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Crèche Facilities

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what crèche facilities are provided by his Department; and at what cost. [44870]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence provides the following child care support for its civilian and military employees:


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The capital and running costs of child care schemes are funded by a variety of means including: money raised by parents, benevolent funds, local authorities, the civil service modernisation fund and the defence budget. However, no figures for the total costs are readily available, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Freedom of Information Act

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment has been made of the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in the MOD; and if he will make a statement. [44737]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence and armed forces are, with the exception of the Special Forces, subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Work is under way to ensure that we are ready for implementation of the rights and obligations it creates. A pilot version of MOD's publication scheme was released in February and this is now being reviewed in light of comments from users and guidance which has recently been issued by the information commissioner under s.47(2) of the Act. More widely, the preparatory work will involve education of all relevant personnel about the key provisions; establishing or modifying procedures in order to support compliance; and ensuring that the status under the Act of all types of information held by MOD is understood both within the Department and, where appropriate, by external bodies. In addition, it is recognised that successful implementation will be dependent on developing a more open outlook and that achieving this culture change must also be an integral part of the agenda. In a Department as large and wide-ranging as MOD this represents a significant programme which, we assess, will require the full lead time provided by the implementation timetable which my noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor announced on 13 November 2001.

UN Peacekeeping

Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what training and education the UK provides to service personnel from other countries engaged in UN peacekeeping and conflict resolution initiatives. [44745]

Mr. Ingram: Training and education are provided to service personnel from other countries engaged in UN peacekeeping and conflict resolution initiatives by the United Kingdom in various ways. A one-year post- graduate course in global security and a seven-week diploma course in managing defence in a democracy are offered at the Royal College of Military Science, Shrivenham and have been developed for foreign military and civilian students as part of the Ministry of Defence's Defence Diplomacy Mission. The Army has recently commenced a series of 10-day International Peace Supporting Briefing programmes with students attending from many parts of the world. The programme includes briefing on the structure and role of the British Army, the role of Government Departments and non-governmental organisations in peace support operations (PSO), PSO doctrine, civil/military co-operation, the role of the police and equipment and training issues. However, the Royal College of Defence Studies course and the Advanced Command and Staff course syllabi also contain elements relevant to UN peacekeeping and conflict resolution and

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selected countries are invited to send students each year. Additionally, spare capacity on UK military training courses is offered to other countries as part of the UK MOD's Defence Diplomacy Mission. Examples of such training are as follows:


In addition to training conducted in the UK, overseas training is carried out by established British military advisory and training teams (BMATT). Most of this training is directly relevant to UN peacekeeping and conflict resolution initiatives and BMATTs are currently established in seven countries worldwide. The MOD also provides short term training teams (STTT) to supplement the training given by BMATTs or is provided for immediate local training needs in other areas of the world. Numerous STTTs are in place at any given time on deployments typically lasting for between two and six weeks.

Colchester Garrison

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the answers of 21 January 2002, Official Report, column 557W and of 28 January 2002, Official Report, column 23W, on Colchester garrison, how many representations he has received about the temporary portakabin type single living accommodation for soldiers; and if he will make a statement. [45379]

Dr. Moonie: Other than the hon. Member's question of 28 January 2002, Official Report, column 23W, I have received no representations about the temporary portakabin type, single living accommodation for soldiers at Colchester garrison.

Depleted Uranium

Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions in the last 20 years depleted uranium shells have been fired at the Foulness ranges in Shoeburyness; and if he will make a statement. [44797]

Dr. Moonie: No depleted uranium (DU) shells have been fired at Foulness.

However, during the 1980s, approximately 200 rounds of small experimental DU projectiles, of up to 30 mm calibre, were fired in a purpose-built indoor facility at Foulness.

Experimental firings between 1982 and 1983 are confirmed by range records. Further to this, in his response of 9 March 2001, Official Report, column 358W, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence stated that DU firings may have continued at Foulness until 1986.

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The building in which firing took place was designed to prevent any escape of particulate DU into the atmosphere. It was closed in the early 1990s and was decontaminated in 1997.

Colchester Corrective Training Centre

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many civilians are employed at the Military Corrective Training Centre in Colchester; and how many are in receipt of the prison environmental allowance. [45291]

Mr. Ingram: There are currently 30 civilians employed permanently at the Military Corrective Training Centre (MCTC) in Colchester, and all receive the prison environmental allowance. Two Ministry of Defence Guards Service staff are also provided to the MCTC on a rotational basis, but these staff do not qualify for the prison environmental allowance.

Decommissioning

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when (a) HMS Ark Royal, (b) HMS Invincible and (c) HMS Illustrious are to be decommissioned. [45488]

Mr. Ingram: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 15 January 2002, Official Report, column 125W, to my hon. Friend the Member for Chorley (Mr. Hoyle).

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the last Sea Harrier and RAF Harrier are to be taken out of service. [45490]

Mr. Ingram: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 28 February 2002, Official Report, columns 1451–52W, to my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Dr. Palmer). Under the revised investment strategy for Joint Force Harrier, the Sea Harrier fleet will be withdrawn from service by 2006. The withdrawal of RAF Harriers from service will occur as they are replaced by the Future Joint Combat Aircraft and, on current plans, will be completed in 2015.

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to convert one of the three aircraft carriers into a helicopter carrier after its decommissioning date. [45489]

Mr. Ingram: There are currently no plans to convert an aircraft carrier into a helicopter carrier after decommissioning. All three of our aircraft carriers have the capability to operate as a Landing Platform Helicopter as a secondary role.

Afghanistan

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if C130Js have flown into Afghanistan; and if the C130J Hercules deployed in Afghanistan have a full defensive aids suite. [45457]

Mr. Hoon: No C130Js have been flown into Afghanistan. All C130s operating into Afghanistan are provided with defensive aids. Details vary from air-frame to air-frame but we are confident that for all flights into Afghanistan self protection measures are adequate against the perceived threat.

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