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Volume 300: debated on Wednesday 12 November 1997

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what measures he is taking to compensate those Territorial Army personnel deployed in Bosnia to whom backpay is still owed. [15332]

Contrary to recent media reports, there is no endemic or general problem affecting the pay of mobilised TA personnel serving in Bosnia. Mobilised TA personnel are treated as Regular Army for pay purposes and as such were not affected by the separate problems unfortunately experienced by their non-mobilised TA colleagues, which arose from an unforeseen backlog caused by the transfer of work to the Army Personnel Centre (APC) in Glasgow.I regret that isolated problems have, however, affected the pay and allowances of a limited number of mobilised TA personnel. These stemmed mainly from incomplete or incorrect mobilisation documentation, particularly during early mobilisation exercises. Individual cases have been dealt with as they have arisen, and the Army very much regrets any difficulty caused to affected personnel or their families. I can assure the hon. Gentlemen that affected individuals have had access, as a temporary measure, to financial assistance from their Units until the underlying problems could be resolved.Because such problems affect individuals in different ways, there can be no automatic mechanisms or all-embracing compensation package. But any individual who has incurred additional expense, such as bank overdraft charges, as a result of pay problems not of their making may apply for reimbursement, subject to the provision of supporting documentary evidence. Claims should be sent to the Pay Division of the APC through the appropriate Regimental Administrative Office.As a result of the experience gained and lessons learned from these cases, such problems have been largely overcome. Also in the light of this experience, active consideration is being given by the APC—in conjunction with other parties involved in the mobilisation process—to the formation of a permanent mobilisation centre manned with staff experienced in such procedures. The aim is to ensure that there is a more focused approach in order to minimise the occurrence of initial errors which can have serious implications for pay and other matters.