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17 Jun 2008 : Column 844W—continued


Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance has been given by the General Register Office to local authority registrars on the taking of photographs of the wedding register by members of the public. [211916]

Meg Hillier: There is nothing in marriage legislation that refers specifically to the subject of photography at the wedding and arrangements are at the discretion of the local superintendent registrar.

Following articles in the media, the Registrar General has written to registration officers in the following terms:

The Registrar General believes that all registration officers will share his view that our objective should be to ensure that the marriage ceremony is a joyous occasion for the couple involved and that they should be able to
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properly record it without undermining the solemnity or dignity of the occasion. He understands that it is the usual practice to discourage still photography during the ceremony but allow ample opportunity after the register has been completed. He accepts that this avoids any disruption of the proceedings but is also aware that there is nothing in law to prevent photographs being taken at any stage in the proceedings.

However, he is clear that this is a decision for superintendent registrars to make locally. He also accepts that the usual practice of allowing the couple to pose for photographs with a blank register or register page protects the register from any inadvertent damage without detracting from the traditional posed photograph. This practice also conceals the information in the register itself. Although this is not subject to data protection laws, it is a common-sense way of avoiding any identification of the couple or third parties, particularly where the image may be published on social networking websites.

The Registrar General is confident that all registration officers will also continue to ensure that all couples have a memorable and happy day with full opportunity to have the photographs they wish to provide a lasting memento.

Young Offenders: Females

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many crimes were committed by females aged between 10 and 17 years in Suffolk in each of the last five years. [206873]

Mr. Coaker: Information on the number of crimes committed by females aged between 10 and 17 years in Suffolk is not available from the British Crime Survey (BCS) or police recorded crime data.

The BCS does ask victims of crime about the characteristics of their offenders but the sample size is not sufficient to provide reliable estimates for Suffolk. The number of crimes recorded by the police is available for Suffolk but information on the age or sex of the offender is not available centrally.

Information on the number of offences committed by females aged 10-17 that led to a pre-court disposal (reprimand or final warning) or a court disposal in Suffolk in each of the last five years is available and shown in the following table.

As such, these are not a measure of crime or of the number of young offenders. They represent the workload of youth offending teams and not necessarily the level or variation in crime or offending.

Number of offences resulting in a disposal in Suffolk in which the offender was a female aged 10-17












Source: Youth Justice Board

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Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many rounds of (a) 5.56, (b) 7.62 and (c) .5 calibre ammunition were fired in each of the last six months by British troops in Afghanistan. [209613]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Between December 2007 and May 2008 inclusive, British troops in Afghanistan used some 980,000 rounds of 5.56 mm calibre, 930,000 rounds of 7.62 mm calibre, and 186,000 rounds of 12.72 mm calibre, also known as .5, 0.50, or 50 calibre.

This is broken down for use by month in the following table, rounded to the nearest thousand:

Number of rounds of ammunition used
Month 5.56mm 7.62mm 12.72mm

























These data includes rounds used in training, as well as operational usage.

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 2 June 2008, Official Report, column 662W, on Afghanistan: peacekeeping operations, for what reasons his Department changed supplier for civilian air transport for the International Security Assistance Force in southern Afghanistan from the Mesopotamia Group to Skylink. [210642]

Des Browne: The civilian logistic aviation support contract for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan is managed by NATO. It was a NATO decision to change contractors.

Aircraft Carriers

Willie Rennie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the effect on the (a) design-phase and (b) subsequent phases of the aircraft carrier construction project of the decision of the French government not to order a second aircraft carrier. [211589]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The French Government has yet to announce a decision on the future of a second aircraft carrier. In the event of France deciding not to proceed with construction of a second aircraft carrier, the design phase, subsequent phases of construction and the in-service dates of the UK's aircraft carriers remain unaffected.

Willie Rennie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what co-operation exists between the Government and the government of France on the Super Carrier project. [211455]

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Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 16 June 2008]: Our co-operation with France on the future aircraft carrier project is governed by the Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2006. This provides for sharing of a common baseline design with the French PA2 carrier project and allows us to explore potential savings, to both countries, through shared procurement and support of equipment.

Aircraft Carriers: Procurement

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the most recent forecast dates are for (a) beginning of construction, (b) completion of construction, (c) completion of sea trials and (d) coming into service of the two new aircraft carriers. [211499]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Construction of the new aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, is currently scheduled to commence during 2008 and 2009 and to complete during 2014 and 2015 respectively. Completion of sea trials and entry into service, for each of the ships, will occur in 2014 and 2016 respectively.

Amphibious Vehicles: Procurement

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made towards providing eight amphibious ships as referred to in the Strategic Defence Review 1998. [211501]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The modernisation of the Royal Navy's amphibious fleet was completed in 2007 with the introduction into service of the Landing Ship Dock (Auxiliary) RFA Lyme Bay. The improved capability of the new amphibious ships compared to their predecessors mean that there are no plans to expand the fleet beyond the seven ships presently in service.

Armed Forces: Aviation

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether there are circumstances in which service personnel are required to pay (a) in part and (b) in entirety for an air ticket to return to the UK following the end of a tour of active service abroad. [211482]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: MOD fully funds the cost both of travel from and return to the UK for service personnel posted abroad on active duty (including on operations). In addition, personnel serving abroad are entitled to claim Get You Home (Overseas) which assists with the cost of one leave return journey to the UK per assignment year from their overseas duty station.

Armed Forces: Parcels

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which British Forces Post Office numbers do not receive free parcels; what criteria determine who (a) does and (b) does not qualify for free parcels; and if he will make a statement. [211269]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: There is no free parcel (items 2-30 kg) service to British Forces Post Office locations, only a free packet (items up to 2 kg) service. The
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following British Forces Post Office numbers do not currently receive free packets:

Free packet post is only available to those personnel serving in the Iraq and Afghanistan theatres. All other personnel receive letters, packets and parcels at a subsidised rate which means that the sender only pays the UK domestic inland postage charge regardless of where in the world an item is sent. A six week free service is available in the pre-Christmas period for many locations that do not have an enduring free service, such as deployed ships, the Falkland Islands and Diego Garcia.

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he is taking to ensure that all British troops serving in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan receive their entitlement of free family parcels; and if he will make a statement. [211270]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Mail posted from anywhere within the United Kingdom typically takes three to seven days to reach Iraq and Afghanistan. All British Forces Post Office addressed mail is delivered several times daily to the British Forces Post Office depot at Northolt for sorting and onward transmission to its final destination. All mail for Iraq and Afghanistan is bagged, loaded daily onto road transport and driven to Royal Air Force Brize Norton or Royal Air Force Lyneham for loading on to military or charter flights to the operational theatres.

The British Forces Post Offices in the theatres seek to clear the mail daily. This is usually achieved in Iraq due to the collocation of the majority of British forces in the Basra base. However, in Afghanistan the onward transmission of mail can be delayed because mail for units deployed to forward positions has to be transported by helicopter for the final leg of delivery. Although all steps are taken to ensure timely delivery, mail transported by helicopter comes behind ammunition, medical supplies and food in order of priority.

Armed Forces: Pay

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the percentage increase in (a) the rate of inflation and (b) service pay in (i) real and (ii) nominal terms was between 2007 and 2008. [211505]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The percentage increase in the consumer prices index for the first quarter of 2008 compared with the first quarter of 2007 was 2.4 per cent.

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In February 2008, the Government accepted in full the Armed Forces Pay Review Body recommendations of a nominal pay rise of 2.6 per cent. for all servicemen and women.

This increase was implemented from 1 April 2008 and will be paid throughout the 2008-09 financial year. As such, the calculation of real increase should be based on financial years. The inflation rate for 2008-09 is not yet known and hence it is not yet possible to calculate the real increase between the financial years 2008-09 and 2007-08.

AWE Burghfield: Manpower

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many staff there were at AWE Burghfield in each year since 2003; and what the reasons were for changes in the levels of staffing. [211503]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The number of full-time equivalent staff employed by AWE plc at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Burghfield is shown in the following table. The figures are taken as at the end of March in each year.

Manpower level













The increase in staffing levels over the past years is consistent with the Government’s commitment to take forward a programme of investment in sustaining key skills and facilities at AWE. The investment will ensure that the existing Trident stockpile can be maintained throughout its intended in-service life and that it remains reliable and safe.


Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 9 June 2008, Official Report, columns 66-7W, on nuclear submarines, what X and Z berths are available to the Royal Navy; when the X and Z berths outside HMNB Devonport and HMNB Clyde referred to in the answer of 14 November 2000 to the hon. Member for Leyton and Wanstead, Official Report, column 575W, on berths, lost their designated status; for what reasons; and if he will make a statement. [211913]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The designation of nuclear powered warship berths was amended in 2006 to ensure clarity in responsibility and consistency of definition across all nuclear powered warship berths. Berths outside of HMNB Devonport and HMNB Clyde base ports are now termed operational berths.

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