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Mr. Bob Ainsworth:
The RAF makes a vital contribution to operations in Afghanistan. Our aircraft perform a number of roles such as: close air support; reconnaissance and surveillance; providing support to land operations; and re-supplying front line troops. In particular, Chinook
and Hercules aircraft provide an invaluable aeromedical service with rapid transfer to specialist care facilities in Afghanistan. As part of the airbridge, C17 and Tristar aircraft provide a consistent and reliable service moving large numbers of personnel into sometimes hostile environments under difficult conditions and medically evacuating injured service personnel back to the UK. Many RAF personnel also fulfil a range of roles on the ground, including force protection around Kandahar airfield and Camp Bastion.
|Herrick roulement||Date||Royal Navy personnel deployed as a percentage of the endorsed UK troop level for Operation Herrick at the time( 1)|
|(1 )Rounded to the nearest 5 per cent. at the mid-point of each roulement to provide the most consistent representation of personnel in theatre.|
The precise number of personnel in each theatre at any one time fluctuates very significantly and on a daily basis for a variety of reasons, including mid-tour rest and recuperation, temporary absence for training, evacuation for medical reasons, the roulement of forces and visits.
The higher percentage of Royal Navy personnel for Herrick roulements 9 and 5 are accounted for by the deployment of 3 Commando Brigade as Task Force Helmand which increased the proportion of Royal Navy personnel in Afghanistan.
Bill Rammell: We are converting eight Chinook Mk 3 helicopters to a support helicopter role. The first of these aircraft will be delivered for training purposes before the end of this year, with the remaining seven being delivered by the end of 2010. This will increase the size of the pool of Chinooks available for deployment but I will not comment on the specific number of helicopters to be deployed to Afghanistan as to do so would, or would be likely to, prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the armed forces.
Mr. Kevan Jones: The number of Air Commodores and Air Marshals in the Royal Air Force at 1 April each year since 1997 is provided in the following table. The ranks of Air Vice Marshal and Air Chief Marshal have also been included in the table for clarity.
|1 April||Air Chief Marshal||Air Marshal||Air Vice Marshal||Air Commodore|
1. The figures are for trained Royal Air Force only and therefore exclude Full Time Reserve Service, Mobilised Reserves and all other Reserves.
2. Due to the implementation of the new Joint Personnel Administration (JPA) System all Royal Air Force data from 1 May 2007 are provisional and subject to review.
3. These figures are published regularly in TSP 9 which is available at:
4. This information is held in the House of Commons Library.
Mr. Quentin Davies: The current fleet of three Invincible Class aircraft carriers all underwent a major refurbishment (refit) at Rosyth between 1999 and 2005. HMS Ark Royal completed in 2001, HMS Invincible completed in 2003 and HMS Illustrious completed in 2005.
On current plans, the Out of Service Dates (OSDs) are: HMS Invincible 2010, HMS Ark Royal in 2014 and HMS Illustrious 2016. Our ship programmes are kept under continuous review to ensure that the In-Service Dates for the Queen Elizabeth (QE) Class carriers remain coherent with the OSDs for the Invincible Class.
Mr. Quentin Davies: The Government remain fully committed to the manufacture of two Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers. The carriers are a core component of the overall Carrier Strike Programme and a cornerstone of future defence policy.
Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the effect of changes to funding for the Army Cadet Force on his Department's fulfilment of its commitments under the Government's Youth agenda. 
Bill Rammell [holding answer 28 October 2009]: The Ministry of Defence's main effort is Afghanistan and in the very difficult financial climate hard decisions have had to be taken. This has resulted in a reduction to the funds available for this year to our Cadet Forces, and specifically to the Army Cadets. This decision has not been taken lightly.
The Department's commitment to the Youth agenda remains undiminished as evidenced by our recent response to the Milburn Report where, despite the challenging financial situation, we have accepted in principle the recommendation to ensure that those state school pupils who wish to get involved in Cadets may do so. We are investigating innovative methods of extending cadet provision to state school pupils which include working closely with the Department for Children Schools and Families.
Financial constraints prevent the Government from meeting this recommendation in full, immediately. However this year, for example, we have delivered an additional six London Challenge Partnerships (Independent School CCFs offering Cadet places to neighbouring state school pupils) and the Air Cadet Organisation plans an annual expansion, targeted at state school pupils, of 700 cadets per year until 2018.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much funding his Department allocated to the provision of soldier accommodation in (a) total and (b) the West Midlands in (i) 1997 and (ii) 2008. 
Mr. Kevan Jones: The provision of good quality living accommodation for both married and single service personnel continues to be a top departmental priority. Decades of under funding means that the standard of service accommodation has lagged behind the expectations of our people. Some housing stock is old.
Investment over the last seven years has begun to correct this, but there is much more to be done. The Department plans to invest some £3 billion on accommodation improvement programmes over the next decade. Since 2001, over £200 million has been spent upgrading some 14,000 service family accommodation (SFA) properties to the top standard for condition.
More remains to be done, but progress is being made and over 90 per cent. of SFA is now at the two highest standards for condition. Our aim is to ensure that by March 2013 very little, if any, of the occupied SFA estate should be below standard 2 for condition.
Mr. Kevan Jones: There are various prime contracts, private finance initiatives (PFI) and other arrangements in place across the Department for the maintenance of accommodation for service personnel. These include the Housing Prime Contract, the Regional Prime Contracts, Project Allenby Connaught and the Colchester Garrison PFI among others. Although these arrangements vary in size and scope, they include programmes of pre-planned maintenance and provision for reactive maintenance to be carried out within agreed response times.
Mr. Kevan Jones: In addition to the 35,000 single living accommodation bed-spaces delivered in the UK since 2003, the majority of which are new builds, the Department plans to deliver an additional 20,000 bed-spaces by 2013.
Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average occupancy rate of the Defence Estates' housing stock was in each year since the formation of Defence Estates; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Kevan Jones: The following table, extracted from the United Kingdom Defence Statistics published on 30 September 2009, shows the requested information for Service Family Accommodation properties in the UK.
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