06 Nov 07. Parliament: State Opening. The State Opening of Parliament, marking the start of the 2007/08 Parliamentary Session, took place on 6 Nov 07. Delivering the Queen’s Speech, Her Majesty outlined a legislative programme of over 25 bills, covering: education, housing, criminal justice, counter-terrorism, the constitution, health, pensions and working hours. The Government is to continue to work with the Government of Iraq and to support the Government of Afghanistan while “addressing international concerns over Iran’s nuclear intentions”. The Government is to maintain a “strong commitment to reaching a lasting peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians”.
Comment: The Queen’s Speech included a reference to renewing “the constitutional settlement”, which may include Members of Parliament having a greater say in the deployment of the Armed Forces. Otherwise there were few surprises in the Speech, since the Prime Minister had already announced most of the initiatives (thus defying convention). (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0744, 12 Nov 07)
Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what role ISAF forces have in securing the Afghanistan-Iran border; and if he will make a statement. 
Des Browne: The role of ISAF forces is to assist the Government of Afghanistan in the maintenance of security, to facilitate the development of government structures, extend government control and assist reconstruction and humanitarian efforts. The force with primary responsibility for border security is the Afghan
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what contact he has had with his Italian counterpart on the security situation on the Afghanistan-Iran border
in Herat province. 
Des Browne: I have regular contact with my Italian counterpart on a number of issues, including the security situation in Afghanistan, where Italy is the lead nation in Herat province.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much monetary
compensation was paid to service personnel who had personal belongings stolen en route to Afghanistan as referred to in the answer of 29 October 2007, Official Report on Afghanistan peacekeeping operations; to whom the compensation was paid and in respect of which incidents; and what his Department’s policy is on paying compensation in such circumstances. 
Des Browne: All personnel are provided with clear guidance prior to deploying on operations that they should ensure property in transit is adequately insured, as liability is not routinely accepted by the Ministry of Defence and the department does not pay compensation as a matter of course. An insurance allowance is payable towards the cost of insurance. No compensation was paid by the MOD in relation to the loss of personal belongings in the incidents listed in my answer of 29 October 2007, Official Report.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what definition of (a) military equipment and (b) military property was used in the answer of 29 October 2007, Official Report, column 940W, on Afghanistan: peacekeeping operations. 
Des Browne: Military equipment and property refer to items owned by the Ministry of Defence and issued for operational use.
Air Force: Deployment
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many RAF personnel are based in (a) each state of the USA, (b) Ascension Island, (c) the Balkans, (d) Cyprus, (e) Diego Garcia, (f) the Falklands and (g) Gibraltar. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The strength of RAF personnel posted outside the UK is
available in Table 1.1 of Tri-Service Publication (TSP) 10: UK Regular Forces
Stationed Location. TSP 10 is published quarterly. The most recent publication
shows figures at 1 April 2007 and can be found at:
Copies of TSP 10