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Defence Industrial Policy

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: The Government's defence industrial policy is driven by the need to provide the Armed Forces with the equipment which they require, on time, and at best value for money for the taxpayer. It also seeks to maximise the benefits to the UK from our defence expenditure. In order to fully understand these factors in any decision we seek the views of a broad range of stakeholders including other government departments. The specific factors involved in each decision are considered on a case by case basis.
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Army: Initial Training

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: The recent third Directorate of Operational Capability (DOC) report acknowledged the progress made, since the two earlier DOC reviews, in improving the management and care of young people in initial training. The report did, however, highlight areas for further work. These are already being addressed in an action plan drawn up by Army Training and Recruiting Agency (ATRA), which will be subject to regular monitoring. To ensure independent external assessment of the initial training system, the department has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI). The MoU enables the introduction of independent inspection, reinspection and oversight of the defence learning provision. A programme of inspection will be undertaken on an annual basis and reports will be published, thus enabling training to be benchmarked against appropriate national standards.

CVF Future Carrier

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: As my right honourable friend the Secretary of State announced in another place on 30 January 2003, (Official Report col. 1026–1038) the best means of delivering the carrier programme is via an alliance approach involving BAE Systems, Thales UK and the Ministry of Defence. As part of the project's ongoing assessment phase, work is being undertaken to develop the comprehensive plan for the CVF programme. This will be confirmed when we take the main investment decision for demonstration and manufacture, planned for 2005.

Armed Forces: Medical Discharge

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: Service personnel cannot themselves request medical discharge. If personnel feel in psychological distress they are advised to approach their medical officer, padre or commander who will ensure that they are referred for diagnosis and, where appropriate, treatment.
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Referral for medical discharge can be made only by a medical officer, and will usually follow a period of medical downgrading of up to 18 months. A medical board then evaluates the case for discharge. The final decision on discharge is made by the relevant personnel branch. If an individual feels they have been wrongly discharged they can request that their case is reviewed.

Royal Navy Bases: Security

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: Security practices and procedures in place at all three HM naval bases are subject to regular review and are adjusted or enhanced according to assessed threats. It is not Ministry of Defence policy to comment on specific security measures and I am therefore withholding information about details under Exemption 1 (Defence, security and international relations) of the Code of Practice on access to Government Information.


Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: The modernised target acquisition and designation sight/pilot night vision sensor has a planned in-service date of December 2008.

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: Negotiations are currently taking place with Westland Helicopters Ltd for a contract to upgrade the current target acquisition and designation sight/pilots night vision sensor. Prior to this, three minor modifications (all drive motors within the turrets) will be introduced which seek to improve parts of the system which are less reliable as a result of water and moisture ingress.
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Council Tax

Lord Hanningfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord Rooker): The level at which authorities set their council tax in 2005–06 is primarily a matter for individual councils. The Government have recently announced the provisional local government finance settlement for 2005–06 which provides another very good settlement for local government. It provides for an increase in total support from government grant and business rates in 2005–06 of £3.5 billion, or 6.2 per cent and guarantees an above-inflation increase for all authorities.

Given this substantial investment in local government, the Government expect to see substantially lower council tax increases next year. Average council tax increase in England in 2005–06 should be less than 5 per cent. This applies to all authorities, including police and fire authorities. The Government are prepared to take even tougher capping action next year than we did in 2004–05.

The Government consider locally financed expenditure as part of the Budget, which includes assumptions about increases in yield from council tax, but also includes a number of other elements such as interest receipts, trading receipts and the housing revenue account.

Food Standards Agency: Performance Review

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): The board of the Food Standards Agency has commissioned an external, independent review to assess whether the agency has delivered its published objectives and, in doing so, has operated in accordance with its key values; to assess the extent to which the agency operates effectively as a United Kingdom-wide body in a devolved policy area; and to appraise how the agency is viewed by its stakeholders. The terms of reference of the review allow my noble friend Lady
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Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, as the independent reviewer, to investigate the performance of the agency in any of its functions, and to draw on any relevant evidence in so doing. The anticipated cost of the review of the FSA is £15,000 to £25,000.

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