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Volume 402: debated on Thursday 3 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what financial support will be made available to the dependants of those killed or injured in the conflict in Iraq; and if he will make a statement. [106245]

The Armed Forces Pension Scheme (AFPS) provides valuable occupational ill-health benefits, based on years of service and rank, where a service person is injured and medically discharged from the armed forces. If the injury is considered attributable to service, the AFPS benefits are enhanced and paid tax-free. In addition, the War Pension Scheme (WPS) pays a War Disablement Pension and may pay other associated allowances, which include recognition of carer responsibilities.Where the member dies in service from an attributable cause and leaves a widow or widower, and/or a dependant child, the AFPS benefits include a short-term family pension, equal to the service person's annual rate of pensionable pay; this is payable for up to 182 days and maintains the household income level in the early months of bereavement. In addition, a death-in-service lump sum is paid of between 1 and 1½ times the individual's representative rate of pay, and an attributable gratuity is also payable; both these are paid tax-free.Thereafter, a long-term widow's or widower's pension and, as appropriate, children's pensions are paid. Attributable widow(er)'s pensions are significantly enhanced, index-linked and paid for life, regardless of whether the widow(er) remarries or cohabits. The attributable widow's or widower's pension is 90 per cent. of the member's full career pension, less an abatement to reflect the amount by which the WPS war widow's or widower's pension exceeds the basic state widow's pension. Attributable children's pensions are also enhanced and index-linked, and are paid until age 17; they may remain in payment until a later age if higher education is undertaken. The WPS provides additional compensation for families of those service personnel whose death is attributable to their service. This includes a tax-free War Widow's or Widower's Pension.In my written statement of 20 March 2003,

Official Report, column 54WS, I announced that unmarried partners, including same sex partners, of service personnel whose death was attributable to conflict-related service would be eligible for ex-gratia benefits equivalent to those awarded to spouses under the AFPS. Partners would need to demonstrate that the relationship was substantial. However, the policy change is not retrospective with respect to deaths occurring before 20 March and does not affect the WPS, which already has its own rules regarding unmarried partners.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether his Department has issued to the media (a) television footage and (b) still photographs of Iraqis taken prisoner by coalition forces in the invasion of Iraq. [106419]

A very limited amount of television footage of Iraqi's taken prisoner, which was taken by the services' mobile news teams, has been issued to the media. We have also made some selected still photographs available.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Iraqi prisoners of war have been taken in the conflict; and how many (a) were injured and (b) are being cared for by coalition doctors. [106959]

United Kingdom forces are holding approximately 5,000 Iraqi prisoners of war. On 2 April 2003, 37 prisoners were being treated by UK military medical personnel. Of these, 35 had sustained battle related injuries and two were being treated for non-battle related illnesses.Information on other prisoners of war is a matter for the coalition member holding them.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Iraqi civilians have been (a) injured and (b) killed as a result of the conflict; and of those killed, how many have been buried. [106960]

We have made very clear our commitment to the welfare and future of the people of Iraq, and deeply regret any civilian casualties resulting from coalition action. However, it is impossible to know for sure how many civilians have been injured, or killed and subsequently buried. Figures presented by the Iraqi regime are likely to be inflated or distorted for propaganda purposes, and may include civilians injured or killed by Iraq's own forces.