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19 July 2007 : Column WS27

Written Statements

Thursday 19 July 2007

Afghanistan: Roulement

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence & Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Lord Drayson): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence (Des Browne) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The next roulement of UK forces in Afghanistan will take place in October 2007. The force package that we currently plan to deploy will see the lead formation, 12 Mechanised Brigade, replaced by 52 Infantry Brigade, which will provide the majority of the units serving in Afghanistan. The forces deploying include elements of:



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52 Infantry Brigade Headquarters and 258 Signal Squadron

846 Naval Air Squadron

Naval Strike Wing

40 Commando Royal Marines

Armoured Support Group, Royal Marines

The Household Cavalry Regiment

1st Battalion Coldstream Guards

2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards)

1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles

4th Regiment, Royal Artillery

36 Engineer Regiment

27 Transport Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps

5 General Support Medical Regiment

1 Battalion, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

Elements of The King's Royal Hussars

Elements of The Queen's Royal Lancers

Elements of 5th Regiment, Royal Artillery

Elements of 16th Regiment, Royal Artillery

Elements of 32nd Regiment, Royal Artillery

Elements of 39th Regiment, Royal Artillery

Elements of 47th Regiment, Royal Artillery

Elements of 33 Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal)

Elements of 70 Gurkha Field Support Squadron

Headquarters 62 Works Group Royal Engineers, 519 Specialist Team Royal Engineers (Works)

Elements of 10th Signal Regiment, The Royal Corps of Signals

Elements of 14th Signal Regiment (Electronic Warfare), The Royal Corps of Signals

Elements of 21st Signal Regiment (Air Support), The Royal Corps of Signals

Elements of 30th Signal Regiment, The Royal Corps Signals

Elements of 3 Regiment, Army Air Corps

Elements of 1 Close Support Company, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

Elements of 7th Battalion, The Rifles

Elements of 52nd Lowland, 6 Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland

Elements of 9 Regiment, Army Air Corps

Headquarters 102 Logistic Brigade

Elements of 9 Supply Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps

Elements of 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps

Elements of 12 Logistic Support Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps

Elements of 13 Air Assault Support Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps (47 Air Dispatch Squadron)

Elements of 24 Postal Courier and Movement Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps

Elements of 29 Postal Courier and Movement Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps

Elements of 148 Squadron Expeditionary Forces Institute (Volunteers), The Royal Logistic Corps

Hospital Squadron formed from 201 Field Hospital (V) and 243 Field Hospital (V)

Elements of 7 Air Assault Battalion, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

101 Provost Company, 5th Provost Regiment, Royal Military Police

Elements of 1 Military Intelligence Brigade

Elements of Joint Civil Military Co-operation (CIMIC) Group

Elements of 90 Signals Unit Royal Air Force

904 Expeditionary Air Wing Royal Air Force

Elements of 1 Air Control Centre Royal Air Force

15 Regiment Field Squadron Royal Air Force

7 Force Protection Wing Headquarters Royal Air Force

Elements of:

18 Squadron Royal Air Force

24 Squadron Royal Air Force

27 Squadron Royal Air Force

30 Squadron Royal Air Force

47 Squadron Royal Air Force

70 Squadron Royal Air Force

Elements of 1 Air Movements Wing Royal Air Force

Elements of 85 (Expeditionary Logistic) Wing Headquarters, Royal Air Force

Elements of 2 Motor Transport Squadron, Royal Air Force

Elements of 5001 Squadron, Royal Air Force

Elements of Mobile Catering Support Unit

Elements of Tactical Medical Wing

Elements of Tactical Armament Squadron

Elements of Tactical Imagery Intelligence Wing

Elements of 151 Transport Regiment (Volunteers) The Royal Logistic Corps

The bulk of these units represent direct replacements for the Afghanistan deployments I announced to the House on 1 February 2007 (Official Report, cols. 19-20WS) and 26 February 2007 (Official Report, cols. 619-635). The House will be aware, however, that all military operations are subject to regular review. As a result, I have therefore agreed to deploy an additional troop of the highly regarded Viking protected mobility vehicles, manned by Royal Marines and the Queen's Royal Lancers, to enhance further the Task Force Helmand's ability to manoeuvre. In addition, from 1 August 2007 to 31 July 2008 the UK will act as principal co-ordinating nation for NATO's management of Kandahar airfield. I am also considering options to enhance our support for the Afghan national security forces. In consequence the total UK commitment in Afghanistan is likely to be around 7,800 by the end of this year.

Volunteer and regular members of the Reserve Forces will continue to deploy to Afghanistan as part of this integrated force package, and we expect eventually to have issued in the order of 750 call-out notices to fill more than 600 posts. On completion of their mobilisation procedures, the reservists will undertake a period of training and, where applicable, integration with their respective receiving units. The majority will serve on operations for six or seven months, although

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some may have shorter tours. As part of this commitment, we expect up to 20 members of the sponsored reserves to be in theatre at any one time.

The House will recall, too, the importance I attach to burden sharing within the International Security Assistance Force. In this context, I should like to welcome the recent decision by the Danish Parliament to increase its deployment in Helmand. Operating under 52 Infantry Brigade's command will be a Danish battlegroup which, building on our close co-operation with Danish forces in Iraq, will exercise tactical command over two British infantry companies. This important increase in the Danish contribution to Task Force Helmand is a significant boost to its operational capability and its capacity to help stabilise and secure Helmand province.

Armed Forces: Gurkha Pensions

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence & Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Lord Drayson): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Derek Twigg) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am pleased to inform the House that there will be a significant increase in Gurkha pensions backdated to January 2006. This increase is in line with the tripartite agreement which established a linkage between Indian Army pensions and those of the British Brigade of Gurkhas.

It has always been our policy to ensure a fair deal for the 26,500 Gurkha pensioners mainly living in Nepal, who will receive an increase in their pension rates. This is in addition to the 7 per cent increase they received earlier this year as part of their annual inflationary uplift. More than 85 per cent of pensioners who were of the rank of corporal or below will receive an increase to their pension of at least 19 per cent. I am also announcing today a review into the mechanism by which we uprate Gurkha pensions annually.

The Gurkha pension scheme currently costs some £33 million per year and it is calculated that this increase will add to the cost by £6 million per year.

The increased benefits have been included in the Gurkha offer to transfer to the Armed Forces pension scheme, also affecting 3,400 serving and 2,400 recently retired Gurkhas, which I announced to the House on 8 March 2007 (Official Report, cols. 141-142WS)

This increase sustains Gurkha service pensions at a fair and appropriate level and demonstrates the Government's continuing commitment to the retired Gurkha community in Nepal. It also reinforces the UK's long-standing links with the Government of Nepal, whose co-operation and support for the recruitment of Nepalese citizens into the Brigade of Gurkhas we greatly value.

EU: Directives on Accounting and Audit

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence & Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Lord Drayson): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and

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Regulatory Reform (John Hutton) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

My department is today publishing the Government's conclusions following the responses to the consultation on the implementation of the directive on the statutory audit of annual and consolidated accounts (directive 2006/43/EC). Draft regulations for the implementation of the directive are also being published.

My department is also publishing the Government's conclusions following the responses to the consultation on the implementation of a directive (2006/46/EC) which amends EC accounting directives (the 4th and 7th company law directives, bank accounts and insurance company accounts directive) (directive 2006/46/EC).

These documents will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses and will be available on the BERR website shortly.

EU: Economic and Financial Affairs Council

Lord Davies of Oldham: My honourable friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Kitty Ussher) has made the following Written Statement.

On 13 July 2007, I represented the UK at the Budget Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN).

The Council conducted its first reading of the EC's budget for 2008. The Council adopted a draft budget that was supported by all member states.

During a conciliation meeting between the council and the European Parliament, five joint statements relating to the budget were agreed. These concerned: structural and cohesion funds and rural development 2007-13 programmes; recruitment in relation to the 2004 and 2007 enlargement; decentralised agencies; executive agencies; and assigned revenues. The Government are supportive of these statements, which call for a greater degree of transparency, sound financial management and budget discipline in the areas they concern.

EU: General Affairs and External Relations Council

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): My honourable friend the Minister for Europe (Jim Murphy) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) will be held on 23 July in Brussels. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (David Miliband) will represent the UK.

The agenda items are as follows:

General Affairs

4th Cohesion Report

Commissioner for Regional Policy, Danuta HÃ1/4bner, is expected to brief the Council on the fourth cohesion report, which provides an update on

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economic, social and territorial cohesion. It also provides an analysis of the impact of cohesion policy at national and Community level in the EU. The report also asks a series of questions to guide discussion: can cohesion policy adapt to the new challenges facing regions in the coming years; can it further develop an integrated and more flexible approach to development/growth and jobs; and how adequate is the policy management system for 2007-13? The Government welcome these questions as a basis for debate, provided the discussion does not prejudge the fundamental review of the EU's budget taking place in 2008-09.

External Relations


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