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Forces Benevolent Funds

Volume 202: debated on Thursday 23 January 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will request the service benevolent funds to report to him on the use they have made of funds donated to the Gulf trust that were passed to them; and if he will place copies of the reports in the Library;(2) how much money donated to the Gulf trust by the public was allocated by him to each of the service benevolent funds.

The service benevolent funds are meeting claims arising from the Gulf conflict by payments made to them from the Gulf trust fund; so far, over £600,000 has been distributed. Final allocations to the service benevolent funds of moneys donated to the Gulf trust will take place when the Gulf trust is formally wound up; this is planned for February 1993. It is not the practice for the service benevolent funds to release details of how they have dealt with individual cases.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will bring forward proposals to lessen the difference in levels of payment from Government Departments and the forces benevolent funds received by members of the forces who sustain similar injuries whilst serving in (a) the Falklands war, (b) the Gulf war and (c) in Northern Ireland.

No. Particular account was taken of the experience of operating the South Atlantic fund when establishing the Gulf trust. The main aim was to provide for the long-term relief of the physical and mental distress and financial needs of those who suffered as a result of the Gulf conflict, and we are satisfied that the Gulf trust, working through the service benevolent funds, provides the best and most effective way of meeting that aim.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what conditions were laid down by him for the use of Gulf trust money by the service benevolent funds; and if the money can be paid to anyone other than members of the forces who participated in the Gulf war or their families.

The deed of trust for the Gulf trust prescribes that moneys must be used to meet the financial needs of the beneficiaries and for the relief of sickness, distress or any other physical or mental disability, arising from the involvement of the Armed Forces in military and other operations relating to or in connection with the Gulf conflict. Potential beneficiaries are limited to members of the Armed Forces involved in the Gulf conflict; civilian personnel attached to or accompanying the Armed Forces in the Gulf conflict; and their respective dependants.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many complaints he has received from members of the forces who served in the Gulf, their families or their representatives, regarding the distribution of money given by the public to the Gulf trust; and what was the nature of the complaints.

A small number of representations has been made to the Department about the use of Gulf trust money. It would be inappropriate to comment on individual cases.