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10 Jan 2005 : Column 71W—continued

Departmental Staff

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many women there are in senior positions in his Department. [205719]

Mr. Caplin: The Cabinet Office collects and publishes annually statistical information on the civil service by Department. These include data on the number of women in senior positions in Departments.

The latest available information at April 2004 is available in the Library and on the civil service website at the following addresses. http://www. information/statistics/publications/xls/gender_apr04_ 4nov04.xls. information/statistical_information/statistics/ publications/xls/disability_apr04_4nov04.xls.


Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on his Department's policy regarding the retention of e-mails in electronic form (a) after and (b) up to 1 January 2005; and what instructions have been given regarding the deletion of e-mails prior to 1 January 2005. [206957]

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Mr. Caplin: The policy on the retention of e-mails both before and after 1 January 2005 is that those which need to be kept should be saved into departmental records systems, either electronically or on paper. Those e-mails which do not need to be kept should be disposed of regularly to avoid overloading mailboxes. No central instructions have been given on the deletion of e-mails in relation to 1 January 2005.

Ethnic Minorities

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the extent to which his Department's policies meet the needs of ethnic minorities. [205717]

Mr. Caplin: A comprehensive assessment of the policies and practices of the Ministry of Defence regarding ethnic minorities, together with our future objectives, is set out in the Department's Race Equality Scheme published in May 2002. There have since been two progress reports published in 2003 and 2004. The scheme and both progress reports are available on the Ministry of Defence website at Copies of both reports are available in the Library of the House.

We are in the process of reviewing the scheme in accordance with the legislative deadline of 31 May 2005 in order to replace it following the publication of the third and final progress report in 2005.

We are also currently in the process of piloting an equality proofing tool prior to making it available across the Department as a whole.

Freedom of Information

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many staff in his Department were employed to deal with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 issues in (a) 2001, (b) 2002, (c) 2003 and (d) 2004; and how many staff are budgeted to deal with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 issues in (i) 2005 and (ii) 2006. [205037]

Mr. Caplin: In the Head Office policy directorate the number of permanent staff employed on Freedom of Information work in previous years, in 2004, and currently budgeted for future years, is as set out in the following table.
Number of staff

'FOI Focal Points' have been set up across the Department to help raise awareness of and oversee preparations for FOI. However, this has not involved the employment of dedicated new FOI staff. In addition, it is potentially the role of all civilians and armed forces personnel in the Department to respond to FOI requests for information.
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Gulf War Illnesses

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will set up a fund from which to make ex gratia payments on a pro-rata basis to all those veterans of the first Gulf war who have made successful claims to be suffering from Gulf war-related illnesses. [206913]

Mr. Caplin: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 20 December 2004, Official Report, column 1371–72W to the hon. Member for Portsmouth South (Mr. Hancock).

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will reassess the claims of those Gulf war veterans whose claims to be suffering from Gulf war-related illnesses have been rejected. [206914]

Mr. Caplin: As I announced on 29 November 2004, Official Report, column 354, the Ministry of Defence will investigate the 100 or so rejected cases involving Gulf-related illness, where they can be identified.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make it his policy to refer to the symptoms with which veterans of the first Gulf war are suffering as gulf war syndrome. [206920]

Mr. Caplin: Specific diseases, disorders, or medical conditions and medical syndromes each have common features such as a set of physical signs and/or symptoms that distinguish them from other medical conditions. Gulf veterans do not present with an identifiable and distinct pattern of symptoms or signs.

The consensus of the international scientific and medical community following extensive research on the matter is that there is insufficient evidence to enable the ill-health reported by 1990–91 Gulf veterans to be characterised as a unique Gulf related illness or syndrome.

The Medical Research Council came to the same conclusion in their report published in May 2003 following their independent scientific review of all the UK research work carried out into Gulf veterans' illnesses. We do not, therefore, refer to the symptoms reported as being "Gulf war syndrome".

Gym Provision

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many gyms are available to the staff in the Department; and what the cost of providing them was in the last year for which figures are available. [204366]

Mr. Caplin: There are currently 273 gyms recorded in the Ministry of Defence's Defence Property Gazetteer. Information about the cost of providing them is not held centrally nor in a form which can be made available without incurring disproportionate cost.

Infantry Battalions

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list (a) the approved strength and (b) the actual strength of each of the infantry battalions. [201593]

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Mr. Caplin [holding answer 6 December 2004]: The establishment and strength (as at November 2004) of each of the 38 British infantry battalions (i.e. excluding the Gurkhas) are as shown in the following table:
The Guards Division
1 Grenadier Guards560650
1 Coldstream Guards585660
1 Scots Guards620620
1 Irish Guards560515
1 Welsh Guards560545
The Scottish Division
1 Royal Scots560480
1 Royal Highland Fusiliers560515
1 King's Own Scottish Borderers560490
1 Black Watch605545
1 Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders580485
1 Highlanders620490
The Queen's Division
1 Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment620615
2 Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment560550
1 Royal Regiment of Fusiliers620585
2 Royal Regiment of Fusiliers560530
1 Royal Anglian Regiment585565
2 Royal Anglian Regiment560550
The King's Division
1 King's Own Royal Border Regiment560500
1 King's Regiment620540
1 Prince of Wale's Own Regiment585575
1 Green Howards560510
1 Queen's Lancashire Regiment560565
1 Duke of Wellington's Regiment620515
The Prince of Wales's Division
1 Devonshire and Dorset Regiment585540
1 Cheshire Regiment585505
1 Royal Welch Fusiliers585550
1 Royal Regiment of Wales620585
Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment560545
1 Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment560505
1 Staffordshire Regiment620540
The Light Division
1 Light Infantry620520
2 Light Infantry560530
1 Royal Green Jackets560535
2 Royal Green Jackets560530
The Parachute Regiment
1 Para580570
2 Para580540
3 Para580540
The Royal Irish Regiment
1 Royal Irish Regiment560500

The establishment figures refer to the number of posts within a battalion that may be filled by infantry personnel (officers and soldiers). Therefore, it excludes posts that are filled by attached personnel of other Arms and Services such as chefs, clerks, etc. Establishments will also vary depending on the particular role of a battalion; for example, armoured infantry battalions have larger establishments than light role infantry battalions. The figures are rounded to the nearest five.

The strength figures refer to actual numbers of trained infantry personnel within a battalion. The data was collected on 1 November 2004 and has been rounded to the nearest five. To allow for direct comparison with the establishment, figures on strength do not include officers and soldiers who are posted to the battalion but who are serving away from the battalion, nor personnel from other Arms and Services who are attached to the
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battalion. Figures are for the 35 Line Battalions and 3 Para Battalions. The two Gurkha Battalions have been excluded.

The excess in strength compared to establishment for the Grenadier Guards, Coldstream Guards and Scots Guards is accounted for by the Public Duty Company currently attached to each of these battalions.

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