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Veterans' Travel

Volume 564: debated on Monday 17 June 2013

We try to be responsive and innovative in thinking about how we repay the debt we owe to our veterans. An example is the recently revamped defence discount service, which covers discounted holidays and travel. Other direct support includes reduced rate air travel, via the South Atlantic air bridge, for Falkland Islands veterans.

I am sure the whole House supports the need to do more to give our armed services personnel and veterans the ability to travel. It is commonplace in America for US personnel to get priority boarding at their airports. Would the Minister support a similar scheme here and encourage British airlines to offer Her Majesty’s armed services personnel priority boarding rights in British airports?

As someone who flew Ryanair from Stansted over the bank holiday weekend recently, I am in favour in principle of just about anything that gets people on to aircraft more efficiently. The hon. Gentleman’s idea could be worth looking at, but he and the House might be interested to know that the MOD has been having much broader discussions with business and industry about how they can do a range of things for the armed forces community under the auspices of the armed forces covenant, and we hope to have something to say about that in the relatively near future.

Last week, I visited the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington DC and picked up a copy of a book, “Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependants and Survivors”. Is my right hon. Friend willing to meet me to discuss producing a similar directory and potentially a website?

I, too, have been to the States and met people in the Department of Veterans Affairs. It is important to remember that the Americans have a different way of doing it from us, because they do not have a national health service model. Nevertheless, the VA has a high profile in the United States—higher than the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency has in the United Kingdom. I would like to raise the latter’s profile so that more veterans and members of the public know what we do for the veterans’ community, and I am happy to meet my hon. Friend to talk about precisely that.