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18 Jun 2007 : Column WA1

Written Answers

Monday 18 June 2007

Afghanistan: Land Rovers

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): The operational environment in Afghanistan is severe. The weapons-mounted installation kit (WMIK) Land Rovers are well equipped to cope with operating in hot and sandy conditions, but they inevitably require maintenance in such conditions. While records are kept of the usage of spare parts, we do not hold records of the specific cause of any maintenance requirements, as the focus in theatre is on returning the equipment to service as quickly as possible by rectifying faults regardless of cause.

Overall serviceability of the combat vehicle fleet, of which this vehicle platform is a part, is assessed as good and improving. I am withholding detailed

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information on the availability of the combat vehicle fleet in Afghanistan, as this is sensitive operational information.

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Drayson: Overall serviceability of the combat vehicle fleet, of which this vehicle platform is a part, is assessed as good and improving. I am withholding detailed information on the availability of the combat vehicle fleet in Afghanistan, as this is sensitive operational information.

Afghanistan: Military Casualties

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): The fatality and wounded (severe injuries only) figures for each year where UK forces have been deployed in Afghanistan are shown in the table below.

YearFatalitiesKilled in actionDied of woundsOther causesVery seriously injuredSeriously injured

2001

0

-

-

-

-

-

2002

3

-

-

3

1

-

2003

0

-

-

-

-

1

2004

1

-

-

3

3

2005

1

1

-

-

2

-

2006

39

120

1

18

-7

13

2007 (to 15 May)

10

8

1

1

4

8

These casualty figures for Afghanistan, including historical data, are published on a fortnightly basis, two weeks in arrears, on the Ministry of Defence’s website at the following address: www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/AboutDefence/Corporate Publications/DoctrineOperationsandDiplomacy Publications/OperationsInAfghanistan/OpHerrick CasualtyAndFatalityTables.htm

In-theatre hospital admission records prior to March 2006 have not been collated centrally in a format that would reliably identify all personnel wounded in action separately from those with disease or non-battle injury. The figures presented for “very seriously injured” and “seriously injured” include those injured in non-combat situations, such as road traffic incidents. It is not possible to identify all those wounded, as minor injuries may have been treated in theatre and not be recorded.

Agriculture: Higher Level Stewardship Scheme

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): In the most recent quarterly application round (for agreements with a start date of 1 May 2007), Natural

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England received 240 applications for higher level stewardship (HLS), of which 119 have been approved.

These figures do not indicate a decline in the standard of applications for higher-level stewardship; rather, they illustrate the competitive nature of the scheme and the fact that submitting an application does not guarantee an offer of an agreement. Because funds for HLS are limited, Natural England has been obliged to target agreements where they are likely to achieve the most environmental benefit for the countryside. Unfortunately, while some applications have scored highly, they have fallen short of the current thresholds established within Natural England’s regions.

Arms Trade: Al Yamamah

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Attorney-General (Lord Goldsmith): The director of the Serious Fraud Office independently took the decision to discontinue the investigation because of a real and serious threat to national security. I refer to the explanation that I gave to the House on 1 February 2007 (Official Report,cols. 375-82).

Aviation: Illegal Radio Stations

Lord MacKenzie of Culkein asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Truscott): The information requested falls within the responsibilities of the Office of Communications (Ofcom), and I have received the following information from Ed Richards, the chief executive:

Ofcom has a dedicated staff of 70 field officers who investigate and take illegal broadcasters off the air. In 2006, Ofcom undertook 1,085 separate operations against illegal broadcasters. This included seizing transmitters, disconnecting transmitters and aerials, and raids on illegal broadcasters’ studios.

Enforcement is also targeted against owners of premises, advertisers, nightclub events and suppliers of equipment or other services to the illegal station. Ofcom uses specialist solicitors and barristers to secure court convictions against illegal broadcasters. Almost all prosecution cases have resulted in a court appearance for the offenders. In 2006, some 63 people were convicted.



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Ofcom's work in tackling the problem of illegal broadcasting is carried out in partnership with other organisations, notably local authorities and the police.

Due to the potential threat of violence from illegal broadcasters, Ofcom's field officers seek support from local police officers while conducting work in the field. Where illegal broadcasters are found on site, they are arrested and taken to the local police station for interview. In the majority of cases, this results in the broadcaster being summoned to court to face charges regarding their criminal activities.

In July 2005, Ofcom staff were contacted by the National Air Traffic Service (NATS), which was experiencing extreme interference to aircraft frequencies, in use, on approach to London. A second complaint received from Air Traffic Control (ATC) at London City Airport, highlighted its difficulties further, when it suggested that it would have to close the airport if the interference became more severe. Passion FM, an illegal broadcaster based in east London, was found to be causing the problem and was removed from the airwaves by Ofcom's investigation staff later the same day.

British Citizenship

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): The document search revealed a few reports of discussions between UK and Indian officials on the future of British passport holders of Indian origin in Hong Kong. We have not yet completed our review of whether these documents might be placed in the Library of the House. I will write to the noble Lord when this is done and arrange for a copy of the letter to be placed in the Library.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Triesman: The document search revealed a number of representations received. We have not yet completed our review of whether these documents might be placed in the Library of the House. I will write to the noble Lord when this is done and arrange for a copy of the letter to be placed in the Library.



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British Coal Compensation

Lord Lofthouse of Pontefract asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Truscott): The department continues to strive to secure the speedy delivery of fair and just compensation to miners and their families. Already £3.5 billion has been paid in compensation, which is expected to total approximately £4.3 billion by the time all claims have been settled.

In 2005, an independent review of the schemes was undertaken, the report of which was placed in the Libraries of both Houses and is available on the department's website at: www.dti.gov.uk/energy/coal-health/publications/external-review/page16634.html

The report provides assurance that the administration of the schemes is basically sound, although there are lessons to be learned about how the schemes were initially put into operation.

In addition, the NAO is undertaking a value-for-money review of the coal health compensation schemes; it is expected to report in the summer.

Chagos Islands

Lord Steel of Aikwood asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): The Court of Appeal handed down its judgment on the 2004 Orders in Council on 23 May. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary will consider it carefully and has asked officials for further advice. She reserves the right to petition the House of Lords to grant permission to appeal as she is entitled to do within one month.

The Government’s policy in relation to the British Indian Ocean Territory therefore remains the subject of possible ongoing legal proceedings, and it would be inappropriate to comment further.


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