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Members of the reserve forces will continue to deploy to Iraq as part of this force package and we expect to issue around 290 call-out notices in order to fill some 220 posts during the TELIC 12 roulement period. Prior to their deployment and on completion of their mobilisation procedures, the reservists will undertake a period of training and integration with their respective units. For the majority, their deployment to theatre will commence in May and most will serve on operations for six to seven months, although some may have shorter tours. The reservists will predominantly reinforce regular units and perform a wide range of activities, including force protection duties, intelligence and logistic tasks. We also expect, as part of this commitment, up to 50 members of the sponsored reserves to be in theatre at any one time.

Force levels will be kept under review and we will look to make further reductions over the course of the TELIC 12 deployment if conditions allow and on the advice of commanders on the ground. I will, of course, keep Parliament informed of developments.



24 Apr 2008 : Column WS166

Ministry of Defence: Northern Ireland Garrison Restructure

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): My right honourable friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Bob Ainsworth) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

In May 2006, my predecessor announced the future garrison structure for Northern Ireland.

As part of our longer-term planning, we have decided to relocate 230 Squadron RAF, currently based at RAF Aldergrove and equipped with Puma helicopters, to RAF Benson. This will establish a coherent Puma force on a single site, enabling the improvement of Puma force capability. It will also entail the relocation of RAF support personnel and a reduction in the civilian personnel required at Aldergrove. We expect the relocation to be completed by the end of 2010.

The relocation of 230 Squadron will free up significant facilities at Aldergrove. It is therefore our intention to relocate 38 Engineer Regiment, which will move into Massereene Barracks, Antrim, later this year, to Aldergrove as soon as practicable following the departure of 230 Squadron and to dispose of Massereene Barracks thereafter. A number of civilians will be offered the opportunity to relocate with the unit, but there will be a reduction in civilian personnel associated with site-specific activities.

These changes will not impact on our commitments in support of the civil authorities in Northern Ireland. Aldergrove will remain a military flying station for the Army Air Corps for the foreseeable future. The RAF will continue to utilise Northern Ireland airspace for training and a limited number of RAF personnel will remain in joint or specialist appointments in units within Northern Ireland. The relocation of 38 Engineer Regiment demonstrates our longer-term commitment to retain a base at Aldergrove. The ongoing relocation of 19 Lt Bde to Northern Ireland, announced in January 2006, demonstrates our longer-term commitment to basing in Northern Ireland.

Pensions

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): My honourable friend the Minister of State for Pensions Reform (Mike O’Brien) has made the following Statement.

New regulations on the calculation of pensions transfer values were laid on 11 April. The regulations come into effect on 1 October 2008.

The regulations build on the very useful dialogue that we have had with the pensions community about the way in which pensions transfer values should be calculated.

The regulations are largely as we consulted on. However, the requirement that every assumption used in the calculation should be a “best estimate” has been changed in order to make the calculation more straightforward. The new requirement is that the assumptions, taken as a whole, should lead to a “best estimate” of the amount of the unreduced transfer value.


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