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Japanese Internment

Volume 455: debated on Wednesday 24 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many claims for compensation by British civilians interned by the Japanese have been paid under the 20 year attachment to the UK rule; how many remain to be paid; why he introduced the rule; and if he will make a statement. (117027)

It is a requirement of the Government’s ex-gratia payment scheme for former far east prisoners of war and civilian internees that claimants be able to demonstrate a close link with the UK. This was initially based on normal residence in the UK before the war. In 2001, eligibility was extended to include the birth link criterion, which it was accepted in 2006 was unlawful. The 20-year residence criterion was introduced earlier in 2006 to extend eligibility to former internees who could demonstrate that they had established a close link to the UK after the war, on the basis of residence.

As at December, the Veterans Agency had written to 916 claimants whom they identified as being potential beneficiaries under the 20-year residency criterion. 513 responses had been received and 129 awards made. In 301 cases, the claimant had advised that they were not eligible. 11 cases had been rejected for reasons other than residency (for example the claimant was not British at the time of internment). Nine cases were on hold pending a final decision and 45 others were being processed.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made with his proposal to establish a hardship fund for British civilian prisoners of the Japanese who could not be paid compensation under the 20 year rule; how many claimants fall into this category; and what investigations are being made into their cases. (117028)

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 8 January 2007, Official Report, columns 89-90W.