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Written Ministerial Statements

Thursday 11 December 2008

Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

Trawlermen Scheme

The Minister for Employment Relations and Postal Affairs (Mr. Pat McFadden): The Government ran the Icelandic Water trawlermen scheme between 2000 and 2002. This scheme made compensation payments to trawlermen that lost their livelihoods following the cod wars in the 1970s. The parliamentary ombudsman found last year that some claimants under the scheme had received unfairly low payments, because of the rules on breaks in service, and recommended that my Department review the eligibility criteria and scheme rules, to ensure they were consistent with the policy intention underlying the scheme.

We have now completed that review. I appreciate that this has taken longer than originally intended, but this is a complex issue and it is important to get it right.

I have concluded that we should run a new trawlermen scheme and that additional payments should be calculated on the basis of aggregate service on vessels that fished in Icelandic waters. This means that anyone with long service on Icelandic vessels that received significantly reduced payments under the previous scheme (because of a break in their service) should receive an additional payment. This will substantially reduce the impact of any gaps in service and better align the rules with the intention of the scheme.

We will shortly be consulting on the details of the new scheme. We also propose that—the qualifying test should be amended to require successful claimants to have at least two years aggregate service on Icelandic vessels during the period of the cod wars; interest should be added to the additional payments; consolatory payments of £200 should be made to successful claimants under the new scheme; the Thessalonian should be added to the list of Icelandic vessels for the new scheme; and the new scheme should be limited to existing claims only.

I expect the new scheme to be formally launched by the middle of next year, after we have consulted on the details and considered the views received. Around 1,000 trawlermen should receive additional payments under these arrangements, and the total cost of the new scheme should be less than £10 million.

Children, Schools and Families

Children's Plan

The Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (Ed Balls): The Government publishes today the Children’s Plan one year on progress report, setting
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out progress made since the launch of the Children’s Plan a year ago. It celebrates the contribution made by those working with children and young people over the past year, takes stock of the challenges ahead and sets out next steps to achieve our ambitions for children and young people.

The Children and Young People’s Workforce Strategy, also published today, describes the way the Government will work with partners to develop and support everyone who works with children and young people and to improve quality and capacity across the workforce. It sets out the Government’s priorities for the development of individual sectors of the workforce and for reforms which need to influence everyone who works with children, young people and their families.

We also launch today Building Stronger Partnerships, a strategy for engaging employers in education, in response to the report of the National Council for Educational Excellence (NCEE).

Copies of these documents are available in the Libraries of both Houses and available electronically at: www.dcsf.gov.uk/oneyearon

Communities and Local Government

Correction (Questions 164956/200017)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Mr. Sadiq Khan): I would like to inform the House that further investigations have revealed that the answers given to questions 164956 and 200017 in the 2007-08 Session were incomplete. Question 164956 was tabled by the hon. Member for Fareham (Mr. Hoban) and answered by my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucester (Mr. Dhanda) on 29 November 2007 (Official Report, column 681W). Question 200017 was tabled by the right hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs. May), and answered by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on 2 June 2008 (Official Report, columns 538-539W). A correction to question 200017 was issued by my right hon. Friend on 9 July 2008 (Official Report, columns 9-10MC).

Question 164956

The response to Question 164956 should read as follows:

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Question 200017

The response to Question 200017 should read as follows:

Andrew Irving Associates Ltd

Quantitative survey on the code for sustainable homes

Pre and post-tracking research on the effectiveness of the “Pull your Finger out” fire safety campaign

Fire safety research into the holiday accommodation sector


Firefighting careers research and recommendations

“Fire Kills” literature review

“Fire Kills” campaign recognition omnibus survey

Workshops on the importance of the English language to building communities

Survey of planning professionals about whether planning portal services met their needs

Retained duty service employers research

Cragg Ross Dawson Ltd

Energy Performance of Buildings Directive research

Ethnos Research and Consultancy

“The Drivers of Black and Asian People’s Perceptions of Racial Discrimination by Public Services: A qualitative study” (www.communities.gov.uk/documents/communities/pdf/654397.pdf)


“Connect to Your Council Takeup Campaign—Campaign Review and Recommendations for Future Local Authority Campaigns” (www.communities.gov.uk/documents/localgovernment/pdf/Connect_your_council.pdf)

FDS International

“Fire and Rescue Service: The Retained Duty System: a survey of local employers” (www.communities.gov.uk/documents/fire/pdf/rdssurvey.pdf)


HIPs consumer awareness, qualitative, and omnibus research

“Accountability of local council services—omnibus survey”

TH Seagrove

Telephone survey of tenant activists on their awareness etc. of landlords work in terms of the Respect agenda.


A survey of current and ex-firefighters in England (www.communities.gov.uk/publications/fire/firefightersurvey2008)


Third tranche of 2007 employee survey and the production of aggregated results from the full 2007 employee survey

Senior civil service survey

Employee engagement workshops

University of York

“Housing Choices and Aspirations of Older People: Research from the New Horizons Programme” (www.communities.gov.uk/documents/housing/pdf/newhorizonsresearch.pdf)


Defence Equipment

The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. John Hutton): Since May 2008 the Ministry of Defence has been examining its equipment programme. The aims of the examination were to adapt to the rising cost of high-end defence equipment and to provide more support for current operations. The key conclusions I am announcing
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today help us meet these objectives; other aspects will be taken forward through our regular planning round, which will conclude next March.

The work to date will bring the defence equipment programme more closely into balance. Inevitably this has required a reprioritisation of investment to ensure that we deliver those capabilities of the highest immediate urgency, while continuing to invest in capabilities needed to respond to future threats. We remain committed to doing more for our people, here and on the front line—improving their support and welfare, pay, medical care, rehabilitation services and accommodation.

Support to current operations remains our highest priority. Among the top priorities of our operational commanders are the provision of the right mix of protected patrol vehicles and additional helicopter capability. The recent announcement of nearly 700 more protected patrol vehicles for Afghanistan, at a cost of over £700 million, is evidence of our commitment to meet their requirements. In addition to our core budget, the Government will continue to fund the net additional costs of operations from the Treasury reserve. Since 2001 we have received nearly £10 billion, over and above the core defence budget.

As well as the protected mobility package, we have agreed with the Treasury a budget of a further £635 million in 2009-10 for other urgent operational requirements, with any expenditure over and above that being met initially by the reserve, but repaid by the defence budget after two years.

We undertook to inform Parliament about the major decisions emerging from our examination of the equipment programme as soon as we were able to do so. The following are the key conclusions.

In May 2008 we announced the provisional selection of Piranha V, offered by General Dynamics (UK) Ltd, as the preferred design for the FRES utility vehicle. Following a period of intensive negotiations with General Dynamics to address a number of commercial issues, it became clear to both parties that it would not be possible to reach agreement on the commercial conditions required to enable further progress on the basis of the current procurement strategy. I have therefore decided that we should withdraw General Dynamics (UK)’s provisional preferred bidder status.

Our examination of the equipment programme has, separately, considered the balance of investment and priority in the army’s armoured vehicle programme. We have concluded that, in the context of current operations, and bearing in mind the considerable recent investment in protected mobility, the highest priority should now be accorded to delivering the warrior capability sustainment programme and the FRES scout vehicle as quickly as possible. Against that background, we have decided to restructure the FRES programme, giving priority to FRES scout over the FRES utility vehicle. Whilst this will mean a delay to the programme, we recognise the importance of the utility vehicle and are now looking at the best way to take this procurement forward. General Dynamics (UK) will have an opportunity to compete in any future utility vehicle competition.

We have increased the number of helicopter airframes and hours available to our commanders in Afghanistan by around 60 per cent. over the past two years, and will make a further significant increase in helicopter capacity in Afghanistan over the next two years.

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In addition to our planned battlefield helicopter procurements, we will be spending £70 million from the reserve to upgrade 12 Lynx Mark 9 helicopters with new engines, with the first aircraft available by the end of 2009. This will give commanders more helicopters able to operate effectively all year round in the hot and high altitude in Afghanistan, freeing up other aircraft for other tasks. Taken with the Chinook Mark 3 reversion, the additional planned Apache capability and the Merlins that we plan to move to Afghanistan once they have completed their mission in Iraq, this will deliver a significant increase in helicopter capability available to military commanders.

The new AgustaWestland future Lynx helicopter will provide even greater operational capability when it comes into service, as planned, in 2014.

We have concluded that there is scope for bringing more closely into line the introduction of the joint combat aircraft and the aircraft carrier. This is likely to mean delaying the in service date of the new carriers by one to two years. We are in close consultation with the Aircraft Carrier Alliance on how this might best be done. Construction is already under way and will continue, the programme will still provide stability for the core shipyard workforce, including 10,000 UK jobs.

We have also reviewed all the components of the MARS fleet auxiliary programme, and have concluded that there is scope for considering alternative approaches to its procurement which is likely to involve the deferral of the fleet tanker element.

I have also instituted a review, to be led by Bernard Gray, to examine progress with implementing reforms through the MOD’s acquisition change programme and make any further recommendations to secure better value for money in the delivery of major acquisition programmes.

Any further significant changes to the equipment programme will be announced following the conclusion of the MOD’s current planning round in March. While that work continues, I intend to control new commitments carefully to ensure we do not restrict our flexibility unnecessarily, though this will not be allowed to hold up support to current operations or our other highest priorities.

Annual Uprating War Pension Scheme

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Kevan Jones): The new rates of war pensions and allowances proposed from April 2009 are set out in the table below. The annual uprating of war pensions and allowances for 2009 will take place from the week beginning 6 April.

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War Pensions Rates
(Weekly rates unless otherwise shown)RatesRates


War Pensions

Disablement Pension (100% rates)

officer (£ per annum)



other ranks



Age allowances

40% - 50%



Over 50% but not over 70%



Over 70% but not over 90%



Over 90%



Disablement gratuity

specified minor injury (min.)



specified minor injury (max.)



unspecified minor injury (min.)



unspecified minor injury (max.)



Unemployability allowance




adult dependency increase



increase for first child



increase for subsequent children



Invalidity allowance

higher rate



middle rate



lower rate



Constant attendance allowance

exceptional rate



intermediate rate



full day rate



part-day rate



Comforts allowance

higher rate



lower rate



Mobility supplement



Allowance for lowered standard of occupation (maximum)



Therapeutic earnings limit



Exceptionally severe disablement allowance



Severe disablement occupational allowance



Clothing allowance (£ per annum)



Education allowance (£ per annum) (max)






Widow(er)s’ (other ranks)



Widow(er)-officer (£ per annum) (max)



Childless widow(er)s’ u-40 (other ranks)



Childless widow(er)s’ u-40-officer (£s per annum) (max)



Supplementary pension



Age allowance

(a) age 65 to 69



(b) age 70 to 79



(c) age 80 and over



Children’s allowance

increase for first child



increase for subsequent children



Orphan’s pension

increase for first child



increase for subsequent children



Unmarried dependant living as spouse (max)



Rent allowance (max)



Adult orphan’s pension (max)



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