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What contribution they are making to the three service reviews of the situation in Afghanistan being undertaken by the United States and NATO; and by when they anticipate their own strategic review of the Afghan mission will be complete. [HL1050]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): We are closely engaged with the US and other NATO allies regarding policy in Afghanistan. The Prime Minister outlined the conclusions of the UK's own policy review on 12 December 2007, a copy of which is available in the Library of the House.
How many members of HM Armed Forces are currently based in Germany; how many civil personnel are also based there; and what legal and military duties the British personnel perform while in Germany. [HL983]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): There are currently approximately 20,900 military and 2,200 UK civilian personnel based in Germany as part of the British force. Their presence in Germany is governed by the NATO Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) of 19 June 1951 and by the supplementary agreement relating to the status of foreign forces in Germany dated 3 August 1959. The two principal British Army units in Germany are 1 (UK) Armoured Division and United Kingdom Support Command (Germany). 1 (UK) Armoured Division's primary task is to prepare force elements and individuals for operations. United Kingdom Support Command (Germany)'s mission is to provide the necessary range of operational, personnel, training and infrastructure support to enable and sustain military capability.
These units continue to be based in Germany as the UK is committed to its contribution to NATO and co-operation with its allies in the alliance. The UK also benefits from the opportunity to train armoured units in Germany, and to make use of training areas in Eastern Europe, which are less accessible from the UK. With the approval of the German Government, we plan to continue to station two armoured brigades and their supporting units in Germany for the foreseeable future.
When the British military personnel will cease duties in Germany and leave the country; and whether the decision to relocate the British troops from Germany is one which is in the sole control of the Government. [HL984]
The BORONA programme has been looking at the feasibility of moving further elements of our Germany-based forces to the UK, and in particular, the headquarters of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (HQ ARRC) with its intimate supporting elements, 102 Logistic Brigade (102 Log Bde) and 1 Signal Brigade (1 Sig Bde). Detailed plans are being drawn up for the moves, starting with HQ ARRC, which could move as early as 2009. The moves of the two brigades would be completed by 2014. With 4 Mechanised Brigade, this represents 30 per cent of UK service personnel based in Germany.
The decision to relocate the British troops from Germany is one which is in the sole control of the Government. The moves are subject to final approval by the Minister of State for the Armed Forces, following scrutiny by and advice from the MoD's Investment Approvals Board.
Baroness Taylor of Bolton: The information is not held in the format requested and could be provided only at disproportionate effort. However, operational, personnel, training and infrastructure support is provided to British Forces, Germany, by United Kingdom Support Command (Germany) and the expenditure in financial year 2006-07 was £243 million. This figure includes costs associated with pay for locally employed civilians, utilities, white fleet vehicle leasing and fuel, catering, leisure and retail activities, stores and the British Forces Germany Health Service. The figure does not include costs associated with military or UK based civilian pay, military equipment, service children's education facilities, estate works and maintenance, or IT and communications.
Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Taylor of Bolton on 27 November (WA 108), whether the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency's decisions in the case of Gulf War veteran, the late Mr T E Walker, were in accordance with the evidence and the rules of the scheme; and whether they have any bearing on the case of Mr Mark McGreevy or that of any other Gulf War veteran. [HL902]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): An incorrect decision was made in the case of the late Mr T E Walker and the Ministry of Defence made an apology to Mr Walker's family. This was followed by an apology from my noble friend Lord Drayson on 11 October 2007 (Official Report, col. 341).
How blood samples from Gulf War veterans are being banked so that, as new assay methods emerge for organic compounds, the samples can be tested; and whether samples are being banked from other veterans returning from other conflicts. [HL919]
Baroness Taylor of Bolton: A number of blood samples were collected from UK service personnel being prepared for deployment to the Gulf in 1990-91 at various stages of the anti-biological warfare agent vaccination programme; these are currently stored at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Porton Down. The samples are stored at -20C and in theory could be subjected to additional testing as new techniques emerge. However, these samples are now over 16 years old and inevitably will deteriorate with time.
The samples were analysed in 1991 with the aim of investigating the level of protection conferred by giving anthrax vaccine in combination with pertussis vaccine. The results of the study were set out in a paper Operation GRANBY: The effect of co-administration of the pertussis vaccine on specific antibody titre development to the anthrax vaccine in man, which was made available in October 1997 and is available in the Library of the House. The Ministry of Defence has no plans for additional banking of blood samples from veterans of the 1990-91 Gulf conflict, and has not collected samples from UK service personnel deployed to Iraq (Op TELIC) and Afghanistan (Op HERRICK).
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The strength of UK regular forces personnel in each of the three Armed Forces currently serving overseas broken down by country is available in tri-service publication (TSP) 10UK Regular Forces Stationed Location. The most recent publication provides the numbers of service personnel at 1 April 2007.
Copies of TSP 10 are available in the Library of the House and are also at www.dasa.mod.uk/publications/tsp10/pdfs/tsp10_apr07.pdf.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The Government have not undertaken a specific comparative toxicological assessment of tricresyl phosphate isomers.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): Belarus' human rights record remains poor. The Belarus Government continue to threaten and detain those exercising their right of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, and they harass and intimidate independent media, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society. These actions have created a climate of intimidation and fear. Despite strong appeals from the international community and its institutions, it is clear to us that the authorities have no intention of instituting reform and improve even the basic rights of its citizens.
The UK and the EU take every opportunity in the UN Human Rights Council and the third committee of the UN General Assembly to express our concerns about Belarus' human rights record. In November 2007, EU members co-authored a resolution on Belarus in the third committee of the UN General Assembly. The resolution reiterated deep concern at the deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus, including Belarus' failure to co-operate with the UN human rights mechanisms; its failure to conduct free and fair elections, including the detention and arrest of political and civil society activists; and persistent reports of harassment and closure of NGOs, national minority groups, independent media outlets, religious
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Our embassy in Minsk, with EU partners, continues to raise human rights concerns with the authorities. We maintain regular contacts with civil society organisations devoted to human and civil rights, and observe their public demonstrations as well as fund projects that focus on local grassroots democracy-building and youth participation in democracy activities.
Lord Rooker: Any change to the existing system would require primary legislation and there are no current plans for this. In addition to this, legislative amendment would have to be preceded by careful consideration of, and wide consultation on, the different options for change to ensure that the way forward is in the best interests of all concerned, including the people of Northern Ireland.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Warner on 9 October 2006 (WA 38), whether the guidance given to strategic health authorities on monitoring the health of populations receiving fluoridated water has now been issued; and whether the health indices referred to include the potential adverse effects that were noted in the recommendations from the reports on fluoridation by the NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination at the University of York (2000), the Medical Research Council (2002) and the National Research Council of the US Academy of Sciences (2006). [HL891]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): We plan to issue this guidance early in 2008. I can confirm that these reports are being taken into account in its development.
Whether, in the light of the potentially misleading account of the scientific evidence on water fluoridation described by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics in Sections 7.43 to 7.47 of its recent report Public Health: Ethical Issues, they will provide for the updating of the 2000 York review and its incorporation into the Cochrane Library.[HL894]
Lord Darzi of Denham: We award higher priority to implementation of the recommendation in the York review for new primary research into the effects of fluoridation. Proposals for a study on the cost-benefits of fluoridation and the extent to which any benefits continue into adulthood are currently being considered for inclusion in the National Health Service research programme.
In the case of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, how many (a) voluntary and (b) compulsory redundancies have been taken to date as a result of the Gershon review; what is the total departmental bill for each type of redundancy; and what is the natural wastage during the Gershon period to date for the department.[HL1018]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Lord Triesman): The department came into existence as part of the machinery of government changes announced on 28 June 2007. There have not been any voluntary or compulsory redundancies since it was formed and it is too early at this stage to offer any meaningful statistics on natural wastage.
In the case of the Department of Health, how many (a) voluntary and (b) compulsory redundancies have been taken to date as a result of the Gershon review; what is the total departmental bill for each type of redundancy; and what is the natural wastage during the Gershon period to date for the department. [HL1017]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The figures for years 2004-05 to date are presented below by financial year. Data for 2003-04 could be established only at disproportionate cost.
|Year||Compulsory £||Voluntary £||Total £||Number of leavers|
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