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09 July 08. WESTMINSTER HALL DEBATE. MEDICAL CARE FOR THE ARMED FORCES. On Thursday 17 July there will be a debate in Westminster Hall on medical care for the Armed Forces. The debate will run from 2.30pm – 5.30pm and will be open to the public.The debate will focus on the conclusions of the recent Report by the Defence Committee on that subject, and on the subsequent Government response.
The Report to be debated is: Seventh Report from the Defence Committee: Medical care for the Armed Forces: Session 2007–08, published on 18 February 2008 as HC 327. Also relevant is: The Government response to the Seventh Report:
Sixth Special Report from the Defence Committee: Medical care for the Armed Forces: Government response to the Committee’s Seventh Report of Session 2007–08, published on 9 May 2008 as HC 500. Members of the public wishing to attend should enter via the Visitors’ Centre where they will be directed through security and to Westminster Hall. It is advisable to allow about 20 minutes for this. Please ensure that mobile phones and pagers are turned off before entering Westminster Hall. Under no circumstances should members of the public address Members during the debate. Those attending the debate are asked to remain silent throughout. For further information please call Eliot Wilson on 020 7219 3281.

Lords Hansard text for 7 Jul 2008

Lord Campbell of Alloway asked Her Majesty’s Government: What is their assessment of the efficacy of the defence procurement process.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): My Lords, the defence procurement process provides our Armed Forces with the equipment and wider support that they need to conduct military operations worldwide. The department recognises that it must always continue to improve its performance, not least to reflect rapidly changing threats and the fast pace of technological change.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. In
procurement for Afghanistan, why was there a shortage of helicopters and why were vehicles open to considerable danger? Is the position now satisfactorily sustained with regard not only to sufficient helicopters of each type but also to armoured vehicles that are resistant to roadside bombs?

Baroness Taylor of Bolton: My Lords, overall, we have spent £10 billion from the core budget on front-line equipment provision in the past three years. On top of that, £3.5 billion has been spent on urgent operational requirements. That has included upgrading our helicopters and making them safer, providing more protected vehicles and increasing protection for individuals. On helicopters, a number of initiatives have been taken. We are trying to concentrate one type of helicopter in one theatre in order to maximise what we can do and, over the past year, the number of flying hours of helicopters in Afghanistan has increased by 30 per cent. Improvements have been made. We have provided new types of protected vehicles, such as Mastiff, while others, such as Ridgeback, are on the way. It is not possible to protect all vehicles to the same extent and it is up
to commanders on the ground to decide which kind of vehicle is appropriate for which operation.

Lord Harrison: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that, in the light of the recent French defence White Paper and President Sarkozy’s pronouncements on assuming the French presidency, there is enormous merit in co-ordinating defence procurement policy with our French colleagues and with others in the European
Union the better to find savings and provide greater resources for British services?

Baroness Taylor of Bolton: My Lords, it is true that there is scope for co-operation on quite a number of projects. However, co-operation is not the universal answer, because it will work only if countries have similar requirements on similar timescales and have similar budgets available

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