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Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans there are for personnel involved in Exercise Saif Sareea 2 to be deployed to Afghanistan to aid in the operations in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. [15314]

Mr. Hoon: Exercise Saif Sareea 2 finished on 29 October. My right hon. Friend the Minister of State announced on 26 October 2001, Official Report, columns 549–64, that a force drawn from the exercise would be retained in the region to provide the operational flexibility to deal with a wide range of contingencies.

This force comprises an Amphibious Task Group based around HMS Illustrious and HMS Fearless, including 200 men of 40 Commando Royal Marines (with the rest of 40 Commando held at high readiness in the UK), and Nimrod maritime patrol and Hercules transport aircraft. A Tomahawk-armed submarine presence and a number of reconnaissance and air-to-air refuelling aircraft are also in the region.

Following the fall of Mazar-i-Sharif and Kabul, a number of units from 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines that had taken part in Exercise Saif Sareea 2 were placed on reduced notice to move in case they were required to support humanitarian or other missions in Afghanistan.

Royal Marines from 40 Commando have subsequently been deployed to Bagram airfield. The deployment to Afghanistan of other units or personnel which took part in Exercise Saif Sareea 2 remains under review: no decisions have been taken.

September 11

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the impact of 11 September on (a) NATO, (b) the EU and (c) the UK's regional interests; and if he will make a statement. [17363]

Mr. Hoon: NATO's response to the 11 September attacks included the invocation of Article 5 of the Washington treaty, which states that an attack on one Ally is an attack on all, for the first time in the Alliance's history. This has been supported by a series of specific actions, including deployment of NATO's Airborne Early Warning Force and the Standing Naval Force Mediterranean. The longer-term implications of the events of 11 September, including for the Alliance's force structures and for relations with Russia, are currently under discussion within the Alliance.

The EU Special Council on 21 September agreed to co-operate with the US in bringing to justice and punishing the perpetrators of the 11 September attacks, and approved a set of measures to combat terrorism, including enhancing police and judicial co-operation, developing legal instruments, putting an end to the funding of terrorism and strengthening air security. The General Affairs Council on 8 October, and again on 20 November, confirmed that all partners strongly support the US and UK military action.

The attacks have reinforced the need to build and maintain defence relationships with partners throughout the world. The unprecedented level of international support in the fight against terrorism demonstrates clearly

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the value of having strong defence relationships. As part of our work on a further chapter to the Strategic Defence Review, we are looking very closely at the impact of 11 September on international organisations, including NATO and the EU, and on our regional interests, not least given the need to sustain long-term coalitions against international terrorism. I expect to publish conclusions in the early summer of next year.

Tax-free Pensions

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) pensioners, (b) widows of pensioners and (c) their estates were identified as entitled to tax free pensions under the pre-1973 Attributable Tax Exercise of 1999; and how many fell into the same categories in cases arising from aggravated invaliding. [18006]

Dr. Moonie: We do not have available figures for the numbers of pre-1973 Royal Navy and Royal Air Force pensioners, widows of pensioners or estates entitled to tax free attributable pensions. This information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, tax exemption was applied as appropriate in these cases.

The number of pre-1973 Army pensions, widows of pensioners or their estates identified as entitled to tax free pensions is as follows:

In these cases, as well as 787 post-1973 cases, tax exemption was not applied correctly. However this has been remedied in all but 26 cases, which are still under investigation.

Defence Logistics Organisation

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the sums provided for (a) capital expenditure and (b) current expenditure for the Defence Logistics Organisation in the current financial year. [18459]

Mr. Ingram: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 31 October 2001, Official Report, columns 659–60W.

Tornado GR1

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to (a) replace and (b) upgrade the Tornado GR1 aircraft; and if he will make a statement. [18759]

Mr. Ingram: We are continuing to upgrade the RAF's fleet of Tornado GR1 aircraft to GR4 standard. The GR4 has been in operational service with the RAF since June and to date 104 GR4s have been delivered.

The GR4 upgrade includes: Hand on Throttle and Stick (HOTAS); Forward Looking Infra Red (FLIR); improved navigation and warning systems (LINS/GPS/GPWS). In addition, the GR4 is now able to deploy the all-weather interim precision guided bomb, as well as laser guided and unguided bombs. The upgrade also paves the way for the eventual integration of Storm Shadow, Brimstone and the Raptor reconnaissance pod on to GR4.

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The UK has a requirement to replace, towards the end of the next decade, the strike capability currently provided by the Tornado GR4 strike aircraft. This programme is known as the Future Offensive Air System (FOAS). While no decisions have yet been taken we are currently looking at a potential mix of platforms to deliver precision strike capability—including Long Range Cruise Missiles, Uninhabited Combat Air Vehicles and manned aircraft.

Regimental Running Costs

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is his estimate of the running costs of (a) an armoured regiment and (b) an artillery regiment, for the latest year for which figures are available. [18752]

Mr. Ingram: It is currently not possible accurately to provide the information requested. The introduction of improved accountancy procedures across the Ministry of Defence will enable us to do so in the future.

EU Rapid Reaction Force

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his policy is on the use of the EU rapid reaction force for (a) crisis management and (b) war- fighting. [18258]

Mr. Hoon: There is no standing EU rapid reaction force. An EU-led crisis management operation would take place only where NATO as a whole is not engaged. The decision to proceed on a particular operation would be taken on a case by case basis, but the types of operation the EU might undertake could include humanitarian and rescue tasks, peacekeeping tasks and tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking. These are commonly known as the Petersberg Tasks. The European Security and Defence Policy does not cover war-fighting operations.

Ex-service Men (Rough Sleepers)

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment his Department has made of the number of ex-service men who are rough sleepers; and if he will make a statement. [16143]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence does not monitor the number of rough sleepers. However, MOD has been working in partnership with the Rough Sleeper's Unit (RSU) to put in place preventive measures to reduce the ex-service component of rough sleeping, against the target of making an overall reduction in rough sleeping of at least two-thirds by 2002.

The Social Exclusion Unit Report published in December 1999 highlighted that between a quarter and one fifth of rough sleepers had been in the armed forces at some stage, predominantly as national service men. Since then the RSU in partnership with the MOD has set up schemes to help those vulnerable to rough sleeping, before, at the point of and after discharge.

Figures published in August by the RSU showed that as of June 2001 there had been a 62 per cent. reduction.

But we are not complacent. As part of the Government's Veterans' Initiative we are looking at improvements to resettlement arrangements for the vulnerable groups from which rough sleepers are most likely to come.

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Armoured Vehicles

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many and what types of armoured vehicles are in service; and what are the (a) mid-life extension programmes dates and (b) anticipated withdrawal from service dates, where applicable. [18199]

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Mr. Ingram: The following types of armoured vehicle are currently in service with the UK armed forces (the dates of any planned life extension programmes and withdrawal from services dates, based on current plans, are also given):

TypeFleet sizeLife extension dates, where applicablePlanned withdrawal/phase out from service dates
Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank386n/a2028
Challenger Recovery Vehicle81n/a2028
Chieftain Recovery Vehicle49n/a2003–05
Chieftain Bridge Layer Vehicle51n/a2005–07
Chieftain Royal Engineer Vehicle51n/a2005–07
Beach Recovery Vehicle5n/a2002–03
FV 430 series1,730n/a2007–20
Saxon—(including Saxon Patrol)649n/a2007–20
CVR (T) Reconnaissance Vehicle—including all variants 1,600(5)2002(6)2005
Warrior Armoured Fighting Vehicle—all variants 794n/a2025
Stormer—all variants148n/a2020
Combat Engineer Tractor135n/a2003
Fuchs NBC Vehicle112002–042010
AS 90179n/a2023
Multiple Launch Rocket System64n/a2025

(5) Completed by July

(6) Some variants

(7) Remainder

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