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26 Jun 2007 : Column WA123



26 Jun 2007 : Column WA123

Written Answers

Tuesday 26 June 2007

Afghanistan: Armed Forces

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): It is not possible to calculate the tour intervals experienced by individual troops currently serving in Afghanistan as specific tour interval data are collated at unit level only. Details of tour intervals for the formed units currently deployed in Afghanistan (as announced on 1 February 2007, (Official Report, col, 20WS refers) are provided in the tables below:

Army Units

The Army's harmony guidelines recommend a tour interval of 24 months between each six-month operational tour for Army battalions.

Unit Deployed in AfghanistanUnit Tour Interval (months)

1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment

17

1st Battalion Grenadier Guards

8

The Light Dragoons

17

19 Regiment Royal Artillery

17

1st Battalion The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters (2 MERCIAN)

23

26 Engineer Regiment

17

2 Signal Regiment Royal Signals

46

1st Battalion The Royal Welsh1

15

4 Logistic Support Regiment Royal Logistic Corps1

N/A

4 General Support Medical Regiment Royal Army Medical Corps

N/A

4 Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers2

N/A

Note
1. 1Bn The Royal Welsh are Theatre Reserve Battalion based in Cyprus. Currently they have one sub-unit deployed in Afghanistan.
2. Due to the movement of personnel between formed units (trickle posting) within the Logistics Corps, the Royal Medical Corps and the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, it is not representative to monitor Unit Tour Intervals.

Royal Air Force Units:

The Royal Air Force harmony guidelines state that formed units should spend four months on deployed operations followed by 16 months at base. RAF formed units currently deployed in Afghanistan that have not had the recommended interval between operational tours are:

Unit Deployed in AfghanistanUnit Tour Interval (months)

5 RAF Force Protection Wing HQ

11

51 Squadron RAF Field Regiment

11



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Elements of other regiments/units/squadrons currently deployed in Afghanistan may also not have had the recommended tour interval but are not listed as tour interval data are not collated at sub-unit level or below.

British Citizenship

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

British Citizenship: Ascension Island

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): People working and living on Ascension Island are doing so because they are contracted to work for one of the employing organisations based on the island and they are entitled to remain there only while in that employment. This affects their ability to meet the requirements for naturalisation as a British overseas territories citizen (and thereafter become a British citizen) as the conditions applying to their stay mean that they are not regarded as “settled” for the purpose of naturalisation. For the same reason, a child born on Ascension Island could acquire British citizenship by birth only if one of its parents was a British citizen at the time of the child’s birth.

Commission for Equality and Human Rights

Lord Ouseley asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): The Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) will be operational from 1 October 2007 which represents the first phase of the transition programme fully to integrate and assimilate the legacy commissions into the CEHR by 1 April 2008.

One hundred and eighty-five staff from the existing commissions have applied for and accepted the terms of the voluntary exit scheme. These applications have been approved and it is planned that staff will leave by 30 September 2007. The breakdown is as follows: 79 from the Commission for Racial Equality; 70 from the Disability Rights Commission; and 36 from the Equal Opportunities Commission.

It is not possible to say how many staff will be assimilated until vesting day. However, all eligible staff will be considered for CEHR posts through the agreed assimilation process. Every effort will be made to avoid compulsory redundancies. Eligible staff includes those with fixed-term contracts that extend beyond 1 October 2007, and permanent staff, as well as staff on maternity leave, special leave, sickness absence and outward secondment.

The Office of Government Commerce has conducted two gateway reviews of CEHR. These have been gate 0 (zero) which can be applied at any stage in the transition process to guide the senior responsible officer (SRO) in relation to the effectiveness of the planned transition. The last report was on 30 May 2007 and made a number of recommendations. The CEHR has already taken action in response to some recommendations and has action in hand on others to ensure a successful launch on 1 October 2007.

From 1 October 2007 the CEHR will offer advice and assistance to individuals, in accordance with the Equality Act 2006, via a website and a daytime helpline supplemented by a team within its legal department which will deal with individual cases that meet agreed criteria (the CEHR board will agree these criteria before 1 October 2007). Those who do not meet CEHR criteria will be signposted to other organisations (e.g. citizens advice bureaux; the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service; trade unions) or referred to CEHR-funded organisations including race equality councils and law centres.

Crime: Honour Killings

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The Home Office has been working closely with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the National Centre for Policing Excellence (NCPE) to raise the awareness of police officers and staff in relation to the identification and investigation of honour-based violence. As part of this work a risk assessment toolkit for domestic violence incidents has been developed, which includes the presence of factors in relation to honour crimes. Guidance on investigating domestic

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violence, produced on behalf of ACPO and CENTREX, the national police training provider, in 2004, covers the investigation of cases which may be committed in the name of honour. In October and November 2006 the Attorney-General and Baroness Scotland jointly hosted two seminars on honour killings with community leaders. Within all police forces there should now be measures in place to ensure that officers are aware of domestic violence and related issues, and have the knowledge to deal with it effectively.

In addition, the ACPO national working group on honour-based violence will shortly publish for consultation its proposals for a national action plan to respond to honour-based violence.

Eggs

Lord Russell-Johnston asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Government have no such plans.

Elections: E-voting

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): We have welcomed the role of observers in these elections, and in particular their contribution to the Electoral Commission's evaluation and election review work.

It is the commission's statutory responsibility to evaluate and report on electoral pilot schemes, and we look forward to the publication of its official reports in August.

The commission's official evaluations will play an important role in informing future government policy on electoral modernisation, including any decisions regarding further development of e-voting innovations.

Elections: Expenses

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): Section 81 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 (as amended by Section 26 of the Electoral Administration Act 2006) requires the election agent of every candidate at the election to submit a return to the appropriate officer on behalf of the candidate setting out all election expenses incurred by or on behalf of the candidate within 35 days of the date of election. The Electoral Commission has used its powers under Section 81 (10A) to prescribe a form which may be used by candidates and agents to report their election expenses. Candidates are not obliged by the regulations to make their return on an issued copy of the prescribed form.

It is for the commission to decide whether such a form indicates which information is statutorily required and which is merely requested and for the agent or candidate to decide if they want to provide more than the statutorily required information. The returning officer has no statutory powers to issue a form, but may choose to do so to assist candidates and agents in compiling the information required to be included in their electoral expenses return.

Elections: Party Descriptions

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): The rules governing the use of descriptions by political parties on ballot papers are set out in the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (as amended by Section 49 of the Electoral Administration Act 2006). Section 28 states that political parties must register with the Electoral Commission if they wish to participate in elections. Section 28A enables the party to register up to 12 descriptions of six words or fewer to be used on nomination papers or ballot papers. The commission must register a description unless it is more than six words in length or in its opinion falls into one of several categories; for example, is the same or confusingly similar to another party's registered description, is offensive, or would be misleading or confusing to the voter if it appeared on the ballot paper.

Elections: Postal Votes

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): The Government intend to consult shortly on the issue of charges for provision of copies of the marked register (including the marked register of returned postal votes). That consultation will seek views on a number of possible options for the future, including the possibility of reverting to local discretion on charging and the level of any fees.

Embryology

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Truscott): The Medical Research Council (MRC) is the main agency through which the UK Government support medical and clinical research.


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