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29 Oct 2007 : Column 967W—continued

Departments: Written Questions

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many and what percentage of questions tabled to his Department for answer on a named day received a substantive reply on the day named in the last 12 months for which figures are available. [161345]

Derek Twigg: From 1 October 2006 to 30 September 2007, 859 named day written questions were tabled to the Secretary of State for Defence of which 185 received a substantive reply on the day named.

EU Defence Policy

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with his European counterparts on proposals to establish a European standing army; if he will make it his policy to ensure that no British service personnel could be deployed as part of that army without the approval of the UK Parliament; and if he will make a statement. [161020]

Des Browne: There is no European standing army and I have neither taken part in nor know of any recent discussions about establishing one. The United Kingdom declares a range of capabilities as potentially
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available for EU-led crisis management operations, but our contribution is voluntary and considered on a case by case basis in the light of other commitments. Any decision to deploy British troops for an EU-led operation continues to rest solely with the Government of the United Kingdom.

On 25 October 2007, the Ministry of Justice, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Ministry of Defence published ‘The Governance of Britain’ Green Paper which set out the Government’s proposals to strengthen Parliament’s role in the deployment of the armed forces into armed conflict abroad. The consultation period will conclude early next year.

Ex-servicemen: Health Services

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what measures he is taking to ensure that ex-service personnel receive appropriate levels of medical services and support. [158759]

Derek Twigg: Working in partnership across government, the Veterans’ Programme aims for excellent public services for ex-Service personnel. Medical services are the responsibility of the NHS. As well as in-Service arrangements, the MOD/UK Health Departments Partnership Board considers medical support for successful transition to the civilian community and thereafter. NHS Priority Treatment is provided for disorders accepted as due to or made worse by, service under both the War Pensions and Armed Forces Compensation Schemes, priority being decided by the clinician in charge based on the clinical need. MOD, the health departments, NHS and the ex-Service charity ‘Combat Stress’ are working together on a community-based mental health service for ex-Service personnel. This will draw on a range of expertise and include personnel with a military background. The service will deliver culturally sensitive, evidence based interventions. It will be piloted at sites across UK shortly.

The Medical Assessment Programme (MAP) based at St. Thomas’ hospital is now available to veterans who have been deployed on operations since 1982, and who are concerned that they may have a service related mental health problem.

Ex-servicemen: Radiation Exposure

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what payments have been made to former servicemen for adverse health effects arising from exposure to radiation from British nuclear tests in Australia and Christmas Island in the Pacific; and how many applications for compensation are under consideration. [159425]

Derek Twigg: All former service personnel who suffered injury as a result of Service prior to 6 April 2005, or their surviving spouses, may apply for a war pension or a war widow’s pension, as appropriate, under the terms of the War Pension Scheme. A war pension may be payable in respect of any disablement or death due to service. There are no restrictions on the time or place of service and no time limits for making a claim under the scheme. Information on the number of
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war pensions paid by location and cause of disablement is not available.

Civil proceedings were issued against the Ministry of Defence in December 2006 from the legal representatives of around 900 former service personnel who are potential claimants in a group litigation. The Department understands that the claimant’s legal representatives are exploring the precise numbers who wish to proceed with the action.

Global Navigation Satellite Systems: Deer

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much was spent by Defence Estates on providing Sika deer with global positioning system collars in the Poole basin area. [158384]

Derek Twigg: Bournemouth University, the National Trust and the British Deer Society are undertaking research on Lulworth Training Area, part of the Defence Training Estate, as a joint venture with Defence Estates (DE)—the MOD organisation with responsibility for the defence estate.

DE has contributed a total of £32,500 to the project for the purchase of 15 Global Positioning System collars and equipment. The other partners have contributed a total of £85,000 to this venture.

The numbers of Sika deer within the Lulworth Range area have been increasing. However, DE has been unable to determine whether this is due to resident herds or migration of deer from other areas which are less well managed. There is also concern about their impact on the important local habitat and potential damage claims to the MOD. The project aims to increase understanding of the issues involved.


Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the individual cost per aircraft is of the (a) purchase of six Danish Merlin helicopters and (b) downgrading of eight Chinook helicopters. [157160]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The cost of acquiring the six Danish EH101 (Merlin) helicopters is £176 million. This figure includes the cost of converting the ex-Danish aircraft for UK operational use and the cost of procuring six replacement Merlin aircraft for Denmark. Therefore, the cost per individual aircraft equates to £29.3 million.

The cost of converting the Chinook Mk3 helicopters to the Battlefield helicopter role is being negotiated, and the costs will be fixed at Main Gate.

Iraq: Peacekeeping Operations

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many armed forces personnel who have seen service in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan have been diagnosed as suffering from a mental health condition. [154239]

Derek Twigg: I refer the hon. Member to the written ministerial statement I made on 25 July 2007, Official Report, columns 74-75WS.

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Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many attacks have been made on UK forces in Iraq in each month since October 2006; [154246]

(2) how many indirect fire attacks have been made on UK bases in Iraq in each month since October 2006. [154247]

Des Browne: The following table provides an assessment of recorded attacks. Column 1 also includes attacks on our coalition partners transiting through MND(SE) area of operation. The figures do not convey the significance of each individual incident, which in both cases may range from a single shot fired at safe range through to complex coordinated attacks.

Number of attacks on UK forces in Iraq
Month Number of attacks on UK forces Number of attacks on UK bases

October 2006



November 2006



December 2006



January 2007



February 2007



March 2007



April 2007



May 2007



June 2007



July 2007



August 2007



September 2007



Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many service personnel serving in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan in each of the last four years were returned to the UK for treatment to their injuries arising out of their duties for which figures are available. [156924]

Derek Twigg [holding answer 11 October 2007]: The Defence Analytical Services Agency (DASA) is currently conducting an analysis of records of aeromedical evacuations for both Iraq and Afghanistan, with a view to releasing validated data on the Ministry of Defence website by November 2007. Until this review has been completed, the following figures are subject to future refinement and pre-2006 figures are not available.

In 2006, centrally available records show that 320 patients from Iraq and 128 patients from Afghanistan were aeromedically evacuated from theatre to the UK and transferred to a hospital. In 2007 (up to 31 August), centrally available records show that 254 patients from Iraq and 251 patients from Afghanistan were aeromedically evacuated from theatre to the UK and transferred to a hospital.

Data are not available for this period on the number of those who were discharged at the airhead but went to a medical facility other than a hospital. DASA instituted a system for tracking this information with effect from October 2007.

Mr. Gauke: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he was first informed by the Prime Minister that the Prime Minister would be providing details on 1 October of the reduction in UK troop numbers in Iraq. [157087]

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Des Browne [holding answer 11 October 2007]: I regularly discuss Iraq policy, including the timing of announcements, with my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of the British Armed Forces have been assigned to the Coalition Forces Land Component Command in Kuwait since 2003, broken down by (a) rank and (b) branch. [157136]

Des Browne: We currently have one UK service person stationed with the headquarters at the Coalition Forces Land Component Command in Kuwait; a liaison officer holding the rank of lieutenant colonel. Information is not held centrally on our historic level of manning in that headquarters and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what role is played by British troops deployed in Basra in respect of (a) escorting convoys delivering materials to the United States forces deployed around Baghdad and other areas of central and northern Iraq and (b) cleaning up and remediating areas contaminated by the use of depleted uranium munitions used by coalition forces. [157323]

Des Browne: UK forces deployed in Basra work in conjunction with our coalition partners and the Iraqi security forces to provide general security in the region. However, we do not escort specific convoys tasked to deliver materials to US forces in Baghdad or other areas of central and northern Iraq.

Depleted uranium munitions were expended by UK forces in Iraq only during the initial combat operations in 2003. We have worked closely with a range of scientific and humanitarian organisations and concluded that this expenditure does not pose any significant danger either to coalition forces or the general population. The Iraqi authorities have the lead in any post-conflict clean-up operations, with coalition forces providing support as necessary. UK forces have carried out ordnance disposal activities and removed surface-lying fragments of depleted uranium as and when they are discovered. We have also exchanged information with humanitarian and other organisations working in Iraq, and issued precautionary warnings through signs and leaflets, advising the local population of the more general dangers of approaching or touching any debris on a battlefield.

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of the (a) total UK military helicopter fleet and (b) the helicopter fleet deployed in (i) Iraq and (ii) Afghanistan are considered (A) fit for service and (B) fit for purpose, broken down by helicopter type. [158358]

Des Browne: The percentage of the total number of military helicopters in the Forward Fleet and considered ‘fit for purpose’ is detailed in the following table. Fit for purpose is defined as helicopters that are available, reliable, airworthy and capable of carrying out their planned missions on a given date. The term ‘fit for service’ is not recognised in this context.

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Helicopter type Fit for purpose (Percentage)

Agusta A109




Chinook 2/2a


Gazelle AHI


Lynx MK 3 and 8


Lynx MK 7 and 9


Merlin MK 1


Merlin MK 3




Sea King MK 3/3A


Sea King MK 4/6C


Sea King MK 5


Sea King MK 7


These numbers will vary from day-to-day. The figures shown are the average for the month of August 2007.

All UK helicopters deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan are considered fit for purpose, but not all will be available for operational flying each day due to routine maintenance requirements. However, operational capability is measured in terms of flying hours rather than the number of airframes available, and sufficient helicopters and helicopter hours are provided to meet essential operational commitments. We continue to review these operational requirements and do adjust as necessary.

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 3 September 2007, Official Report, column 1624W, on Iraq: peacekeeping operations, what the total core costs were before the net additional costs of the units that have been present in Iraq in each financial year since 2002-03. [159884]

Des Browne: The defence budget and expenditure is not disaggregated in a way that can identify sunk costs used towards operations. These costs are considered normal business for the Ministry of Defence.

Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence where and when he raised the concerns of Sir Mike Jackson on US policy in Iraq with his US counterpart; and if he will publish the minutes of the meeting. [160176]

Des Browne: I have regular discussions with the US Defence Secretary on issues of mutual interest, including the situation in Iraq. I have not discussed with him the opinions of General Sir Mike Jackson.

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many cases of (a) gastroenteritis, (b) meningitis, (c) pneumonia and (d) food poisoning there have been among UK armed services personnel in (i) Iraq and (ii) Afghanistan since March 2003. [161312]

Derek Twigg: It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member's question in the time available before prorogation.

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many units of whole blood were used by British military hospitals in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan in each year since March 2003. [161314]

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