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Sir Robert Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with Ministerial colleagues on arrangements to ensure that service personnel on active duty can vote at the next general election. 
Mr. Kevan Jones: I am working closely with the Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice, the right hon. Member for North Swindon (Mr. Wills), and the Electoral Commission regarding this important matter. The Ministry of Justice have set up a working party of officials and representatives of service families to look at long-term solutions. We are committed to ensuring, where we can, that all service personnel and their families who are eligible are registered to vote and can do so.
The proxy vote system is available to everybody and this is the most reliable means of voting for those for whom operational demands or their location would make the completion and return of postal votes difficult. None the less, we are striving to ensure that our service men and women, particularly those in Afghanistan are registered and able to vote in the forthcoming election.
Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) flights and (b) passengers have been delayed at (i) Brize Norton, (ii) Kandahar and (iii) Akrotiri for more than (A) 24, (B) 48 and (C) 72 hours in the last six months; what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Afghan Air Bridge; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: Data are not recorded in the format requested as any flight that does not depart within 24 hours is replaced by a standby reserve flight and consequently the original tasking is no longer required. The required number of weekly airbridge trips has always been achieved in the time period.
There have been 14 occasions (9 per cent. of flights) since 1 July 2009 when a scheduled TriStar from Brize Norton has needed to be replaced by a reserve flight, and passengers have had to wait until at least the next day to travel. This also impacts on the return flight from Kandahar. A fallback flight has run on 19 occasions in the same period to account both for these cancelled flights and for the differing capacity between KC1 TriStars that carry 115 passengers, and C2 TriStars that can carry 190, which are normally scheduled. As a result, there have been a further five occasions when passengers will have had to wait until at least the next day to travel.
As with any aircraft, there are occasions when for technical reasons or bad weather flights are delayed; there are also operational reasons, such as casualty evacuation, when priorities may be changed causing delay to other passengers either on departure for Kandahar or returning to the UK. However, these delays have not compromised the overall performance of the Afghan Air Bridge, which is kept under constant review.
Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department has taken to provide assistance to soldiers normally resident in Derbyshire following active service in Afghanistan and Iraq. 
Mr. Kevan Jones: My Department has taken many steps in recent years to improve the support available to all service personnel on their return from operations. These include improvements to medical support, welfare and financial packages.
The hon. Member will be aware of the Defence Secretary's recent statement on 10 February 2010, Official Report, column 926, to the House regarding improvements to the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. He will also be aware of my recent announcement on the Army Recovery Capability, which is an integrated and coherent programme to help injured and sick personnel return to work or prepare for civilian life.
In terms of mental health, we continue to have a package of measures to assist with the early intervention of mental health problems. These include the use of Trauma Risk Management (TRiM), which is a model of peer group mentoring and support. We also provide out-patient and in extreme cases in-patient care to ensure any mental health needs are managed as early as possible.
Willie Rennie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many soldiers have been subject to discharge after failing a compulsory drugs test in each of the last two years; and what the class of drug was in each such case. 
|(1 )As at 30 November 2009|
Information on the class of drug in each case of discharge is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, I can provide a breakdown of the types of drugs that have been detected by compulsory drug testing, by year for the British Army for the requested period:
It should be noted that soldiers are not necessarily discharged in the year in which they fail a compulsory drugs test. It can take up to five months to process a discharge if the soldier wishes to challenge the decision.
A soldier might also return multiple positive tests in one period. This may account for the apparent disparity between the totals of discharges and drugs detected.
Willie Rennie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much was claimed in reimbursable expenses by members of the armed forces with a rank of Brigadier or equivalent and above in each of the last 12 months. 
Mr. Kevan Jones: The following table provides information on expenditure reimbursed through the Joint Personnel Administration expenses system for those officers holding the rank of Brigadier and equivalent and above.
The figures provided reflect the month in which payment has been made. Although all claims for reimbursement will be made as soon as practical after the activity, it is possible that some claims will be listed against the month following an activity or even later.
The majority of reimbursed expenses relate to subsistence allowance and motor mileage allowance. In order to reduce expenditure greater use is being made of video and telephone conferencing. When travel is necessary, all personnel are strongly encouraged to maximise the value of their time away by incorporating several meetings, thus avoiding the need to travel to the same location on separate occasions. If travelling by road, all practical measures are to be taken to allow the sharing of transport. Furthermore, when arranging meetings, due consideration is to be made to holding the meeting at a time that will allow attendees to return to their home units and avoid the need to stay overnight.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 24 November 2009, Official Report, column 52W, on armed forces: recruitment, how many members of the armed forces there are from each other Commonwealth country. 
Mr. Kevan Jones: The number of personnel joining the UK armed forces from Commonwealth countries is given in the following table. There is a discontinuity between the statistics for 2006-07 and other years presented in the table due to the introduction of the Joint Personnel Administration System and direct comparisons should not be made.
|(1 )Denotes zero or rounded to zero.|
1. Figures for 2006-07 exclude RAF data as the nationality of those joining the RAF can be identified only after 2006-07 with the introduction of the Joint Personnel Administration (JPA) System.
2. Army figures for 2006-07 are for an 11 month period between 1 April 2006 and 28 February 2007. Due to the introduction of JPA, Army intake by nationality is unavailable for March 2007.
3. The data provided are provisional and subject to review due to ongoing validation of data from the JPA system.
4. Figures have been rounded to the nearest 10. When rounding to the nearest 10, numbers ending in "5" have been rounded to the nearest multiple of 20 to prevent systematic bias.
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