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Iraq: Locally Engaged Staff Assistance Scheme

Volume 515: debated on Thursday 16 September 2010

In his statement of 23 March 2009, Official Report, columns 4-6WS, the former Foreign Secretary informed the House that the element of the ex gratia Iraq locally employed staff assistance scheme which applied to former employees would close on 19 May 2009 and that employing Departments and the Home Office would continue to review the scheme as applied to serving staff

Serving staff are those Iraqi staff employed on or after 8 August 2007. Former staff are those Iraqi staff whose employment terminated on or before 7 August 2007.

Together with my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Home Affairs, Defence and International Development, I have now reviewed the operation of the scheme, as it applies to serving staff.

Eligible serving staff, as defined under the scheme, are entitled to apply for either a financial package or resettlement in the UK. Over 250 serving staff have chosen the financial package. To date, 117 principal applicants and 241 dependants have been resettled via the scheme for serving staff

With the draw-down of the UK defence presence in Iraq, the Ministry of Defence no longer employs any Iraqi staff and their numbers accounted for the largest proportion of applicants under the scheme. As a result of this, in view of the declining rate of applications and the stabilisation of the security situation in Iraq, we consider that the time is right to close the scheme to new applications from serving staff. From today, only applications from serving staff who will qualify for either financial or resettlement benefits under the scheme on 12:00 noon Arabian standard time on 16 October 2010 and, thus, will have attained 12 month’ continuous service by this date, will continue to be accepted. Further, such applications will cease to be accepted from 12:00 noon Arabian standard time on 16 January 2011.

Recently, there have been inquiries as to whether staff who received financial packages under the LESAS scheme are entitled to apply to switch to the resettlement option. We will permit those staff who accepted the financial package under either the scheme for former or serving staff to apply, in writing, for consideration for resettlement instead. The deadline for an application is 12:00 noon Arabian standard time on 16 November 2010. We will not consider applications: (a) received after that deadline; (b) from an individual who has previously been refused resettlement under either the schemes for former or serving employees; or (c) from an individual who has not repaid the financial package within eight weeks of applying for resettlement. A successful applicant will need to meet all the criteria for resettlement under the relevant scheme. Should an applicant be refused resettlement, they will be repaid the financial package. It should be noted that the now closed scheme for former employees had a cap of 600 places, with some places unfilled at the time of closure. So, applications to switch under that scheme will be subject to that cap.

We shall work with our missions in Iraq to ensure that full publicity is given to the closure of this scheme in the local media.

In conclusion, I must reinforce the enormous debt of gratitude we owe to our Iraqi staff for the dedication and commitment they have demonstrated across the board. We could not have made our contribution to the rebuilding of Iraq without their service and, in some cases, sacrifice. The scheme was designed to reflect this debt and I am pleased that it proved popular and effective.