|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): There are no plans to commission a full radiometric survey of the area of South Iraq, in conjunction with the World Health Organisation (WHO) or the International Atomic Energy Agency.
As part of the Coalition Provisional Authority governing Iraq, the United Kingdom is committed to discharging its health and safety and environmental protection responsibilities and to working with our coalition partners and others with similar aims. To this end, the Department for International Development (DfID) has, in principle, agreed to part-fund the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) assessment of post-conflict environmental issues in Iraq. We have not yet been advised of the nature of any radiometric survey that UNEP might wish to carry out, but we understand that radiometric surveys within the UK area of operations are not identified as a priority within UNEP's "Desk Study on Iraq" www.postconflict.unep.ch/publications/iraqds.pdf
In the mean time, we continue to liaise with UNEP and to share information as a contribution to UNEP efforts to ensure that the Iraqi people and others are protected against ionising radiation and other hazards from whatever source.
Lord Bach: Information on the costs the Government incur in supporting United Kingdom industry's efforts to legitimately export defence goods and services does not include details of expenditure on the promotion of particular categories of weapons.
The UK is one of the main donors to the work of the United Nations Development Progamme Small Arms and Demobilisation Unit with £7.5 million committed over the period 200104. This funding supports a global programme of weapons collection, stockpile management, capacity building and destruction within the context of disarmament, demobilisation, reintegration and community development. The UK's wider Global Conflict Prevention Pool Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) Strategy, with over £20 million funding over the same period, aims to combat and prevent the supply, demand and availability of SALW around the globe as a contribution to conflict prevention, and to achieve a reduction in the impact of violent conflict on lives and livelihoods.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has a fund (£100,000 to £200,000 per annum) specifically aimed at small arms destruction overseas. This has been used to supply gun-destruction equipment to several African countries and to provide significant funding to a development programme in Cambodia. Other projects are currently under consideration.
The collection of weapons in the UK and their destruction is the responsibility of the Home Office. Information on the national firearms amnesty was provided by my noble friend Lady Scotland of Asthal on 21 October 2003 (Official Report, col. 53). The cost of this work is not available. Information on surplus UK armed forces small arms destroyed by the Ministry of Defence in each year since 2000 is recorded in the Government's Annual Report for Strategic Export Controls.
Lord Bach: In light of the recommendations made by the House of Commons Defence Committee as a result of the introduction of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, we are pleased to place in the Library of the House on behalf of the Ministry of Defence Police its operational report for 200203.
Lord Bach: Key targets have been set for the chief executive of the MSA for Financial Year 200304. The targets build on the progress already made by the agency since it formed in March 1996 and are as follows:
Lord Bach: After the introduction of the Armed Forces Pension Scheme (AFPS) in 1973, the Royal Air Force has, for the purposes of awarding pensions, been reviewing War Pension Scheme decisions on whether injuries, ill-health or deaths were due to service using the normal civil standard of proof ("balance of probabilities"). The War Pension Scheme uses a "beyond reasonable doubt" standard in favour of the claimant for the first seven years after leaving service. This interpretation of AFPS scheme regulations was challenged in a complaint to the Pensions Ombudsman who found in favour of the claimant, Mrs Hulme. The ombudsman's decision was upheld on appeal in the High Court and has today been further upheld in the Court of Appeal on the basis that the relevant regulations required AFPS administrators to accept the decision on attributability taken under the War Pension Scheme. We have decided that the Ministry of Defence will not seek leave to appeal the Court of Appeal judgment further to the House of Lords.
Following this decision, the department will now review previous decisions on entitlement to attributable pensions for those conditions that led to invaliding or to death-in-service where AFPS administrators have previously not accepted War Pension Scheme decisions on attributability. Awards will be backdated and the department will consider compensation to reflect the effect of inflation on the value of pensions over the period of non-payment. We expect to make a further announcement on this matter early in the New Year.
Initial research indicates that the incorrect interpretation of the regulations is likely to have affected Royal Air Force compensation payments since soon after 1973, and Army and perhaps some Royal Navy claims since 2000.
We do not know how many pensioners are likely to have been affected or the likely cost. However, a substantial number of pension award decisions will need to be reviewed to ensure that all those at risk are identified. At present, we expect it to take around a year to complete this review. Payments will be made as soon as possible. We will also be using appropriate advertising to publicise to the ex-service community those categories of pensioner who might be affected and how claims can be lodged. We will consider these as quickly as possible. The judgment does not affect the benefits paid under the War Pension Scheme.
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|