Defence Questions: 16th December 2013

Mrs Moon
My Bridgend council recently added to its military covenant a recognition of the service of the nuclear test veterans and called for the development of a fund for those veterans and their descendants in times of need. The idea was put forward by Councillor David White, whose father died when he was four, as he had been at Christmas Island and was one of the nuclear test veterans. What steps will the Ministry of Defence take to give that additional support and recognition to nuclear test veterans?

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Anna Soubry)
This is a somewhat complicated subject, and certainly one of some controversy. I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Basildon and Billericay (Mr Baron) recently secured a debate on the subject. At the moment, the Government have no intention of setting up such a fund. We believe that the existing provision is there. Again, I am more than happy to have a discussion with the hon. Lady to explain what I think is the very good case that the Government make on the matter.
Fiona Bruce (Congleton) (Con)
T3. As we approach the end of combat operations in Afghanistan, support for armed forces veterans will become more important than ever. What action is my hon. Friend taking to ensure that veterans charities benefit from LIBOR fines funding? [901507]
Anna Soubry
We are very much aware that, as a result of withdrawal from Afghanistan, there is a concern that a number of our charities might not get the sort of generous support we have seen from the public by way ​of financial donation. That is one of the reasons why the LIBOR funding is so important. I am delighted that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced that an extra £10 million will be available from 2015 each year for the next 25 years.




Andrew Selous (South West Bedfordshire) (Con)
T4. I strongly welcome the improvements already made to the care of veterans, but do Ministers agree with the Prime Minister that more can be done in this area? Do they also agree that the Chavasse report written by Professor Tim Briggs, which has the support of the surgeon-general and others, points the way ​forward to even better care of veterans and reservists through better co-operation with the NHS and Defence Medical Services? [901510]

Anna Soubry
I pay tribute to my hon. Friend, because I know that Professor Tim Briggs is his constituent, and that is why he so ably puts forward this report, which of course has much merit. Professor Briggs has met the surgeon-general, and we look forward to the report bearing fruit in due course.




Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) (Lab)
T6. Press reports suggest the Prime Minister is increasing support for armed forces children in schools, which is, of course, welcome, but today’s armed forces covenant report says that “the need for more comprehensive, affordable childcare…needs to be addressed.”What does the Department propose to do about that? [901512]

Anna Soubry
Our child-care proposals in any event are providing the sort of support that one would hope for. Again, I believe there is an understanding at the local level and that, as the covenant rolls out, people will understand that they are making a commitment when they sign it. I believe we will see progress on this.

Mark Pawsey (Rugby) (Con)
Earlier this year, the Royal British Legion was unable to secure a road closure for Armed Forces day in the village of Bulkington in my constituency. However, the good news is that that will be achieved next year, following the adoption of the community covenant by authorities across Warwickshire. What can be done to ensure that common sense prevails in such situations in future?

Anna Soubry
There is the community covenant, but I would be more than happy to make a phone call if it might help in any way.




Tom Greatrex (Rutherglen and Hamilton West) (Lab/Co-op)
In written answers to parliamentary questions, the Government have said that they have had 10,000 applications for Arctic Star medals, of which 4,000 have now been processed. One of my constituents is the daughter of such a veteran who is seriously unwell. I am grateful to Ministers for expediting her application, but I ask them to do everything they can for other next of kin in a similar position to make sure that veterans get the recognition that they deserve?
Anna Soubry
Absolutely. As all my predecessors have said, if any hon. Member has any difficulty at all, they should write to me and we will make sure that we speed up the process. If hon. Members have any difficulty they should contact the Minister—at the moment, it happens to be me—and we will do everything we can to speed that up, because that is very important.