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4 Nov 2010 : Column 939Wcontinued
Mr Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when he plans to bring forward proposals to enable local authorities to return to the committee system of government. 
Robert Neill: As set out in our coalition agreement, "The Coalition: Our Programme for Government", we are committed to allow councils to return to the committee system should they wish to. We intend to provide for this in our forthcoming Localism Bill.
Ms Angela Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will make an estimate of the number of redundancies likely to be made by local authorities as a result of the spending reductions proposed in the Comprehensive Spending Review. 
Robert Neill: It is for individual councils to make local decisions about how their work forces are organised and managed to deliver efficient services for local taxpayers within the resources they have available.
Ms Angela Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will make an estimate of the likely cost to local authorities of staff redundancy arising from the spending reductions proposed in the comprehensive spending review. 
Robert Neill: Redundancy decisions are for individual councils to take within the discretions provided by the Local Government (Early Termination of Employment) (Discretionary Compensation) (England and Wales) Regulations 2006.
Amber Rudd: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when he plans to respond to the letter of 7 October 2010 from the hon. Member for Hastings and Rye on the Bellwin Fund. 
Robert Neill: I replied to my hon. Friend on 28 October.
Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will review his Department's planning guidance on the distance between residential homes and open cast mining areas for the purposes of aligning it with the equivalent guidance in Scotland. 
Robert Neill: We will publish and present to Parliament a simple and consolidated national planning policy framework covering all forms of development and setting out national economic, environmental and social priorities. We will make an announcement on how we propose to take forward the national planning framework and the implications for specific areas of planning policy shortly.
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will list the (a) destination, (b) cost to the public purse and (c) purpose
of each overseas visit undertaken by the right hon. Member for Tooting (Sadiq Khan) when he was Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in his Department. 
Robert Neill: The information requested is as follow:
|Date||Destination||Purpose of visit||Total cost including travel and accommodation (£)|
Julian Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps his Department is taking to ensure transparency in the activities of parish councils. 
Robert Neill: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to him by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on 21 October 2010, Official Report, column 813W. It is important that there is transparency in the activities of parish and towns councils, and accordingly we are requesting them to publish details of items of expenditure over £500 online, so that local electors know how their council tax is being spent. We will continue to work with parish councils to help ensure that they can fulfil this request.
Fiona Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance his Department issues on the period within which a local authority must issue a written decision notice following a strategic planning committee decision to refuse planning approval. 
Robert Neill: The Department does not issue guidance on this matter. Local authorities are required to determine planning applications within the timeframes set out in Article 29 of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2010. For an application for major development, this is 13 weeks, in respect of any development that is not major development, 8 weeks, and in cases where the application is subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment, 16 weeks, or such extended period as may have been agreed in writing between the applicant and the local planning authority.
Where a local authority fails to determine an application within the set timescales, an applicant has the right of appeal against non-determination under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.
Lisa Nandy: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what his estimate is of the number of rooms available in the private rented sector in shared accommodation in each (a) region, (b) local authority, (c) constituency and (d) broad rental market area; and what his estimate is the proportion of such rooms which will be offered at rents below the local housing allowance rates in 2012; 
(2) how many and what proportion of people aged 25 to 35 who live in the private rented sector but do not claim housing benefit occupy shared housing in each (a) region, ( b ) local authority , (c) constituency and (d) broad rental market area; 
(3) how many and what proportion of properties in each (a) region, (b) local authority, (c) constituency and (d) broad rental market area are shared accommodation. 
Steve Webb: I have been asked to reply.
Information on the number of dwellings available in shared accommodation in the private rented sector is not available. In 2012, the local housing allowance rates will be set at the 30th percentile of rents in each broad rental market area, ensuring that 30 percent of properties, for each property size, would be affordable under the local housing allowance arrangements.
Kate Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate he has made of the number of individuals in households in which at least one member works for at least 16 hours per week who will (a) have their income reduced and (b) fall below the equivalised poverty threshold of 60 per cent. of median household income as a result of his proposals on the level of rent which social landlords may charge new tenants. 
Grant Shapps: We will publish more detail on the implementation of new 'affordable rent' tenure shortly. Existing social tenants will retain their existing rights and tenure. Our proposals will involve increasing the affordable housing stock, increasing opportunity and quality of life for those currently on housing waiting lists.
Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many households in social housing have registered for a transfer to smaller accommodation (a) nationally and (b) in each region in the latest period in which figures are available. 
Andrew Stunell: The information requested is not collected centrally.
Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many transfers from larger to smaller properties took place within the social housing sector in the last 12 months. 
Andrew Stunell: According to the Department's HSSA local authority return, in 2008-09 local authorities made a total of 30,896 lettings to tenants who were transferring within the same LA. Of these a total of 6,830 lettings (22% of the total) involved a move to a property with fewer bedrooms than they had in their previous home.
Equivalent figures for housing associations are not available.
Further information on social lettings is published in the live tables at the following link:
Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent estimate he has made of the average waiting time for households in the social rented sector seeking properties with (a) one bedroom, (b) two bedrooms, (c) three bedrooms and (d) four bedrooms or more in each (i) region and (ii) local housing authority area in the latest period in which figures are available. 
Andrew Stunell: The information requested is not collected centrally.
Simon Kirby: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether he plans to reduce the funding allocated to the Supporting People budget for local authorities by the same amount in each year of the spending review period; and if he will make a statement. 
Andrew Stunell: The Supporting People programme national allocation (England) for the current financial year and each year of the spending review are:
Individual local authority allocations will form part of the local government announcement to be made in December.
Simon Kirby: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will estimate the change in the Supporting People budget for Brighton and Hove City Council in each year of the spending review period; and if he will make a statement. 
Andrew Stunell: Individual local authority Supporting People programme allocations will form part of the local government announcement to be made in December.
Dr Huppert: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will review the position set out in the December 2006 exchange of letters between the then Prime Minister and the President of the United States on nuclear missile sharing to take account of the current economic climate. 
Dr Fox: We continue to believe that the arrangements outlined in the December 2006 exchange of letters between the then Prime Minister and President of the United States represents excellent value for money for the United Kingdom. Therefore we believe that, especially in the current economic climate, it makes sense to continue cooperation with the US through the auspices of the Polaris Sales Agreement and Mutual Defence Agreement.
Mr Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department plans to spend on operations in Afghanistan in each of the next four years. 
Dr Fox: The Government will fully fund the net additional costs of military operations in Afghanistan from the Government reserve. For the spending review period years, the special reserve has been forecast at £4 billion, £3.8 billion, £3.8 billion and £3.5 billion.
The specific costs of operations in Afghanistan at any time, will be dependent on a range of factors including the nature of the mission, the size of the deployed force, the operational tempo, and the level of spend on urgent operational requirements. The precise spend is, therefore, difficult to predict at any given range. Accordingly, the Department requests resources from Parliament on an annual basis, through the supply estimates process, using updated forecasts in each financial year.
Nicholas Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many of each type of Royal Air Force combat aircraft are deployed in Afghanistan. 
Nick Harvey: There are currently 10 UK Tornado GR4 aircraft deployed in Afghanistan.
Nicholas Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the Royal Air Force command structure is on the ground in Afghanistan. 
Mr Robathan: There are two UK Expeditionary Air Wings deployed in Afghanistan, one at Camp Bastion and the other at Kandahar Airfield. These report to the UK's Air Component Commander based in Al Udeid, Qatar.
Mr Russell Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions Royal Air Force fighters were scrambled from each base to intercept aircraft in the last 12 months. 
Nick Harvey: Royal Air Force Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) aircraft have launched on 13 separate days between 1 November 2009 and 31 October 2010.
QRA aircraft are held at ground readiness at RAF Coningsby and RAF Leuchars. I am withholding the information as to which base QRA aircraft were launched from for each incident as its disclosure would, or would be likely to prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the armed forces.
Michael Dugher: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of his proposed modifications to aircraft carrier catapult-launch and arresting-gear operations. 
Peter Luff: As announced on 19 October 2010, we plan to deliver the carrier strike capability from around 2020 with the carrier variant of the Joint Strike Fighter and Queen Elizabeth class carrier fitted with catapults and arrestor gear to enhance the capability of UK carrier strike. We are investigating the optimum means of achieving this outcome, working with industry and our international partners. No decisions have been taken as to the type of system, delivery dates or procurement route, or whether both carriers will be converted. Until this work is complete, it is too early to provide an accurate estimate of the cost.
Bridget Phillipson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the correspondence address is of each supplier of (a) equipment, (b) personnel, (c) parts and (d) assembly facilities for the aircraft carrier project; and how many such suppliers there are in each (i) Government office region, (ii) local authority area and (iii) parliamentary constituency. 
Peter Luff: I will place the available information in the Library of the House in respect of the members of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance and the sub-contractors supporting the build of the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers.
Mr Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the deployability ratios for (a) the Royal Marine Commando and (b) the Army infantry are. 
Nick Harvey: The information is not held in the format requested.
The following table indicates what proportion of Royal Marine Commandos and Army Infantry were medically fully deployable, medically limited deployable, or medically not deployable as at 1 September 2010.
|Royal Marine Commando||Infantry|
1. Royal Marine Commando has been defined as all trained regular Royal Marines excluding Royal Marines Band.
2. The figures are for trained Regular Forces only and therefore exclude Gurkhas, Full Time Reserve Service, Mobilised Reserves, TA and all other Reserves.
Other factors may lead to an individual being unable to deploy at any given time, such as absence on a training course. Data relating to such additional reasons are not held centrally and could only be determined by conducting a manual search of records on multiple sites.
Laura Sandys: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reason injured personnel assessed by the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency are required to undergo assessment by the Department for Work and Pensions in order to claim disability living allowance. 
Mr Robathan: The War Pension Scheme (WPS) administered by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) provides no-fault compensation to all former service personnel where illness, injury or death is caused by service before 6 April 2005. Where there is an entitlement to supplementary allowances under this scheme these are paid by the MOD. However, a pensioner cannot receive these allowances at the same time as receiving benefits for the same condition(s) from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). For example, a pensioner in receipt of War Pension Mobility Supplement (WPMS) cannot also receive the mobility component of disability living allowance (DLA) from the DWP.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many units of each type of living accommodation are available at (a) RAF Marham and (b) RAF Lossiemouth; and what the rate of occupancy of each type is. 
Mr Robathan: At RAF Marham there are 641 service family accommodation (SFA) properties, of which 584 are currently occupied, and 1,195 single living accommodation (SLA) bedspaces of which 1,162 are occupied.
At RAF Lossiemouth there are 175 SFA, of which 165 are occupied and 862 SLA of which 853 are occupied. Some families based at Lossiemouth may also reside in SFA at Elgin.
Mr Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of the 17,000 reduction in Armed Forces personnel he expects to be achieved through redundancy. 
Mr Robathan: Every opportunity will be taken to reduce manpower through natural wastage and reduced intake. Where this cannot be achieved a targeted redundancy programme will go ahead.
Mr Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence by what means he plans to reform the structure of the Army without altering the structure of infantry battalions; and if he will make a statement. 
Nick Harvey: The Strategic Defence and Security Review has determined that the Army should be restructured into five multi-role brigades (MRBs) designed to make the Army more flexible. This restructuring will take place alongside measures to reduce the size of the Army by approximately 7,000 by 2015. Detailed planning to determine exactly how and when this restructuring will be done is now under way. All infantry battalions will be incorporated into the new Army structure, while the reductions in personnel will be found from administrative and supporting elements such as headquarters staff and some combat support and combat service support force elements. Infantry battalions will not operate exclusively under the MRB structure, as they are routinely attributed to other military tasks.
Dr Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when each boat in the Astute-class submarine flotilla will enter service; what stage of production has been reached in respect of each boat which has been ordered; and when he expects each of the remaining boats to be ordered. 
Peter Luff: On 19 October 2010, the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) (Cm7948) confirmed the Department's intention to purchase seven Astute class submarines. Since 1997, contracts have been awarded that relate to six Astute submarines. Boats 1 to 3 were ordered as one batch and subsequent orders for Boats 4 to 6 have followed the previous Government's policy of incremental approval.
The First of Class, HMS Astute, was commissioned into the Royal Navy on 27 August 2010 and is currently undertaking a period of extensive sea trials before she is handed over to the Royal Navy for operational service. Production of Boats 2 to 5 continues at BAE Systems Submarine Solutions' shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness, and earlier this year long lead items for Boat 6 were ordered.
As part of the SDSR, which included a commitment to build a seventh boat, the Department also detailed its intention to work with British industry to improve efficiency and optimise to expected demand its capacity to build and support submarines. The outcome of this work will inform the future contracting milestones and in-service dates for the Astute class of submarines. It will not be possible to confirm this information until it has been approved through the Department's and HM Treasury's formal investment approvals process.
Mr Fabian Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which military bases in the UK (a) form part of and (b) provide support services for the US Missile Defense System; what support for the system is provided in each case; and if he will make a statement. 
Nick Harvey: The UK provides support to the US Ballistic Missile Defense system by sharing radar early warning information from RAF Fylingdales and by allowing the US to use a ground station at RAF Menwith Hill to receive satellite early warning information. This information is routed into the US Ballistic Missile Defense command and control system.
Mr Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence where the remaining Challenger 2 tanks will be based after 2015; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Robathan [holding answer 2 November 2010]: Following the strategic defence and security review's conclusion that the Army should reduce the number of Challenger 2 tanks, detailed work on planning and implementation has now begun. This will determine where the Army's Challenger 2 tanks will be based after 2015. Factors likely to affect this work will include the Army's accelerated withdrawal from Germany, revised fleet management options and training requirements, and ongoing work on the future of the Defence estate.
Mr Reid: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the number of (a) service personnel, (b) civilian staff directly employed by his Department and (c) civilian staff employed by contractors who (i) are based at HMNB Clyde and (ii) will be based at HMNB Clyde after it becomes the base for all Royal Navy submarines. 
Peter Luff [holding answer 2 November 2010]: Approximately 3,300 military personnel and 1,390 Ministry of Defence civilians are employed at Faslane and Coulport, the two main sites at Her Majesty's Naval Base Clyde. In addition there are some 1,600 civilians employed by contractors.
The Government are committed to the Maritime Change Programme, which will make HMNB Clyde the main operating base for all classes of submarine. We are now assessing the impact of these changes across Defence, including personnel, accommodation, support and infrastructure.
Mr Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence with reference to Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty, Cm 7948, page 15, to which projects the £38 billion of unfunded liabilities relate. 
The £38 billion figure refers to the estimated difference between the cost of the Defence programme and the Ministry of Defence budget under an assumed flat real settlement over the 10 years 2011-12 to 2020-21,
prior to the outcomes of the Strategic Defence and Security Review. The figure is based on a number of assumptions, including inflation, fuel prices, foreign exchange rates and armed forces pay awards, and has the potential, therefore, to change over time.
|Unfunded liability over 10 years (£ billion)|
|(1) Of which service manpower costs above inflation are £4.4 billion|
Mr Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which contracts his Department has renegotiated since May 2010; and which contracts it plans to renegotiate following the outcome of the Strategic Defence and Security Review. 
Mr Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what contracts his Department plans to renegotiate; and with which companies he has begun contract negotiations. 
Peter Luff: At any one time the Ministry of Defence has many thousands of extant contracts. These are not centrally managed. However, during the period from May to October 2010 a number of contracts will have been renegotiated as part of routine MOD business.
The Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) set out the capabilities the armed forces require now and in the future. As a consequence, changes are required to a number of our equipment and support programmes.
The MOD will now start to engage its suppliers in commercial renegotiations to implement the major changes that were announced in the SDSR. We have identified over 600 contracts that are likely to be renegotiated in this phase of work. At this initial stage we are unable to provide detail on precise contracts and the impact of these renegotiations on defence and associated industries.
In parallel, the MOD will also be renegotiating some private finance initiative contracts; implementing pan-government efficiency reform initiatives; introducing an improved way of managing our estates through Next Generation Estates Contracts (NGEC); and seeking short-term and structural cost reductions. Prior to the SDSR, the MOD held a series of sessions with key suppliers inviting them to offer innovative cost-effective solutions to providing current and future defence capabilities. MOD officials saw 17 major companies, including the MOD's top 10 suppliers, and received more than 100 proposals which could yet yield potentially significant savings. All of the proposals require further detailed work on legal, financial and commercial issues.
The MOD is also in discussion with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) to review the Government Profit Formula and its Associated Arrangements (the so-called "Yellow Book"). This review will start early in the new year and is expected to last for 18 months.
The renegotiation process is being led by a steering group comprising senior members of the MOD, meeting twice a week to ensure efficiencies are delivered as
planned. The steering group will report to a Whitehall Liaison Group to ensure cross-Government coherence.
Bridget Phillipson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) military and (b) civilian personnel in (i) his Department and (ii) each of the armed services are employed at each rank or grade in each (A) Government office region, (B) local authority area and (C) parliamentary constituency. 
Mr Robathan: Details of the number and location of military personnel broken down by Service, county, unitary authority and local authority area are available on the following website:
http://www.dasa.mod.uk/applications/newWeb/www/index. php?page=48&pubType=0&thiscontent=100&PublishTime= 09:30:00&date=2010-08-26&disText=01% 20Jul%202010&from=listing&topDate=2010-08-26
I will place a copy in the Library of the House.
Details of civilian personnel numbers and location is produced for the Department as Civilian Personnel Statistics 06-MOD Civilian Personnel by global and UK locations, a copy of which will be placed in the Library of the House.
Residential address information for both civilian and military personnel is not held with reference to parliamentary constituency. Information on rank or grade is not held in the format requested.
Michael Dugher: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of (a) 5,000 redundancies from the Royal Navy, (b) 7,000 redundancies from the Army, (c) 5,000 redundancies from the Royal Air Force and (d) 25,000 redundancies from the civilian staff of his Department. 
Ms Angela Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how much funding to meet staff redundancy costs was identified in his Department's settlement letter in respect of the Comprehensive Spending Review; 
(2) what estimate he has made of the cost to his Department of staff redundancy in each of the next four years. 
Mr Robathan: As far as possible, the Ministry of Defence will achieve the reductions announced in the spending review and the Strategic Defence and Security Review through natural wastage. Where this is not possible, early release/redundancy schemes will be put in place.
The terms of armed forces redundancy schemes are governed by Statutory Instruments. The compensation paid to civil servants on loss of office is governed by the rules of the Civil Service Compensation Scheme. This is a statutory scheme on which the Minister for the Cabinet Office announced plans for reform in July. Work is continuing to finalise the new compensation arrangements and an Amendment Scheme will be put to Parliament to effect the changes in due course.
Until the terms for the Civilian Voluntary Early Release Scheme are known, and further detailed planning is complete on where and when the reductions will take place, it is not possible to provide robust estimates of the costs of redundancy.
The Government do not make public the contents of departmental settlement letters.
Ms Angela Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the number of redundancies arising from the spending reductions proposed in the Comprehensive Spending Review in respect of (a) his Department and (b) its non-departmental public bodies. 
Mr Robathan: The Ministry of Defence estimates that it will need to make staff reductions of some 25,000 civilian employees and 17,000 service personnel as a result of the spending review and the strategic defence and security review. The civilian reductions include a presumed transfer of posts outside of the MOD through the announced sale of the Defence Support Group and greater use of contractorisation to undertake support activities.
As far as possible, these reductions will be achieved through natural wastage. Where this is not possible, early release/redundancy schemes will be put in place. Until further detailed planning is complete, it is not possible to provide detailed estimates of how may redundancies will be necessary. In some instances, for example where we have decided to sell or outsource the function, reductions will be achieved by the transfer of employees to the private sector.
Staffing levels in the MOD's non-departmental public bodies are a matter for their own management.
Mr Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which air-launched weapons he intends to complement the Typhoon, as referred to in Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty. 
Peter Luff: Typhoon will be equipped with the Paveway IV bomb from 2012. We are also exploring the future integration of the Meteor air to air missile, Brimstone and Storm Shadow air-launched weapons.
Mr Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of giving Typhoon an air-to-ground capability. 
Peter Luff [holding answer 2 November 2010]: The equipment cost of integrating an air-to-ground capability on Typhoon Tranche 1 aircraft is £85 million. The Typhoon Future Capability Programme is planned to provide enhancements to Typhoon Tranche 2 aircraft, both in the air-to-air and air-to-ground roles. The forecast equipment cost of this programme, as published in the Major Projects Report 2010, is £489 million.
Dr Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he plans to take to retain the fixed-wing fast-jet flying skills of the Fleet Air Arm during any period between the phasing out of Harriers and the phasing in of the Joint Strike Fighter. 
Peter Luff [holding answer 3 November 2010]: We plan to regenerate a Carrier Strike capability by around 2020 based on the Queen Elizabeth class carriers and the more capable Carrier Variant of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) in a JSF force which will be manned by Royal Navy and Royal Air Force personnel. We are presently putting together a detailed plan for managing the transition to the new capability. One important element of this will involve the Department working closely with industry and allies, particularly the US and France. As an example, we already have a small team of Royal Navy and Royal Air Force personnel in the United States as part of the JSF programme, and we expect their numbers to rise steadily over the next few years.
Mr Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many A400M aircraft he plans to procure. 
Peter Luff: The UK expects to receive no fewer than 22 A400M aircraft, as published in the Major Projects Report 2010.
John Glen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will assess the effect on the capability of any new aircraft carrier of any deletion of Harrier capability 
Peter Luff: The strategic defence and security review is due to be announced to the House on 19 October 2010. Following its publication, I will write to the hon. Member.
Substantive answer from Peter Luff to the hon. Member for Salisbury (John Glen), dated 3 November 2010:
In my response to your recent Parliamentary Question (Official Report, 18 October 2010, Column 483W), I offered to write to the honourable Member after the publication of the Strategic Defence and Security Review to answer his question about the effect on the UK's future carrier strike capability of the (SDSR) decision to delete Harrier GR9.
As the Prime Minister announced to the House, we have decided to retire the Harrier, which has served this country well for 40 years. Although the Harrier is a flexible and capable aircraft, against the background of the severe financial pressures the nation faces, we have concluded that we should sustain the Tornado fleet which is currently supporting operations in Afghanistan, rather than the Harrier. This was a very difficult decision, not least because of its impact on those who have dedicated their lives to flying and supporting the Harrier and those who depend on the programme for their livelihoods. We accept there will be a gap in carrier strike capability until the end of the decade, but judge that in the longer term we cannot assume that bases for land-based aircraft will be available when and where we need them.
The SDSR confirmed that we will build both of the carriers, but that we only expect to operate one of them at any time, with the second ship being held in extended readiness. We also intend
to maximise the carrier's effectiveness by adapting it to operate the more capable Carrier Variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, which will require the installation of catapults and arrestor gear. This will also provide greater interoperability with key allies, such as the US and France. We are now investigating the optimum means of delivering this outcome.
I have asked for a copy of this letter to be placed in the Library of the House.
Michael Dugher: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he plans to take to retrain Harrier jump jet pilots once the Harrier fleet is retired. 
Nick Harvey: In the strategic defence and security review, it was announced that the Harrier fleet will be retired by 1 April 2011. The Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force are currently planning for the re-employment of Harrier pilots to fly other aircraft types. The requirement for re-training will be assessed once the plans for re-employment are completed.
Mr Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with his US counterpart on his Department's decision not to purchase the short take-off and vertical landing variant of the F35 aircraft. 
Peter Luff: The Secretary of State for Defence and the Defence Ministerial Team regularly engage with their US counterparts on a range of issues. Recent discussions have included the Strategic Defence and Security Review and our decision to purchase the more capable carrier-variant of the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.
Dr Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will undertake a feasibility study of purchasing a quantity of fast-jet aircraft off-the-shelf from existing US stocks of low-cost, carrier-capable aircraft. 
Peter Luff [holding answer 3 November 2010]: A previous study, which included a comparison with a US in-service, carrier-capable aircraft, concluded that the Joint Strike Fighter provided the best value for money in light of our future capability requirements. The Strategic Defence and Security Review reaffirmed our commitment to the Joint Strike Fighter programme. We will keep our plans under review as a part of our routine planning.
Michael Dugher: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many fewer Tornado GR4 Force and F-35 aircraft he now plans to purchase. 
Peter Luff: The Strategic Defence and Security Review announced our plans for our fast jet fleet. Prior to the review there were no plans for further purchases of Tornado GR4 aircraft and this position has not changed. We intend to buy enough Joint Strike Fighter aircraft to build up our carrier strike capability, and to operate a balanced fleet of JSF and Typhoon aircraft in the medium to long term. We will confirm the exact number of JSF aircraft in our initial buy at the time of our main investment decision, in line with usual practice.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which of his Department's aircraft can deploy sonar buoys; and what the (a) ferry range and (b) combat radius of each such aircraft is. 
Peter Luff: The only aircraft capable of deploying sonobuoys (sonar buoys) is the Royal Navy's Merlin HM Mkl helicopter. There are currently 26 Merlin HM Mkl in the forward fleet. To release information on the aircraft's combat and ferry ranges would allow an assessment to be made of the operational capability of the fleet and its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the capability, effectiveness and security of our armed forces.
Mr Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the current tasks are of the Royal Navy. 
Nick Harvey: The Royal Navy undertakes a wide variety of tasks and activities around the globe. These include:
Maintenance of integrity and security of Iraqi Territorial Seas.
Counter Piracy and counter smuggling operations within the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, and North Indian Ocean.
Counter Piracy and counter smuggling operations within the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, and North Indian Ocean.
NATO Standing NATO Maritime Group 1
A continuous maritime capability for mine-countermeasures integration within NATO response force (NRF) operations, non NRF operations and other activities in peacetime and periods of crisis and conflict.
Security of Gibraltar Territorial Seas.
(Hurricane season only)-UK's maritime contribution to the Caribbean and North Atlantic area. Protection of UK interests, humanitarian role in response to the natural disasters, especially hurricanes, which are prevalent in this region. Additionally working alongside the US Coastguard and the Royal Netherlands Navy: a significant contribution to the UK's counter drugs operations.
The standing naval commitment to the South Atlantic and West African regions. Provide a maritime presence to protect the British sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, including South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and UK's interests in the region.
Permanently stationed in the region, responsible for maintaining British sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, including South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.
Antarctic patrol ship during austral summer.
UK Nuclear Deterrent Patrols and Contingency Operations
Maritime Security Royal Navy and Royal Marine units at readiness to react to any possible threat to the integrity of UK Territorial Seas and security of the UK.
Patrolling UK's extended Fisheries Zone.
The Royal Navy has also two teams which provide search and rescue facilities and 3 Commando Brigade RM are in preparation for Op Herrick 14.
Michael Dugher: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the likely cost to his Department of (a) decommissioning HMS Ark Royal, (b) reducing by four the number of frigates, (c) placing at extended readiness a landing and command ship and (d) decommissioning either HMS Ocean or HMS Illustrious. 
Peter Luff [holding answer 2 November 2010]: Detailed work to estimate the costs of decommissioning these vessels, or placing them at extended readiness, is ongoing and will be completed during the Department's planning round process, and as part of the study to consider which of HMS Ocean and Illustrious will be retained in service.
Mr Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the likely effect on the number of jobs at HMNB (a) Portsmouth and (b) Devonport of the proposed reduction in the strength of the Royal Navy; and if he will make a statement. 
Peter Luff: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 27 October 2010, Official Report, column 377W, to the hon. Member for West Dunbartonshire (Gemma Doyle).
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what assessment he has made of the likely effects on the level of aerial anti-shipping defence of the cancellation of the Nimrod MR4A project; 
(2) what estimate he has made of the cost of his Department's contractual obligations to BAE Systems of the cancelling of the Nimrod MRA4 programme; 
(3) what assets are deployed in the aerial anti-submarine role; 
(4) what assessment he has made of the likely effect on the level of aerial anti-submarine defence of the cancellation of the Nimrod MR4A project; 
(5) what plans he has for NATO allies to provide aerial anti-submarine patrolling within UK territorial waters; 
(6) what type of avionic suites were purchased for the Nimrod MR4A; how many such suites were purchased; and at what cost to the public purse. 
Mr Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what expenditure his Department expects to incur in withdrawing the Nimrod MRA4 from service; 
(2) what assessment he has made of the effects on the protection of overseas territories of the withdrawal from service of the Nimrod MRA4; 
(3) what assessment he has made of the effects on the protection of the independent Strategic Nuclear Deterrent of the withdrawal from service of the Nimrod MRA4; 
(4) what assets he expects to fill the capability gap left by the withdrawal from service of the Nimrod MRA4. 
Dr Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the Royal Air Force's future anti-submarine capability following the cancellation of the Nimrod MRA4. 
Peter Luff [holding answer 3 November 2010]: I refer the hon. Members to the answer I gave on 28 October 2010, Official Report, columns 450-51W to the hon. Members for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow (Mr McCann), Coventry North East (Mr Ainsworth) and North Durham (Mr Jones).
Mr Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the first contract to procure the Nimrod MRA4 was signed; and what initial estimate his Department made of the cost of the Nimrod MRA4 project. 
Peter Luff: The contract for the design, development and production of the Nimrod MRA4 aircraft was signed in December 1996 and annually reviewed as part of subsequent planning rounds. The initial approved cost of the demonstration and manufacture phases of the project at Main Gate was £2.813 billion, as reported in the Major Projects Report 2010.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the cost to his Department of repairs to HMS Vanguard as a result of its collision with Le Triomphant in February 2009. 
Dr Fox: Following her collision with FS Le Triomphant in early 2009 repairs to HMS Vanguard were carried out on her return to Her Majesty's Naval Base Clyde under existing support arrangements with Babcock Marine. The cost of these repairs was approximately £1 million.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to announce his decision on the future of the Mountain Rescue Service at RAF Kinloss. 
Nick Harvey: Work is now under way to consider the implications of decisions announced in the Strategic Defence and Security Review for UK military bases, including the future of the Mountain Rescue Service at RAF Kinloss.
Mr Fabian Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether his Department owns the buildings and other infrastructure on the American base at RAF Menwith Hill. 
Nick Harvey: All buildings, fixed assets and site and infrastructure at RAF Menwith Hill are owned by the Ministry of Defence.
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the radiation protection measures at the Rosyth Royal Dockyard since radioactive contamination was found in the personal lockers of workers at the dockyard; and what recent changes have been made to health protection measures for employees at that dockyard. 
Peter Luff: All nuclear safety matters relating to Rosyth Royal Dockyard are a matter for Babcock Marine (Rosyth) Ltd, the owners of the dockyard. It is a condition of their contract with the Ministry of Defence that they must comply with all nuclear safety regulations including the Ionising Radiation Regulations 1999.
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what forecast he has made of manning levels in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary in each of the next five years; 
(2) how many people were employed in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary at the latest date for which figures are available. 
Peter Luff [holding answer 2 November 2010]: At 1 October 2010, around 2,370 people were employed in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA). The future size of the RFA and future RFA manning levels are likely to be affected by the reductions in the size of the surface fleet announced in the Strategic Defence and Security Review and the RFA value for money review. The details have yet to be fully determined and will be announced in due course.
Mr Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what timetable he has set for the Westland Sea King HAR3 helicopters to be taken out of service. 
Peter Luff: It is planned that all Sea King Mk3/3a helicopters will be withdrawn from service by the end of 2016.
Dr Huppert: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the lifetime costs of the Future Submarine Programme. 
Dr Fox: The Value for Money Review concluded that the overall cost of the submarine and warhead replacement programmes and associated infrastructure remains within the £20 billion cost estimate foreseen in the 2006 White Paper (Cm6994) at 2006 prices.
As the White Paper also makes clear, once the new fleet of ballistic missile submarines come into service we expect that the in-service costs of the UK's nuclear deterrent, which will include the Atomic Weapons Establishment's costs, will be similar to today.
Tessa Munt: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to enter into contractual arrangements for long-lead items on the Future Submarine Programme; what estimate he has made of the total cost of such items; what assessment he has made of the capability of such arrangements with arrangements for review by Parliament of all options of Main Gate, including cancellation; and what consideration he has given to ensuring that cancellation fees for long-lead item contracts do not restrict the consideration of alternatives. 
Peter Luff: Contractual arrangements for long lead items for both the submarine platform and propulsion systems will be entered into as necessary during the programme's assessment phase to prevent unnecessary delays to the programme. Final decisions on the long lead items required during the assessment phase will be made as part of, and following, the initial gate approvals process. It is too early to state the costs of these items.
Long lead items are those that it is necessary to contract for ahead of the main gate decision point. The procurement of long lead items across Ministry of Defence projects does not constrain main gate decisions and any such early commitment takes into account the balance of risk of a project not securing main gate approval.
Mr Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of cost savings required of the Territorial Army in the next five years. 
Mr Robathan [holding answer 2 November 2010]: The strategic defence and security review and spending review settlement are not predicated on any assumed savings against the Territorial Army. The six month study into the reserves will examine whether they are properly structured to enable the Ministry of Defence to make the most efficient use of their skills, experience and capabilities in the modern era. It is too early to assess whether any cost savings will result from the study.
Dr Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what date he was first informed that Trident would be included in the Strategic Defence and Security Review; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr Fox [holding answer 3 November 2010]: The Government made clear that they were committed to retaining a nuclear deterrent based on Trident, so the decision did not need to be revisited in the strategic defence and security review. However, the Ministry of Defence has been very clear that the value for money review was conducted within the framework of the strategic defence and security review.
Dr Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what advice from the military he received, and on what date, recommending postponing the main gate decision for the Trident successor system until 2016. 
Dr Fox [holding answer 3 November 2010]: The senior Ministry of Defence officials, military and civilian, responsible for leading the Successor ballistic missile submarine programme were and are content that 2016 is a realistic date at which to take the Main Gate decision, given a 2028 in-service date for the first of the new submarines. This was reflected in advice approved by the National Security Council, which includes myself and the Chief of the Defence Staff.
Dr Huppert: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his most recent estimate is of the cost to his Department of the UK's contribution to the Trident D5 missile life extension programme; what contingency arrangements he has put in place to provide for budget overspends on the programme; and what level of overspend those arrangements allow for. 
Dr Fox: It is currently estimated that the cost of the UK's participation in the Trident D5 missile life extension programme will remain within the £250 million figure stated in the December 2006 White Paper, "The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent" (Cm 6994).
There are no specific contingency arrangements for budgetary overspends aside from the existing departmental project approvals and budgetary planning processes.
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Wyre and Preston North of 22 October 2010, Official Report, column 883W, on Trident, what the three additional Long Overhaul Periods will be for each submarine; and what proportion of the estimated £1.3 billion cost will fall (a) in the current period up to 2014-15 and (b) the period 2015-16 to 2020-21. 
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) made estimates of the cost savings accrued from measures in the Strategic Defence and Security Review for the purposes
of formulating policy. Some of these have been published to help inform the public debate. Release of further detail may prejudice the MOD's negotiating position with its commercial suppliers. Furthermore, final savings figures will depend on detailed implementation. The MOD is therefore not prepared to release more detailed figures at this time.
Dr Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment his Department has made of the feasibility of alternative systems to Trident to provide the United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr Fox: The Trident value for money review did not look at alternatives to a submarine-launched ballistic-missile system.
Dr Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress his Department has made on the design of the Future Surface Combatant; and whether the programme will incorporate modules that enable the subsequent incorporation of additional weapons systems. 
Peter Luff: The Type 26 Global Combat Ship project entered its Assessment Phase in March 2010, and a four-year contract was placed with BAE Systems Surface Ships to work with the Ministry of Defence to produce a full design specification to be taken into the demonstration and build phases.
The Type 26 Global Combat Ship programme is adopting a through-life capability management approach, which will plan the evolution of the combat and weapons systems through the life of the vessel. The design intent is to have a combat system that will be flexible to future change and which would enable the addition of alternative/new systems or modules during the life of the platform; this approach will also enhance the export potential for this class of ship.