The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence (Des Browne) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The next relief in place of UK forces in Afghanistan will take place in October 2008. The force package that we currently plan to deploy will see the lead formation, 16 Air Assault Brigade, replaced by 3 Commando Brigade, Royal Marines, which will command the majority of the units serving in Afghanistan. The new force elements deploying include:
3 Commando Brigade Headquarters, Royal Marines
Elements of the Naval Strike Wing
Elements of 845 Naval Air Squadron
Elements of 846 Naval Air Squadron
Elements of 847 Naval Air Squadron
42 Commando Royal Marines
45 Commando Royal Marines
United Kingdom Landing Force Command and Support Group
Commando Logistic Regiment Royal Marines
1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards
29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery
24 Commando Engineer Regiment
2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles
1st Battalion The Rifles
3 Close Support Battalion, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
114th Provost Company Royal Military Police
Elements of the Queen's Royal Lancers
Elements of 5th Regiment Royal Artillery
Elements of 16th Regiment Royal Artillery
Elements of 26th Regiment Royal Artillery
Elements of 32nd Regiment Royal Artillery
Elements of 47th Regiment Royal Artillery
Elements of 39th Regiment Royal Artillery
Elements of 32 Engineer Regiment
Elements of 33 Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal)
Elements of 35 Engineer Regiment
Elements of 170 (Infrastructure Support) Engineer Group
Elements of 10th Signal Regiment
Elements of 21st Signal Regiment (Air Support)
Elements of 22nd Signal Regiment
Elements of 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment
Elements of 7 Transport Regiment The Royal Logistic Corps
Elements of 4 Regiment, Army Air Corps
Headquarters, 104 Logistic Brigade
Elements of 9 Supply Regiment The Royal Logistic Corps
Elements of 11 Explosive Ordnance Regiment The Royal Logistic Corps
Elements of 13 Air Assault Support Regiment The Royal Logistic Corps
Elements of 17 Port and Maritime Regiment The Royal Logistic Corps
Elements of 24 Postal Courier and Movement Regiment The Royal Logistic Corps
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Elements of 29 Postal Courier and Movement Regiment The Royal Logistic Corps
Elements of 101 Force Support Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
Elements of 103 Military Working Dog Support Unit
Elements of 1 Military Intelligence Brigade
Elements of 4th Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment (King's, Lancashire and Border)
Elements of 6th Battalion The Rifles
Elements to man 904 Expeditionary Air Wing, Royal Air Force
4 Force Protection Wing Headquarters, Royal Air Force
1 Regiment Field Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of 4 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of 18 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of 27 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of 30 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of 39 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of 70 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements to man the Tactical Supply Wing
Elements to man the Joint Helicopter Support Unit
Elements of 1 Air Movements Wing, Royal Air Force
Elements of 85 (Expeditionary Logistic) Wing Headquarters, Royal Air Force
Elements of 1 Air Control Centre, Royal Air Force
Elements of 90 Signals Unit, Royal Air Force
Elements of 2 Motor Transport Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of 5001 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of Mobile Catering Support Unit
Elements of Tactical Medical Wing
Elements of Tactical Armament Squadron
Elements of Tactical Imagery Intelligence Wing
Elements of Joint Medical Command
The above represent either direct replacements for capabilities already in place in Afghanistan or comprise elements of the force level increases that I announced to the House on 16 June 2008.
Volunteer and regular members of the Reserve Forces will continue to deploy to Afghanistan as part of this integrated force package, and we expect to have eventually issued in the order of 620 call-out notices to fill around 560 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 so months, although some may have shorter tours. As part of this commitment, we expect up to 25 members of the sponsored reserves to be in theatre at any one time.
The House will also wish to be aware that 3 Commando Brigades deployment will last until April 2009.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport (Ruth Kelly) has made the following Ministerial Statement.
The 2003 White Paper The Future of Air Transportmade it clear that, given the economic benefits to the UK, the Government support the further development of Heathrow by adding a third runway and exploring the scope for making greater use of the existing runways, subject to meeting strict local conditions on air quality and noise and improving public transport access.
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Last November, I published a major consultation on the future expansion of Heathrow Airport. The consultation invited views on:
a revised proposal for a third runway and associated passenger terminal facilities, and the Government's assessment of how the strict local environmental conditions mentioned above could be met;a proposal to introduce mixed mode on Heathrow's existing two runways as an interim measure and the Government's assessment of how the same strict local environmental conditions could be met. In considering the mixed mode options, the consultation looked at the position with or without additional air traffic movements;the results of a review of operational procedures on the existing runwayswesterly preference (the preferred direction of operation) and the Cranford agreement (which generally prohibits easterly departures off the northern runway)irrespective of any further changes; andan assessment of the effects of night-time rotation between westerly and easterly preference, and of the current trial of runway alternation in the 0600 to 0700 period.
Almost 70,000 individuals and organisations representing all sides of the debate responded to the Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport consultation, which my officials are still analysing. That process is itself also subject to quality assurance and peer review to ensure its integrity.
We also want to be sure, given the socio-demographic mix in the Heathrow area, that we fully understand how airport development might affect different groups in terms of race, disability, age or gender. An initial screening exercise has been conducted to look at the potentially different effects of the proposals. Further work is now being undertaken to deliver a full equalities impact assessment. We will shortly engage in a consultative exercise, focused on these particular groups.
Our work on analysing the consultation responses, on completing the equalities impact assessment and on finalising the overall impact assessment will take some more time to complete. But I intend to inform the House of my decision on the future development of Heathrow Airport before the end of the year.
Children: Bercow Report
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Lord Adonis): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (Ed Balls)has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The Secretary of State for Health and I today welcome the publication of the Bercow report on services for children and young people with speech, language and communications needs (SLCN). A copy of the report will be placed in the Library.
In September 2007, we asked John Bercow MP to advise us on the range of universal and specialist services to best identify and meet the diversity of needs of children and young people with SLCN; how planning
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and performance management arrangements and effective co-operation between government departments and responsible local agents can be used to promote early intervention and to improve services; and examples of good practice in commissioning and delivering services which are responsive to the needs of children, young people and families.
We welcomed the interim report that John Bercow MP published on 20 March 2008, which identified five key themes: communication is crucial; early identification and intervention are essential; the need for a continuum of services, designed around the family; that joint working between agencies is critical; and the current system is characterised by high levels of variability and a lack of equity.
The final Bercow report, published today, sets out 40 recommendations to improve services for children with SLCN under these five themes. We support fully the reports call for action to raise the profile of speech, language and communications across government, local agencies and wider society and to improve services for children and young people with SLCN.
We accept the reports key recommendations:
improve understanding that communication is critical through the creation of a communication council, to monitor and support implementation of the recommendations, and a communication champion to lead on awareness raising, including a national year of speech, language and communication by 2011; a set of measures to improve information, support and advice to parents about the importance of speech, language and communications, including through the child health promotion programme; ensure early identification and intervention through monitoring of children to identify potential SLCN across the age range; reviewing the personal child health record so that there is a clear record of a childs speech development; and promoting examples of how barriers to pupils with SLCN accessing the curriculum have been overcome; how to design a continuum of services around the family by developing a joint commissioning framework for universal, targeted and specialist services through pathfinders, supported by other action to build on the national service framework standard for disabled children and young people; the current review of the dedicated school grant should consider how the funding system supports the delivery of services for children with SLCN; the new Masters in Teaching and Learning has core elements and a module including speech, language and communication; and that there should be a programme of research to enhance the evidence base for improving outcomes for children with SLCN; how to promote more and better joint working through effective functioning of childrens trusts, including a recommendation to them to appoint a senior lead on speech, language and communication issues; andhow to ensure greater consistency and equity for families by better monitoring of performance by
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commissioners and publication of accessible data, for instance on educational attainment by children with SLCN.
The child health strategy, which will be published in September, will seek to address the real issues that the report has raised about the commissioning and provision of equipment and aids for children with complex needs.