Select Committee on Defence Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from The British Legion (28 September 2000)

  Thank you for your letter of 3 July requesting a memorandum, by the end of September, covering those subjects the Legion would wish to comment on in the inquiry into Armed Forces personnel issues. I have delayed in responding in anticipation of the publication of the MoD's paper relating to compensation; sadly I understand that it is now not expected before the end of the year. Having therefore carefully considered the items listed the Legion would wish to provide input in the following areas:

    Pensions and Compensation

    Issues of current concern.

  There are no appeal rights for MoD decisions relating to Service Pensions under the present system. With any harmonisation of War Pensions and Service Pensions it is hoped that an independent appeal system will be introduced modelled on the current War Pensions Appeal Tribunal. It is noted that as of next year (April 2001) the Appeal Tribunal has extended authority to hear appeals for War Pensions Allowances, something the Legion have been pressing for many years.

  Attributable Forces Family Pensions have now been awarded to Widows who remarry but these unlike Attributable Service Retirement Pensions are subject to Income Tax; this anomaly should be addressed.

  In any transitional arrangements introduced to harmonise War Pensions and Service Pensions the current War Pensions Appeal system should remain in being for at least the next 10 years to hear appeals brought for Pensions awarded before the notification of any change.

  War Widows Pensions once awarded and in payment should remain so for the Widow's lifetime regardless of remarriage, divorce, etc. There are currently too many anomalies in this area.

  The current system of MoD Compensation, under the 1987 Crown Proceedings Act is seen to be fair and indeed in line with the civilian equivalent. The Legion would wish to see this arrangement retained in any changes introduced for Pensions and Compensation.

  Pre and post 1973 pensions should be equal in value. The current system of one third pre '73 and one half post '73 is one of the most sad anomalies within the whole network of service pension awards and should be addressed with urgency.

  Post service marriages recognised since 1978 should be made retrospective in line with most public sector organisations, pay and pensions reviews.

  The Legion has been promised that it will be fully consulted on any proposals to harmonise War Pensions and Service Pensions. It is very concerned by the ongoing delay in the production of the consultation paper and it is considered that this promise must be fully honoured.


  The Royal British Legion Training College, based at Tidworth, Hampshire, provides resettlement training courses to Service leavers, as a preferred supplier for the resettlement provision of the MoD Career Transition Partnership (CTP). From 1 January 2001 the College will operate in association with Salisbury College and will continue to offer courses in IT, Management and Health and Safety. It also has three star hotel accommodation and provides a cre"che for local inhabitants, including Service families.

  In addition, the Legion provides, at the Legion Village in Aylesford, Kent, physical and mental assessment for para- and quadriplegically disabled people. During a three day residential course, tests are carried out that allow advice to be given on the training and employment that might be undertaken. This centre is similar to the Tri-Service Headley Court Rehabilitation Centre, but has the advantage of having the Churchill Centre on the same site, that is a specialist physiotherapy unit, partly funded by the local National Health Trust.

  The facilities described above are already being used by the MoD in resettlement and rehabilitation programmes and it is considered that their extended use should be included in the MoD's plans for the future.


  The Legion currently provides information and assistance on a wide range of matters concerning the transition from Service to Civilian life. As well as assistance with training for the Service Leaver, further advice and funding is available for the unemployed ex-Service person requiring training for a specific job, through the Legion's Career Advice Centre. Advice and funding is also available from the Legion's Small Business Advice Centre for those wanting to set up a small business. In addition the Legion's Resettlement Advice Centre not only mentions the above subjects, but acts as a pointer to other organisations offering help with housing, welfare and employment.

  The Legion also provides the welfare support and comradeship, through membership, for ex-Service people of all ranks throughout the remainder of their lives, unrealised by many ex-Service people who have never been properly briefed.

  Our concerns are that many Service Leavers do not receive the advice and, often, the training to which they are eligible, because they may have been told that they were ineligible or their unit could not, or would not, release them due to operational requirements. There are also many cases of those being medically discharged, finding themselves at home waiting for discharge, but without support, because they live away from their unit or the unit is deployed abroad on operational or emergency tours. Consideration should be given to designating the resettlement eligibility, which may not be provided for the above reasons, to an entitlement and ensuring that the Service Leaver receives that entitlement before discharge, or can transfer it for use after discharge, should there not be sufficient time for the full resettlement package to be undertaken before leaving.

  To answer the need for a co-ordinated policy to ensure all Service Leavers receive the correct resettlement assistance, it is recommended that the Legion (and other Service Charities) should be involved in the Armed Forces Overarching Personnel Strategy review. Currently many problems for Service Leavers are resolved at "local" level by the Legion and others, but the problem and the way it is resolved never become part of general knowledge.

  I hope my comments above will be of assistance in your enquiry into Armed Forces personnel issues. The Legion will, of course, be available to provide any assistance or advice if required.

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