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20 Oct 2008 : Column 133W—continued

Nimrod Aircraft

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the current (a) in-service date and (b) cost of the Nimrod MRA4 is. [227871]

Mr. Quentin Davies: The current forecast in-service date for Nimrod MRA4 is 2010. The current forecast procurement cost is £3,602 million.

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many recommendations of the Nimrod XV230 crash board of inquiry report have been implemented to date. [226913]

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Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Of the 33 recommendations made by the Board of Inquiry (BOI) into the loss of Nimrod XV230, 22 have been implemented in full. This includes seven recommendations which relate to air-to-air refuelling (AAR), which are considered to be closed because AAR for the Nimrod has been prohibited.

Work on eight of the BOI recommendations is ongoing. The remaining three recommendations have not been taken forward as it is considered that their intent has been met through other means.

Parachute Regiment: Manpower

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) establishment and (b) current strength is of each of the three battalions of the Parachute Regiment. [226850]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The current strength of 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment and 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment is 646 and 607 respectively. The establishment of both Regiments is 654. I am withholding data for 1st Battalion the Parachute Regiment, as their release would or would be likely to prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the armed forces.

Peacekeeping Operations

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans his Department has to improve conditions for Royal Marines wounded in Afghanistan or Iraq requiring hospital treatment. [226883]

Mr. Hutton: The Ministry of Defence and the Defence Medical Services (DMS) are committed to providing a high standard of treatment to our wounded service personnel regardless of service. We review both clinical and administrative aspects of patient care, based on feedback from theatre and hospitals, and implement improvements to them as necessary. The cross-party House of Commons Defence Committee in its February 2008 report on ‘Medical care for the Armed Forces’, declared that:

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department spent on transporting family members to airports to meet returning service members coming home from operations in each month since January 2003. [226907]

Mr. Kevan Jones: It is not Ministry of Defence policy to transport family members to airports to meet service personnel returning from operations.

Russia: Armed Forces

Mr. Tom Clarke: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what reports he has received of the recent joint naval military exercise conducted by Venezuela and Russia; what response he has made to those reports; and if he will make a statement. [225965]

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Mr. Bob Ainsworth: We are aware of recent media reports about a joint Russian-Venezuelan naval military exercise in 2008 but have no information that such an exercise has yet taken place.

Social Services: Finance

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his Department's total expenditure was on payments to welfare associations, as listed in his Department's resource account code hierarchy, in near cash terms, in each financial year since 2000-01. [173723]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The total resource costs against this resource account code are set out in the following table:

Financial year Welfare Associations (£000)















Near cash expenditure is not separately identified in the final resource accounts or the centrally held supporting records. Total resource costs have therefore been provided; however it is unlikely that there are any non-cash costs attributed to the expenditure items which would result in the near cash expenditure being different from the resource expenditure.

There is an apparent tailing off of expenditure against this resource account code, this is not as a result of MOD ceasing to provide funds for these activities; the expenditure is now reported against a different resource account code and is not separately identifiable.


Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate his Department has made of the number of attack submarines in service in the Royal Navy in each of the next 10 years. [227870]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: On present plans, which are regularly reviewed, the number of Attack submarines in each year is as follows:

Number of vessels





















From 2011 onwards there will be occasions when we briefly have eight submarines in service, as the Astute class gradually replaces the Swiftsures and Trafalgars, but the number will usually be seven.

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Territorial Army: Dental Services

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make it his policy to allow members of the Territorial Army to be treated by dentists employed by the army free of charge at army premises. [226123]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: There are no plans to change our current policy on provision of dental treatment to the Territorial Army.

Tides: Timetables

Sir Peter Viggers: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will arrange for the Hydrographic Office to issue tide times for 2009. [227632]

Mr. Kevan Jones: Tidal predictions are available from the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO) in print, as software and online.

Admiralty EasyTide online service provides free tidal predictions for over 7,000 ports worldwide for the next seven days. Admiralty TotalTide software is accepted by the UK Maritime Coastguard Agency and other maritime administrations for use by SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) vessels, and can also be purchased for leisure and domestic use.

Official tide times, predictions and relevant data for 2009 are already available within Admiralty Tide Tables. They can be purchased online via the UKHO Admiralty webshop at:

via one of the Admiralty distributors listed at:

or viewed free of charge in a good reference library.

Official worldwide tide predictions are published no sooner than eight months in advance of a new year to ensure that they use the latest available information but in sufficient time for customers’ planning needs.

UKHO does, however, make the predictions available, e.g. through software or online services, years in advance. UKHO, however, cautions use of such predictions for safety critical work as predictions can change over time.

UKHO tide predictions are licensed to many organisations and individuals for a variety of public purposes and publications, the majority being free-of-charge licences.

Real-time tides are monitored at discrete locations by Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory through whom real-time tide gauge readings are available. Historical raw tide gauge data are obtainable from British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC). Other agencies may also collect tidal data.


Alcoholic Drinks: Prices

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his estimate is of the average real price of units of alcohol (a) consumed in pubs and (b) bought in retail outlets for each main unit of alcohol over the last (a) 10 and (b) 20 years; and if he will make a statement. [226468]

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Angela Eagle: A 10-year comparison of the latest available annual figures is shown below. A 20-year comparison is not available.

Average real (2007) prices

Beer (Pint) Wine (75cl bottle) Whisky (70cl bottle)



















Real prices do not reflect affordability, which will include measures of, for instance, consumer income.

Building Societies

Mr. Drew: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will commission research on the effects of the demutualisation of former building societies on the wider financial system. [226736]

Ian Pearson: The Government supported research by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Building Societies and Financial Mutuals on the impact of demutualisation, the findings of which were published in March 2006. The Government continue to monitor activity in the sector and support action to make the process of demutualisation more transparent and accountable to members of building societies.

Coinage: Forgery

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what guidance he has issued to the public on how to recognise a counterfeit £1 coin; and if he will make a statement. [227516]

Ian Pearson: The Royal Mint includes information on ways that a counterfeit £1 coin might be identified on the ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section of its website


Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what correspondence his Department’s (a) Ministers and (b) officials had with banks and their representatives on the provision of affordable credit in each year since 1997; and if he will place in the Library a copy of each item of correspondence; [227880]

(2) what meetings his Department’s (a) Ministers and (b) officials had with banks and their representatives to discuss the provision of affordable credit in each year since 1997; which banks were represented in each case; and what the date and location of each meeting was. [227881]

Ian Pearson: The Government are in continuing close contact with the banking sector. Treasury Ministers and officials meet and correspond with representatives of the banking sector on a regular basis to discuss a wide range of financial services issues, including the provision of affordable credit. It is not appropriate to provide details of all such engagements.

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The banks have supported the Government’s work to promote access to affordable credit and to expand the lending capacity of third sector lenders such as Credit Unions and CDFIs. In December 2007 the major UK retail banks made a formal commitment to support this work including actions to develop new provision in 25 high priority areas identified by the Financial Inclusion Taskforce.

Economic Situation

Ann Winterton: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions there have been between the European Commission and the Government on ways to prevent a repeat of the financial market turbulence of the summer of 2007. [227655]

Ian Pearson: Treasury Ministers have had regular discussions with European colleagues, including the European Commission, on the appropriate international response to market turbulence.

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