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16 Oct 2008 : Column WA59

16 Oct 2008 : Column WA59

Written Answers

Thursday 16 October 2008


Baroness Coussins asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The information is not available and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Baroness Coussins asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Darzi of Denham: The department is not responsible for setting curricula for health professional training. However, we do share a commitment with statutory and professional bodies that all health professionals are trained, so that they have the skills and knowledge to deliver a high quality health service to all groups of the population with whom they deal, whatever their condition.

Therefore, the department is working with the International Centre for Drug Policy and the deans of the 24 English medical schools to develop undergraduate medical curricula and to embed substance misuse within the curricula. This includes a specific module on identification of those who are drinking at harmful levels and offering brief advice on reducing the risks from alcohol.

Baroness Coussins asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Darzi of Denham: The consultation Safe. Sensible. Social: The next steps in the National Alcohol Strategy seeks views from the public, consumer groups, the leisure and hospitality industry, alcohol producers, retailers, and professionals who have to deal with the effects of alcohol misuse on how best to minimise health harms, violence and anti-social behaviour associated with alcohol consumption, while ensuring that people are able to enjoy alcohol safely and responsibly. It

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seeks views on the right balance between individual responsibility, consumer choice and restricting harmful retailing practices. A copy has been placed in the Library.

The department and the Home Office will draw up final impact assessments following this consultation, taking account of evidence submitted during the consultation period.

The Government's alcohol strategy focuses particularly on reducing harms experienced by young people under 18 who drink alcohol, 18-to-24 year-old binge drinkers, and harmful drinkers, who regularly drink more than double the recommend daily limits for alcohol—three to four units of alcohol for men and two to three for women. The department estimates that those drinking regularly at these levels comprise 6 per cent of the population, who drink about 33 per cent of alcohol consumed in the United Kingdom. The strategy also seeks to increase the number of people drinking within the Government's sensible drinking guidelines. Twenty-six per cent of the population regularly exceeded these guidelines in 2006.

Armed Forces: AWACS Crews

Lord Moonie asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): There is no reduction planned in aircrew availability for Sentry AWACS aircraft. Financial provision for aircrew has been reprofiled to reflect our current estimate of when we will be able to increase aircrew availability beyond current levels. Meanwhile the financial provision for this capability has been reduced by the amounts shown in the table below. There has been no impact on defence capability as a result of this change.

Figures in the table have been rounded to the nearest £0.1 million:

Financial YearAnnual Budget Reductions


£1.8 million


£4.0 million


£3.0 million


£2.0 million

Armed Forces: Fuel

Lord Moonie asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The Ministry of Defence's senior economic adviser forecasts future movements in fuel prices and foreign exchange rates based on a range of

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sources. These are reflected in the department's corporate planning assumptions (CPAs), used in internal planning rounds to estimate the likely cost of fuel to the department in a given financial year.

MoD's current CPAs suggest a reduction in propulsion fuel costs for 2009-10 compared with 2008-09 for each of the main fuel types: aviation, marine, road and “other”. We continually monitor fuel prices and exchange rates and adapt our CPAs accordingly.

The net additional cost of fuel used on operations is recovered from the HM Treasury reserve.

Armed Forces: Manpower

Lord Moonie asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The total trained military personnel currently serving with Her Majesty's Armed Forces as at 1 September 2008 is 173,130. This total includes UK full-time Regulars, full-time Reserve Service and Gurkhas.

The department does not directly distinguish between civilian personnel employed by Her Majesty's Armed Forces and civilian personnel employed by the Ministry of Defence. All civilian personnel are considered as employees of the Ministry of Defence.

The table below shows the number of civilian personnel employed in each budgetary employing area.

Headcount of civilian personnel by budgetary employing area1 as at 1 September 2008

Royal Navy




Royal Air Force


Defence Equipment and Support






Locally Engaged Civilians




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Armed Forces: University Air Squadrons

Lord Moonie asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): In financial year 2007-08 the university air squadrons received £10.870 million from the Royal Air Force.

In the last academic year, 2 September 2007 to 27 July 2008, 133 individuals who had received air experience with the university air squadron joined the RAF.

The proportion of current fully qualified RAF pilots who have received university air squadron experience is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Armed Forces: Urgent Operational Requirements

Lord Lee of Trafford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): We have agreed with HM Treasury an estimate for reserve expenditure on UORs in 2008-09 of £900 million. We have not yet agreed estimates for potential UOR costs beyond this. UORs are designed to fulfil unforeseeable urgent capability gaps identified by commanders in the field driven by the situation on the ground, and as such can only be forecast with limited accuracy.

The 10 largest UOR projects to date, with costs expected to fall this financial year, are shown by their financial approval in the table below:

Approval figure (EM)UOR






Indirect Fire Sense and Warn


Jackal Uplift


Warrior Up-armouring


CVR(T) Modifications


Viking Specialist Variants


Mastiff Ambulances and Training Vehicles


Alternative Apache Munitions


Chinook Modifications

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Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): Our assessment of the likely cost impact of the new concession is based on generous assumptions about bus pass take-up, fares and increased patronage. On this basis we are confident that we have allocated sufficient funding to cover the cost of the England-wide concession—an additional £212 million to travel concession authorities from 1 April. This is being distributed by a special grant, using a formula to direct funding to areas likely to experience increased costs, such as urban and tourist centres and coastal towns and is in addition to the funding that local authorities receive through the revenue support grant.

The formula is based on factors such as local population, tourist numbers and current bus use, and was adjusted following consultation with local authorities and others last year to give a distribution that reflects where the burden of costs will occur.

Although the Department for Transport is not party to negotiations between bus operators and local authorities, it has issued guidance, offered training and provided a spreadsheet tool to help them to determine appropriate reimbursement.

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Adonis: One hundred applications to the Secretary of State for Transport were made by bus operators regarding the operation of travel concession schemes run by local authorities in 2008-09. Of these 48 have been withdrawn, five were rejected and 47 remain to be determined.

The Secretary of State has appointed two independent decision-makers to determine applications on his behalf. Appeals to the Secretary of State about concessionary fares schemes are considered on a case-by-case basis taking account of local circumstances and the information provided. The department has provided advice to the decision-makers regarding the relevant legislation and existing departmental guidance on concessionary fares, and during the process professional legal and economic advice will be available to them when considering how individual cases should be resolved.

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Children: ContactPoint

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): In response to Question HL5508, the process of applying shields to ContactPoint child records has not yet begun. Data loading into a secure environment, for live operational purposes, is scheduled to be completed during December of this year. As soon as this data load is complete, specifically identified local authority implementation managers will all take action to shield those child records that require it, before any practitioners are given access to the system.

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