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Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what physical tests were included in the combat effectiveness gender study; and if he will publish the (a) male and (b) female failure rates. 
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what information he has collated on proposals to exhume British and Commonwealth war dead and clear cemeteries in the Somme battlefields in connection with major construction proposals. 
Dr. Moonie: The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is responsible for the care and maintenance of the graves of all British and Commonwealth war dead who fell in the two World Wars and the memorials to those who have no known grave. Neither the Ministry of Defence nor the Commission have received proposals about major construction projects on the Somme which could require the exhumation and relocation of war graves.
Mr. Ingram: The hon. Member will be aware that it is our long-standing policy not to comment on matters relating to the operational capability of the UK special forces. I am therefore withholding this information under Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information, which covers information whose disclosure would be harmful to national security, defence or international relations.
Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the annual allocation of hours for tactical air transport training; and what is the actual number of hours training achieved in the last 12 months. 
Mr. Ingram: From 1 November 2000 to 31 October 2001, 3,827 hours were allocated for tactical air transport training. Of these, 2,910, or 76 per cent. were achieved. This type of training is very dependent on weather conditions. Restrictions imposed by foot and mouth disease and additional operational tasking also contributed to the shortfall in training hours. Despite, this, crews have met their Basic Training Requirements.
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|Service year||Royal Navy||Royal Marines||Army(4)||Royal Air Force||Total|
(4) Army personnel can be formally reported as absent without leave immediately, the Royal Navy and RAF only initiate formal reporting procedures after the seventh day of absence
(5) Figure includes two Army personnel serving with the Royal Marines
Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had about the effectiveness of the C-17; whether he has considered buying the four C-17s which are leased; what plans he has to expand 99 Squadron, using further C-17s; and if he will make a statement. 
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Dr. Moonie: The C-17s, which achieved their in-service date three months ahead of schedule, have fully met our expectations and performed well in Operation Essential Harvest and Exercise Saif Sareea 2. We have no current plans to purchase the leased C-17 aircraft or to expand 99 Squadron using further C-17s. The current arrangements meet the Short Term Strategic Airlift requirement and are expected to continue until the A400M enters service.
Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to sponsor trials of the F35 in connection with developing UK requirements; what trials of the aircraft will take place in the UK; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Moonie: In order to avoid unnecessary duplication and cost, a dingle integrated Future Joint Combat Aircraft/F35 test programme with our US partner is being considered. Under this strategy, the work would be undertaken primarily in the US. UK Test and Evaluation personnel from the Ministry of Defence and QinetiQ would be integrated into the joint test activities.
In any event, the Joint Strike Fighter prime contractor will be required to demonstrate that the aircraft is compatible with UK aircraft carriers and support infrastructure. This may involve UK based trials.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the countries, and the number of troops they have promised, as part of their commitment to the international coalition's actions in Afghanistan. 
Mr. Hoon [holding answer 20 November 2001]: The following countries have promised military assets as part of their commitment to the international coalition against terrorism: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Singapore, Spain, Sweden and Turkey.
Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if diving operations have been (a) carried out and (b) authorised by the Ministry on the wreck of the SS Somali since 1971; and if he will give details of the purpose and results of any such operation. 
Dr. Moonie: The SS Somali was a British merchant ship and as such is not the responsibility of the Ministry of Defence. Responsibility for merchant vessels lies with the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions.
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Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence police (MDP) is subject to efficiency and performance targets set by MOD. As with all next steps agencies, the MDP are set annual key targets which are published in the House of Commons Official Report. The chief constable's accounts are audited by the National Audit Office and published in his annual report which is laid before Parliament. Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary undertakes periodic inspections of the MDP. The MOD Police Committee, during its quarterly meetings, review aspects of MDP performance.
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