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Iraq: Reserve Forces

Lord Rooker: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence (Dr John Reid) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

In line with our policy of employing the reserves as an integral component of the Armed Forces, and our normal pattern in Operation TELIC, we shall shortly begin mobilising approximately 700 reservists to deploy as part of the integrated UK force package on operations in Iraq (Operation TELIC). Reservists currently deployed in Iraq carry out a range of activities including medical support, force protection duties and providing individual reinforcements to units. We anticipate that most of these tasks will continue.

We plan to issue the callout notices for reservists in phases and aim to give individuals 28 days' notice of call-up (other than for those who may volunteer to be mobilised at shorter notice). As is customary, to ensure that we successfully mobilise the required number, we will need to issue a greater number of callout notices than the actual requirement. On current plans, we will be issuing around 800 callout notices.

Mobilisation will be followed by a period of training, integration into receiving units, and then a short period of pre-deployment leave. Deployment to theatre is expected to begin in May 2006. The majority of those called out can expect a deployed tour of six months and a total period of mobilisation, including post-tour leave, of around 11 months, though for a few it may be slightly longer.

I would like to emphasise that this callout is part of our routine management of UK forces deployed on Operation TELIC. We and our multinational force partners will consider, in the months ahead, the levels and dispositions of forces required in Iraq to continue to build the capability and capacity of the Iraqi security forces and support the Iraqi Government up to and following the first full democratic elections in Iraq, which will be held in December.
 
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The next major routine roulement of regular UK forces in Iraq is due to take place during April and May next year and the lead formation, currently 7th Armoured Brigade, will be provided by 20th Armoured Brigade. We will make a further announcement covering this roulement once the details have been finalised.

Ministry of Defence: Votes A 2006–07

Lord Rooker: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence (Dr John Reid) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Ministry of Defence Votes A seek the maximum numbers of personnel to be maintained for service in the Armed Forces during each financial year.

As of 1 April 2006, we are amending the presentational format. The figures for the "Commonwealth troops in the United Kingdom" category will no longer be reported, and the numbers of the Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps and Princess Mary's Royal Air Force Nursing Service will be incorporated into those of the Regular Army and Regular Air Force.

The Commonwealth troops accounted for by the Army and RAF are members of Commonwealth forces. The numbers are predominantly students attending courses, the remainder being those on exchange and attaché duties. The Commonwealth troops, like those of other non-commonwealth nations, wear the uniform of and are paid and maintained by their home nation. They are not members of the UK Armed Forces nor maintained for service with the UK Armed Forces and therefore fall outside the ambit of Votes A.

Originally the nursing service was not a fully integrated part of the services, its members being non-combatants. However, they are now fully integrated and are now regarded as a sub-specialism and as such it is no longer appropriate to record these figures separately within Votes A.
 
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Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman

Lord Rooker: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Peter Hain) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

The Government have received a report from the Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland on the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (OPONI). The report has today been published.

The Government welcome this report, which recognises the good progress made by the Police Ombudsman's office towards fulfilling its important role of providing a fair and impartial independent police complaints system. The report also makes some helpful recommendations, which the Police Ombudsman will address in striving for continuous improvement in the way that OPONI fulfils its investigatory, monitoring and accountability roles and responsibilities.

Copies of the chief inspector's report have been placed in the Library.

Northern Ireland: Oversight Commissioner's Report

Lord Rooker: My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Shaun Woodward) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

I have today laid before this House a copy of the Oversight Commissioner's third statutory report for 2005 which was published today, in accordance with Section 68(4)(a) of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000.

This is the sixth report compiled by Al Hutchinson as Oversight Commissioner and the 15th in the series of oversight reports published since 2001.

I met yesterday with the Oversight Commissioner and welcomed the opportunity to discuss with him the contents of this thematic report on training.


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