§ Mr. Keetch
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of(a) the RAF, (b) the Army and (c) the Royal Navy he expects to be (i) serving abroad and (ii) deployed in front-line duties between 24 December 724W and 2 January 2001; what percentage of overall strength of each force this represents; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Spellar
The current estimate of the number of personnel who will be serving abroad and deployed in front-line duties over the Christmas and new year period is as follows:
Naval service Army RAF Estimated numbers serving abroad 5,100 34,500 6,600 As a percentage of trained strength 13 35 12 Of those serving abroad, estimated numbers deployed on operations are 4,000 6,200 3,800 As a percentage of trained strength 10 6 7
1. All figures rounded to the nearest 100
2. Data exclude Mobilised Reservists
§ Mr. Keetch
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what provisions have been made to ensure family contact on 25 December, 31 December and 1 January 2001 for those members of the armed forces who will be separated from their families on these dates; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Spellar
We attach great importance to service personnel deployed on overseas operations being able to keep in touch with their families throughout the year. It is for this reason that personnel deployed on operations are given 20 minutes' publicly funded telephone time each week. Previous concerns about the adequacy and reliability of the welfare telephone services in some overseas theatres have been resolved by the introduction of Project Welcome. This welfare telephone service is deployed in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Italy, Kosovo, Bosnia and Sierra Leone and aboard some of the operationally deployed ships and RFAs (Royal Fleet Auxiliaries). Free blueys (aerogrammes), e-blueys and concessionary parcel rates are also provided. We are also in the process of introducing free access to e-mail facilities.
Meetings have been held with the contractor responsible for providing the operational telephone welfare service (Project Welcome) to ensure that it is robust enough to cope with the extra demand that will be placed on it over the Christmas period. Measures to give service personnel on operations extra concessionary rates over the Christmas period, for calls beyond their free allowance, are also under consideration.
For ships at sea who are not covered by Project Welcome funding has been secured to provide personnel with 10 minutes free call time over the Christmas period.