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29 Jan 2002 : Column 216W
Dr. Moonie: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence and the German Defence Minister, Herr Scharping, discussed a range of topics in a routine meeting held at East Midlands airport on Friday 18 January, including progress towards securing final Bundestag approval of the A400M programme. They both expressed the hope that this issue will be resolved quickly.
Lawrie Quinn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will give the latest estimate of the total cost of refunding tax to those retired Army personnel or their widows and widowers who are, or were, in receipt of a service invalidity pension. 
Dr. Moonie: In my statement to the House of 23 January 2002, Official Report, columns 891902, I estimated the total cost of refunding wrongly taxed Army pensioners at around £30 million. The latest Inland Revenue estimate is that, to date, it has refunded in the order of £6.5 million to eligible pensioners or their spouses. We believe that the majority of these pensioners or their spouses have already been identified but we recognise that there may be some beneficiaries eligible to claim where the pensioner is deceased. It is not easy to establish their number or the cost attached to such claims. Nonetheless, I would not expect the total to exceed £30 million, and based on the repayments that have been made to all of the cases that have been identified it is likely to be significantly less. Of those so far identified as having wrongly paid tax, only 14 have not yet had refunds.
Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will estimate the cost to the Armed Forces Pension Scheme of increases to future pension payments to bring them to the level which would have applied but for the pay restraint policy in the mid 1970s. 
Mr. Ingram: A number of previous Governments have operated pay restraint policies that have affected the pensions of all public servants retiring at the time. No estimate has been made of the costs of increases to future payments to remedy these effects or that specifically relating to the pay restraint policy in the mid-1970s. Periods of "trough" are not clearly defined and we therefore see major difficulties in costing any remedial measures. Nonetheless, for the information of veterans organisations, we are looking to see whether it would be practicable to give a broad estimate of the costs that might be involved for the major periods at issue. However, it has been the policy of successive Governments that retrospective action to redress such issues would not be appropriate and we do not plan to change this policy.
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Mr. Hoon: The 2002 Report of the Armed Forces Pay Review Body has been published today. Copies of the report are available in the Vote Office and the Library of the House. I wish to express my thanks to the Chairman and members of the Review Body for their clear and wide-ranging report.
The AFPRB has recommended an increase in basic military salary of 3.7 per cent. for the majority of personnel and 4.2 per cent. for privates, lance corporals, captains and majors. The AFPRB has also recommended increases in the rates of additional pay (eg flying pay, submarine pay and diving pay) and in charges. The AFPRB has also recommended two Financial Retention Incentives to help address the issues identified by the Comprehensive Review of Aircrew Retention undertaken with HM Treasury and external consultants last year.
Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions the Armed Forces Pay Review Body has taken into account the non-pensionability of specialist pay when setting rates of specialist pay in each of the last five years. 
(3) what proportion and how many of arms export licence applications approved by the Arms Working Party under the MOD Form 680 procedure were subsequently refused an export licence in each of the past five years. 
Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment was given to sustainable development when the sale of the BAE Systems air-traffic control system to Tanzania was considered by the Arms Working Party under the MOD form 680 procedure. 
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Dr. Moonie: In July 1997, when the assessment took place, sustainable development was not a specific factor to be taken into account when considering F680 applications, although the impact on the economy of the recipient country was. Sustainable Development was included in the EU Code of Conduct on arms exports that came into effect in June 1998. However, as the F680 application for the Air Traffic Control System for Tanzania did not include cost information it would have been difficult to take any impact related specifically to the financing of the equipment into account.
Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the sale of the BAE Systems air-traffic control system to Tanzania was first raised with the Arms Working Party under the MOD Form 680 procedure. 
Dr. Moonie: Siemens Plessey Electronic systems (now part of Alenia Marconi Systems) first submitted an F680 application relating to the supply of radar equipment to Tanzania in February 1993. A further application was submitted in July 1997, following a change to the specification of the original requirement.
Tony Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the date was of the first involvement of the Department for International Development in considerations of the Tanzanian air traffic control system. 
Dr. Moonie [holding answer 23 January 2002]: The then Overseas Development Agency first heard of the proposal to sell air traffic control equipment to Tanzania in 1992. The Department for International Development (DFID) was first aware of an export licence application for the Tanzanian air traffic control system in 1997.
Tony Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment was made by the Arms Working Party under the MOD Form 680 procedure of the adequacy of the Tanzanian air traffic control system for civilian purposes; and what the conclusions were. 
Dr. Moonie [holding answer 23 January 2002]: I am withholding this information under Exemptions 2 and 13 (Internal discussion and advice; and third party commercial confidences respectively) of Part II of the Government's Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.
Tony Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the characteristics were of the Tanzanian air traffic control system that meant it should be considered by the Arms Working Party under the MOD Form 680 procedure. 
Dr. Moonie [holding answer 23 January 2002]: The F680 process is an informal process under which companies can obtain advice on the prospects for the approval of exports at the marketing stage. Any goods that are subject to Strategic Export Controls are eligible for consideration under this procedure.
Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the need for additional warm weather clothing and footwear for soldiers deployed in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. 
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Mr. Ingram: After monitoring the climatic conditions in Afghanistan we issued a cold weather-clothing supplement to all troops deploying with the International Security Assistance Force. This supplement to Soldier 95 includes warmer and windproof clothing as well as boots more suitable for colder weather.
Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the safety of the first contingent of Royal Marines to be flown in to Bagram in Afghanistan in November 2001 while they were being deployed. 
Mr. Hoon: My overriding concern is for the safety of British forces deployed in any theatre of operations. Although conditions on the ground at the time were fluid, I was satisfied that the deployment could proceed at manageable risk. The deployment entirely fulfilled its objectives.
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