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Iraq: People Captured by British Forces

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: On 15 July, the single prisoner of war and the 71 other persons captured by British forces were all Iraqi. All the 71 persons were being interned for imperative reasons of security.

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: Of the 71 persons held for imperative reasons of security on 15 July, 49 have already been released. The remainder will be held until it is assessed that their internment is no longer necessary for reasons of security, all cases are subject to regular review. In cases where there is evidence to suggest that a criminal offence has been committed, persons captured by United Kingdom forces are handed to the Iraqi judicial system. If internment is based on intelligence material that justifies internment, the case will not be suitable for trial, although cases will be subject to regular review.

Gulf War Veterans: Case of Shaun Rusling

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: Legal costs in respect of the High Court appeal in the case of Mr Shaun Rusling have yet to be finalised. Costs settled up to 22 July 2003 totalled £44,206.77, but an estimate of the total amount involved is not possible as the Treasury Solicitor is still in discussion with the defendant's lawyers regarding their costs.

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Iraq: Withdrawal of British Military Forces

Lord Vivian asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will give an undertaking that British troops will stay in Iraq until a broadly based permanent Iraq Government are established and can manage their own security.[HL4222]

Lord Bach: I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave to the noble Lord, Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, on 2 July 2003, (Official Report WA 106).

Afghanistan: Provincial Reconstruction Team

Lord Vivian asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which British troops will be sent to the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afganistan; and how many troops will be involved.[HL4223]

Lord Bach: The final structure of the UK-led Provincial Reconstruction Team currently deploying to Mazar-e Sharif is not yet fixed. On current plans, we expect the total number of British military personnel eventually deployed to be about 50 strong. They are drawn predominantly from the Second Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment.

RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall: Rights of Way

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What assessment has been made of the risk to non-motorised users from using the C602/A1065 and C603 roads as the respective alternatives to those public rights of way which have been suspended on safety grounds at RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall; and[HL4224]

    What assessment of the likely danger to the safety of lawful users of footpath 6 Eriswell, adjacent to RAF Lakenheath, was made prior to the imposition of Traffic Regulation Orders under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 in (a) 2001, (b) 2002 and (c) 2003.[HL4225]

Lord Bach: The temporary closures of the footpaths/public rights of way at RAFs Mildenhall and Lakenheath were affected by Suffolk County Council, on the advice of the Ministry of Defence, which took all relevant factors into consideration, in particular the safety of members of the public using the original rights of way, as required by the Road Traffic Act 1984. There is, however, no statutory requirement to take into account any risk in using alternative routes when considering the temporary closure of a right of way.

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Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the cost of complying with Section XVII of the Defence Act 1842 when the footpath at RAF Lakenheath was closed in 1999.[HL4226]

Lord Bach: The cost of complying with section XVII of the Defence Act 1842 when the footpath at RAF Lakenheath was closed and diverted in 1999 was approximately £30,000.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What representations have been received since 1997 from the United States Air Force or Department of Defense regarding the use of the Defence Act 1842 to close footpath 6 Eriswell, adjacent to RAF Lakenheath; and[HL4227]

    Whether there is any current intention to use the powers contained in the Defence Act 1842 with regard to footpaths and bridleways; and[HL4228]

    Whether in any cases where the intention is to use the powers contained in the Defence Act 1842, it is also intended that the obligation under Section XVII of that Act to create a new footpath or bridleway as a reasonably convenient replacement and alternative to the closed routes will be complied with.[HL4229]

Lord Bach: The United States Visiting Force has raised security concerns surrounding the use of Eriswell footpath number six, adjacent to RAF Lakenheath. It is possible that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence will exercise his powers under section 16 of the Defence Act 1842 to permanently close the footpath, but in such circumstances a new footpath would be created. There are no other cases at present where the use of Section 16 of the Defence Act 1842 is being considered to effect closure of footpath or bridleway.

Iraq

Lord Desai asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How the situation in Iraq is developing[HL4308]

Lord Bach: Real progress has been made in Iraq over the past few months. Coalition forces continue to support Iraqi leaders both nationally and at the local level. Political progress has been made, with the increasing effectiveness of the Iraqi Governing Council and the recent appointment of Iraqi departmental Ministers. We now seek to accelerate progress in other areas, including enhanced security across the country, and the reliable provision of basic utilities.

In the light of the evolving security situation in Iraq, and the increasing military tasks arising out of the reconstruction efforts in the south of the country, the UK divisional commander in theatre has been conducting a formal review of UK forces and resources in Iraq. While the full scale of the requirement, which will be largely driven by initiatives

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of the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Department for International Development (DfID) to accelerate reconstruction activities in Iraq, has yet to be fully developed, there is an immediate requirement for two battalions and some additional specialist personnel, vehicles and equipment to allow him to fulfil the expanding range of tasks for UK forces in Multinational Division (South East) (MND(SE)).

Accordingly, we are deploying to Iraq the balance of 2nd Battalion The Light Infantry, a company of which is already in theatre. This battalion will be involved in supporting current operations and in offering additional protection to the Coalition Provisional Authority. They are currently based in Cyprus and were already identified as an "over the horizon reserve" for Iraq. Their role in Cyprus will be filled by two batteries from 16 Regiment Royal Artillery.

In addition, 1st Battalion The Royal Green Jackets (1 RGJ) will deploy to Iraq immediately supported by some specialist personnel and equipment. This deployment will enable MND(SE) to increase force protection, accelerate training of the Iraqi civil defence corps and improve our information-gathering capability in MND(SE). 1 RGJ are currently designated the spearhead land element, are already at high readiness, and are therefore the most appropriate unit to call upon. They will be replaced as spearhead land element by 42 Commando Royal Marines.

We plan to maintain the deployment of these units until around November, providing an interim additional capability to our commanders in theatre. Additional units would deploy to replace them in theatre if the requirement remained. We plan for some of the roles progressively to be conducted by Iraqi personnel.

In addition to the requirements that we have already fully identified, we anticipate additional tasks in the near future which will require military resources, in particular the provision of military support to critical infrastructure work planned by CPA(S) and DfID. This work will deliver a more stable power supply; improve fuel availability and significantly improve the delivery of water services to all sectors of the population in the MND(SE) area. The military capabilities needed will be identified as the detail of the plan's implementation takes shape. We will immediately take steps to identify and reduce notice to move for some additional headquarters and units, to allow further deployments as rapidly as possible in response to this accelerating programme of work.

These measures will give extra capabilities to our commanders in theatre, allowing them to increase their proactive efforts to improve wider security across the region, and allowing them to support the essential reconstruction and regeneration efforts in their area of operations. The commitment of the United Kingdom and its Armed Forces to Iraq remains undeterred by recent events. We are determined to help the Iraqi people to forge a new, peaceful and secure future for themselves and we will meet this commitment with appropriate forces in Iraq for as long as required, and no longer.

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