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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 22 March 2007

Wales

Departments: Consultants

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales whether his Department and its agencies have made payments to (a) Solutions in Staffing and Software and (b) SThree in each year since 1997. [129330]

Mr. Hain: No.

Defence

Ammunition

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much ammunition was allocated on all courses involved in the training of artillery personnel and forward observation officers to call in fire in each year since 2001; what the cost of this ammunition was; and if he will make a statement. [128190]

Derek Twigg [holding answer 19 March 2007]: The quantity and cost of the 105 mm and 155 mm artillery ammunition allocated and fired at the Royal School of Artillery, Larkhill, and the number of personnel trained, in Support of Phase 3 training is as follows:

Year( 1) Quantity Cost (£ million)

2001-02

35,887

23.2

2002-03

22,266

15.2

2003-04

20,541

16.5

2004-05

19,268

16.5

2005-06

19,169

16.1

2006-07(2)

19,979

14.0

(1) The year runs from 1 April to 31 March.
(2) The 2006-07 figures include approximately 1,000 rounds remaining this financial year which will be fired before 1 April 2007 and 6,000 marker rounds which were at the end of their shelf life. These marker rounds were fired in lieu of being destroyed and as a result, £3.1 million was saved from the initial budget allocation of £17.1 million.

Armed Forces

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many people working in his Department previously served in the armed forces. [128325]

Derek Twigg: A total of 600 (rounded to the nearest 10) retired officers were working for the Department as at 1 January 2007. This figure is the best estimate available from centrally held records, but may not include all ex-service personnel working for the Department.


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Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many people working for his Department are members of the territorial forces. [128326]

Derek Twigg: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme

Mr. Carswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which companies financed the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme in each of the last five financial years; and how much was contributed by each. [128643]

Derek Twigg: We are profoundly grateful to the sponsors of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme (BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, AugustaWestland and their predecessors). Since 2002 each has contributed an average of £40,500 per year to the scheme. We are also grateful to Sir Neil Thorne for the very considerable moral and financial support he has lent the scheme since its inception in 1989.

Armed Forces: Cadets

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many cadets there were in (a) the Army Cadet Force and (b) the Air Training Corps in each year since 1999-2000. [128824]

Derek Twigg: The following table provides the number of cadets(1) in the Army Cadet Force and Air Training Corps from 1 April 1999 to 1 April 2006.

As at 1 April each year Army Cadet Force Air Training Corps

1999

40,530

33,300

2000

42,760

34,280

2001

40,570

33,180

2002

40,700

34,050

2003

43,550

34,650

2004

44,240

33,190

2005

44,050

31,470

2006

44,390

30,170


Armed Forces: Complaints

Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made in setting up an independent complaints commissioner for the armed forces; and if he will make a statement. [128275]

Derek Twigg: The recruitment process for the position of Service Complaints Commissioner will begin shortly.

Armed Forces: Dogs

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many military dogs are in service in the (a) Army, (b) Royal Navy, (c) Royal Air Force and (d) Ministry of Defence Police; and what the annual cost is of feeding those dogs. [127983]


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Derek Twigg [holding answer 19 March 2007]: There are currently 998 operational military working dogs in the armed forces and military police, comprising 467 in the Army, 272 in the RAF, none in the Royal Navy, and 259 in the Ministry of Defence Police.

The annual cost of feeding the dogs is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Armed Forces: Fire Services

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what training members of the armed forces are receiving to use modern fire appliances in the event of a fire-fighter strike. [129240]

Mr. Ingram: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 1 March 2007, Official Report, column 1539W, to the hon. Member for Newark (Patrick Mercer).

Armed Forces: Officers

Mr. Dunne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many senior (a) Army, (b) Royal Navy and (c) Royal Air Force officers who attended the higher command staff course in each year from 2003 to 2006 remained in service 12 months later. [127717]

Derek Twigg: In each service, all the officers attending the higher command staff course in 2003, 2004 and 2005 remained in service 12 months later, with the exception of army officers attending in 2003, when fewer than five officers left within 12 months.

Of the attendees in 2006, all remain in service nine months later at 1 January 2007.

Armed Forces: South Africa

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many personnel serving in the armed forces are UK-South African dual nationals. [128181]

Derek Twigg [holding answer 19 March 2007]: On 6 October 2006 there were 35 UK regular naval service personnel with UK/South African dual nationality.

At 6 March 2006 there were five UK Regular RAF personnel with UK-South African dual nationality.

The number of Army personnel with UK-South African dual nationality is not known.

Armed Forces: Training

Mr. Grogan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library copies of his Department’s rules and regulations which govern the operation of the safety for joint service adventurous training scheme. [128811]

Derek Twigg: Yes. A copy of Joint Service Publication 419 will be placed in the Library of the House. The publication includes the rules and regulations for the safe operation of the joint service adventurous training scheme.


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Departments: Postal Services

Mr. Fraser: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which postal companies handle mail dispatched by his Department and its agencies. [128245]

Des Browne: The MOD dispatches relatively little mail externally. Official mail within the Department is primarily distributed by the internal Defence Mail Service, provided by the British Forces Post Office, while mail for personnel serving overseas is usually distributed by RAF air transport. Most external mail is sent through the Royal Mail Group, or, exceptionally through other approved carriers. The names of these carriers are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Ex-servicemen

Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department takes to assist service personnel discharged from the three armed forces on medical grounds to (a) achieve the maximum fitness and mobility possible and (b) assist in securing alternative employment. [127363]

Derek Twigg: Health care for service personnel is provided by Defence Medical Services. Treatment aims to assist injured service personnel to recover the best level of fitness and mobility possible. If medical discharge is appropriate, it will only be used as a last resort. Once they leave the armed forces, responsibility for their health care passes to the NHS and there are processes in place to assist the smooth transition from DMS to NHS treatment. If a veteran is also a war pensioner, he or she will be entitled to priority NHS treatment for the accepted condition(s); priority is decided by the clinician in charge and is subject to clinical need.

Those who are medically discharged from the armed forces are entitled to the full resettlement programme (FRP) offered within the MOD's resettlement package, provided by the Career Transition Partnership (CTP), irrespective of their length of service(1). The FRP includes briefings, workshops, individual counselling, coaching, CV preparation and analysis of transferable competences, job finding, and conversion and skills enhancement training. All discharged personnel remain on the CTP books for two years after discharge. Thereafter, the Regular Forces Employment Association (RFEA) and the Officers' Association (OA) offer ex-service personnel support for the rest of their working lives. The RFEA and OA are particularly concerned with job-finding activities, and are sub-contractors on the CTP contract.

To help achieve the Department's aim of a successful return to civilian life for ex-service personnel, whether medically discharged or not, the CTP offers at its resettlement training centre (RTC) at Aldershot around 40 job-related courses. Many courses result in recognised qualifications while others can lead to employment with companies which have established close links with the RTC. Such training is not mandatory for service leavers. Service leavers who do not choose the RTC route may make use of the individual resettlement training costs (IRTC) grant,
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currently a maximum of £534, for training courses not offered by the RTC but available in the wider training market.

Hilsea

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will take steps to require the selection of bids for the MOD site at Matapan Road, Hilsea to be based on best value criteria. [128355]

Derek Twigg: The selection of bids for the sale of the MOD site at Matapan road, Hilsea was made at formal tender held on 2 March 2007. At this formal tender Defence Estates (DE) accepted the highest compliant bid. This bid was received from a national house builder with a proven track record for delivering a wide range of residential development schemes on surplus Government sites.

Formal tender is an Office of Government Commerce recognised method of selling surplus public sector assets. DE and its agent Drivers Jonas are confident that best value was achieved in this sale through formal tender.

Land: Sales

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) under what circumstances Defence Estates does not follow the Treasury Guidelines (Green Book) when disposing of (a) sites and (b) contaminated sites; and if he will make a statement; [128353]

(2) at what level in his Department decisions are made about whether or not to apply the Treasury Guidelines (Green Book) to disposals of contaminated land. [128354]

Derek Twigg: In common with all other Government Departments, the MOD is bound by the Treasury Guidelines as set out in Government Accounting, the Green Book and the accompanying Guide for the Disposal of Surplus Property published by the Office of Government Commerce. These will always be followed unless there are exceptional circumstances, for example, when it has been decided to gift a property, which would require individual approval by an appropriate authority.

The Chief Executive of Defence Estates (DE), the Ministry of Defence (MOD) agency responsible for the defence estate, has full authority to act within the delegated authority from the MOD Accounting Officer in the disposal of land and buildings.

In the case of contaminated land, it is normal, unless the land is remediated by the Ministry of Defence, to sell with the benefit of a Land Quality Assessment (LQA) and therefore transfer the risk to the private sector. The LQA will usually include an evaluation of the potential types and level of contamination, together with a Collateral Warranty, which should allow prospective purchasers to make an informed bid.

Territorial Army: Pay

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of the Territorial Army were
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employed and paid under the provision of section 29 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 in each of the last three years; how many earned (a) under £5,000, (b) under £10,000 and (c) under £20,000; and how many have been exempted from paying maintenance for their children through the Child Support Agency as a consequence. [128194]

Derek Twigg [holding answer 20 March 2007]: No members of the Territorial Army have been employed under section 29 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996, which can authorise, among other things, the High Readiness Reserve. Were any personnel to be employed in this manner they would be paid according to their rank, seniority and trade group. There are no exemptions for such personnel from existing CSA procedures.


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