House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 30 Apr 2008
Aircraft Carriers: Procurement
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reasons the steel for the construction of future aircraft carriers has been ordered by the Government directly; whether there is any precedent for steel orders being placed by any agency other than the relevant shipbuilders; and whether the steel ordered is for use in the construction of one or both future aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 29 April 2008]: Steel for the construction of the Future Aircraft Carriers has been ordered by BAE Systems (Surface Fleet Solutions), on behalf of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, and not by the Government. Other than specific Government Furnished Equipment, it is normal practice for the shipyards to order build materials. The steel ordered is for use in the construction of both Future Aircraft Carriers.
Armed Forces: Graduates
Adam Afriyie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many and what proportion of armed forces personnel have a university degree. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 28 April 2008]: The total number of armed forces personnel who are recorded as having a university degree or equivalent or higher, is 17,469. This is around nine per cent. of the total strength. The figure quoted is an estimate only, as the data transferred from the former single service legacy data systems to the Joint Personnel Administration (JPA) system had differing degrees of reliability. In addition, since the introduction of the JPA system, the responsibility for updating this specific type of data rests solely with the individual, and as such may not always be recorded.
Armed Forces: Joint Strike Fighter
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will take steps to ensure that the Joint Strike Fighter is flown solely by Fleet Air Arm pilots. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Joint Carrier Aircraft will be capable of operating from both land and sea, and under current assumptions the future force will be jointly manned by the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. The optimum force structure is currently being determined.
Armed Forces: Training
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many training exercises involving fighting in urban environments have been cancelled in each year since 2003. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Since 2003, no training exercises involving fighting in urban environments have been cancelled.
Armed Forces: Uniforms
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence with reference to the answer of 12 June 2006, Official Report, column 996W, on bearskins, and pursuant to the answer to question 198792, when the last occasion was that bearskins were purchased by the armed forces. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The MOD does not purchase bearskins, it purchases bearskin caps. There have been no pelts procured to produce bearskin caps for the MOD since 2003.
Armoured Fighting Vehicles
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 1 April 2008, Official Report, column 791W, on armoured fighting vehicles, when he expects the contract for ordering the Ridgeback armoured vehicle to be finalised. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The MOD expects to contract with a manufacturer and a UK integrator for the Ridgback vehicle shortly. I am unable to provide further details as commercial negotiations are continuing.
BAE Systems: Saudi Arabia
Mr. Carswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what meetings he or his officials have held with BAe and its representatives to discuss the al-Yamamah case since May 2005. 
Des Browne: Meetings between MOD officials and representatives of BAE Systems at which the SFO investigation into the Al Yamamah programme was raised, took place on 17 June 2005, 3 November 2005, 26 June 2006, 2