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What alternatives were considered before awarding the Defence Technology and Innovation Centre, BAE Systems and QinetiQ contracts to develop a prototype 155 mm heavy gun for use on Royal Navy warships in support of land forces; what is the value of those contracts; what is the total requirement for such a gun; and what is the expected timescale to bring it into service. [HL5357]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The Defence Technology and Innovation Centre awarded a £8.1 million contract to CORDA (a wholly owned subsidiary of BAE Systems) which allocated tasks to BAE Land Systems and QinetiQ to research the feasibility and associated technology requirement for the Army's 155mm ordnance to be fitted to the current Royal Navy 4.5 inch gun mount. This work stemmed from earlier analysis and feasibility studies carried out on four candidate naval gun systems:USABAE Land and Armament Systems (formerly United Defense) Mk 45 Mod 4 127mm (5 inch) gun;UKBAE systems (RO Defence) 155mm (6.1 inch) third Generation Maritime Fire Support Proposal;ItalyOTO Melara 127mm (5 inch) lightweight gun; andGermanyMONARC 155mm (6.1 inch) naval gun.
These systems are candidate solutions to address the MoD's requirements for a coastal suppression and naval fire support capability. The earlier analysis indicated that there would be cost and capability benefits of a 155mm gun solution but that further technological investigation would be required to support the technology. Work is currently under way to build a trials gun mount and firing trials are scheduled to take place on an MoD range next year.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): Twenty-six aircraft were decommissioned in the financial year 2007-08. Of these, the number scrapped and disposed of to third
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|Aircraft type||Scrapped/Used for spare parts||Disposed of to third parties|
The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The MoD has been working on alternative energy sources for several years. The Royal Air Force has led on examining fuel efficiency and alternative fuel sources, including the wider application of biofuels and synthetic fuels across the land, sea and air environments. In 1999, RAF aircraft were among the first in the world certified to fly on up to 50 per cent non-crude oil derived synthetic fuel. Since April 2008, RAF aircraft have been certified to use 100 per cent synthetic fuel. Work continues to achieve the wider use of synthetic fuels for ships and land vehicles.
The MoD is currently exploring the option of conducting joint international collaboration with France, industry and academia to examine reducing dependency on oil, exploiting renewable energy sources and scavenging energy from waste heat.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The HELIX programme is examining the future manned airborne electronic surveillance capability. Three options are currently being considered for the host aircraft: the Nimrod R1 aircraft; tailored Nimrod MRA4 aircraft; and the US Rivet Joint aircraft.
How many members of the Armed Forces are qualified paratroopers; how many entered training in each of the past five years; how many qualified; and how many were injured during training and had to be discharged from the forces on medical grounds. [HL5356]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): For the purposes of answering this Question, a qualified paratrooper has been taken to mean a trained soldier in the Army's Parachute Regiment.
Those who wish to join the Parachute Regiment as a soldier do so in two ways: as a junior entrant, a recruit will complete phase 1 training at either the Army Foundation College Harrogate or Army Training Regiment Winchester and then go on to phase 2 PARA training at the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick (ITC(C)). If joining as a standard entrant, the recruit completes the combined phase 1/phase 2 PARA combat infantryman's course (CIC) at ITC(C).
During their time at Catterick these recruits will complete the test week element of Pegasus Company's pre-parachute selection course, and if successful, go on to join the Parachute Regiment. They will subsequently complete the four-week basic parachute training at No 1 Parachute Training School at RAF Brize Norton.
|Number Commencing Course||Number Completing Course|
|Number commencing Course||Number Completing Course|
Information on the number of recruits to the Parachute Regiment who have been medically discharged following injury suffered during training is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.
What proportionate increase in the endurance of the Watchkeeper unmanned aerial vehicle results from the fitting of additional or extended range fuel tanks; and what is the additional cost of such an amendment in terms of (a) the cost of the programme; and (b) the cost per unmanned aerial vehicle. [HL5312]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): There is no current requirement to fit additional or extended range fuel tanks to the Watchkeeper unmanned air vehicle, nor has any assessment been made of the potential costs or endurance benefits of such an enhancement.
What consideration have they given to purchasing further unmanned aerial vehicles over the next two years; and what plans they have to deploy unmanned aerial vehicles in support of operations. [HL5352]
Baroness Taylor of Bolton: We keep our capability requirements under constant review and consideration is given to UAVs, among other capabilities, when they might provide a solution to an operational requirement.
The Reaper, Hermes 450 and Desert Hawk UAV systems are already deployed on operations. It is planned that the Watchkeeper tactical UAV system, which is currently due to enter service from late 2010, will replace the Hermes 450 capability on operations once it is in service.
What have been the most recent representations they have received from the National Gulf War Veterans and Families Association on their proposal to abolish the Pensions Appeal Tribunal as presently constituted for determining war pensions appeals. [HL5325]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The most recent representation the Government have received from the National Gulf War Veterans and Families Association on their proposal to abolish the Pensions Appeal Tribunal was a letter to my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Bridget Prentice) of 26 September. Prior to this, a letter dated 26 June was sent by the National Gulf War Veterans and Families Association to Lord Morris of Manchester. A copy of the letter
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What independent information they are seeking, and with what funding, on the current needs of disabled people for income support, especially those too young, too elderly or too severely disabled to have any prospect of finding employment. [HL5326]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): From 27 October 2008, income support paid on the grounds of incapacity or disability will be replaced by the new employment and support allowance for all new claims.
Employment and support allowance is a radical move away from the existing system of support. Our underlying principle is to help a person back into work where that is possible. We have made very clear that we will not write anyone off.
We recognise, however, that for the most severely disabled people, finding employment may not be an option. We will be targeting additional help and support on the most vulnerable through the support group and guaranteeing an income for those in the greatest financial need of £102.10 per week. For some people that is almost £16 a week more than the current income support rate.
In addition, severely disabled people with care or mobility needs may be eligible for disability living allowance which makes a valuable contribution towards the extra costs of disability and can be paid regardless of whether someone is in or out of work, or also receiving employment and support allowance. Similarly, attendance allowance contributes to the extra costs of disability for people who become disabled after the age of 65.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 22 July (WA 246), whether the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is aware of any licensed centres for which the incidence of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome is equal to or greater than that described in 2007 in the journal Human Fertility (volume 10, issue 3, pages 18387); and how the figures reported in that journal compare to those in Professor Balen's 2005 report. [HL5310]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) does not collect data on the incidence of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). The HFEA keeps a record only of cancelled cycles reporting the risk of OHSSin other words, cycles which have usually been cancelled, either before or after egg collection, because of a perceived risk as opposed to patients where there is a clinical diagnosis of OHSS. In 2007, this applied to 611 out of a total of 35,946 cycles. These figures do not enable the HFEA to track the total number of patients who are at risk of or suffer from OHSS.
These figures are available in an updated version of Professor Balen's 2005 report (updated in August 2008), which is on the HFEA website at: www.hfea.gov.uk/en/1709.html.
As the updated report has only recently been completed, the HFEA has not undertaken a comparison of the figures in Professor Balen's report and the figures reported in the journal Human Fertility (volume 10, issue 3, pages 183-87).
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