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The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence & Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Lord Drayson): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence (Des Browne) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The next roulement of UK forces in Afghanistan will take place in October 2007. The force package that we currently plan to deploy will see the lead formation, 12 Mechanised Brigade, replaced by 52 Infantry Brigade, which will provide the majority of the units serving in Afghanistan. The forces deploying include elements of:
The bulk of these units represent direct replacements for the Afghanistan deployments I announced to the House on 1 February 2007 (Official Report, cols. 19-20WS) and 26 February 2007 (Official Report, cols. 619-635). The House will be aware, however, that all military operations are subject to regular review. As a result, I have therefore agreed to deploy an additional troop of the highly regarded Viking protected mobility vehicles, manned by Royal Marines and the Queen's Royal Lancers, to enhance further the Task Force Helmand's ability to manoeuvre. In addition, from 1 August 2007 to 31 July 2008 the UK will act as principal co-ordinating nation for NATO's management of Kandahar airfield. I am also considering options to enhance our support for the Afghan national security forces. In consequence the total UK commitment in Afghanistan is likely to be around 7,800 by the end of this year.
Volunteer and regular members of the Reserve Forces will continue to deploy to Afghanistan as part of this integrated force package, and we expect eventually to have issued in the order of 750 call-out notices to fill more than 600 posts. On completion of their mobilisation procedures, the reservists will undertake a period of training and, where applicable, integration with their respective receiving units. The majority will serve on operations for six or seven months, although
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The House will recall, too, the importance I attach to burden sharing within the International Security Assistance Force. In this context, I should like to welcome the recent decision by the Danish Parliament to increase its deployment in Helmand. Operating under 52 Infantry Brigade's command will be a Danish battlegroup which, building on our close co-operation with Danish forces in Iraq, will exercise tactical command over two British infantry companies. This important increase in the Danish contribution to Task Force Helmand is a significant boost to its operational capability and its capacity to help stabilise and secure Helmand province.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence & Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Lord Drayson): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Derek Twigg) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I am pleased to inform the House that there will be a significant increase in Gurkha pensions backdated to January 2006. This increase is in line with the tripartite agreement which established a linkage between Indian Army pensions and those of the British Brigade of Gurkhas.
It has always been our policy to ensure a fair deal for the 26,500 Gurkha pensioners mainly living in Nepal, who will receive an increase in their pension rates. This is in addition to the 7 per cent increase they received earlier this year as part of their annual inflationary uplift. More than 85 per cent of pensioners who were of the rank of corporal or below will receive an increase to their pension of at least 19 per cent. I am also announcing today a review into the mechanism by which we uprate Gurkha pensions annually.
The increased benefits have been included in the Gurkha offer to transfer to the Armed Forces pension scheme, also affecting 3,400 serving and 2,400 recently retired Gurkhas, which I announced to the House on 8 March 2007 (Official Report, cols. 141-142WS)
This increase sustains Gurkha service pensions at a fair and appropriate level and demonstrates the Government's continuing commitment to the retired Gurkha community in Nepal. It also reinforces the UK's long-standing links with the Government of Nepal, whose co-operation and support for the recruitment of Nepalese citizens into the Brigade of Gurkhas we greatly value.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence & Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Lord Drayson): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and
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My department is today publishing the Government's conclusions following the responses to the consultation on the implementation of the directive on the statutory audit of annual and consolidated accounts (directive 2006/43/EC). Draft regulations for the implementation of the directive are also being published.
My department is also publishing the Government's conclusions following the responses to the consultation on the implementation of a directive (2006/46/EC) which amends EC accounting directives (the 4th and 7th company law directives, bank accounts and insurance company accounts directive) (directive 2006/46/EC).
During a conciliation meeting between the council and the European Parliament, five joint statements relating to the budget were agreed. These concerned: structural and cohesion funds and rural development 2007-13 programmes; recruitment in relation to the 2004 and 2007 enlargement; decentralised agencies; executive agencies; and assigned revenues. The Government are supportive of these statements, which call for a greater degree of transparency, sound financial management and budget discipline in the areas they concern.
The General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) will be held on 23 July in Brussels. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (David Miliband) will represent the UK.
Commissioner for Regional Policy, Danuta HÃ1/4bner, is expected to brief the Council on the fourth cohesion report, which provides an update on
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