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12 May 2003 : Column 30W—continued

Mental Health

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many of her staff retired on medical grounds due to mental health problems in the last year. [111969]

Dr. Howells: No staff in DCMS retired on medical grounds due to mental health problems in the last year.

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) how many sick days were lost over the last year by her Department through staff mental health problems; [112004]

Dr. Howells: Cabinet Office publishes an annual report "Analysis of Sickness Absence in the Civil Service". The statistics show reasons for absence including mental disorders. The most recently published

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figures for the calendar year 2001 were announced by Ministerial Statement on 19 December 2002, and copies placed in the Libraries of the House. The sickness absence figures for 2002 will be announced in due course.

DCMS is committed to managing sickness absence effectively, and in meeting the 2003 target for reduced sickness absence as set out in the Service Delivery Agreements (SDA).

Millennium Commission

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) how much the Millennium Commission has spent on consultancy fees, broken down by areas of expertise that consultants provided; [112122]

Tessa Jowell: I will write to the hon. Member in my capacity as Chair of the Millennium Commission, and place copies of my reply in the Libraries of both Houses.


Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what guidance is given to communities to encourage children to take up running competitively. [111921]

Mr. Caborn: One of this Department's key objectives is to increase participation in all sports, including running, and through Sport England and UK Sport, the national governing bodies of sport are funded directly to help achieve this objective. UK Athletics in conjunction with its home country partners has developed a number of grass roots initiatives that support and encourage individuals to become involved in athletics. The schemes take place within schools, communities, and athletics club environments. Such schemes include the Norwich Union 'star:track', 'sports:hall', and 'shine:awards', which are designed for young people aged three upwards. UK Athletics also supports athletics clubs through its 'clubs:future' programme.

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In addition Lottery funding worth over £1.39 billion has been provided since 1995 for community sports projects across England, many of which have facilities for athletics.

Sports Participation

Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many people her Department estimates participate in (a) angling and (b) canoeing on average each year. [111926]

Mr. Caborn: Sport England estimate that three million people participate in angling, and that two million people participate in canoeing in the United Kingdom on average each year.


Defence Equipment

18. Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what conclusions he has drawn from the Gulf conflict in respect of equipment supply. [112232]

Mr. Ingram: The deployment of 45,000 personnel and their equipment over such a long distance and in such a short time represents a remarkable achievement and one of which all those in the logistic chain can be proud.

As with all exercises and operations, we are in the process of identifying lessons from operations in Iraq. This work will be published in due course, subject to the usual constraints on force protection and security. It would therefore be inappropriate for me to draw any conclusions at this stage in the process.

Service Personnel (Gulf)

20. Mr. Ivan Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of logistic support to sustain British forces in the Gulf region. [112234]

Mr. Ingram: The logistic support to our forces in the Gulf has been a remarkable achievement. An assessment of the effectiveness of support to Operation TELIC will be made as part of the normal process of identifying lessons from our deployments. We do, of course, keep the sustainment of on-going operations under constant review and I am confident that this will ensure that forces still in the Gulf will continue to receive an appropriate level of support.

22. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he plans to investigate complaints about the quality of clothing and other equipment supplied to members of HM armed forces serving in the Gulf. [112236]

Mr. Ingram: As recent operations in Iraq have demonstrated our armed forces are among the best equipped in the world. I can tell the House the reports from theatre indicate that equipment performance overall has been generally impressive. However, we do take any reported defects very seriously. An assessment of the performance of equipment deployed on

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operations in the Gulf, including clothing and personal equipment, will be undertaken as part of the usual process of identifying lessons from our deployments.

24. Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what measures he is taking in support of widows and partners of Service personnel who died in the Gulf conflict. [112238]

Dr. Moonie: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave earlier today to the hon. Members for Newark (Patrick Mercer) and for Bexhill and Battle (Gregory Barker).


21. Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to replace assets used or lost in the Iraq conflict. [112235]

Mr. Ingram: We are gathering evidence and assessing the lessons emerging from the Iraq conflict so that realistic decisions can be made on whether the equipment and logistical stocks lost or used will, or will not, be replaced.

25. Mr. Mackay: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. [112239]

Mr. Hoon: I refer the right hon. Member to the answer I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Wiggin) and the hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Rosindell).

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library a copy of the contract journalists embedded with British forces involved in the invasion of Iraq were required to sign in advance of their placements. [111363]

Dr. Moonie: Journalists embedded with British forces serving in Iraq were not required to sign a contract as such. They were, however, required to sign a copy of Annexes B to E of the Green Book—"Working Arrangements with the Media during times of Emergency, Tension, Conflict or War". A copy of this book, with the relevant Annexes, is accessible on the MOD website, at book/foreword.htm

Dr. Richard Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what services are available for the support of members of the armed forces as they return home from Iraq. [111778]

Dr. Moonie: All personnel returning from Operation TELIC, whether Regulars or Reservists, will be provided with appropriate support measures acknowledging that each individual's experience of the conflict will be different. The procedures will vary slightly between each Service according to need, but are essentially similar and delivered in three stages: recovery, normalisation and after care. Each stage has support services ranging from medical screening and de-briefings to post-operational tour leave. For example, building on lessons from earlier conflicts, personnel from 3 Commando Brigade will have a period of two weeks in their barracks, with night leave, to allow additional time to 'decompress' and normalise while fulfilling equipment maintenance tasks. At all stages of

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the process, personnel have access to Sendee welfare specialists when required including medical officers, chaplains and also representatives from external bodies such as SSAFA-Forces Help.

Procedures are in place to ensure that personnel do not miss end-of-deployment medical briefings given in theatre enabling data to be extracted for clinical audit and post-deployment health surveillance purposes. Measures are also in place to raise awareness of PTSD and other stress-related disorders which may occur among Service personnel.

Commanders have been made aware of such vital issues as combat stress indicators, the difficulties surrounding the return of personnel and re-union with their loved ones, and the effect that the deployment may have had on their children. Two Leaflets—"Coming Home" and "Dealing with Traumatic Experiences"—are handed to all personnel leaving the operational area. In addition, leaflets are sent to families to alert them to the possible after-effects of the operational deployment including special booklets and advice for children.

Each person will have the opportunity to be properly de-briefed by personnel within the command chain. This commitment to after care is enduring, recognising that the needs of individuals change in the longer term.

I also refer the hon. Member to my written ministerial statement on 7 May 2003, Official Report, column 34WS on the decision to conduct research into the physical and psychological health of those involved in the conflict.

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the planned work of the War Graves Commission in Iraq. [112081]

Dr. Moonie: Subject to the continuing improvement in the overall security environment, Commonwealth War Graves Commission staff are scheduled to arrive in Iraq on 23 June 2003, when they will begin their work to restore the cemeteries and memorials to the 54,000 Commonwealth Servicemen who are buried in the 13 cemeteries throughout Iraq.

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