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Armed Services Manpower

36. Mrs. Laing: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the manpower strength is of each of the armed services. [8387]

Mr. Ingram: As at 1 September, the trained strength of the Naval Service was 37,780, the Army 100,304 and the RAF 49,535.


37. John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what changes have been made to procurement priorities since the strategic defence review was published. [8388]

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Mr. Hoon: Recent and current operations have shown that the procurement priorities set out in the strategic defence review were broadly correct. We shall be looking again to ensure we have the right capabilities to meet the additional challenges from international terrorism.

Joint Strike Fighter

Linda Gilroy: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made in the selection of the prime contractor for the engineering manufacturing development phase of the joint strike fighter programme. [11494]

Mr. Hoon: It was announced in Washington on Friday 26 October that Lockheed Martin has been selected for the contract award.

The UK participated fully in the selection process, and the decision is good news for our armed forces and for UK defence companies teamed with Lockheed Martin.

The aircraft, which will meet our future joint combat aircraft (FJCA) requirement, will incorporate advanced stealth technology and will be able to conduct multi-role operations from the sea and from the land. The decision represents a further important step, following the strategic defence review, to provide the UK with up-to-date flexible expeditionary air power capability.

UK industry stands to gain substantial benefits. The value of the work for UK companies over the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase is of the order of £3 billion with much further work in production and support activities in years to come. Lockheed Martin assesses that up to 3,500 jobs could be sustained or created during EMD rising to 8,500 in the later phases.

Service Accommodation

Peter Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the impact on the recruitment and retention of service personnel of the standard of accommodation. [9797]

Dr. Moonie: We have no evidence of a link between the standard of accommodation and recruiting. However, continuous attitude surveys among Service personnel and their families do indicate that the standard of accommodation may influence personnel in making their decision to leave, although it is far from being the most significant factor.

We recognise, therefore, the importance of good quality accommodation for Service personnel and their families and we are committed to upgrading both Service Families Accommodation and Single Living Accommodation. In Great Britain the Defence Housing Executive is aiming to upgrade all of its core Service Families Accommodation to Standard 1 for condition (the highest grade) by November 2005. Furthermore, a project team was formed this year to oversee £1 billion worth of investment over the next 10 years to upgrade Single Living Accommodation. This money is in addition to the £1 billion that was already committed to the upgrade programme over the same period.

We believe that these commitments to upgrading accommodation will benefit all Service personnel and their families and thus have a positive effect on armed forces retention.

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Recruitment (Commonwealth Countries)

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to recruit more people from Commonwealth countries to the armed forces. [10066]

Mr. Ingram: Recruitment into the armed forces is open to British and Commonwealth citizens, and Republic of Ireland nationals. The Services do not actively promote armed forces careers in Commonwealth countries. Selection and recruitment teams visit those Commonwealth countries where the number of expected applicants justify the effort, and where an invitation to conduct visits has been received from the Government in question.

Negotiations are currently under way for the next, annual tri-Service recruiting mission to the UK Dependent Territory of St. Helena to take place in June 2002 in

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conjunction with the island's centenary celebrations. The Navy plans to visit St. Vincent and the Grenadines in February 2002.

The Army plans to send selection teams to St. Lucia in February and May 2002, and to St. Vincent and the Grenadines in July 2002 at the request of the respective Governments. The RAF has no current plans to recruit abroad.

Overseas Operations

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will give the operational name, location and strength of all operations under way by UK armed forces overseas; and if he will make a statement. [9987]

Mr. Ingram: As of 23 October 2001, the operational deployments of UK Service personnel are as shown in the table.

CountriesMilitary personnel
Northern Irelandsome 13,500
Kosovo (including supporting elements in the Former Yugoslavia Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Greecesome 3,200
Bosnia (including support elements in Croatia and Italysome 1,750
Former Yugoslavia Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)4
Cyprussome 3,600 (including some 400 supporting UN operations)
Falkland Islandssome 1,200
Gibraltarsome 400
Sierra Leonesome 400 personnel on the ground (including around 20 members of the UN operation)
Middle East countries in support of UN Security Resolutions in respect of Iraqsome 950

We provide support to the UN operations in:

We also maintain patrols by our ballistic nuclear deterrent submarines.

In addition, we have been providing around 4,200 personnel in support of the coalition against international terrorism, based in the theatre and in the US.

Operational codewords, when linked to their meaning, are classified, and I am withholding this information in accordance with clause 1a of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

Departmental Spending (Deprived Areas)

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much of the expenditure by his Department in each of the years (a) 1996–97, (b) 1997–98, (c) 1998–99, (d) 1999–2000, (e) 2000–01, (f) 2001–02 and (g) 2002–03 (estimated) was allocated with reference to the Index of Multiple Deprivation; which expenditure programmes are allocated with respect to this index and other measures of relative geographic deprivation; and if he will make a statement. [8940]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 25 October 2001]: The Ministry of Defence allocates defence expenditure in order to improve operational effectiveness and achieve value for money. Since 1999 the MOD has used the Index of Multiple Deprivation, along with other measures of social conditions, to inform decisions such as unit moves, site rationalisations and investment decisions on new facilities. The MOD does not, however, allocate expenditure with sole reference or respect to the Index of Multiple Deprivation or other measures of relative geographic deprivation.

Although the MOD does not solely allocate expenditure with respect to measures of geographic deprivation, a number of the activities we sponsor do assist areas of high deprivation. The 'Skill Force' programme, for example, is helping 47 schools in 11 areas, all of which are in areas that are among the most deprived in the UK. Skill Force is a MOD sponsored programme that uses retired military instructors to deliver a range of vocational skills training to young people.

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Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussion he has had with the Meat and Livestock Commission about the sourcing of meat for consumption by the armed forces from United Kingdom sources; and if he will make a statement. [10792]

Dr. Moonie: We continue to work closely with the Meat and Livestock Commission to explore ways to increase the proportion of British meat we buy competitively. This has been a successful partnership and contributed to, for example, the supply of 100 per cent. British beef to our UK-based Service personnel between autumn 1998 and summer 2000. We continually monitor, with the Meat and Livestock Commission, the list of meat products required for the armed forces, and look for products which can be supplied from wholly United Kingdom sources. As a direct result of this communication and frequent meetings between the Defence Catering Group, the Meat and Livestock Commission and '3663', our food contractor, a range of British meat products have been added to a "core" list of products available to the armed forces, including British lamb shoulder and British thick rib beef. We will continue our dialogue with the Meat and Livestock Commission in order to maximise the amount of British product that can be supplied competitively.

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much (a) beef, (b) lamb and (c) pork was purchased since 1 January 2000 for consumption by the armed forces; how much of it was sourced from the United Kingdom; at what total costs; and what the per tonne cost from (i) United Kingdom and (ii) overseas sources has been. [10791]

Dr. Moonie: Since 1997 the task of buying food for the armed forces has been contracted to '3663' (formerly known as Booker Foodservice) and it is the Ministry of Defence's policy to require them to seek the best price in the open market; to do otherwise would contravene European law. Our contractor is specifically required to give full consideration to British products, which we look to them to buy wherever they are competitive.

Since January 2000, 3,983 tonnes of beef, 1,369 tonnes of lamb and 2,075 tonnes of pork have been supplied to the armed forces by '3663'. The average annual cost of beef and lamb is some £6 million and £2 million respectively. The average annual cost of all pig meat, including pork, is £2.5 million.

In the case of beef, during the year 2000, 87 per cent. of all beef supplied (1,892 tonnes) was sourced from the UK. This followed the agreement we secured from the EC to release British intervention beef at competitive prices. As was announced to the House in July 2000 and again in May 2001, these stocks ran out during the summer of 2000 and market prices dictated that a mixture of British and imported beef would be required. Consequently, this year 31 per cent. of beef (571 tonnes) has been sourced from the UK.

In the case of pork and lamb, since January 2000, 84 per cent. of all pork supplied (1,750 tonnes and 4 per cent. of all lamb supplied (17 tonnes) was sourced from the UK.

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We continue to work in partnership with '3663' to explore ways to increase the proportion of British meat that is supplied to our armed forces. Both the Ministry and '3663' remain committed to buying meat from UK sources wherever they are competitive.

Mr. Tyler: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will instruct procurement officers responsible for the supply of meat to British service personnel stationed in the Falkland Islands to buy exclusively from the EU-approved abattoir on the islands. [10800]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence has a contract for food supply with '3663' formerly trading as Booker Foodservice. The contract includes responsibility for the procurement of all commodities including meat and offal. The role of the Ministry of Defence's Defence Catering Group (DCG) is to work with the contractor to ensure that meat supplied to UK armed forces is procured from reputable sources and offers best value for money. This partnering approach extends to DCG making recommendations to '3663' regarding new sources of supply and supplementing '3663's own sourcing and quality assurance activities. The DCG is monitoring the development of the fledgling meat industry in the Falkland Islands and continues to assess the volumes of production, product availability and the quality standard of meat from the limited range of products available from the abattoir recently constructed to EU standards. It is understood that, for the foreseeable future, the output of the abattoir will be limited to lamb only. Any decision to procure meat from this particular facility to feed British service personnel in the Falkland Islands will ultimately rest with '3663' who will ensure that our stringent quality requirements are met or exceeded.

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