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Service Personnel

Volume 455: debated on Tuesday 16 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what provision there is for (a) free and (b) subsidised access to (i) television, (ii) satellite television, (iii) internet and (iv) telephones for personnel in each of the services when (A) on operations abroad and (B) in their home base; and if he will make a statement. (115145)

The Ministry of Defence does not usually subsidise telephone, television or internet for Service personnel while serving in Great Britain. Televisions in communal areas on bases are free but these are usually provided by non-public funds. Televisions in private and Service-provided accommodation have to be licensed and provided by the individuals (except in substitute single service accommodation). New single accommodation facilities are wired for satellite and internet but individuals pays their own subscriptions. Telephones in all accommodation are privately funded except in substitute single service accommodation where the line rental and any telephone equipment rental costs are reimbursed to the occupant.

Service personnel overseas, either permanently based abroad or on operations, are entitled, where practical, to receive at no cost British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) radio and television. Internet and telephones are privately funded.

While deployed on operations overseas the provision of welfare facilities is dependent on location. The MOD operational welfare package includes the provision of welfare telephones and 30 minutes of free calls per person per week to anywhere in the world. In addition free e-mail and internet access as well as British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) television and radio broadcasts may be provided. Furthermore, televisions, radios, DVD players, DVDs and video games may be available at no cost to the individual.

Free internet and e-mail access during working hours is available at family centres to keep families in contact with their spouses when serving away from home. Some units also have funded an internet cafe where PCs, or access to WiFi, are non-publicly funded but usage has to be paid for by the individual.