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Mr. Cash: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 1 July 2009, Official Report, columns 18-21WS, on armed forces recognition, for what reason a distinction is drawn between retrospective recognition for the families of those who served and died in (a) Palestine since 27 September 1945 and otherwise since 1 January 1948 and (b) the Second World War. 
Mr. Kevan Jones: The Commonwealth War Graves Commission attributed deaths up to 1 January 1948 to world war two service and recorded them on their Rolls of Honour and Memorials. The only exception to this is deaths in Palestine from 27 September 1945 to 30 June 1948, which will also be eligible for the Elizabeth Cross and Memorial Scroll. This is consistent with the dates used for recognition on the Armed Forces Memorial, although the criteria for inclusion on that memorial are different.
Mr. Kevan Jones: Insufficient information is held to enable a reliable estimate to be made of the number of Gurkhas who retired from the armed forces before 1997 and who have now passed away. Many generations of Gurkhas have served with great distinction in the UK armed forces, since they were first permitted to volunteer for British military service in the 1815 peace treaty that ended the Anglo-Nepalese war of 1814-15. Between 1948, when the Brigade of Gurkhas was formed as part of the British Army and 1 July 1997, when the Brigade became UK based, it is estimated that some 37,100 Gurkhas served in and were discharged from the Brigade. We also estimate that from those years there remain 34,700 Gurkhas and Gurkha widows, who are in receipt of a Gurkha pension.
Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will assess the merits of increasing the future pension for Gurkhas who served prior to 1997 to a level equivalent to that of British Army soldiers with the same service with effect from 1 April 2010; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: It has been the policy of successive Governments not to implement changes to pensions and similar benefits retrospectively. This policy has been applied across the public sector in the United Kingdom, not just to Gurkha veterans. To do so now would not only be counter to this policy but would also lead to potential claims from other groups in public sector schemes.
The Gurkha pension scheme pays pensions earlier than the armed forces pension scheme. This is because Gurkhas are unlikely to work again in Nepal unlike their British counterparts, in the UK. For example, a
Gurkha Rifleman or Corporal with 15 years service (approximately 85 per cent. of those receiving GPS payments) can claim an immediate pension (from age 33) whereas equivalent service under the AFPS would not attract pension payments until age 60. Like any pension scheme, the earlier the benefits are paid the lower the annual payment.
It has been estimated that the cost of increasing the annual pension payments for Gurkhas who served prior to 1 July 1997 to the amount received by their UK equivalents would be £1.5 billion over 20 years.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of the armed forces deployed in each region of Iraq (a) have been trained in each year since 2003 and (b) are being trained in each local Iraqi language. 
Bill Rammell: Arabic is the most widely spoken language in Iraq. Apart from Arabic, a number of minority languages are spoken in Iraq. The only language group with a population over 1 million is Kurdish, in its various forms, and the only other language groups with a population over 100,000 are Chaldean Neo-Aramaic, Azeri and Farsi.
The following table reflects the numbers of personnel trained in Arabic since 2003. Defence has not trained personnel in Kurdish. While Defence has a Farsi capability, no personnel have been trained in Farsi specifically for operations in Iraq, and neither Chaldean Neo-Aramic nor Azeri has ever been required in an Operation Telic context.
The above figures do not include figures for the special forces, and do not include personnel who have left the services since their language training and whose details are no longer available. The figures for 2009 are to date and do not include expected outputs for the remainder of the year.
Entries are made against the year when qualifications were achieved. SLP levels can be defined as follows: SLP 1-Survival, SLP 2-Functional, SLP 3-Professional and SLP 4-Expert. Qualifications in speaking and listening skills have been used to determine the SLP level against which personnel are listed.
The figures do not include personnel who received SLP 1 level training but were either not examined or did not pass the exam at this level. It is estimated that up to 200 personnel fall into this category.
The figures do not reflect the very basic Arabic language training provided to all deploying personnel. During pre-deployment training, they have received some instruction in greetings and responses, words and phrases, and have been issued with a language aide-mémoire to enable basic communication.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average number of training hours spent by fast jet pilots in each aircraft type in the Royal Air Force was in each (a) year since 2003 and (b) month of 2008. 
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many training hours flying time RAF fast jet pilots were able to undertake on average in each year since 2004.  [Official Report, 16 December 2009, Vol. 502, c. 3MC.]
My predecessor undertook to write to you in response to your Parliamentary Questions on 23 February 2009 (Official Report, column 37W) and 2 March 2009 (Official Report, column 1364W) about the average training hours spent by fast jet pilots in each aircraft type in each year since 2003 and in each month of 2008 and the training hours flying time RAF fast jet pilots were able to undertake on average in each year since 2004, respectively. I undertook to write once officials had completed collating the data and as the two questions are very similar in nature I am providing a combined answer.
Aircrew are monitored for competency levels throughout their flying career and training continues for Front Line aircrew after the initial award of Combat Ready Status. This answer gives the number of average actual Front Line pilot training flying hours for 2005 onwards. Information prior to 2005 could only be provided at disproportionate cost. Additionally, subsequent changes to the flying hours reporting system have resulted in data not being held centrally for 2007/08; figures for that year could only be retrieved at disproportionate cost. Therefore, figures for the financial year 2007-08 have not been provided.
The available annual data is provided below and has been rounded to the nearest whole number.
|Average actual front line pilot training flying hours|
|Fast jet aircraft type||FY 2005/06||FY 2006/07|
From the information provided above the average of actual fast jet pilot training flying hours is 210 for FY 2005-06 and 202 for FY 2006-07.
Changes to the flying hours reporting system mentioned above, also means that monthly data for the period January to March 2008 could only be provided at disproportionate cost.
The available monthly data for 2008 is provided below and has been rounded to the nearest whole number.
|Average actual monthly front line pilot training flying hours|
|Month of 2008||Tornado F3||Tornado GR4||Harrier||Typhoon|
We expect to fly less over the winter months as a result of stations standing down over the festive season and adverse weather conditions affecting planned flights.
The hours for Hawk training aircraft have not been included as these aircraft are not used on Operations.
I apologise for the delay in replying and any inconvenience caused.
Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 12 May 2009, Official Report, column 753W, on radioactive waste: waste management, which of the recommendations of the report have been implemented; and what the outstanding issues are which he expects to be addressed by the end of September 2009. 
Mr. Quentin Davies: Of the 27 recommendations in the report, 23 have been implemented. It is anticipated that, of the four remaining recommendations, two covering design drawings and maintenance of underground pipe work will be completed by the end of September 2009.
It has been decided that the final two recommendations, which cover the requirement for safety justification and for new equipment, can best be addressed as part of a future options study to determine Her Majesty's Naval Base Clyde's long-term plans for radioactive waste management arrangements. This is due to report in the first quarter of 2010.
In the meantime, all radioactive waste handling is carried out in accordance with procedures that have been agreed with the appropriate regulatory bodies, including the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
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