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Armed Forces: Joint Strike Fighter

Lord Luke asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): Yes.

Armed Forces: Life Insurance

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The MoD provides a good death in service benefits from the Armed Forces Pension Scheme and compensation for injury in service through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. Commercial insurance is for those requiring additional cover. MoD cannot advise individuals whether to take out insurance or on the effectiveness of particular schemes as such matters are regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

In the run up to Operation TELIC, insurance companies did react to what they saw as the increased risk to Service personnel. Usually this was by closing their schemes to new applicants, or by increasing premiums. Some did, however, change benefits for existing policyholders deployed on operations by, for example, excluding cover for death caused by the use of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons. These were commercial decisions made by companies. Consequently, members of such schemes

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who were already on operations, or about to deploy on operations, were disadvantaged. In response to this, the MoD developed, and launched, a new life insurance scheme called Service Life Insurance (SLI). The SLI scheme, under a unique partnering arrangement with the scheme providers, guarantees worldwide war and terrorism cover, regardless of an individual's likelihood of operational deployment. There are no exclusions for death caused by the use of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons.

Armed Forces: Manpower

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The Royal Navy is expected to achieve manning balance during financial year 2009-10, while the Army is not expected to achieve manning balance before January 2010. Current forecasts estimate that the RAF will reach manning balance by 1 April 2008.

Armed Forces: War Pensions

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): One consolatory payment of £500 has been made by the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency, or its predecessors, to the dependants of war pensioners who have died since serving in the 1990-91 Gulf War and other recent deployments. However records in respect of these payments are only kept from 1997 to date.

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): I can confirm that appeal rights will not be undermined as a result of the Government's proposals. There will be no loss of independence or dilution of expertise.



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The 2007 Act puts in place a two-tier structure for most jurisdictions: a first-tier tribunal and an upper tribunal. The Government propose that existing judges and members of the Pensions Appeal Tribunal will transfer to the first-tier tribunal, where they will continue to hear war pensions appeals.

While under the 2007 Act judges and members of the new tribunals will be able to sit in any of the jurisdictions to which they are assigned, chamber presidents will decide how best to use the judges' and members within a chamber in order to match their experience and expertise to the needs of the chamber. Only those with the necessary training and expertise will be allowed to hear war pensions appeals.

The Government are also proposing to extend appeal rights by providing a new onward right of appeal from the first-tier tribunal to the upper tribunal in respect of assessment cases. At present the only remedy is judicial review.

The Government are currently consulting on these proposals and we welcome comments from all interested parties, including the ex-service organisations. The consultation document, Transforming Tribunals, is available on the Ministry of Justice website at www.justice.gov.uk/publications/cp3007.htm. The consultation closes on 22 February 2008.

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Transforming Tribunals consultation began on 28 November and will end on 22 February 2008. The Government welcome and will consider carefully representations from all interested parties, including ex-service organisations.

Lord Craig of Radley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: I can confirm that appeal rights will not be undermined as a result of the Government's proposals. There will be no loss of independence or dilution of expertise.

The 2007 Act puts in place a two-tier structure for most jurisdictions: a first-tier tribunal and an upper tribunal. The Government propose that existing

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judges and members of the Pensions Appeal Tribunal in England and Wales will transfer to the first-tier tribunal, where they will continue to hear war pensions appeals.

While under the 2007 Act judges and members of the new tribunals will be able to sit in any of the jurisdictions to which they are assigned, chamber presidents will decide how best to use the judges and members within a chamber in order to match their experience and expertise to the needs of the chamber. Only those with the necessary training and expertise will be allowed to hear war pensions appeals.

The Government are also proposing to extend appeal rights by providing a new onward right of appeal from the first-tier tribunal to the upper tribunal in respect of assessment cases. At present the only remedy is judicial review.

The Government are currently consulting on these proposals and we welcome comments from all interested parties, including the ex-service organisations. The consultation document, Transforming Tribunals, is available at on the Ministry of Justice website at www.justice.gov.uk/publications/cp3007.htm. The consultation closes on 22 February 2008.

BBC: Queen

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: Within the framework of the royal charter, the BBC is an independent body and operational decisions are the responsibility of the BBC.

Benefits: Reimbursed Costs

Baroness Thomas of Winchester asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): It is not possible to estimate costs for the measures suggested owing to the lack of data.

Reasonable expenses paid to a customer who is engaged in volunteer activity of this kind can be wholly disregarded. Any expenses relating directly to paid activity can only be disregarded if they are wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred in the performance of the work being undertaken. Each case is considered on its merits.

The rules try to strike a balance between providing incentives for those who are ready to return to employment, security for those who are unable to work, and fair treatment and support for those who can take limited steps towards work.

We are aware of the difficulties these rules may pose for some of our disabled customers. We are reviewing the rules in question and expect to make an announcement in the new year.

British Coal Compensation

Lord Lofthouse of Pontefract asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Our understanding is that the Legal Complaints Service (LSC) has received 2,884 complaints to date, of which 2,038 have been closed. Of this 2,038, 1,051 have resulted in payments in excess of £720,000 being recovered for former miners or their relatives. 987 matters were closed due to reasons such as the complainant resolving the matter with the solicitor without LCS assistance, the complaint being outside the LCS jurisdiction; i.e. the complaint was against a union, or the complainant not responding.

The LCS has recently completed a number of pilot information sessions for former miners in Kevin Barron MP’s Rother Valley constituency. This has resulted in a further 330 complaints. Consideration is being given to extending this initiative to other areas. The LCS has a meeting with the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform in mid-December and my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Bridget Prentice) in early January to discuss the next steps.

Lord Lofthouse of Pontefract asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office & Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Lord Jones of Birmingham): The department received 592,000 chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) claims, of which 103,564, (17 per cent) are yet to be settled by payment, denial or withdrawal. The department also received 170,000 vibration white finger claims, of which 8,453 (5 per cent) are yet to be settled by payment, denial or withdrawal.

The department anticipates that around 300 VWF claims may still be outstanding by April 2008 and a similar position for COPD claims in spring 2009.

Lord Lofthouse of Pontefract asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Jones of Birmingham: The department's administrative costs cannot be broken down by scheme. However, the total administrative cost for the coal health compensation schemes as at 31 October 2007 is £524 million. This covers the costs of the department's contractors and external legal advice.

The additional costs with respect to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and vibration white finger claims as at 31 October 2007 is shown below:

CostCOPD (in billion)VWF (in billion)

Compensation to Claimants + CRU

£2.2

£1.7

Claimants' Representatives

£0.972

£0.151

Medical

£0.387

£0.33

Children and Adoption Act

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Children and Adoption Act 2006 received Royal Assent on 21 June 2006. The courts' ability to make contact activity directions and conditions, enforcement orders and orders requiring an individual to pay compensation in respect of financial loss are all dependent on the full implementation of Part 1 of the Act.

The provisions in Part 1 relating to family assistance orders and risk assessments (Sections 6 and 7 of the 2006 Act) were implemented from 1 October

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2007. The Government will shortly be making a Written Ministerial Statement outlining the timetable for implementation of the remaining provisions in Part 1 of the Act, including those relating to contact activities, enforcement and compensation for financial loss.


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