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18 Jun 2009 : Column WA219

Written Answers

Thursday 18 June 2009

Afghanistan

Question

Asked by Lord Judd

Lord Brett: Civilian and military co-operation is vital to the success of the international effort in Afghanistan. Staff from the Department for International Development (DfID), the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) work together in the Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) to deliver the activities guided by the Helmand road map, a shared single plan of action. The joint effort of the PRT has ensured that significant progress has been made to meet the needs of the local population and build the capacity and capability of the Afghanistan Government to deliver security, governance and development to the people of Helmand.

Armed Forces: Compensation Scheme

Question

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): We have no plans to change the burden of proof, nor remove the time limit for claims made under the Armed Forces compensation scheme.

The standard of proof used in the Armed Forces compensation scheme is based on the balance of probabilities. This is the accepted approach in other schemes, such as the criminal injuries compensation scheme, and in the civil courts. No case should fail where there is reasonable, reliable evidence that injury is due to service and the department is not aware of any examples to date of anyone who deserves an award being denied it due to the burden of proof.

The Service Personnel Command Paper, The Nation's Commitment: Cross-Government Support to Our Armed Forces, Their families and Veterans, laid out our commitment to double the tax-free lump sum for the most serious injuries, raising the maximum lump sum payment to £570,000. All recipients, according to the

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severity of their injuries, were entitled to an uplift of between 10 and 100 per cent in their upfront lump sum payment. Together with the index-linked, tax-free, annual guaranteed payment, this means the maximum total compensation is now in excess of £1.5 million. All those who have received awards since the start of the scheme in 2005 have benefited from these changes, and all additional payments have now been actioned and paid, meeting the April 2009 deadline.

Armed Forces: Severely Wounded

Question

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The majority of personnel who suffer serious injuries, including those who do not return to full fitness, who wish to continue in-service are able to do so, provided that there are worthwhile military roles for them to fulfil. Such cases will continue to receive treatment and rehabilitation from the Defence Medical Services (DMS) for as long as they remain in the Armed Forces.

In those cases where a decision has to be taken medically to discharge an individual, the specific DMS team which has been caring for that individual will begin a liaison with appropriate civilian healthcare providers (eg the general practitioner, primary care trust, civilian mental health team or NHS trust) to ensure the transfer of care and the patient's records takes place. In addition, we have specialist health social workers who manage the individual's wider resettlement issues, liaising with relevant civil agencies such as local housing authorities, financial authorities, service welfare and charitable organisations with the aim of ensuring that the individual's transfer into the civilian environment is as smooth and as seamless as possible.

In particular, arrangements have been put in place to ensure that amputees who have been fitted with high-quality prosthetics while in service will continue to receive the same level of limb-fitting support from the NHS when the individual leaves the service, be it on medical discharge or after completion of their engagement. MoD and UK health departments have agreed protocols to ensure the transfer of clinical care and financial responsibility from the MoD to the NHS.

Since 1953, when Ministry of Pensions hospitals were transferred to the NHS, war pensioners, and more recently recipients of Armed Forces compensation scheme awards, have been entitled to receive priority treatment at NHS hospitals for conditions accepted as due to service, subject to clinical need. In 2007, this entitlement was extended to all veterans who are assessed

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by their GP to have a condition related to their military service. War pensioners under both schemes may also be entitled to other benefits including free NHS prescriptions and aids or appliances if they are prescribed for the accepted disablement.

For veterans who may develop a mental health condition after their discharge, we are currently piloting new models of community-based mental healthcare that will address assessment and treatment of veterans' mental health problems in the long term. The pilots are NHS-led and reflect NHS best practice. Two-year pilots are running at six NHS sites in England, Scotland and Wales. Evaluation of the pilot areas is now under way, and if they prove successful will be rolled out across the UK.

In the interim, for areas not yet involved in the pilots, veterans with operational service after 1982 who are concerned about their mental health can attend our medical assessment programme (MAP) based at St Thomas's Hospital, London. The MAP offers assessment by an expert in mental health issues in military service and will include, where appropriate, a recommendation to the individual and their GP for treatment. MoD also provides assessment and treatment for demobilised reservists with operational service since 2003 following an overseas operational deployment as a reservist, and who believes that the deployment may have adversely affected their mental health. Details are available at the following link: http://www.army.mod.uk/welfare-support/family/13672.aspx. MoD is also the major donor to the charity Combat Stress, which offers care to ex-service personnel suffering from service-related post-traumatic stress disorder.

Civil Service: Performance Pay

Question

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

The Minister for Economic Competitiveness and Small Business (Baroness Vadera): I provided a breakdown for senior civil servants’ performance-related pay in my Answer to the noble Lord on 8 June 2009 (Official Report, col. WA116).

Constitutional Renewal Bill

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): We anticipate that the Constitutional Renewal Bill will be introduced before the Summer Recess for carry over into the next parliamentary Session.

In addition, the Government intend to bring forward a Bill to create an Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority before the House rises for the summer.

Counterterrorism

Questions

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The United Kingdom's strategy for countering international terrorism set out details of government spending on counterterrorism and intelligence. It is forecast to rise from £2.5 billion in 2008-09 to £3.5 billion in 2010-11. This budget is wider than just expenditure on the Government's counterterrorism strategy, CONTEST.

Breaking down this budget by specific counterterrorism and intelligence activities, beyond what is published already, would reveal our capabilities and details of the security and intelligence agencies’ spending. It has been the policy of successive governments not to reveal these details.

The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure is funded from the Single Intelligence Account (SIA) which carries the budget provision for all three security and intelligence agencies (the Security Service, SIS and GCHQ). Detailed breakdowns showing the division of funding between the three agencies are not published for security reasons.

However, some information is already made publicly available. This includes:

£1.2 billion e-Borders system which has screened over 80 million passengers travelling to the UK, using data received from approximately 105 carriers on over 185 routes;

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assistance worth £4.7 million was approved in 2008 and focused on overseas aviation and maritime security;£5 million for 2009-10 to support regional and local delivery of work in England and Wales to improve the protection of crowded places as set out in the Government's consultation document Working Together to Protect Crowded Places; and£2.7 million for the period 2007-08 to 2008-09 to increase the size of the National Barrier Asset.

More than £1.5 million in 2008-09 to support additional counterterrorist security advisers posts.

Asked by Baroness Neville-Jones

Lord West of Spithead: The single security and intelligence budget, which includes government spending on counterterrorism and intelligence, was announced as part of the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review. It is forecast to rise from £2.5 billion in 2008-09 to £3.5 billion in 2010-11. The new version of the United Kingdom's strategy for countering international terrorism will be delivered within this envelope.

Breaking down this budget by specific counterterrorism and intelligence activities, beyond what is published already, would reveal our capabilities and details of the security and intelligence agencies spending. It has been the policy of successive governments not to reveal these details.

Cycling

Questions

Asked by Lord Berkeley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The department implemented the cycle-to-work scheme on 2 June 2008.

Asked by Lord Berkeley

The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): There is no mandatory requirement for local highway authorities to undertake cycle audits. Highway authorities have a duty to ensure that new road schemes are safe for all users, and it is for them to determine whether a cycle audit is required to achieve this.



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Cyprus: Property

Questions

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

Lord Brett: The travel advice on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website (www.fco.gov.uk) advises those contemplating buying property in Cyprus to proceed with caution and to seek qualified legal advice from a source that is independent from anyone else involved in the transaction. It refers to the problems with obtaining title deeds and the risks which this causes.

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

Lord Brett: The issue of whether or not to prosecute individuals who have retained title deeds after completion of property sales in Cyprus to UK and other European citizens is a matter of Cypriot law and therefore a decision for the Cypriot authorities.

Economic Partnership Agreements: ACP Countries

Question

Asked by The Earl of Sandwich

Lord Brett: The following 41 African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries have not as yet signed an economic partnership agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU):

Gabon, Republic of Congo-(Brazzaville), the Cook Islands, Tonga, Marshall Islands, Niue, Micronesia, Palau, Nauru, Nigeria, Central African Republic, DR Congo, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome, Djibouti,

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Eritrea, Ethiopia, Malawi, Somalia, Sudan, East Timor, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo and Angola.

The Department for International Development's (DfID) assistance is not linked to signing of EPAs. However, DfID provides significant support through such measures as aid for trade to help ACP countries, as well as other developing countries, to increase their trading capacity and to help them integrate further into regional and global markets.

Embryology

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that at all inspections, the authority's inspectors are required to check that there is a procedure in place to ensure that embryos are not cultured for longer than 14 days or after the appearance of the primitive streak.



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