Memorandum from the Ministry of Defence
concerning review of compensation arrangements (2 December 1999)
In your letter of 21 October, you asked for
an update on the progress of the review of compensation arrangements,
which you noted was running behind schedule. A previous Minister
(Armed Forces), Dr John Reid, announced the review of compensation
arrangements in December 1997. This joint review with DSS was
in response, amongst other things, to the HCDC Sixth Report 1996-97,
"Gulf War Illnesses: The Latest Developments".
The review has examined from first principles
the way in which service men and women and their dependants are
compensated when they suffer illness, injury or death due to service.
The work has proved to be very complex. The existing arrangements
are administered by two Departments, under powers derived from
several different Acts, some of them dating to the last century,
and from the Royal Prerogative. The Ministry of Defence needs
to approach the issue of changing the schemes with great care.
It has also taken more time than expected to assess the expenditure
implications of the proposals being developed.
The contribution of our servicemen and women,
as demonstrated recently in Kosovo, is greatly valued. It is vital
that we find the right sort of package which will give these people
and their dependants the reassurance that they will be provided
for when facing the challenges and risks associated with service
life, even if this means more work and further delays. It is more
important to produce the right answer than to produce the answer
It is hoped that a consultation document will
be published early next year, and Ministers will be informing
both Houses of the situation shortly.