On 9 March 2006, Official Report, column 961, I announced the settlement package for the Royal Irish (Home Service) (R IRISH (HS)) personnel being discharged as a result of the normalisation process in Northern Ireland. Included within the settlement package was an alternative to redundancy; a taxable £10,000 engagement bounty offer to all those eligible R IRISH (HS) personnel who wished to transfer, and are accepted for a general service engagement in the wider army. We had anticipated that around 250 such personnel would take the opportunity to continue with their military career in the army, but, to date, only a handful of the R IRISH (HS) personnel are in the process of being accepted into general service army.
I very much meant what I said back in March that I was eager for as many home service personnel as possible to take the opportunity to continue with their military career in the armed forces.
As a result, I am announcing today a one-off increase to the general service engagement bounty to a taxable £20,000. This decision to increase the bounty was taken in order to encourage more eligible R IRISH (HS) personnel to opt for transfer, rather than redundancy.