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Operational Welfare Package: Gulf Personnel

Lord Vivian asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: The operational welfare package (OWP) is in the process of being implemented in all Gulf locations where operational and environmental factors allow. In order to provide the degree of support appropriate to the different stages of the deployment the OWP is being implemented in phases. While the aim is to provide as much of the OWP as possible, commensurate with the phase of the operation, commanders are aware that there are necessary limitations to what can sensibly be delivered.

The operational welfare package for United Kingdom Armed Forces serving in the Gulf comprises the following:

    (b) Internet—Internet access is provided in those locations where the infrastructure allows. Access will not be provided for manoeuvre forces as they move from one location to another but a service will be provided to them as soon as practicable thereafter.

    (c) Mail—British Forces Post Offices are in place for all personnel serving in the Gulf; there is no individual limit on the number of forces free aerogrammes which may be sent or received.

    (d) E-mail—An electronic version of the free forces aerogramme is available for all personnel; there is no individual limit on the number of messages which may be sent.

    (e) British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS)—A BFBS television and radio service is in the process of being established for all locations.

    (f) Expeditionary Forces Institute(EFI)—EFI has deployed shop facilities to most locations. A

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    mobile EFI shop will be provided at those locations where environmental factors do not allow the deployment of a static EFI facility.

    (g) Newspapers—Newspapers are being delivered to most locations where air transport allows.

    (h) Library Service—Books have been made available at the Services Mounting Centre for personnel to read on their flight and then exchange in theatre. Once air transport scheduling allows, bulk supplies of books will be shipped to theatre.

When operational circumstances allow, we will consider the deployment of additional elements of the OWP. These are: provision of full stocks of fitness equipment; introducing the opportunity for rest and recuperation; and Combined Services Entertainment shows.

Armed Forces: Manpower Requirements

Lord Vivian asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What were the reasons for reducing the Armed Forces manning requirement between 1 April and 30 September 2002; by how much was the requirement reduced; and what were the reductions within each service.[HL1945]

Lord Bach: Details of the manpower requirements for 1 April 2002 and 1 October 2002 by individual service are shown in the table below:

1 April 20021 October 2002Difference
All services196,150195,350800
Royal Navy39,18038,570610
Royal Air Force49,99049,800190


Figures are for full-time trained requirement.

All figures have been rounded to the nearest 10 and therefore the totals may not always equal the sum of the parts.

The requirement figure as at 1 October 2002 is 800 personnel fewer than 1 April 2002. The Navy requirement figure shows the greatest change, showing a reduction in requirement of 610 during the period in question. The reductions were due to ships entering refit and would have been offset later by ships emerging from refit.

A review of the Army's future manpower requirement concluded last year, resulting in a revised manning target of 106,978 (106,980 rounded). This was published by the Defence Analytical Services Agency in June 2002. The previously published figure was 106,973 (106,970 rounded).

The change in the RAF requirement figure of 190 is due to small variations in the requirement which occur throughout the year reflecting decisions taken as part of the manpower planning processes.

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Army: Long Service Advance of Pay

Lord Vivian asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action has been taken by the Ministry of Defence and what progress has been made to assist house purchase through the long service advance of pay to members of the Army at an earlier stage than is currently allowed.[HL1946]

Lord Bach: The Accompanied Service Review was completed in December 2002 and concluded that accompanied service continues to play a vital role in the Army's operational effectiveness and is the preferred choice of the vast majority of Army families.

Long service advance of pay (LSAP) is one of the principal allowances that impacts on accompanied service. The LSAP work is ongoing and no change in current policy is expected before the short term plan for 2004–05.

Civil Servants: Gender

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many of the 447,600 non-industrial civil servants employed on 1 April 2002 were men and how many were women.[HL1828]

The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): The figure of 447,600 non-industrial civil servants quoted refers to full-time equivalents, mandate only departments. The headcount figures for 1 April 2002 shows there were 488,300 (mandate and paper returns) non-industrial civil servants, of whom 225,150 are men and 263,150 are women.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many industrial civil servants were employed on 1 April 2002; how many were men; and how many were women.[HL1829]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: On 1 April 2002 the total number of industrial civil servants was 27,720 (headcount), of whom 23,550 are men and 4,170 are women.

Hazmod Data Network

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When it is anticipated that the HAZMOD data network to co-ordinate emergency services' responses in the event of a large-scale terrorist attack will be launched; and[HL1836]

    To what extent the failure to launch the HAZMOD data network by the originally scheduled date of October 2002 is attributable to lack of funding or technical difficulties.[HL1837]

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Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: The HAZMOD extranet (previously referred to as HAZMOD intranet) was a small pilot project, managed by a research group within the Home Office and subsequently the Cabinet Office, which investigated the access to maps by emergency planners and others using internet technology. The project lasted two and a half years and cost £175,000.

Recent analysis undertaken by the Cabinet Office showed that better and faster approaches to securing the same information are now available elswhere and are already in use by a range of organisations. The Government therefore consider that it can best support local authority emergency planners through the provision of advice on the development of geographical information systems. Emergency planners at the local level will also continue to draw data from police commanders, who have direct access to information from central government.

A letter explaining the position was sent on 24 February 2003 by the Cabinet Ofice to all the emergency planners involved in the project. The letter was also published on the UK Resilence website (

Drivers: Eyesight Tests

The Earl of Caithness asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Macdonald of Tradeston on 26 February (WA 43), what research has been commissioned into visual field impairment and its relevance to driving fitness; by whom; at what cost; who is doing it; and when results of the research will be available to the public.[HL1977]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: The Department for Transport has a programme of research into the relationship betweeen visual field impairment and driving. Three relevant research projects are at various stages:

    1. Review of Current Literature on Functional Correlates of Visual Field Defects

    A critique of the recent literature that examines the link between visual function and car accident data was carried out. The review focused on visual field defects and examined the clinical and statistical evidence, taking into consideration the methodological strengths and weaknesses of both cohort and case control studies.

    This contract was awarded to QinetiQ, was completed in August 2002, and the total cost was £7,084.

    The final report is being prepared for publication in printed form and on the department's website, where it will be free to download in the near future.

    2. Peripheral Vision Field Defects

    This is a study of the relationship between peripheral visual field defects and driving

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    performance. The association between these factors will be studied with the aim if improving the specification of standards for peripheral visual field defects and the methods to be used in measuring them.

    The study includes the investigation of the most efficient testing methods for visual field loss and the correlation between visual field loss and driving performance as measured by a range of techniques including simulated driving.

    This contract has been awarded to Nottingham Trent University and QinetiQ, and is ongoing. The total contracted cost of the project is £222,113.

    This project is near completion, with a draft final report expected shortly.

    3. Central Scotoma and Driving

    A new research project will study the relevance of central visual field defects to the ability to drive safely. The study will evaluate the existing methods of examining central scotoma and develop more accurate measures, and will assess the association between performance on these measures and performance on several tests related to driving. Central scotoma is an area of reduced vision that interferes with central vision.

    The aim of this project is to improve the basis on which standards for central visual field defects are set, and to refine the methods used in measuring central vision.

    This contract has been tendered for, and is expected to be awarded shortly.

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