Written Question
Reserve Forces: Coronavirus
25 Sep 2020, 2:33 p.m.

Questioner: Mr Kevan Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the cost to the public purse is of mobilising reservists under Operation Rescript.

Answer (James Heappey)

The Ministry of Defence has mobilised 1,800 reservists in support of Operation RESCRIPT. The cost of their mobilisation will depend on the individual circumstances of each reservist and the duration of their mobilisation. The Department does not, therefore, yet have a full understanding of the cost to the public purse and wouldn’t expect to have one until all reservists working on RESCRIPT have finally been de-mobilised.

Our reservists play a vital part in our response to the pandemic and will be critical in providing further resilience this winter. We will continue to mobilise reservists as required and recognise how essential their skills and experience have been in allowing Defence to provide such outstanding support to other Government departments over the last six months.


Written Question
AWACS: Procurement
25 Sep 2020, 8:10 a.m.

Questioner: Mr Kevan Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the cost to public purse would be of cancelling the E-7 Wedgetail contract.

Answer (Jeremy Quin)

If any decision was taken to cancel the E-7 Wedgetail contract, financial implications and further liabilities would be subject to commercial negotiations in accordance with normal practice.


Written Question
AWACS: Procurement
25 Sep 2020, 8:10 a.m.

Questioner: Mr Kevan Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, by what measure the Government has added 600 new jobs to the E-7 Wedgetail contract; and what the job titles of those jobs are.

Answer (Jeremy Quin)

The E-7 Wedgetail programme is expected to secure several hundred jobs in the UK, which will be spread throughout the supply chain. These jobs include training, modification of the aircraft, component manufacture, infrastructure build and services, and engineering and supply chain support to the aircraft.


Written Question
Military Aid
25 Sep 2020, 8:10 a.m.

Questioner: Mr Kevan Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the Answer of 11 September 2020 to Question 84971 on Military Aid, when the decision was taken by his Department to adapt the P-8s training mission to include flights over the English Channel.

Answer (James Heappey)

On 12 August 2020, the Secretary of State for Defence approved that P-8A training missions be conducted in support Border Force operations in the English Channel.


Written Question
Yemen: Military Intervention
24 Sep 2020, 12:02 p.m.

Questioner: Emily Thornberry

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the Answer of 11 September to Question 86598, in respect of the 33 allegations entered into the MOD tracker and awaiting assessment, (a) whether that assessment is now complete, (b) whether the incidents were evaluated under the revised methodology to consider whether they constituted possible violations of international humanitarian law, and (c) if he will publish the results of that evaluation.

Answer (James Heappey)

Of the 33 allegations awaiting assessment, 30 have been assessed. All were evaluated using the revised methodology. Publication of specific information about these assessments is being withheld for the purposes of safeguarding national security and/or because its disclosure would or would be likely to prejudice relations between the United Kingdom and another State/other States.


Written Question
Yemen: Military Intervention
24 Sep 2020, 12:01 p.m.

Questioner: Emily Thornberry

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the Answer of 11 September to Question 86598, on what dates his Department began and ended its evaluation of the 316 credible incidents entered into the MOD tracker,; and what estimate he has made of the number of hours allocated to the evaluation of those 316 incidents within that period.

Answer (James Heappey)

The evaluation of the 316 credible allegations entered in the Ministry of Defence tracker using a revised methodology began after the Court of Appeal's decision was handed down on 20 June 2019. The assessments were concluded by 22 May 2020. No records have been kept of how many hours were allocated to this process. Each allegation was subject to expert analysis based on the information available.


Written Question
Shipping
24 Sep 2020, noon

Questioner: Luke Pollard

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps his Department is taking to tackle the unauthorised use of the term HMS.

Answer (James Heappey)

In UK Government usage, the term 'Her Majesty's Ship' is reserved to ships, submarines and establishments of the Royal Navy, in commission.

The Ministry of Defence does not regulate the use of names or prefixes for ships or boats not operated by the Department.


Written Question
Shipping: Registration
24 Sep 2020, noon

Questioner: Luke Pollard

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what restrictions are in place on the use of the term HMS when naming a boat.

Answer (James Heappey)

In UK Government usage, the term 'Her Majesty's Ship' is reserved to ships, submarines and establishments of the Royal Navy, in commission.

The Ministry of Defence does not regulate the use of names or prefixes for ships or boats not operated by the Department.


Written Question
Shipbuilding: Hydrogen
23 Sep 2020, 5:08 p.m.

Questioner: Alexander Stafford

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on the role of hydrogen in decarbonising the naval ship building industry.

Answer (Jeremy Quin)

The Secretary of State for Defence, in his role as Shipbuilding Tsar, is working across Government to support the shipbuilding enterprise. This includes supporting the Department for Transport and Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on how industry can embrace zero emissions technology, including alternative fuels like hydrogen. The Royal Navy are taking actions to reduce carbon emissions where possible and explore alternative fuels.


Written Question
Shipbuilding: Hydrogen
23 Sep 2020, 5:08 p.m.

Questioner: Alan Brown

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on the role of hydrogen in decarbonising the naval ship building industry.

Answer (Jeremy Quin)

The Secretary of State for Defence, in his role as Shipbuilding Tsar, is working across Government to support the shipbuilding enterprise. This includes supporting the Department for Transport and Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on how industry can embrace zero emissions technology, including alternative fuels like hydrogen. The Royal Navy are taking actions to reduce carbon emissions where possible and explore alternative fuels.


Written Question
Warships: Shipbuilding
23 Sep 2020, 5:05 p.m.

Questioner: Taiwo Owatemi

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment his Department has made of the potential economic merits of building naval support vessels in UK shipyards.

Answer (Jeremy Quin)

This Government is acutely aware of the significant contribution to the economy by the shipbuilding enterprise. The National Shipbuilding Strategy recognises the economic value that naval shipbuilding brings to the UK through design, build, and the supply chain. Economic assessments are made on all major Ministry of Defence procurements in line with Her Majesty's Treasury guidelines on value for money.


Written Question
Navy: Reserve Forces
23 Sep 2020, 4:33 p.m.

Questioner: Lord West of Spithead

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Goldie on 14 September (HL7741), whether the Merchant Navy Reserve was disbanded on (1) 15 December 2003 upon the implementation of SI 2003/2861, or (2) another date.

Answer (Baroness Goldie)

The Explanatory Note to The Merchant Shipping (Merchant Navy Reserve) (Revocation) Regulations 2003 (SI 2003/2861), that came into force on 15 December 2003, states that, following a series of Ministry of Defence reviews, the Merchant Navy Reserve scheme was disbanded on 23 May 2000.

I would like to take this opportunity to clarify the advice provided in my earlier answer. All Merchant Navy Reservists would have had the opportunity to apply to join the Royal Naval Reserve (RNR). However, the Merchant Navy Reserve did not fold, as an organisation, in to the RNR.


Written Question
Joint Strike Fighter Aircraft
23 Sep 2020, 4:32 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Campbell of Pittenweem

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they plan to proceed with the acquisition of more F-35 Lightning aircraft; and how many such aircraft will be purchased.

Answer (Baroness Goldie)

The UK's F-35B aircraft are procured using a 'Block Buy' approach through the US-led Joint Programme Office. The UK has ordered 35 aircraft to date, and procurement of the next 13 has already commenced, these will be delivered through the 'Block Buy 2' Programme (also referred to as Lot 15-17). This will take the UK to 48 F-35B aircraft.

Further decisions on procurement beyond the 48 aircraft will follow the ongoing Integrated Review.


Written Question
Armed Forces: Health
23 Sep 2020, 1:39 p.m.

Questioner: Jack Lopresti

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps his Department is taking to improve (a) access to phone calls, (b) access to high speed internet and (c) the welfare of armed services personnel deployed abroad on exercise or operations.

Answer (James Heappey)

Defence spends in excess of £9 million per year to provide digital welfare services to deployed personnel. To maximise value for money and to get the best possible service for personnel deployed overseas on Operations and Exercises, Defence always seeks to use local telecoms infrastructure (4G, WiFi or Broadband Internet) wherever possible. As a minimum this enables regular daily voice calls and, in most cases, provides access to video communication and on-line entertainment streaming services, but this is dependent on both the infrastructure and security considerations.

When there is no local or only poor-quality fixed infrastructure available (e.g. on deployed Maritime operations), welfare services such as video communications and entertainment services are provided using the Skynet 5 satellites. In recent months, recognising the impact caused by the COVID crisis and the strain on Service personnel, Defence Digital and Airbus Defence and Space has increased capacity for the maritime welfare services.

Future welfare services for deployed personnel will be provided as part of the follow-on Skynet 6 programme, which is expected to be delivered in the mid-2020s timeframe. The aim is to provide service personnel with unlimited access to high-speed internet anywhere in the world and at any time. As this work forms part of an underway competitive tendering process the expected costs cannot be provided at this time.


Written Question
Armed Forces: Cadets
23 Sep 2020, 1:38 p.m.

Questioner: Fabian Hamilton

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many (a) abuse allegations, (b) abuse cases referred to the police, (c) volunteers dismissed as a result of abuse allocations were recorded in the Sea Cadet Corps (SCC) in each year since 2017; and how many chaplains serving in the SCC were involved in those cases.

Answer (James Heappey)

The information requested is not held by the Ministry of Defence (MOD).

Unlike the Army, Royal Air Force and Combined Cadet Forces, the Sea Cadet Corps (SCC) is not wholly funded or managed by the MOD. SCC units are independent charities in their own right, affiliated to the Marine Society and Sea Cadets (MSSC), itself an independent charity. The MSSC is responsible for the overall management of cadets and volunteers.


Written Question
Armed Forces: Clergy
23 Sep 2020, 1:38 p.m.

Questioner: Fabian Hamilton

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many chaplains in each religious denomination served in the Sea Cadet Corps in 2019.

Answer (James Heappey)

The information requested is not held by the Ministry of Defence (MOD).

Unlike the Army, Royal Air Force and Combined Cadet Forces, the Sea Cadet Corps (SCC) is not wholly funded or managed by the MOD. SCC units are independent charities in their own right, affiliated to the Marine Society and Sea Cadets (MSSC), itself an independent charity. The MSSC is responsible for the overall management of cadets and volunteers.


Written Question
Armed Forces: Cadets
23 Sep 2020, 1:38 p.m.

Questioner: Fabian Hamilton

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what information his Department holds on the religious denomination of (a) cadets and (b) adults in the Sea Cadet Corps in the last two years.

Answer (James Heappey)

The information requested is not held by the Ministry of Defence (MOD).

Unlike the Army, Royal Air Force and Combined Cadet Forces, the Sea Cadet Corps (SCC) is not wholly funded or managed by the MOD. SCC units are independent charities in their own right, affiliated to the Marine Society and Sea Cadets (MSSC), itself an independent charity. The MSSC is responsible for the overall management of cadets and volunteers.


Written Question
Ministry of Defence: Apprentices
22 Sep 2020, 4:45 p.m.

Questioner: Robert Halfon

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what progress his Department is making on meeting the 2.3 per cent public sector apprenticeship target; and when his Department will meet that target.

Answer (Johnny Mercer)

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) is proud to be one of the largest deliverers of apprenticeships in the UK, with over 20,000 personnel engaged on a nationally recognised apprenticeship programme at any one time and over 90 per cent of our non-commissioned military recruits offered an apprenticeship relating to their trade. Public sector bodies with 250 or more staff have a target to employ an average of at least 2.3 per cent of their staff as new apprentice starts over the period 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2021. The Armed Forces are exceeding this target with an average of 8.3 per cent of employees starting an apprenticeship in 2017-2019.

The MOD's Civil Service is contributing towards the overall Civil Service public sector target. As of 31 March 2020, the Civil Service had achieved a total of 2.1 per cent of its total workforce as apprentices against the legislative target for the public sector of 2.3 per cent by March 2021. This has increased from 1.6 per cent the year before. The MOD's Civil Service has achieved 1.5 per cent of the total staff employed within the Department as apprentices. Given this target is a percentage of the total workforce, the percentage changes in line with workforce fluctuations over time, making it challenging to predict when a Department will meet it. The data for 2018-19 can be found on the gov.uk website:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/civil-service-apprenticeship-data-2018-to-2019.

The data for 2019-20 will be released on the gov.uk website by the end of September 2020.

Departments are committed to increasing the number of apprentices across the Civil Service and continue to work towards the 2.3 per cent target. The impact of the current pandemic has slowed recruitment due to priority work and logistics. With the current strategy and targets coming to an end in April 2021, the Civil Service is already focusing on how to continue to support the apprenticeship agenda and drive forward apprenticeship recruitment, pulling on the Plan for Jobs initiative and considering the current economic situation.

However, as a Department, between April 2015 and 31 March 2020, we have successfully committed to enrolling 50,000 apprenticeships, exceeding our target one year ahead of schedule.


Written Question
Veterans: Proof of Identity
22 Sep 2020, 4:43 p.m.

Questioner: Jessica Morden

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what progress has been made on the extension of the Veterans Recognition Scheme.

Answer (Johnny Mercer)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Minister for the Armed Forces (James Heappey) on 3 September 2020 to Question 81645 to the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish (Andrew Gwynne).


Written Question
Unmanned Marine Vehicles
22 Sep 2020, 12:10 p.m.

Questioner: Jonathan Edwards

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what recent assessment he has made of the (a) progress by other countries in developing marine autonomous unmanned surface vehicles and (b) ability of Royal Navy submarines to avoid detection by those vehicles.

Answer (James Heappey)

The Ministry of Defence audits the integrity of our submarine fleet regularly for all threats and acts to ensure that it maintains the highest possible standards. The oceans are, and will remain, complex and challenging environments in which to conduct large-scale anti-submarine warfare despite technological advancements.

I am unable to make specific comment on the UK's assessment of other countries' autonomous unmanned surface vehicles for the purposes of safeguarding national security as disclosure would be likely to prejudice the defence of the UK and the capability and effectiveness of the Armed Forces.


Written Question
Unmanned Marine Vehicles
22 Sep 2020, 12:10 p.m.

Questioner: Jonathan Edwards

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what estimate he has made of the number of countries that (a) have developed and (b) are developing marine autonomous unmanned surface vehicles to detect submarines.

Answer (James Heappey)

The Ministry of Defence audits the integrity of our submarine fleet regularly for all threats and acts to ensure that it maintains the highest possible standards. The oceans are, and will remain, complex and challenging environments in which to conduct large-scale anti-submarine warfare despite technological advancements.

I am unable to make specific comment on the UK's assessment of other countries' autonomous unmanned surface vehicles for the purposes of safeguarding national security as disclosure would be likely to prejudice the defence of the UK and the capability and effectiveness of the Armed Forces.


Written Question
Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust
22 Sep 2020, 11:05 a.m.

Questioner: Rachael Maskell

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, with reference to the news story, Chancellor sets out extra £750 million coronavirus funding for frontline charities, published on 8 April 2020, how much of the £6 million allocated to the Armed Forces Covenant Fund has been (a) allocated to and (b) received by organisations.

Answer (Johnny Mercer)

On 12 May 2020 (Official Report: Volume 676, Column 128) I announced the creation of a £6 million COVID-19 Impact Fund for the Armed Forces Charity Sector. This fund was administered by the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust and I am pleased to say the allocation was distributed through grants to more than 100 charities by early August 2020. A full list of organisations who received support is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/extra-funding-for-service-charities-as-veterans-support-is-stepped-up


Written Question
Reserve Forces: Northern Ireland
22 Sep 2020, 11:04 a.m.

Questioner: Carla Lockhart

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, with reference to circumstances which where a member of the auxiliary reserve forces lives in Northern Ireland but is part of a GB based military unit, that does not have an operating base in Northern Ireland, what support those service personnel get with travel costs to attend their regular training at their unit.

Answer (Johnny Mercer)

Volunteer Reserve personnel are eligible to claim Home to Duty Travel allowance which provides a contribution towards the costs incurred when they travel between their normal civilian place of work to attend training. Payment of this allowance is capped at a maximum travelling distance of 50 miles, regardless of any greater distance travelled, and this is in line with what is paid to Regular Service personnel. Some specialist Reservists may be eligible for rates in excess of 50 miles due to the location of certain Specialist Units. This extended mileage concession is only available on permission of Commanding Officers and after obtaining financial authority and applies to all specialist Reservists in the UK. The exceptional nature of this concession is because the Ministry of Defence needs to balance the cost of such travel with operational needs.

Not all Volunteer Reserve personnel live in the vicinity of their Unit. There will be some, for example, who have had to relocate for civilian employment reasons but who cannot, or choose not to, change to a new Unit. Where Volunteer Reserve personnel are unable to attend for training because of travel issues, they would not qualify for pay or be likely to earn a bounty, but that does not automatically mean they have to leave their Service. Units will do what they can to keep in touch with Volunteer Reservists in this situation.

Where Volunteer Reserve personnel are required to travel away from their normal Unit (e.g. for annual training) then they are eligible to claim Duty Travel allowance for the cost of the travel to and from their Unit to the temporary duty station where the training is due to take place.


Written Question
Navy: Discharges
22 Sep 2020, 11:03 a.m.

Questioner: Luke Pollard

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what support his Department provides to veterans of the Royal Navy who believe they have been wrongfully discharged.

Answer (Johnny Mercer)

Processes are in place through which concerns may be raised regarding discharge from the Royal Navy. For non-medical discharges, this is through the Service Complaints or appeal process. For medical discharges, this is via a request for review of the Royal Navy Medical Employability Board decision, as well as an independent appeal process. All recourse to appeal is time limited.

In addition, the Veterans Welfare Services, part of the Ministry of Defence Veterans UK organisation, provides one-to-one support to veterans through a national network of welfare managers. This service can be accessed online at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/veterans-welfare-service


Written Question
Navy: Discharges
22 Sep 2020, 11:01 a.m.

Questioner: Luke Pollard

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what plans he has to introduce retrospective medical discharge with recourse to appeal in the Royal Navy.

Answer (Johnny Mercer)

The Royal Navy has no plans to review their policy and introduce retrospective medical discharge.