Welsh Questions, today 02 Nov, HANSARD SOURCE (temporary link - today's business)

Welsh Regiments

8. Albert Owen (Ynys Môn) (Lab): What recent discussions he has had with the Ministry of Defence on the merger of Welsh regiments; and if he will make a statement.

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Peter Hain): The intention to merge the Royal Welch Fusiliers and the Royal Regiment of Wales was announced in July 2004, with a view to implementation by 2008.

Albert Owen: I understand that discussions on the important detail of badge insignia are ongoing and very positive. A wide range of people have been involved in the decisions. Will my right hon. Friend ensure that any future reorganisation or reconfiguration of Welsh regiments involves an input from Welsh Members of Parliament before the Army Board makes its recommendations, so that the expression of a wide range of opinions can prevent a repetition of the debacle over names?

Mr. Hain: I shall be happy to take up the matter. I understand that individual regiments have been involved in determining dress regulations for the new regiments. As my hon. Friend says, the discussions are ongoing and I cannot comment further, but his point is valid. I am sure that he will join me in congratulating all the Welsh soldiers who are serving abroad and doing a first-class job.

Bill Wiggin (Leominster) (Con): Why did the Secretary of State not help? The Welsh Assembly refused to support Ty Gwyn, a unique post-traumatic stress disorder unit for veterans, which needed £75,000 to continue its important work. There is a waiting list of ex-servicemen who need to use Ty Gwyn. Why is it that the Welsh Assembly can buy a 32-acre rainforest site in Ecuador, but cannot support a nursing home for ex-servicemen in Wales?

Mr. Hain: In view of your earlier suggestion, Mr. Speaker, I suggest that my hon. Friend take the matter up with the Welsh Assembly Government.
This is the sticky for all Westminster/Hansard reporting.

This is chiefly Hackle's bit, and will be used to post Hansard reports.

All starting posts to this sticky, should include PROWORD Westminster in the heading.

Commentary is invited, but keep it serious, literate and well thought out.


The Welsh Assembly refused to support Ty Gwyn, a unique post-traumatic stress disorder unit for veterans
Interesting. One could equally ask why the government continually fails to provide adequate resources for the treatment of PTSD in service and ex-service personnel in the first place, for example by making an annual grant to Combat Stress.

Ty Gwyn is a private clinic; why should the Welsh Assembly fund a commercial enterprise? As far as I know, they'll take anyone who can pay, not just veterans.
Thanks, PTP

Current Affairs enthusiasts will have noticed a few threads started by me recently with the 'Westminster' branding, from now on to be placed in this thread, and we will see how it goes.

ARRSE has rightly been lifting stuff from Hansard since long before I joined. Frequently there is something in Hansard about subjects of hot debate here; sometimes there is even something new. We got a lot from Hansard in the heady days when we were building up our 'service voting' campaign. Occasionally we even achieved the perfect loop of something being said here, picked up by a polly and raised in parliament, being reported back here and the polly getting to hear our reaction. This has happened in both Houses - they should really get an ARRSE printout with the day's Order Paper :wink:

I think this can be very good for our community, and for our country's democracy. Parliament is often ably covered by the media, but their coverage is limited in time and space, and they may not spot the significance of something as quickly as some ARRSErs.

This is not an anti-Government exercise at all. Most of the 'Westminster' coverage so far has either been politically neutral, or has given Defence Ministers the chance to explain themselves direct to the people who matter - the forces community. This can only be a good thing. If, as happened recently, ARRSErs spot a problem with official information about some burning issue like the Iraq Medal - well, it can only be a good thing if those who draft such answers get to realize that 'those who know' are looking very closely over their shoulders. I happen to believe there would be much better understanding of the MoD's position on some issues if there was less ready recourse to weasel words in parliamentary answers.

This thread is of course open to all to either post something direct from Hansard, or to comment on something already posted. Note that although this is a single-thread sticky, I suggest anybody starting a new subject should indicate what it is by editing the 'Subject' heading - as I have in this post.

Significantly, Hansard transcripts are now available more quickly than they used to be - even on the same day for unedited debates, so you can be way ahead of the print media if you pick up something of interest. But it is not absolutely time-critical - feel free to post something several days late if it is still of interest and hasn't already been picked up.

I will come back another time with useful links, but they are easy enough to find by googling Commons Hansard or Lords Hansard. Include the Hansard link when posting. Finally, I imagine none of this affects your discretion whether to post Parliamentary stuff in this thread or in some other existing thread if more appropriate, and I will continue to post "service voting" items in the relevant thread.

We had a short exchange in the Lords on Monday on how the NATO force generation for the enlarged Afghanistan mission will be done. A statement is expected shortly, but the exchange can be seen at Lords Hansard
Commons Written Answers, 2 Nov 05


Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he is taking to improve the Department's performance in replying to hon. Members' correspondence.

Mr. Touhig: Every effort is made to handle all correspondence effectively and efficiently.

All correspondence from hon. Members and Peers is handled in accordance with the principles set out in 'Handling Correspondence from members of parliament, members of the House of Lords, MEPs and Members of Devolved Assemblies: Guidance for Departments'. The same principles apply when handling correspondence from members of the public.

The Ministry of Defence plans to introduce a new intranet-based toolkit to better track and handle all correspondence in 2006. This should enable us to better monitor our performance and help early identification of problems and delays...


How about asking questions about how £10 Million of taxpayers money was spent hounding innocent soldiers? Also questions need to be asked regarding the $1000 per day payment to prosecution witnesses. In this case the payments clearly were intended to pervert the course of justice. The recent spate of prosecutions clearly have a political motive behind them.
Commons Written Answers - 2 Nov 05

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average waiting period before an application for a 1939–45 medal is dealt with was in 2004–05; and if he will make a statement. [21130]

Mr. Touhig: Applications for World War II medals are currently being processed within 12 months of receipt. However, applications for the terminally ill and veterans who are over 90 years of age are given priority and processed immediately. Towards the end of this calendar year, by which time the bulk of Suez Canal Zone Medal applications will have been assessed, more resources will become available to meet the continuing demand for World War II medals.
I have included this because there have been ARRSE threads about applying for 1939-45 medals. Also, interesting to compare the claimed 12 months processing time to the claimed 3 months processing time for Iraq medals - wonder what the real figure is?

As usual there were answers on a host of other Defence subjects. I will include one more:

Territorial Army

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many infantry Territorial Army privates have served in Iraq since March 2003; and what proportion they are of the total Territorial Army contribution.

Mr. Touhig: Since March 2003 some 1,275 infantry Territorial Army (TA) privates have served in Iraq in an infantry role, which represents approximately 12 per cent. of the total TA contribution. This figure does not include members of the TA who have an infantry cap badge but were deployed in a non infantry role, as individual reinforcements. Information relating to these individuals could be provided only at a disproportionate cost.
Missing Weapons

Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many Army (a) handguns and (b) rifles went missing in the UK during the last year for which figures are available;

(2) how many missing Army handguns and rifles were recovered in the last year for which figures are available.

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 25 October 2005]: The information requested for the period 26 October 2004 to 15 October 2005 is detailed in the following table:
Date loss reported Weapon Type Recovered
26 October 2004 2X9 mm Pistols 0
15 April 2005 1XRifle 0
28 April 2005 2X9 mm Pistols 0
21 July 2005 3X.22 Rifles 0
6 October 2005 1XRifle 0
15 October 2005 1XPistol 1

Total [Missing] 10 [Reovered] 1
HANSARD SOURCE - Commons Written Answers, 1 Nov
No Manning control since April 2002. I wonder why


what is the date of the article???

Manning Control Reviews
Mrs. Humble: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he has sought a legal opinion on the compatibility of administrative discharge as a result of Manning Control reviews with (a) the Employment Rights Act 1996, (b) other employment legislation and (c) European law. [21536]

Mr. Touhig [holding answer 25 October 2005]: I will write to my hon. Friend and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.

Mrs. Humble: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what manning control reviews have been conducted in each of the last five years. [21537]

Mr. Touhig [holding answer 25 October 2005]: I refer my hon. Friend to the answers given on 27 November 2002, Official Report, column 333W and 3 March 2004, Official Report, column 961W, to the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Keetch).

There have been no discharges as a result of manning control point review since April 2002.

Mrs. Humble: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what guidance he has issued on the conduct of manning control reviews; when the last occasion was on which such a review was the subject of a direction in daily orders; and if he will place copies of such (a) guidance and (b) directions in the Library. [21538]

Mr. Touhig [holding answer 25 October 2005]: I will write to my hon. Friend and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.


Book Reviewer
Transcript of the last session of the House of Commons Defence Committee. Not all about the Army, or course, but interesting in parts. Check Qs 40 & 41 for Reserves, earlier on for Trident replacement. Also plenty on Iraq, Infantry vehicles, FRES, etc.

The MoD 'witnesses' for this session were the Policy Director, 2PUS and DCDS(C) - all very sharp brains indeed.


Book Reviewer
Transcript of the last session of the House of Commons Defence Committee. Not all about the Army, or course, but interesting in parts. Check Qs 40 & 41 for Reserves, earlier on for Trident replacement. Also plenty on Iraq, Infantry vehicles, FRES, etc.

The MoD 'witnesses' for this session were the Policy Director, 2PUS and DCDS(C) - all very sharp brains indeed.

Both Houses had a statement today on the Court Martial Judgement in the case of the seven Paras. Admiral The Lord Boyce (last CDS) and General The Lord Ramsbotham both spoke in the short exchange which followed in the Lords. You can find the first draft for Hansard at this link.

(edited to update the link)
The Armed Forces Bill, which brings together the three Service discipline acts, has now been published. It is available from this link

For those of us who have some months ahead going through all 375 Clauses line by line, any informed comment will be very welcome.
British Army Uniforms,
6 Dec 2005 : Column 508
Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether British Army uniforms are being manufactured in China.

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, some British Army uniforms are being
manufactured in China, including those being successfully supplied
under the cut and sewn garments contract awarded to a UK supplier in

Lord Hoyle: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that interesting
reply, because no jobs are being created in Northern Ireland. Are any
of those garments being manufactured in Lithuania? If so, what
percentage? Are the breatheability and waterproofing to specification?

Baroness Crawley: Yes, my Lords. All items manufactured in China are to
specification and meet the required standard. I cannot go into details
about breatheability, but I am happy to write to my noble friend on
that. Yes, some of our forces' clothing is manufactured in Lithuania
through UK suppliers. I cannot give him the percentage. Last time I
looked, Northern Ireland was part of the UK, and therefore we are using
a UK company. That Fermanagh company will obtain many benefits as a
result of its five-year contract.

Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: My Lords, is the Minister aware that
the emperor of China bestowed upon "Chinese Gordon" the rank of a field
marshal in the Chinese army, so that after the Red Guards had done
their worst, the only surviving edition of a Chinese field marshal's
uniform was in the Royal Engineers' museum in Chatham, to which General
Gordon bequeathed it? Therefore, there is an opportunity for trade in
the opposite direction.

Baroness Crawley: Well, my Lords, you learn something new every day in
this House. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, for that fascinating

Lord Garden: My Lords, how many variants are there to what is
paradoxically called uniform in the British forces? Given the wide
variety of uniforms, if the Ministry of Defence is looking for better
ways to spend defence money, might it now be time, as everyone in units
wears DPM kit rather than other uniforms, to look at whether the more
esoteric and expensive items might be held centrally, rather than on
personal issue?

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, the defence industrial strategy, with which
I know the noble Lord is familiar and on which there will soon be some
public announcements, has looked carefully at supply of uniforms. One
of the reasons we have this single major contract with Cooneen, Watts
and Stone is that we found that past procurement of uniforms had not
been as efficient and effective as it should have been. So the noble
Lord is right, and we have learned the lessons that he his asking us to
learn; but we learned them before he asked us.

Lord Haskel: My Lords, is the Army getting the benefit of new
technology in textiles, rather than buying uniforms made out of
old-style fabrics because they are cheap?

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, all the services, including the Army,
benefit from research and development into new and modern textiles all
the time. It is an ongoing process. Whether we like it or not, the
manufacture of Army and civilian garments is now outsourced to other
countries, including China.

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, bearing in mind the embargo placed on the
import of bras from China earlier in the year by Commissioner
Mandelson, is the Minister confident that a similar embargo will not be
placed on the import of British Army uniforms, thus causing the
European Union to leave our troops naked in the face of the enemy?

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, we will ensure that our troops are not left
naked. In fact, the UK Armed Forces are among the best equipped in the
world, as their repeated successes in operations demonstrate.

Lord Wade of Chorlton: My Lords, is the Minister aware that in placing
the order with a company in Northern Ireland, which then gave the order
to a company in China to manufacture the goods, production was stopped
at a similar plant in the north-west of England that had produced the
garments for the past 20 years? As a result, a lot of English people in
the north-west, where manufacturing jobs are dropping at a tremendous
rate, were put out of a job. Why do the Government not appreciate that
the overall costs include not only those of the garments but perhaps
the extra cost of losing jobs in the north-west of England and in the
UK generally.

******** Baroness Crawley: My Lords, as the noble Lord will know, the
procurement of these uniforms was carried out in adherence with UK
public procurement regulations. They are derived from EC directives,
which, again, whether we like it or not, do not permit discrimination
in favour of a national interest. In fact, the companies that submitted
tenders for this contract are all UK-based. Their manufacturing is
often sub-contracted and outsourced beyond the UK but they are all
UK-based companies. ******

Lord Campbell-Savours: My Lords, why do we not buy the garments direct?

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, the companies that we ask to tender are the
most efficient and effective to clothe a modern Army.

Lord Hoyle: My Lords, the whole contract was placed in China. Does my
noble friend not agree that breatheability is crucial? Without it, the
uniforms become extremely uncomfortable, troops sweat a lot and their
performance is put at risk. Is it not rather stupid that we put
performance and maybe the troops' lives at risk for the sake of saving
a few pounds?

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, I cannot agree with my noble friend. We are
not putting any troops' lives at risk. The garments being manufactured
in China come up to modern garment specification. I shall certainly
look into the issue of breathability.

Lord Weatherill: My Lords, is the Minister aware that if she needs any
professional advice-

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): My Lords, we are now
16 minutes into Question Time.
The Lord Flasheart said:
So we really do have 'Chinese Fighting suits' now! 8O
Nice one, Flash! Very "sfolgio". Wish you well to wear it, mate. :D :D :D


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