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Modernising Defence

Lord Hill-Norton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean : Thirty-five thousand copies of Modernising Defence, The Annual Report of Defence Activity 1998-99, have been produced. The cost of designing and printing the document was £8,403, or 24 pence a copy. They are still being distributed and distribution costs are not separately identifiable.

Armed Forces Career Structures and Engagement Terms

The Earl of Carlisle asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean : Opportunities exist in all three Services for servicemen and women to extend the standard 22-year engagement term, subject to the needs of their service.

The Naval Service, including the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, offer five and ten-year extensions beyond 22 years to specially selected senior rates, and to all ratings selected for promotion to Warrant Officer.

The Army has recently confirmed that it will maintain a 22-year career as standard, but is keen to maximise use of experienced personnel beyond this point where appropriate. Selected Warrant Officers and Senior Non-Commissioned Officers are currently able to serve beyond 22 years, up to the age of 55,

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where there are specific shortfalls in expertise which cannot be filled by any other means. The Army is however currently reviewing options to allow soldiers to be employed beyond current engagements.

A revised engagement structure, based on the principle of “up or out", to maintain promotion flow, was introduced into the RAF on 1 April 1986. Except in some specialist trades, ground trades personnel join on a nine-year engagement and, subject to satisfactory performance and a personnel requirement, may extend to 12 or 15 years' service. Those promoted to corporal, progress to a 22-year engagement. Service beyond this point is linked to further promotion and a manning requirement. The RAF is developing a number of measures to address concerns about reduced promotion opportunities following reductions in the Service over the last decade.

TA Internet “Job Shop"

The Earl of Carlisle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What results have been obtained by the Territorial Army “job shop" opened at the Army Internet site and by Army recruitment offices in recruiting for Regular Army personnel from disbanded Territorial Army units.[HL3748]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean : Records are not kept of whether an individual Regular serviceman or woman's Territorial Army Service was in a unit now disbanded.

The “Job Shop" on the Internet is a means of advertising posts in the Territorial Army and is not, therefore, used directly to recruit Regular Army personnel. We do not maintain records identifying how many individuals have obtained Territorial Army posts as a result of using this facility.

Service Personnel and Union Membership

The Earl of Carlisle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have plans to permit officers and other ranks serving in HM Armed Forces the rights of association outside the chain of command.[HL3933]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We have no plans to change the current system. It is Ministry of Defence policy not to have a union or federation for Service personnel. Service pay and allowances, and the charges related to services provided, are governed by an independent Pay Review Body. In addition, Service personnel have statutory redress of complaint procedures under which they have the right to submit a complaint to the Defence Council. The details of these procedures are kept under review. However, the Ministry of Defence does have agreements with a number of major unions and concessions with

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professional associations whereby Service personnel may be recognised as eligible for membership.

No restrictions are placed upon attendance at meetings or training courses organised by civilian trade unions and professional associations, provided that Service personnel do not attend in uniform, service duties are not impeded, and that no action is taken which would bring the Service into disrepute. The Armed Forces must maintain a position of political neutrality. Service personnel may not participate in industrial action or in any form of political activity organised by a civilian trade union or professional organisation to which they belong.

HORIZON, Destroyer Programme

The Earl of Carlisle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they plan to fill the gap created by their withdrawal from the second project to replace the Type 42 destroyer.[HL3934]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Her Majesty's Government did not withdraw from the HORIZON Programme. The UK, France and Italy agreed in April 1999 to terminate the programme after its Project Definition and Initial Design Phase scheduled to complete in October 1999. The requirement to replace the RN's Type 42 Anti-Air Warfare Destroyers will now be met by the national Type 45 Destroyer Programme, with the first ship planned to enter service in 2007.

This programme will incorporate where possible the work completed on HORIZON and will also encompass the continuing collaboration with France and Italy on the Principal Anti-Air Warfare Missile System (PAAMS) which will be fitted to the Type 45. The contract for PAAMS Full Scale Engineering Development and Initial Production was placed by France on behalf of the three nations on 11 August 1999.

Apart from HMS “Birmingham", which is due to decommission later this year, Type 42 withdrawal from service will correspond with the introduction of the Type 45.

Military Equipment Collaborative Projects

The Earl of Carlisle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in view of the overshoot of military equipment collaborative projects in budget time and cancellation costs, they will wherever possible commission weapons systems that were designed and manufactured by British companies. [HL3935]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The cost of developing and producing modern defence equipment is such that co-operation with other nations is often an attractive option. By sharing the costs of development and achieving lower production costs through longer

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production runs, significant economies can be made. A collaborative approach also makes sound operational sense in an era when we expect military operations increasingly to be conducted on a multi-national basis. For these reasons, the Strategic Defence Review (Cm 3999) concluded that, wherever possible, European governments should harmonise the requirements of their Armed Forces and prove co-operative solutions [paragraph 167].

Defence Budget

The Earl of Carlisle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they would permit the Ministry of Defence to recover the costs incurred through commissioning weapons systems, such as aircraft carriers, from other departments of state which directly or indirectly benefit from them, to alleviate pressure on the defence budget. [HL3936]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: No. The defence budget is set at a level which takes account of all the demands placed upon it, including the acquisition of weapons systems.

Military History Teaching in Officer Training

The Earl of Carlisle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the right amount of attention or time is devoted to the study of naval, military and air force history at BRNC Dartmouth, RMA Sandhurst and the RAF College Cranwell. [HL3937]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: All three officer training establishments spend a proportion of course time teaching military history pertinent to their respective Service. The relevance of content and time spent is reviewed on a regular basis and alterations are made when it is considered that the course can be improved. Each Service is presently satisfied with its teaching of military history and the time allocated to it.

RAF Northolt

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to complete their review of the future defence use of RAF Northolt; and whether they expect to be able to release the 490 acres on this site for housing.[HL3854]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: the MoD is currently producing a Strategic Development Plan for the Defence Estate of Greater London. The future of RAF Northolt forms a part of this work. While significant progress has been made, the work is still some way from completion and I am not able to give a date for the publication of the findings. It would be inappropriate for me to comment on any specific

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matters to be covered by the report in advance of its completion.

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many air movements there were from RAF Northolt during the most recent 12-month period for which figures are available; how many of these were for VIP and royal flying tasks; how many for other military and Ministry of Defence charter flights; and how many, on a repayment basis, for other business users.[HL3855]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The last 12-month period for which figures are available is January to December 1998. In that year there were a total of 13,575 aircraft movements, a movement being defined as a take-off or landing. This total was made up of 4,626 movements by RAF aircraft, 110 movements by civilian aircraft on UK Government business, 1,838 movements by other military aircraft and 6,997 civilian aircraft movements, of which 6,257

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were on a repayment basis. Separate figures for VIP and Royal tasks could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

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