisers.

Armed Forces: Housing

Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department spent upgrading single living service accommodation in each of the last five years. [2642]

Mr Robathan: As part of a £1.4 billion investment programme, since 2003 some 40,000 new or improved
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single living accommodation (SLA) bed-spaces have been delivered. A further 20,000 are planned by 2013, subject to future funding decisions.

The programme is being delivered through various initiatives across the Department, including private finance initiative projects where SLA improvements are only one element of the work. Exact expenditure by year cannot be separately identified and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for the future of the Armed Forces Shared Equity scheme; and if he will make a statement. [2644]

Mr Robathan: The pilot of the Armed Forces Home Ownership Scheme is due to last four years. The Ministry of Defence will continue to monitor and evaluate the scheme through the Homes and Communities Agency.

Plans to continue beyond the pilot will be determined by take-up rates, feedback as to whether the scheme meets the aspirations of service personnel, value for money and affordability.

Andrew Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department (a) spent in each of the last five years and (b) intends to spend in each of the next two years upgrading armed forces housing. [2647]

Mr Robathan: The following has been spent upgrading service family accommodation properties in the last five financial years:

Financial year Spend (£ million)











While the Department plans many more upgrades in future years, expenditure on this, as with other areas of defence spending, will be subject to the future funding decisions.

The coalition Government will look at whether there is scope to refurbish the armed forces' accommodation from efficiencies within the Ministry of Defence.

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