Previous Section Index Home Page

21 Oct 2008 : Column 183W—continued

Water: Low Incomes

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what steps the Government have taken to assist low income families with paying their water bills; [227811]

(2) what steps the Government have taken to assist low income families in reducing water bills. [227812]

Jane Kennedy: The Government are aware of concerns about the level of water charges and the issue of affordability is one which the Government take very seriously. The cross-Government review of water affordability in December 2004 recommended:


21 Oct 2008 : Column 184W

In August 2008 DEFRA launched an independent review of water charging and metering, which is led by Anna Walker and will look in particular at social, economic and environmental concerns. The review is due to conclude in spring 2009.

Whales: International Cooperation

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will (a) update and re-issue the Protecting Whales—A Global Responsibility document and (b) send the document to all governments intending to attend the 61st annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Portugal between 22 and 26 June 2009; when he next plans to discuss whaling with his foreign counterparts; and if he will make a statement. [228072]

Huw Irranca-Davies: The UK has led efforts to recruit more conservation-minded countries to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) through our publication “Protecting Whales—A Global Responsibility” (endorsed by the Prime Minister and Sir David Attenborough), which has already been sent to over 60 countries urging nations to protect these species worldwide.

It will be sent to any countries that have recently, or could potentially, join before the 61st meeting of the IWC (IWC61) in Portugal. There is no need to update the publication at this time.

The UK has also recently circulated a document to members of the IWC entitled “The International Whaling Commission—the way forward”. This document encourages countries participating in the current discussions over the future of the Commission, to ensure the conservation of cetaceans remains the highest priority.

Along with colleagues in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, DEFRA will continue to engage in discussions with our counterparts on whaling at every appropriate opportunity.

Defence

Armed Forces: Deployment

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost of deploying troops abroad was in each year since 1997. [219850]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The costs of deploying troops on military operations are calculated on a net additional basis and audited figures are published each year in the MOD’s Annual Report and Accounts. Costs of peacekeeping operations for financial years 1997-98 to 2006-07 were:


21 Oct 2008 : Column 185W

21 Oct 2008 : Column 186W

21 Oct 2008 : Column 187W

21 Oct 2008 : Column 188W
Military Operations - Costs: 1997 to 2007
Current prices (£ million)

Total Outturn

Total Peacekeeping Costs: 2006-07

1,754

Of which:

Balkans (Bosnia/Kosovo)

56

Afghanistan

742

Iraq

956

Total Peacekeeping Costs: 2005-06

1,220

Of which:

Balkans (Bosnia/Kosovo)

63

Afghanistan

199

Iraq

958

Total Peacekeeping Costs: 2004-05

1,064

Of which:

Balkans (Bosnia/Kosovo)

87

Afghanistan

67

Iraq

910

Total Peacekeeping Costs: 2003-04

1,462

Of which:

Balkans (Bosnia/Kosovo)

103

Democratic Republic of the Congo

1

Afghanistan

46

Iraq

1,311

Sierra Leone

1

EUFYROM

1

Total Peacekeeping Costs: 2002-03

1,390

Of which:

Kosovo

105

Bosnia

81

Gulf

45

Afghanistan

311

Iraq

848

Total Peacekeeping Costs: 2001-02

557

Of which:

Kosovo

142

Bosnia

93

Gulf

61

Sierra Leone

40

Afghanistan

221

Total Peacekeeping Costs: 2000-01(1)

382

Of which:

Kosovo

220

Bosnia

120

Gulf

25

Sierra Leone

17

Total Peacekeeping Costs: 1999-2000

461

Of which:

Kosovo

325

Bosnia

108

Gulf

28

Total Peacekeeping Costs: 1998-99

196

Of which:

Kosovo

14

Bosnia

147

Gulf

35

Total Peacekeeping Costs: 1997-98

402

Of which:

Bosnia

386

Gulf

16

(1) Prior to Financial Year 2001-02 costs were recorded on a cash accounting basis and therefore are on a different basis to subsequent years where recourse accounting costs are included.

The following estimated costs for operations in 2007-08 were included in Spring Supplementary Estimates published in February:

£ million

Afghanistan

1,582

Iraq

1,648

Balkans

31


Final figures will be published shortly in the MOD’s Annual Report and Accounts for 2007-08.

Armed Forces: Pensions

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reasons the 20 per cent. threshold for war disablement pensions was set at that level. [222530]

Mr. Kevan Jones: Since World War 1, the nature and amount of awards under the War Pension Scheme has depended on the assessed degree of disablement due to service.

Assessment of the degree of disablement is by comparing the condition of the individual as disabled by service with the condition of a normal healthy person of the same age and sex. From this time a distinction has always been drawn between assessments of under 20 per cent. and those of 20 per cent. or more. The reason why the threshold was originally set at 20 per cent. is not known.

Before 1 April 1962, awards to “other ranks” with an assessment of less than 20 per cent. were in the form of a weekly allowance for a prescribed period followed in some cases by a terminal lump sum gratuity. For officers only gratuities were paid. A change in 1962 aligned the treatment of all members of the armed forces, so that since that date, all awards for disablement assessed at less than 20 per cent. have been in the form of a one off gratuity, regardless of rank.

Assessments of 20 per cent. or more have always given rise to a continuing pension for all ranks. As part of a periodic review of the War Pension Scheme one of the options under consideration is to raise the 20 per cent. assessment level at which a pension becomes payable for new claims.

Armed Forces: Recruitment

Kelvin Hopkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will review the appropriateness of the minimum age at which people can join the armed forces; and if he will (a) make it his policy that those under the age of 18 years may not take a direct part in hostilities in any circumstances and (b) renew the Government's declaration on the UN optional protocol on the Convention on the Rights of the Child in relation to armed conflict. [228800]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Government made clear in their interpretive declaration when ratifying the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict that the armed forces would continue to recruit from age 16, but made a clear commitment to take all feasible measures to ensure that those who had not yet reached the age of 18 years old did not take a direct part in hostilities. The Government remain committed to meeting their obligations under the protocol and there are no plans to change the interpretive declaration.


Next Section Index Home Page