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Operational fitness equipment.
In addition to this standard Operational Welfare Package provision, and recognising the need for extra deployable equipment capable of operation in the forward bases, the following facilities have been provided in Afghanistan:
TEXTLINK e-mail that allows e-mail, SMS texting and letters to be transmitted between theatre and the UK.
IRIDIUM hand-held satellite telephones that enable access to the 30 minutes of free welfare calls per week.
Onward delivery and uplift of mail and electronic aerogrammes via the base location on routine resupply tasks.
For other operational theatres the Operational Welfare Package has enabled the MOD to provide sustainable operational welfare to personnel on operational deployments and exercises that are of two months or more in duration and outside north west Europe. The exact composition of the Operational Welfare Package will depend on specific circumstances such as the nature and duration of the deployment; the operational situation in-theatre and the environment and infrastructure of the country in which the operation is taking place.
Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the countries of origin of those fighting for the Taliban killed by UK forces in Afghanistan; and what estimate he has made of how many have come from each country. 
Mr. Ingram: The majority of Taliban fighters killed by UK forces are of Afghan or Pakistani origin. We assess that small numbers of foreign fighters and stateless terrorists have been active in Afghanistan, and some of these will have been killed in fighting with ISAF forces. We are not able to judge how many have been killed in total, or indeed the break-down by nationality.
Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence in what ways the security situation has (a) improved and (b) worsened since the recent deployment of British troops to Helmand province in Afghanistan. 
Insurgent attacks against UK forces in Helmand increased in intensity following the establishment of regional outposts in the north of Helmand during the summer. However, the past two
months have seen an improvement in the security situation in northern Helmand, which has resulted in a rebalancing of UK forces across the province, including the handover of Musa Qaleh to local elders. The situation in the south of the province remains broadly stable, if fragile in places.
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what information he has received in respect of the percentage of the Afghan (a) population and (b) economy dependent on the cultivation of poppies. 
Des Browne [holding answer 30 October 2006]: The UN Office on Drugs and Crime conducts an annual Afghanistan opium survey. According to the 2006 survey, 2.9 million people (448,000 families) are involved in the opium cultivation which equates to 12.6 per cent. of the total population. The total farm gate value of opium crop as a proportion of GDP is approximately US$755 million (11 per cent.).
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what study his Department has made of the lessons of past counter-insurgency campaigns relevant to the framing of NATOs strategy in Afghanistan. 
Des Browne [holding answer 30 October 2006]: UK forces are able to draw on a number of doctrinal publications that deal with the lessons learnt from previous counter insurgency campaigns. These include The Joint Warfare Production (second edition), The Military Contribution to Peace Support Operations and The Army Field Manual. In addition, the Ministry of Defences Development, Concept and Doctrine Centre is reviewing doctrine better to reflect the current operational environment.
Des Browne: The majority of Taliban fighters encountered in Afghanistan have been of Afghan or Pakistani origin. We assess that a small number of foreign fighters are also active in Afghanistan. It is not possible to provide a break-down by nationality.
Des Browne: We keep our force requirements under constant review and are responsive to requests from theatre in order to ensure our commanders on the ground have the tools that they need to achieve the mission as part of the NATO led International Security Assistance Force.
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how often RAF fighters have been scrambled in the last 12 months to intercept civilian aircraft in
UK airspace; on how many of those occasions the intercept has taken place before the civilian aircraft reached major built up areas; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 9 October 2006]: RAF fighters have launched six times in the past 12 months as a precautionary measure in case they were required to intercept civilian aircraft in UK airspace. On four of those occasions the issue was safely resolved before intercept. On the other two occasions the civilian aircraft were safely intercepted and escorted to a suitable destination. I am withholding further information as details of the specific scenarios in which RAF aircraft are launched would, or would be likely to prejudice the defence of the United Kingdom.
Mr. Ingram: The research programme that advises on safe procedures and treatments for submariners escaping from a disabled submarine, undertaken by QinetiQ at Alverstoke under contract to the Ministry of Defence (MOD), was last reviewed in 2003 by the Defence Scientific Advisory Council (DSAC). This review confirmed the need for continued investigation into sequential improvements in escape and rescue procedures and the necessity of experiments on large animals. All scientific procedures involving the use of animals undertaken, sponsored or funded by the MOD are regulated by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 and as such are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost was of extending survivors' benefits in the armed forces pension scheme to unmarried partners in each year since such provision was introduced. 
Derek Twigg: The armed forces pension scheme 1975 (AFPS 75) extended survivors benefits to unmarried partners in 2003 but only in cases where death was caused by service. The new pension schemes, armed forces pension scheme 2005 (AFPS 05) and the reserve forces pension scheme 2005 (RFPS), both feature pensions for eligible partners irrespective of the cause of death.
The MOD makes a substantial contribution into the armed forces pension schemes each year for the approximately 200,000 current members. The current overall contribution equates to 24.8 per cent. of the armed forces pay bill. This contribution covers the differing benefits offered by each of the armed forces schemes run by the MOD. The necessary calculations could be undertaken only at disproportionate cost.
Derek Twigg: The actual net resource costs (in accordance with accounting standards) of the armed forces pension scheme (AFPS) from financial year (FY) 2001-02 to 2005-06 are detailed as follows. Estimates for FY 2006-07 to 2009-10 based on statistical and actuarial evaluation are also shown. Figures for future, years could be provided only at disproportionate cost. The published accounts for the AFPS show the overall provision for future scheme liability.
|Net resource costs|
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 9 October 2006, Official Report, column 176W, on armoured vehicles, what information his Department received about the annual running costs of the RG31 as a result of the competition in 2001 for the Future Command and Liaison Vehicle; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram: RG 31 is not in service with the UK armed forces. Indicative whole life costs were received from the contractor in 2001 (as part of the Assessment Phase for the Future Command and Liaison Vehicle). The vehicle was not however offered as part of the subsequent Demonstration, Manufacture and Support (DMS) tender, and the data was therefore not further refined.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) production and (b) logistics costs of the 2006 Forward as One Army recruitment commercials were; and where and when they were filmed. 
Derek Twigg: The 2006 Forward as One Army recruitment commercials were filmed in Chile during November 2005 and formed part of the infantry multi- media recruiting campaign that ran from January to March 2006. Total cost for the 2006 Forward as One Army commercials was £1.24 million, excluding VAT, of which £1.195 million was production and £45,000 logistics costs.
Derek Twigg: There has been no impact on any royal and ceremonial duties and parades throughout the United Kingdom. The majority of royal and ceremonial duties and parades are the responsibility of London District, which is appropriately resourced for the task, despite the operational tempo.
Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many chaplains of each denomination are serving in each of the armed forces; and how many there were in (a) 1997 and (b) 2002. 
Des Browne: The number of trained chaplains in the UK regular forces broken down by Service and denomination is shown in the following table. It is not possible to show chaplains in the Naval Service broken down by denomination at April 1997 and April 2002 as historical data are not held centrally. In addition to the Christian chaplains shown in the table, chaplains from the four main non-Christian faiths were appointed in October 2005, one each from the Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim and Sikh faiths. These chaplains are MOD civil servants rather than Service personnel. There is also an honorary officiating chaplain to minister to those of the Jewish faith.
|1 April 1997||1 April 2002||1 April 2006( 1)||1 September 2006( 1, 2)|
|n/a = not available|
(1) Naval Service totals for April 2006 and September 2006 include five Christian Chaplains of unknown denomination. Army totals for April 2006 and September 2006 include fewer than five Christian Chaplains of unknown denomination.
(2) Due to the introduction of a new personnel administration system, a breakdown of RAF Chaplains by denomination is not available at September 2006, and the breakdown of RAF Chaplains by denomination at April 2006 is provisional. The total figure for RAF Chaplains at September 2006 is provisional pending review.
(3) Naval Service includes Royal Navy and Royal Marines.
(4 )denotes fewer than five. All other figures have been rounded to the nearest five.
(5) denotes provisional
UK Regular Forces includes Nursing services and excludes Full Time Reserve Service personnel, Ghurkhas, the Home Service battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment and mobilised reservists.
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