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Warships

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the ability of the Royal Navy to meet its commitments when HMS Sheffield goes into reserve in 2003. [30788]

Mr. Ingram: The placing of HMS Sheffield at extended readiness will not prevent the Royal Navy from meeting its commitments.

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to replace HMS Coventry. [30790]

Mr. Ingram: The decision to withdraw the Batch 2 Type 22 frigate HMS Coventry from service on 31 December 2001 was part of the reduction in overall numbers of frigates and destroyers presaged by the Strategic Defence Review. There are no plans for a direct replacement, but HMS St. Albans, the final Type 23 frigate, which has considerably superior general purpose capabilities, has been accepted from the builders and is currently conducting sea trials as she prepares for full operational service later this year.

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Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reason the fleet has been reduced to 31 ships. [30789]

Mr. Ingram: The fleet has not been reduced to 31 ships. There are currently 36 major surface ships in service with the Royal Navy. This figure excludes submarines, mine counter-measures vessels, survey ships, patrol craft and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

Service Numbers

Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) establishment and (b) current strength is of (i) 1 East of England Regiment, (ii) the Royal Marine Reserve, (iii) the RNR/RNVR, (iv) the Royal Auxiliary Air Force and (v) the Honourable Artillery Company. [31610]

Dr. Moonie: The figures are as follows:

EstablishmentStrength
1 East of England Regiment549(8)590
Royal Marine Reserve1,070(9)921
Royal Naval Reserve3,850(9)3,215
Royal Auxiliary Air Force2,156(9)1,607
Honourable Artillery Company408(8)524

(8) As at 28 January 2002

(9) As at 1 January 2002

Note:

The RNVR no longer exists


Asbestos

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many compensation claims from his Department's ex-service personnel for asbestos-related

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diseases contracted before 1987 have been refused (a) in each year since 1987 and (b) since 1972; and if he will make a statement. [31203]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence does not hold the information requested by the hon. Member as claims for compensation from service or ex-service personnel involving asbestos related diseases have not traditionally been recorded separately. The Ministry of Defence does produce a Claims Annual Report, a copy of which is placed in the Library of the House. This document contains additional information on all aspects of common-law compensation claims against the Ministry of Defence, including asbestos-related claims.

Recruitment and Wastage

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the numbers of servicemen who have left at each stage after initial recruitment and before being added to trained strength in each of the last five years. [31483]

Mr. Ingram: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Those details which are available are set out in the following table. This shows the actual numbers who left during initial recruitment training and this number as a percentage of those who started training. The wastage rates quoted include voluntary withdrawal, medical discharge, discharge by purchase and discharge Services No Longer Required.

For the Royal Air Force, the IST wastage rates in the table refer to Officers in the ground branches and do not take into account pilots, navigators and aircrew. Training for these groups can take many years and so final wastage rates for these years are not readily available. I will write to the hon. Member with full details of RAF Officer IST wastage rates and I will place a copy in the Library of the House.

1997–98 1998–99 1999–2000 2000–01 2001–02(10)
ServiceNumberPercentageNumberPercentageNumberPercentageNumberPercentageNumberPercentage
Royal Navy(11)—Wastage rates
Officers
Overall19191613
Phase 1124.5
Phase 21810
Ratings
Overall26253027
Phase 155123
Phase 224514
Royal Marines—Wastage rates
Officers(12)
Phase 115377161128173835
ORs(13)
Overall5345751149567535284845549
Army—Wastage rates
Officers
Overall11716571499155914
Soldiers
Phase 1282,586212,11117
Phase 2427031803
Royal Air Force—wastage rates
Officers(15)
(IOT)275285224102n/an/a
IST(16)111469n/an/a
Airmen(17)
Phase 110138108
Phase 25811104

(10) All figures for 2001–02 cover the period up to 31 December 2001.

Royal Navy

(11) RN recruits join the trained strength after completing Phase 1 and Phase 2 training. Phase 1 training is one year for officers and eight weeks for ratings. Phase 2 training averages around 18 months for officers (but up to five years for Aircrew), three years for Artificer Apprentices and eight months for non-technical ratings.

Royal Marines

(12) The figures for RM Officers show the wastage rates while undergoing Phase 1 training at CTCRM Lympstone. No figures are available for failures in Phase 2 training; failures during this nine months phase are rare.

(13) The majority of the RM Other Ranks training wastage consists of those who voluntarily withdraw (historically approximately 65 per cent. of the wastage figure) the remainder being split between those who are unsuitable and those who are medically discharged.

Army

(14) Army Officers are considered to have joined the trained strength after leaving Sandhurst when they become part of the UK Trained Army Personnel. Consolidated figures are available only from 1998–99. Soldiers join the trained strength on completion of their Phase 2 trade training. Full details of the number of soldiers who left during initial training are available only from 2000–01.

Royal Air Force

(15) RAF Officers, on completion of Initial Officer Training (IOT) which last for 24 weeks, go on to Initial Specialist Training (IST). No IOT or IST wastage rates figures are available yet for 2001–02.

(16) The OST wastage rates in the table refer to Officers in the ground branches and do not take into account pilots, navigators and aircrew. Training for these groups can take many years and so final wastage rates for these years are not readily available.

(17) Airmen/airwomen join the trained strength after completion of both recruit training (Phase 1) and trade training (Phase 2). Recruit training is seven weeks. Trade training averages around 40 weeks and can last anything up to two years for specific trades. The percentage figures quoted for trade training wastage in years 2000–01 and 2001–02 give the position as at 31 December 2001; at this date there were still 755 to complete training started in 2000–01 and 1,832 airmen/airwomen who have started in 2001–02.


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