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Volume 540: debated on Monday 20 February 2012

13. What recent progress has been made by the independent review into granting a medal to the Arctic convoy veterans; and if he will make a statement. (95292)

The Government have agreed that there should be a fresh review of the rules governing the award of military medals. It will be conducted by an independent reviewer with full consultation with interested parties. The terms of reference and further details will be released shortly.

I am grateful to the Minister for that response, but I am not entirely happy with it. The veterans endured the most unimaginable hardships to protect this country during the second world war. Given that many of them are now in their late 80s and early 90s, does the Minister agree that it is imperative to be quick? We need to know when the review will be concluded.

We all owe a huge debt to those of our fathers’ and grandfathers’ generation who gave up their youth in the service of this country to keep it and the world free from fascism. In the context of my hon. Friend’s question, that particularly applies to those who endured astonishingly awful conditions in the Arctic, and I pay tribute to them for their courage and resilience.

Medals are not awarded by me, and it is quite right that there is to be an independent review that will not be led by the Ministry of Defence. I share my hon. Friend’s concern, but I can assure her that I am told that it will be a swift review and will take place shortly.

18. Does the Minister agree that the review should be open, should consult widely and should be conducted outside the oversight of the MOD? (95300)

As I have just said, the review is not being led by the MOD. I understand that it will be able to consult widely, and I look forward to seeing the terms of reference and details shortly. It is not being led by the MOD, so it is not up to us to determine exactly when it will happen.

I do not know who is on the independent review, because it is not being led by the Ministry of Defence.