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Written Statements

Tuesday 29 July 2014

House of Lords: Tabling Questions for Written Answer


The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): It has been agreed through the usual channels that the three dates for tabling Questions for Written Answer during the Summer Recess this year will be Monday 1 September, Monday 8 September and Monday 6 October.

Answers to Written Questions will be made available online once a week and an edition of Hansard will be published on 29 September in which Answers received by that time will be published together with Written Ministerial Statements.

Military Medals


The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): The Prime Minister appointed Sir John Holmes in April 2012 to conduct an independent review of the policy governing the award of military medals. He issued his report in July 2012, which concluded that the existing guiding principles were reasonably based but that there should be greater readiness to review past decisions. Sir John was therefore commissioned to review independently a number of cases which had been brought to his attention as possible candidates for changed medallic recognition. The aim was to draw a definitive line under issues which in some cases had been controversial for many years, ensuring that consistency and fairness were respected as far as possible, in a context where the judgments are often difficult, but need to be clear and defensible.

This substantial and complex piece of work is now complete. Each of the reviews has been subject to detailed discussion by the Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals and its conclusions submitted for Royal approval. All will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

The outcomes where detailed reviews were carried out are listed in the Annexe to this statement. Where medallic recognition has been agreed, the Ministry of Defence will issue guidance on how individual claims may be submitted.

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Sir John also reviewed the case for a National Defence Medal. An options paper produced by the Cabinet Office will also be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals is not persuaded that a strong enough case can be made at this time, but has advised that this issue might usefully be reconsidered in the future. In such circumstances, the criteria for the award of a medal would need careful consideration, including length of service, good conduct and the possibility of retrospection. In the meantime, Ministers have agreed that the eligibility requirements for the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, which is currently awarded only to other ranks and not to officers, should be harmonised for the future.

Taxation: Childcare


The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): The Government has today published ‘Tax-Free Childcare: the government’s response to the consultation on childcare account provision’ – a response to the further consultation on the delivery of childcare accounts within the Tax-Free Childcare scheme. The document is available at www.gov.uk/government/consultations/tax-free-childcare-consultation-on-childcare-account-provision, and copies have been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.

The government has carefully considered the responses to this consultation alongside the responses to the previous consultation, and the evidence on all of the options. The government’s decision is that National Savings and Investment (NS&I) will be the scheme’s account provider, working in partnership with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

As announced in the March 2014 document “Delivering Tax-Free Childcare: the government’s response to the consultation on design and operation”, the government is committed to introducing Tax-Free Childcare in autumn 2015 and the scheme will be rolled out to all families with children under the age of 12 within the first year.

The Tax-Free Childcare scheme was announced at Budget 2013, and will be available to up to 1.9 million working families, providing 20% support for childcare costs up to £10,000 per year for each child. As such, it will be worth up to £2,000 per child per year.

Parents will qualify for the scheme if all parents in a household are in work, with income less than £150,000 a year, and are not already receiving support through tax credits or Universal Credit.