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The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Derek Twigg) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The Armed Forces compensation scheme has been in force now for just over a year and a half. As is sensible with any new scheme, we have conducted an evaluation of its operation in the first year and to identify any emerging issues. The evaluation is now complete and copies of the report are available in the Library of the House as well as on the MoD and Veterans Agency websites. The findings show some positive outcomes from the first year, such as simpler, speedier arrangements for claimants and internal dispute procedures that result in fewer cases settled by appeal to the Pensions Appeal Tribunals. The issues identified, such as continuing to raise awareness of the scheme, will be taken forward by officials. The report recommends a fuller assessment of the Armed Forces compensation scheme after five years of operation.
I am pleased to announce that light dues rates and the tonnage threshold will remain the same for 2007-08. It is a tribute to the continuing efficiency gains of the GLAs that rates have not increased in 14 years.
Last year, light dues were cut by 4p per tonne, representing a 10 per cent reduction. I welcomed the industry's assurance at that time that the accepted rates could rise in the future should the General Lighthouse Fund not be able to meet the cost of essential major capital projects.
It is a significant achievement that two major projects are well under waythe redevelopment of the Commissioners of Irish Lights depot at Dun Laoghaire and the brand new GLA ships that will come into service later this year. These ongoing improvements will continue to ensure that the GLAs provide the best possible service to merchant ships in UK and Irish coastal waters.
The Greater London Authority (GLA) transport grant for 2007-08 has today been determined by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport at £2,520.5 million, following consultation with the Mayor of London. This is a block resource grant provided by the Government to Transport for London (TfL) to support and improve transport services in London, including London Underground.
This grant determination is based on the Governments five-year settlement for TfL of £2,544 million, which was announced in July 2004, and includes a further £10.5 million for road safety partnership funding in London. Thirty-four million pounds of capital funding, which was included in the five-year settlement, will now be paid to TfL through a separate grant.
The GLA transport grant for 2006-07 has also been redetermined by my right honourable friend at £2,390.305 million. This redetermination increases the Governments grant this year to TfL by £1.305 million, reflecting additional funding for scoping work to make TfLs Oyster estate inter-operable with ITSO smart cards of Oyster on national rail and TfLs urban bus challenge projects in 2006-07.
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