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War Pensions Agency

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if the recommendations of the War Pensions Agency's 1999 DMA study were implemented in 2000–01. [19120]

Dr. Moonie: Following the recommendations of the 1999 Decision Making Appeals Study the War Pensions Agency worked with ex-Service organisations and the Lord Chancellor's Department to improve war pension appeal legislation and processes, and within the Ministry of Defence to improve the process and time scale for delivery of service documentation.

Once these improvements were achieved, the recommendations from the study were piloted during 1999–2000 and fully implemented across the Agency during 2000–01.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if the recommendations of the 1999 War Pensions Agency Prior Options Review relating to the regulations of the War Pensioners Welfare Service and the partnership opportunities associated with the management of Ilford Park Polish Home were implemented by 31 March. [19117]

Dr. Moonie: A review of the objectives of the War Pensioners Welfare Service was undertaken and a report on its findings was widely circulated to the ex-service community in February 2001 inviting comment. The review's recommendations on how welfare services can be developed have received widespread support. As at 28 November 2001, 16 recommendations have been fully implemented, the remainder will be implemented during 2001–02.

The potential for establishing a partnership with a suitable organisation to provide day-to-day management of Ilford Park Polish Home was reviewed and a report produced in July 2000. The report identified key issues to be addressed and the position is being kept under review.

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Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if the service performance standards published in the War Pensions Agency's Service First Charter were achieved in 2000–01. [19121]

Dr. Moonie: During 2000–01, the War Pensions Agency achieved all of the standards set out in their Service First Charter. All of the WPA's claims and appeals average clearance time targets were achieved.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if the War Pensions Agency met its target to generate efficiency during 2000–01 to absorb the effect of pay and price pressures. [19119]

Dr. Moonie: During 2000–01, the War Pensions Agency delivered efficiencies necessary to absorb the effect of pay and price pressures. By adopting a sharply focused and integrated approach to human resources and expenditure management, the agency has been able to implement additional measures to enable operation within its running cost allocation.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many armed forces personnel have applied to the War Pensions Agency for a war pension; and if he will make a statement. [19771]

Dr. Moonie: A claim for war disablement pension may only be made after discharge from the armed forces. 10,799 claims were received by the War Pensions Agency during the year April 2000 to March 2001; 5,866 claims have been received in the period April 2001 to October 2001.

Unallocated Funds

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will estimate the total unallocated funds within his departmental expenditure limit (a) at the start of the financial year and (b) to date; and what was the month seven forecast on outturn underspend against his departmental expenditure limit in (i) real and (ii) percentage terms. [19439]

Mr. Hoon: The allocation of the Ministry of Defence's departmental expenditure limit at the start of the year is set out in "The Government's Expenditure Plans 2001–02 to 2003–04—Ministry of Defence" (Cm 5109). Revised allocations are reported to Parliament in Supplementary Estimates. Outturn against six month forecast for each request for resources will be published on 4 December in the winter Supplementary Estimates Summary Request for Supply as usual.

Benchmark Capabilities

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to reassess the benchmark of capabilities set out in the Strategic Defence Review; what the timescale is for this re-assessment; and if he will make a statement. [19770]

Mr. Hoon: The Strategic Defence Review (SDR) left the armed forces well placed to participate in the campaign against international terrorism, but we need to look more closely at asymmetric threats of the kind that we saw on 11 September and ensure that we have the right concepts, forces and capabilities to deal with them.

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I expect to be in a position to publish some conclusions from this work in the spring or early summer of next year.

Afghanistan

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the proposed supporting role of the Territorial Army in Afghanistan. [18639]

Mr. Ingram: I refer the hon. Member to theanswer I gave on 13 November 2001, Official Report, columns 630–31W.

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the decision process for determining which line infantry battalions should be put on increased alert for deployment in Afghanistan. [19586]

Mr. Hoon: The infantry battalions originally placed at a reduced notice to move for a possible deployment to Afghanistan were selected from those within the Joint Rapid Reaction Force and reflected their place in the operational and training cycle and their suitability for the possible operations envisaged.

Transferred Employees

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the number of cases that have occurred whereby workers have transferred from an external employer to his Department; and in particular where this has involved (a) dismissal and (b) re-employment. [19466]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 30 November 2001]: This information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Major Projects Report

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the capability shortfalls in the areas highlighted by the major projects report 2001, page 13, section 1.25; what steps are being taken to rectify the shortfalls; when he expects the shortfall to be overcome in each area; and if he will make a statement. [18930]

Dr. Moonie: I will write to the hon. Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House following the hearing.

Personnel (Credit Ratings)

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps are being taken to ensure that service personnel are not (a) given a poor credit risk rating and (b) denied credit as an effect of their membership of the services; and if he will make a statement. [18929]

Mr. Ingram: The granting of credit to an individual is a decision for the credit companies to make. The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has held talks with the British Banking Association, the Council of Mortgage Lenders and the Finance Leasing Authority which have assured us that their members do not deny credit to service personnel because of their membership of the armed forces; their credit worthiness is assessed in the same way as for their civilian counterparts. Although some companies will not lend to service personnel who are overseas, there are sufficient companies (including NAAFI) who will do so

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in order to provide the armed forces with adequate choice. While some service personnel may experience difficulties, I am not aware that obtaining credit represents a significant problem for the armed forces more widely. There is no intention, nor would it be appropriate, for the MOD to involve itself in the decisions taken by private companies on the credit worthiness of armed forces personnel.

Army Recruiters

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what guidance he has given to the MOD on the employment of soldiers on regimental duty to act as recruiters. [20630]

Mr. Ingram: Only Senior Non-Commissioned Officers appointed to specialist recruiting roles and who have attended the Regular Recruiters Course, run by the Army School of Recruiting, are termed recruiters. While serving with the Recruiting Group of the Army Training and Recruiting Agency they are not serving at Regimental Duty. Officers and Warrant Officers serving at Regimental Duty and who will conduct duties in support of recruiting operations as Team Leaders, undertake specific courses in support of their duties. Others who will serve as members of recruiting teams are given a one-day briefing prior to their deployment. Soldiers involved in the Satisfied Soldier Scheme are briefed by recruiting staff at the local Careers Office where they are deployed.

Honorary Medals

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the cost of issuing the Queen's Golden Jubilee medal to holders of the George cross and Victoria cross; and if he will make a statement. [19840]

Dr. Moonie: It is estimated that the cost to the Ministry of Defence of issuing the Golden Jubilee medal to holders of the Victoria cross and George cross would be in the order of £1,000.00.

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the convention under which holders of VC and GC decorations are awarded honorary medals. [19839]

Dr. Moonie: The United Kingdom honours system does not include the concept of honorary medals.


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