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21 Jan 2010 : Column WS61

Written Statements

Thursday 21 January 2010

Afghanistan: Roulement

Statement

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence (Bob Ainsworth) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

In his Statement to the House on 30 November 2009 (Official Report, col. 835), the Prime Minister announced that the UK's conventional military forces in Afghanistan comprise 9,500 personnel. That will be maintained with the next roulement of UK forces in Afghanistan, due to take place in April 2010. Headquarters, 6 (UK) Division will remain as Headquarters, Regional Command (South) but the current lead formation in Helmand, 11 (Light) Brigade, will be replaced by 4th Mechanized Brigade, which will command the majority of the units serving in Afghanistan. The forces deploying include:



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Headquarters, 6 (UK) Division

4th Mechanised Brigade Headquarters and Signal Squadron (204)

Elements of 52 Infantry Brigade Headquarters and Signal Squadron (258)

Headquarters, 101 Logistic Brigade

Headquarters, 102 Logistic Brigade

Elements of 845 Naval Air Squadron

Elements of 846 Naval Air Squadron

Elements of 857 Naval Air Squadron

40 Commando Royal Marines

The Royal Dragoon Guards

The Queen's Royal Lancers

4th Regiment Royal Artillery

21 Engineer Regiment

1st Battalion The Scots Guards

The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland

1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment

1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment

1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles

3 Medical Regiment

34 Field Hospital

1 Close Support Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

101 Force Support Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

Elements of 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery

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 39 Engineer Regiment (Air Support)

Elements of 42 Engineer Regiment (Geographic)

Elements of 170 (Infrastructure Support) Engineer Group

Elements of 2 Signal Regiment

Elements of 10th Signal Regiment

Elements of 14th Signals Regiment (Electronic Warfare)

Elements of 16 Signal Regiment

Elements of 21st Signal Regiment (Air Support)

Elements of 5th Battalion The Rifles

Elements of 1 Regiment, Army Air Corps

Elements of 4 Regiment, Army Air Corps

Elements of 9 Regiment, Army Air Corps

Elements of 6 Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps

Elements of 7 Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps

Elements of 8 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 17 Port and Maritime Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps

Elements of 23 Pioneer Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps

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

Elements of 27 Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps

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

Elements of 5th Regiment Royal Military Police

101 Provost Company Royal Military Police

150 Provost Company Royal Military Police

Elements of 105 Military Working Dog Support Unit

Elements of 1 Military Intelligence Brigade

Elements of the Military Stabilisation Support Group

Elements of The Honourable Artillery Company

Elements of 100 Regiment Royal Artillery (Volunteers)

Elements of 101 Regiment Royal Artillery (Volunteers)

Elements of 104 Regiment Royal Artillery (Volunteers)

Elements of 106 Regiment Royal Artillery (Volunteers)

Elements of 101 Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) (Volunteers)

Elements of 6th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (Volunteers)

Elements of 4th Battalion The Duke Of Lancaster's Regiment (King's, Lancashire and Border) (Volunteers)

Elements of The London Regiment (Volunteers)

Elements of 150 Transport Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps (Volunteers)

Elements of 159 Supply Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps (Volunteers)

Elements of 160 Transport Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps (Volunteers)

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

Number 1 Royal Air Force, Force Protection Wing Headquarters

Number 3 Royal Air Force, Force Protection Wing Headquarters

Number 4 Royal Air Force, Force Protection Wing Headquarters

Number 5 Royal Air Force, Force Protection Wing Headquarters

Elements of Number 2 Royal Air Force Police Wing

Elements of Number 3 Royal Air Force Police Wing

2 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment

51 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment

Elements of 1 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment

Elements of 3 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment

2 Squadron, Royal Air Force

9 Squadron, Royal Air Force

13 Squadron, Royal Air Force

14 Squadron, Royal Air Force

Elements of 5 (Army Co-Operation) Squadron, Royal Air Force

Elements of 18 Squadron, Royal Air Force

Elements of 24 Squadron, Royal Air Force

Elements of 27 Squadron, Royal Air Force

Elements of 28 Squadron, Royal Air Force

Elements of 30 Squadron, Royal Air Force

Elements of 78 Squadron, Royal Air Force

Elements of the Tactical Supply Wing, Royal Air Force

Elements of 1 Air Mobility Wing, Royal Air Force

Elements of 1 Air Control Centre, Royal Air Force

Elements of 90 Signals Unit, Royal Air Force

Elements of 2 (Mechanical Transport) Squadron, Royal Air Force

Elements of 5001 Squadron, Royal Air Force

Elements of 3 Mobile Catering Squadron

Elements of Tactical Medical Wing

Elements of 1 (Expeditionary Logistics) Squadron

Elements of 93 (Expeditionary Armaments) Squadron

Elements of Tactical Imagery Wing

Volunteer and regular members of the Reserve Forces will continue to deploy to Afghanistan as part of our integrated force package and we expect to issue around 700 call-out notices to fill some 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 so months. As part of this commitment, we expect up to 17 members of the sponsored reserves to be in theatre at any one time.

I shall make a further Statement on the units that we expect to serve under 4th Mechanized Brigade's planned replacement formation, 16 Air Assault Brigade, nearer the time of their deployment.

EU: Agriculture and Fisheries Council

Statement

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Davies of Oldham): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State (Hilary Benn) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

My honourable friends the Ministers for Marine and the Natural Environment (Huw Irranca-Davies), and Food, Farming and Environment (Jim Fitzpatrick) represented the United Kingdom at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Brussels on 20 November. Richard Lochhead MSP and Michelle Gildernew MLA also attended. Due to the European Council, the Agriculture and Fisheries Council was shortened to one day, with the majority of agriculture business now being taken in December.

On agriculture, the council approved Poland's state aid application enabling farmers to purchase agricultural land. The UK, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia, Spain, Netherlands, Austria, Germany all abstained, agreeing with the Commission that the application was not justified, and on the overriding of state aid rules, but stopped short of blocking the application. Latvia and Hungary would now bring similar applications for approval at the December Agriculture Council.

There was a brief discussion to clarify member states' voting intentions with regard to the authorisation of GM maize for use in the EU. There was no qualified majority in favour of the authorisation and the proposal will now revert to Commission competence and be adopted.



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A number of issues were raised under any other agriculture business. Belgium and France requested that export refunds for the fresh and frozen pigmeat be reactivated. Only the UK and Malta expressed dissatisfaction with the use of such market management measures. The Commission sympathised with the request but also did not agree with reactivating export refunds.

France outlined its support for the Commission's forthcoming Green Paper on forest protection, emphasising the importance of taking a holistic approach-covering everything from the benefits that forests bring in respect of climate change, to forest-based industries. A number of member states, including the UK, supported emphasising the importance of the EU forest action plan and a member state-led approach. The Commission agreed.

France requested more details about the parameters within which the Commission intended to prepare for and conduct the forthcoming WTO ministerial conference. The Commission emphasised that these were regular events and that trade colleagues within the council were informed of the Commission's approach.

Hungary, supported by the Czech Republic and Slovakia, presented a paper seeking to resurrect a proposal, previously rejected through comitology, that sheep and goats going direct to slaughter on intra-Community trade do not have to be electronically identified. The UK also intervened to sympathise and, while making it clear that it would not go back on its agreement not to seek further changes, urged the Commission to thoroughly review implementation of the regulation at the earliest opportunity.

With regard to fisheries and the technical conservation measures regulation, council reached political agreement (with the UK and Ireland voting against) on an interim compromise for 18 months only of the current annual provisions governing mesh sizes, gear types and catch composition, having failed to agree the main framework proposal. This was in the context of the impending entry into force of the Lisbon treaty, which would require co-decision with the European Parliament on this aspect of fisheries. An absence of any decision would have left a legal gap on such technical measures from 1 January 2010 given that current measures are in the annual fishing opportunities regulation, which will remain as a council-only decision.

The UK and Ireland worked very hard in bilaterals with the presidency and the Commission to find an acceptable solution. The Commission was inflexible, claiming that the relaxation of the relevant catch composition measures would be detrimental to haddock stocks. The UK asserted that this had no effect on fishing mortality and merely led to increased discarding. Regrettably, the presidency was not able to accept UK and Irish requests and a final compromise was agreed with no concessions offered. Agreement was reached by qualified majority, with the final formal adoption by written procedure by 30 November.

The Commission then updated the council on the progress of the annual fisheries negotiations with Norway. It explained that the negotiations were particularly

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difficult this year after the Community's decision not to allow Norway to access mackerel in the North Sea. It is therefore possible that the negotiations will carry on into 2010 or even fail completely, with the danger of a precipitate rush to fish quotas and no access to each other's waters. The UK underlined the need for a balanced outcome on mackerel and the need for progress on the Danish discards initiative.

Next, the proposal fixing the 2010 total allowable catches (TACs) and quotas for the Black Sea was agreed. The TAC for turbot was increased to 96 tonnes from the 76 proposed by the Commission (a 4 per cent reduction, not 24 per cent) on condition that Bulgaria and Romania developed by 15 February 2010 national plans to control the turbot fisheries and landings. The Commission also announced that it would speak to Turkey about its introducing similar measures for turbot.


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