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Older People

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will set out for each of the conclusions in section 6.4 of the Performance and Innovation Unit report, 'Winning the Generation Game', (a) what progress his Department has made and (b) what future plans his Department has for acting on them; and if he will set out against each of the conclusions the targets and deadlines that have been set. [24205]

Mrs. Roche: The Civil Service is committed to the active employment of older people. Figures for April 2000, for example, show that the Civil Service as a whole has more staff in the 55–75 age group (47,680) than it does in the 16–24 age group (31,770). In the light of the recommendations in the "Winning the Generation Game" report, Departments and agencies have been considering what further action they can take to improve their record by offering more options for employees over 50 to work in different ways and at different levels towards the end of their working lives.

The Cabinet Office is in the process of collecting data from Departments on their current position in considering each of the recommendations of the "Winning the Generation Game" report in order to have a full picture in the new year.

I will write to the hon. Member once all Departments have provided the information.

Departmental Expenditure Limits

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the reasons for the difference between the final voted departmental expenditure limit and provisional outturn for financial year 2000–01, as listed in the Treasury document, Public Expenditure 2000–01: Provisional Outturn, for Vote XVII, Cabinet Office, subcategory 3 Cabinet Office: civil superannuation; and if he will make a statement. [24113]

Mr. Leslie: Full details of outturn against 2000–01 voted provision will be published in the appropriation accounts to be presented to the House of Commons by 31 January. The resource accounts on an accruals basis will also be presented to the House of Commons by 31 January.

DEFENCE

Drug Misuse

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what action he has taken on trends in the percentage of service personnel testing positive for controlled substances. [23693]

Mr. Ingram: Since routine, random compulsory drug testing became regular practice across the three services in 1998, the percentage of armed forces personnel proving positive has only risen from 0.45 per cent. to 0.54 per cent. (in 2000) of the total number tested. The services reflect the society from which they are recruited and employ mainly

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young people who are at an age when they are most vulnerable to drug misuse. In addition to rigorous single service drug education programmes, the compulsory drug testing programme is a specific deterrent against the misuse of drugs by service personnel. Despite the comparatively low number of personnel who return positive results, the services continue to examine their drugs policies to remain vigilant against the problem.

Recent improvements in drug testing methods have given the Ministry of Defence a more reliable detection capability for the Class A drug, Ecstasy. While this and an increase in the number of service personnel being tested generally, year on year, is reflected in the overall number of positive findings, our enhanced drug testing capability is viewed as a positive measure against members of the armed forces misusing drugs.

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many convictions there were for drug- related offences among armed forces personnel in each year since 1995; [23694]

Mr. Ingram: I will write to the hon. Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Special Educational Needs

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of children of armed forces personnel have special educational needs. [23206]

Mr. Ingram: There is no remit on service personnel to inform the Ministry of Defence when their children have special educational needs. Therefore, this information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Submarines

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which submarines will receive the final stage of the Swiftsure and Trafalgar Update; and for what reasons the remaining fleet submarines are not receiving this upgrade. [23618]

Mr. Ingram: The submarines which will receive the final stage of the update are HMS Torbay, HMS Trenchant, HMS Talent and HMS Triumph.

The remaining Swiftsure and Trafalgar Class submarines have insufficient remaining planned service life for the procurement and fitting of the final phase of the update to be cost effective.

Sea Eagle Missile

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the Sea Eagle anti-ship missile will be withdrawn from service; and what anti-surface capability the aircraft carriers will have after the withdrawal of the Sea Eagle missile. [24025]

Mr. Ingram: The decision to withdraw the Sea Eagle anti-ship missile from service in April 1999 was taken as a consequence of the Strategic Defence Review. The review

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concluded that since the end of the cold war the threat of open ocean warfare had reduced and that the requirement for air launched anti-surface ship capability had diminished. While our carriers no longer possess an organic anti-surface ship capability, they would normally operate as part of a Maritime Task Group whose component escorting vessels would typically be armed with a potent mixture of anti-surface weapons including the long range, ship launched Harpoon missile and the helicopter launched Sea Skua missile.

Leisure Time (Submarine Crews)

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the set number of hours given over to downtime for sleep and rest in every 24 hours are for submarine naval officers; and if he will make a statement. [23288]

Mr. Ingram: Warfare officers in submarines operate in a six hours on, six hours off watch-keeping routine when at sea in a nuclear powered attack submarine. Their 12 hours off watch in each 24-hour period are used for sleep, meals, rest and recreation as well as dealing with routine administrative work.

Submarine Officers

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what training is expected to have been completed by submarine officers before being left as duty officers of a nuclear powered cruise missile-equipped submarine; and if he will make a statement. [23286]

Mr. Ingram: All Royal Navy warfare officers undergo a lengthy period of training, progressing from general naval training to specific disciplines, such as navigation, to the level of detail necessary to conduct safely a warfare officer's first appointment. Beyond this, submariners sub-specialise and receive an appropriate level of training tailored to meet the particular demands of watch-keeping in submarines.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment is made of the competency and physical fitness of officers before they are placed in charge of a nuclear powered submarine; and if he will make a statement. [23291]

Mr. Ingram: Any officer appointed to a submarine is required to be assessed as medically fit for his duty. A comprehensive training and assessment regime is in place to ensure that such officers possess the professional ability and competence required by their duties. This includes a Basic Sea Qualification, which all officers must undertake in the submarine in which they are serving; this is a stringent test to ensure that they have knowledge of the systems onboard required to operate the boat effectively and safely.

HMS Triumph

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he intends to hold an inquiry into the events which led to the court martialling of Lieutenant Ashley Philpott and Lieutenant Ian Tabberer; and if he will make a statement. [23302]

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Mr. Ingram: A full board of inquiry was held into the circumstances surrounding the grounding of HMS Triumph immediately after the incident occurred in November 2000. It is not intended to hold another inquiry.

Spanish Airspace

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the cost of UK military aircraft avoiding Spanish airspace over the last year. [23814]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 18 December 2001]: This information is not held and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Gibraltar

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many joint military operations with (a) other EU partners and (b) non-EU states have taken place in Gibraltar in each of the last three years. [23815]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 18 December 2001]: None.


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