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Recruitment

28. Sir Sydney Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many people were recruited to the (a) Army, (b) Royal Navy and (c) Royal Air Force between 1 November 2001 and 31 January 2002. [31921]

Mr. Ingram: Figures for recruitment are at present available only up until the end of November 2001.

In the three months prior to that, 1,826 people were recruited to the Naval Service, 5,096 people were recruited to the Army and 1,037 people were recruited to the RAF. Figures are for intake to UK regular forces and therefore exclude Gurkhas, full time reserve service personnel, the Home Service battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment and mobilised reservists.

Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many soldiers were recruited in South Tyneside in each year since 1996. [34559]

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Mr. Ingram: The information requested is as follows:

Financial yearsRegular soldiers
1996–97826
1997–98880
1998–99902
1999–2000690
2000–01519
2001–02(1)420

(1) To end January 2002


Gurkha Regiments

29. Mr. Bill O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many new recruits will be introduced into the Gurkha regiments and what will be the strength of the Gurkha regiments in 2002; and if he will make a statement. [31922]

Mr. Ingram: There is a requirement to recruit 230 Gurkhas during 2002 in order to maintain the current force level of around 3,500 trained Gurkhas.

Procurement (Clyde)

30. John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on his procurement plans in connection with shipyards on the Clyde. [31923]

Dr. Moonie: This Government are undertaking the largest programme of new warship building in this country for decades. In the last 20 months the Ministry of Defence has placed orders or announced its intention to place orders for 15 new warships. The Clyde has already benefited from this programme. BAE Systems Marine recently signed a contract, with the MOD, for the build of two new Alternative Landing Ships Logistics at the Govan yard on the Clyde, the Clyde shipyards of BAE Systems Marine will also benefit from the Ministry of Defence's planned extension of its commitment from three to six Type 45 Destroyers, the Build of which will be shared between BAE Systems Marine and Vosper Thornycroft with the first of class assembled and launched from the Scotstoun yard.

Our future plans include two new aircraft carriers; further Astute Class submarines and Type 45 Destroyers; the new surface combatant and a number of support vessels. It is expected that this programme of warship building will create or secure several thousand jobs in UK shipyards and their ancillary industries throughout this country. We fully expect shipyards on the Clyde to have opportunities to participate in future orders.

Female Army Recruits

31. Mr. Havard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what action is planned with regard to the application of physical fitness tests for Army recruits; and if he will make a statement on the study into injuries among female army recruits, in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, volume 95. [31924]

Mr. Ingram: The Physical Selection Standards (Recruits) (PSS(R)) system of testing potential recruits to the Army has been in place since 1998. It consists of a series of tests designed to assess the level of fitness of an individual related to the specific demands of a particular trade, irrespective of gender, and aims to predict the likely

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chance of an individual successfully completing initial military training. The system is currently undergoing re-validation. The study reported in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine compared data associated with medical discharges among recruits trained under the policy in existence in 1997–98 with data for those trained under the PSS(R) regime in 1998–99. The results showed an increase in medical discharges of female recruits due to certain types of injury, such as stress fractures and back pain. Modifications have since been made to the selection and training process for new recruits and the position is being kept under constant review.

Kabul

32. Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the cohesion of the stability force in Kabul. [31925]

Mr. Hoon: The command and control of a large multinational force like the International Security Assistance Force in a challenging environment like Kabul is a major undertaking. So far, this has gone extremely well, which is a tribute to the close co-operation that we have received from the 17 other troop contributing nations.

Pakistan

33. Ms Munn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he last met his counterpart in Pakistan to discuss military developments in the region. [31926]

Mr. Hoon: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave earlier today to my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Thomas).

Missile Defence

34. Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will ensure that there is parliamentary approval prior to a deployment by the US of national missile defence facilities in the UK. [31927]

Mr. Hoon: President Bush has made clear that he has not yet decided what sort of missile defence system he will ultimately seek to deploy. We have received no request from the US for the use of sites in the UK for missile defence purposes, and it remains premature to indicate how we would respond to any specific request.

35. Mr. Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with the Government of Russia about missile defence. [31928]

Mr. Hoon: I discussed a range of issues, including missile defence, with the Russian Defence Minister, Sergei Ivanov, during his visit to London on 20 December.

Strategic Defence Review

36. David Cairns: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on progress on the new chapter of the strategic defence review. [31929]

Mr. Hoon: We have made good progress on the new chapter to the Strategic Defence Review: this work is designed to ensure that we have the right concepts, forces and capabilities in place to deal with the kind of threats that we saw on 11 September.

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We intend to publish public discussion material very shortly, outlining the areas we are examining, reflecting emerging thinking and seeking views. This will provide an important opportunity for members of the public, Parliament and other interested parties to contribute to this important work. We intend to publish some conclusions in the spring or early summer.

Procurement (Naval Ships)

37. Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on his procurement plans for naval ships. [31930]

Dr. Moonie: The Government are undertaking the largest programme of new warship building for many years. In the last 20 months the Ministry of Defence has placed orders or announced its intention to place orders for 15 new warships.

As to our future plans, we expect to purchase two new aircraft carriers and further Astute class submarines and type 45 destroyers. Our longer-term plans include the future surface combatant as well as a number of support vessels.

It remains our policy that all warships for the Royal Navy will be built in the United Kingdom, providing the UK shipbuilding industry with a solid platform of work opportunities.

Hawk Aircraft (India)

Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what consideration his Department has given in the last two months to the impact of UK sales of Hawk aircraft to India on the stability of the region in advance of an export licence application. [34081]

Dr. Moonie: All export licence applications are considered on a case by case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria, taking into account all the relevant circumstances prevailing at the time the application is received.

Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what he has done in the last two months to encourage the sales of Hawk aircraft to India. [34080]

Mr. Hoon: The Government continue to support BAE System's proposal to sell Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer aircraft to India. During the Indian Defence Minister's short stopover in Britain in January, I discussed a range of defence matters, including defence export opportunities.

Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when delivery will be taken of the first aircraft if Hawk aircraft are sold to India. [34082]

Dr. Moonie: This is a matter for BAE Systems and the Government of India and it would therefore be inappropriate for me to comment.


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