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13 Oct 2008 : Column WA27



13 Oct 2008 : Column WA27

Written Answers

Monday 13 October 2008

Armed Forces: Contracts

Lord Lee of Trafford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The Defence Technology and Innovation Centre awarded a £8.1 million contract to CORDA (a wholly owned subsidiary of BAE Systems) which allocated tasks to BAE Land Systems and QinetiQ to research the feasibility and associated technology requirement for the Army's 155mm ordnance to be fitted to the current Royal Navy 4.5 inch gun mount. This work stemmed from earlier analysis and feasibility studies carried out on four candidate naval gun systems:

USA—BAE Land and Armament Systems (formerly United Defense) Mk 45 Mod 4 127mm (5 inch) gun;UK—BAE systems (RO Defence) 155mm (6.1 inch) third Generation Maritime Fire Support Proposal;Italy—OTO Melara 127mm (5 inch) lightweight gun; andGermany—MONARC 155mm (6.1 inch) naval gun.

These systems are candidate solutions to address the MoD's requirements for a coastal suppression and naval fire support capability. The earlier analysis indicated that there would be cost and capability benefits of a 155mm gun solution but that further technological investigation would be required to support the technology. Work is currently under way to build a trials gun mount and firing trials are scheduled to take place on an MoD range next year.

If the trials are successful, the MoD will have an option to proceed further towards manufacture and fit.

Armed Forces: Decommissioned Aircraft

Lord Moonie asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): Twenty-six aircraft were decommissioned in the financial year 2007-08. Of these, the number scrapped and disposed of to third

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parties is shown in the table below. It is not possible to give a figure for the number put into storage during that year because, as part of normal fleet management, aircraft will be rotated through storage to replace aircraft undergoing repair, maintenance or upgrade programmes.

Aircraft typeScrapped/Used for spare partsDisposed of to third parties

Hercules C130K

41

-

Tornado F3

12

-

Tornado GR1

1

12

Gazelle

-

63

Sea King

24

-

Armed Forces: Fuel

Lord Moonie asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The MoD has been working on alternative energy sources for several years. The Royal Air Force has led on examining fuel efficiency and alternative fuel sources, including the wider application of biofuels and synthetic fuels across the land, sea and air environments. In 1999, RAF aircraft were among the first in the world certified to fly on up to 50 per cent non-crude oil derived synthetic fuel. Since April 2008, RAF aircraft have been certified to use 100 per cent synthetic fuel. Work continues to achieve the wider use of synthetic fuels for ships and land vehicles.

The MoD is currently exploring the option of conducting joint international collaboration with France, industry and academia to examine reducing dependency on oil, exploiting renewable energy sources and scavenging energy from waste heat.

Armed Forces: Nimrod

Lord Lee of Trafford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The HELIX programme is examining the future manned airborne electronic surveillance capability. Three options are currently being considered for the host aircraft: the Nimrod R1 aircraft; tailored Nimrod MRA4 aircraft; and the US Rivet Joint aircraft.

A decision is anticipated in early 2009.



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Armed Forces: Paratroopers

Lord Lee of Trafford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): For the purposes of answering this Question, a qualified paratrooper has been taken to mean a trained soldier in the Army's Parachute Regiment.

Those who wish to join the Parachute Regiment as a soldier do so in two ways: as a junior entrant, a recruit will complete phase 1 training at either the Army Foundation College Harrogate or Army Training Regiment Winchester and then go on to phase 2 PARA training at the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick (ITC(C)). If joining as a standard entrant, the recruit completes the combined phase 1/phase 2 PARA combat infantryman's course (CIC) at ITC(C).

During their time at Catterick these recruits will complete the test week element of Pegasus Company's pre-parachute selection course, and if successful, go on to join the Parachute Regiment. They will subsequently complete the four-week basic parachute training at No 1 Parachute Training School at RAF Brize Norton.

At 1 July 2008 there were approximately 1,400 soldiers in the Parachute Regiment.

Information on the number of Parachute Regiment regular recruits commencing and completing training at ITC(C) is as follows:

Number Commencing CourseNumber Completing Course

2003-04

627

190

2004-05

588

169

2005-06

522

183

2006-07

561

204

2007-08

585

197

Information on the number of Parachute Regiment personnel attending basic parachute training at RAF Brize Norton is as follows:

Number commencing CourseNumber Completing Course

2003-04

152

143

2004-05

168

153

2005-06

64

53

2006-07

262

255

2007-08

140

128



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Information on the number of recruits to the Parachute Regiment who have been medically discharged following injury suffered during training is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Armed Forces: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Lord Moonie asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): There is no current requirement to fit additional or extended range fuel tanks to the Watchkeeper unmanned air vehicle, nor has any assessment been made of the potential costs or endurance benefits of such an enhancement.

Lord Lee of Trafford asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Taylor of Bolton: We keep our capability requirements under constant review and consideration is given to UAVs, among other capabilities, when they might provide a solution to an operational requirement.

The Reaper, Hermes 450 and Desert Hawk UAV systems are already deployed on operations. It is planned that the Watchkeeper tactical UAV system, which is currently due to enter service from late 2010, will replace the Hermes 450 capability on operations once it is in service.

Armed Forces: War Pensions

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The most recent representation the Government have received from the National Gulf War Veterans and Families Association on their proposal to abolish the Pensions Appeal Tribunal was a letter to my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Bridget Prentice) of 26 September. Prior to this, a letter dated 26 June was sent by the National Gulf War Veterans and Families Association to Lord Morris of Manchester. A copy of the letter

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was sent to Ministers in the Ministry of Justice and received on 7 July. My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Bridget Prentice) met representatives of the association on 21 July.

Disabled People: Income Support

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): From 27 October 2008, income support paid on the grounds of incapacity or disability will be replaced by the new employment and support allowance for all new claims.

Employment and support allowance is a radical move away from the existing system of support. Our underlying principle is to help a person back into work where that is possible. We have made very clear that we will not write anyone off.

We recognise, however, that for the most severely disabled people, finding employment may not be an option. We will be targeting additional help and support on the most vulnerable through the support group and guaranteeing an income for those in the greatest financial need of £102.10 per week. For some people that is almost £16 a week more than the current income support rate.

In addition, severely disabled people with care or mobility needs may be eligible for disability living allowance which makes a valuable contribution towards the extra costs of disability and can be paid regardless of whether someone is in or out of work, or also receiving employment and support allowance. Similarly, attendance allowance contributes to the extra costs of disability for people who become disabled after the age of 65.

We will be evaluating the new benefit, including the commissioning of independent reports, to ensure it meets our aims and objectives and the needs of disabled people.

Embryology

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) does not collect data on the incidence of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). The HFEA keeps a record only of cancelled cycles reporting the risk of OHSS—in other words, cycles which have usually been cancelled, either before or after egg collection, because of a perceived risk as opposed to patients where there is a clinical diagnosis of OHSS. In 2007, this applied to 611 out of a total of 35,946 cycles. These figures do not enable the HFEA to track the total number of patients who are at risk of or suffer from OHSS.

These figures are available in an updated version of Professor Balen's 2005 report (updated in August 2008), which is on the HFEA website at: www.hfea.gov.uk/en/1709.html.

As the updated report has only recently been completed, the HFEA has not undertaken a comparison of the figures in Professor Balen's report and the figures reported in the journal Human Fertility (volume 10, issue 3, pages 183-87).


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