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1 Feb 2006 : Column 509W—continued

Iraq

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many 30mg pyridostigmine bromide tablets (a) personnel from (i) the 7th Armoured Brigade, (ii) 3 Commando Brigade, (iii) 16 Air Assault Brigade, (iv) 102 Logistics Brigade and (v) HQ Armoured Division, (b) Royal Navy personnel in the Gulf and (c) Royal Air Force personnel in the Gulf took daily during the 2003 invasion of Iraq on Op Telic; [44221]

(2) what percentage of (a) the 7th Armoured Brigade, (b) 3 Commando Brigade, (c) 16 Air Assault Brigade, (d) 102 Logistics Brigade, (e) HQ Armoured Division, (f) Royal Naval personnel in the Gulf and (g) Royal Air Force personnel in the Gulf took nerve agent pre-treatment tablets during the 2003 invasion of Iraq on Op Telic; and for how many days in each case; [44222]

(3) how many nerve agent pre-treatment tablets were re-supplied to (a) the 7th Armoured Brigade, (b) 3 Commando Brigade, (c) 16 Air Assault Brigade, (d) 102 Logistics Brigade, (e) HQ Armoured Division, (f) Royal Naval personnel in the Gulf and (g) Royal Air Force personnel in the Gulf during the 2003 invasion of Iraq on Operation Telic. [44223]

Mr. Touhig: Nerve agent pre-treatment sets (NAPS) tablets were issued to armed forces personnel serving with Operation Telic in single strips of 21 tablets. The recommended dosage rate is one Pyridostigmine Bromide (30mg) tablet every eight hours—ie three per day. Thus, a single strip contains a week's supply.
 
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A total of 7,266,504 tablets were supplied to Operation Telic, in the form of 346,024 strips of 21. These were issued to approximately 32,000 personnel, over a three month period as follows:
MonthStrips suppliedTotal tablets
January 200385,5731,797,033
February 2003155,5413,266,361
March 2003104,9102,203,110
Total346,0247,266,504

Information is not held centrally on how many of these tablets were then issued locally to individual units in theatre, and could only therefore be provided at disproportionate cost.

Nor is it known how many tablets were actually taken daily by individual personnel. This is because the tablets were self-administered by personnel on command, rather than being administered by medical officers. For this same reason, information is not held as to what percentage of personnel took the tablets.

Jewish Festivals

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his Department did to (a) celebrate Hanukkah and (b) mark Yom Kippur in 2005. [46754]


 
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Mr. Touhig: The decision to hold events to mark religious festivals is one for commanding officers and civilian line managers and records of such events are not held centrally.

Religious belief is regarded as a private matter in the Ministry of Defence and armed forces. It is the Department's policy to allow personnel to meet their religious observances provided this does not interfere with operational effectiveness, health and safety requirements or business needs. Armed forces and Ministry of Defence civil service personnel may request leave to celebrate religious festivals where these fall outside national public holidays. Such requests are considered objectively and met wherever practical. Areas for worship or contemplation are made available in Ministry of Defence and armed forces establishments wherever practicable.

A Guide on Religion and Belief in the Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces" was published last year to raise awareness of faith and cultural issues.

Medical Training to the Midlands

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reasons the use of land owned by his Department reduces the cost to his Department of the Medical Training to the Midlands; whether the use of land owned by (a) another Government Department and (b) the private sector would alter the cost of the project; and if he will make a statement. [47001]

Mr. Touhig: Acquisition of non-Ministry of Defence (MOD) land always carries additional costs (legal, professional fees etc) as well as requiring an outlay of capital. There might also be disposal costs to be taken into account if the acquisition led to existing MOD land becoming surplus. It is for this reason that before considering such an acquisition to meet a new requirement, we always first look at the suitability of land and property already owned by the Department. This is consistent with the wider Government policy on asset management. We also need to ensure that our estate is no larger than is required for defence purposes and that it is efficiently used. If a privately-owned site were to offer specific advantages (for instance in terms of location, features or potential value for money) then an exception might be made, but this would be considered on a case by case basis.

Parachute Regiment

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the establishment is of each battalion of the Parachute Regiment; and how many vacancies there are in each battalion. [46080]

Mr. Touhig: The following table shows the strength of the individual battalions of The Parachute Regiment compared to the Infantry element of the establishment as at 1 December 2005.
StrengthEstablishmentDifference
1st Battalion of The Parachute Regiment490580-90
2nd Battalion of The Parachute Regiment510580-70
3rd Battalion Of The Parachute Regiment510580-70
Total1,5101,730-220



Notes:
1. The figures quoted are as at 1 December 2005 and are for UK regular trained Army officers and soldiers only and therefore exclude mobilised reserves, full-time reserve service and other reserves.
2. Strength totals for the 2nd Battalion include 90 soldiers on detachment with The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.
3. The establishment figures include only the infantry posts and exclude attached personnel of other arms and services such as chefs, clerks etc.
4. The strength figures do not include officers and soldiers in The Parachute Regiment that are serving outside the battalion, or personnel from other capbadges that are attached to the battalion. The officer element excludes personnel with the rank of colonel and above.
5. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10.



 
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In addition to those Parachute Regiment personnel serving with the battalions there are 480 (excluding colonels and above) members of the regiment posted elsewhere.

Public and Commercial Services Union

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what (a) representations he has received and (b) meetings he has had with (i) representatives from the Public and Commercial Services Union and (ii) other interested groups in relation to job cuts and outsourcing of functions in his Department in Northern Ireland. [46795]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 31 January 2006]: Representations have been made to Defence Ministers in writing and at meetings. In 2002, the trade unions tabled a claim for enhanced redundancy compensation for any MOD civil servants in Northern Ireland made redundant as a result of the peace process. A delegation of TU representatives from TGWU, GMB, AMICUS, TGWC, PCS and Prospect met with me in London in December 2004 and I met other TU representatives (GMB, Prospect, TGWU, PCS, JCC and AMICUS) in Northern Ireland in November 2005.

There has also been correspondence from a number of Members of Parliament on the same issue.

QinetiQ

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what safeguards he has put in place to ensure that intellectual property developed by Qinetiq remains in the UK following that company's flotation. [44157]

John Reid: In common with other companies which carry out MOD-funded research, ownership of intellectual property generated as a result of MOD contracts remains with QinetiQ, although MOD has free rights to such information for its own use, or for use by its contractors for defence and security purposes. The MOD also has rights to disclose such information to other governments for international co-operation purposes.

Should QinetiQ wish to use UK government-funded intellectual property in programmes with overseas governments or contractors, arrangements exist, established in July 2001, which allow MOD to prevent transactions that it judges would cause an unmanageable conflict of interest or
 
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otherwise be contrary to the defence or security interests of the UK. These arrangements will remain in place after the initial public offering in QinetiQ. QinetiQ is also subject to the same security and export controls as any other UK company.

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he plans to ease the restrictions on QinetiQ's involvement in defence manufacturing. [44158]

John Reid: When QinetiQ became a company in July 2001, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) put in place a range of measures to ensure that the company did not undertake activities that could cause an unmanageable conflict of interest affecting its ability to carry out work for MOD customers.

In addition, the MOD had a separate right to require QinetiQ to seek our specific approval if it wished to carry out certain defence manufacturing activities which might also cause a conflict of interest. In reviewing the operation of the compliance regime, the Department has concluded that the existence of this additional approvals process on top of the wider conflict of interest protections has caused some confusion, and that there is scope for simplifying the regime. Consequently, the MOD has agreed with the company that the separate defence manufacturing approvals process will be removed from 1 April 2008, by which date the MOD willbe in a position to open its research programme tofull competition, potentially providing greater opportunities for the rest of industry to bid for work and increasing the options available to MOD customers. This change will not affect the level of protection available to customers who will exercise their rights through the wider provisions contained elsewhere in the compliance regime.


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