§ The Countess of Mar
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they are aware of a "loose minute", dated 6 March 1996, headed "Attributable Benefits for Reservists" and signed by J. C. Robbs, and whether in the light of this minute, they can explain why no action appears to have been taken to rectify the anomaly in Army Rules at the time and why only three awards under this scheme have been made to members of the Territorial Army who were called to serve in Operation Granby and who are now ill as a result of that service; and
Whether they will place in the Library of the House of Lords a copy of the instructions to be issued to all Territorial Army Units detailing the correct procedure for medical discharge of members of the TA who are ill or have been injured as a result of service and are deemed no longer fit to serve, and of their entitlement to Attributable Benefits for Reservists; and
By what date they intend to have contacted approximately 420 Gulf Veterans in receipt of War 102WA Pensions who may be entitled to benefit under the Attributable Benefits for Reservists Scheme and by what date they anticipate their awards will be processed.
§ The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert)
Attributable invaliding benefits may be paid to members of the Reserve Forces under Part 6 of the Army Pensions Warrant 1977. Under the terms of this Warrant, entitlement is limited to reservists who have been medically discharged on account of a disability which has subsequently been accepted by the Department of Social Security in the context of the War Pensions Scheme as being attributable to their military service. Similar benefits exist for Royal Navy and Royal Air Force reservists.
The Ministry of Defence has received a number of representations from Gulf veterans about their entitlement to invaliding benefits under these provisions. Claimants have questioned the status of members of the Reserve Forces for the purpose of determining eligibility under the rules; the circumstances and regularity of their discharges; and the attributability of particular disabling conditions to service.
In two specific cases it was found that a defect in the drafting of the rules of eligibility in the Army Pensions Warrant was preventing recognition of entitlement in their particular circumstances. This was the anomaly identified in the document dated 6 March 1996 to which the noble Lady refers. It was corrected when the Warrant was amended in July 1996. So far, no other cases have been found which were affected by this anomaly.
The Ministry of Defence is currently reviewing the rules and regulations which were in place at the time of the Gulf War in respect of medical discharges and entitlement to receive invaliding benefits. New guidance on these matters will be issued to all units in due course. This new guidance will also be published more widely and will be placed in the Library of the House.
In consultation with the Department of Social Security, the Ministry of Defence is also attempting to identify any cases relating to Gulf veterans where a potential entitlement to attributable invaliding benefits may have been overlooked. It is not possible at this stage to determine how long this process will take. Once identified, any such cases will, of course, be dealt with as quickly as possible.