My right honourable friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Adam Ingram) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement:
On l August 2005, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland announced the start of the normalisation programme outlined in the Joint Declaration. Stage l of that programme will be complete by 31 July 2007 and, at that time, Operation BANNER will end. An allowances and charges package specific to the operational, security and welfare circumstances of Operation BANNER is currently in place. With the end of Operation BANNER, however, Northern Ireland will no longer be classed as an operational theatre and, as a result, there will be a number of changes to the package.
On 1 August 2007, personnel serving in Northern Ireland will commence payment of food and accommodation charges and contributions in lieu of council tax on the same basis as those elsewhere in the United Kingdom and overseas. Other provisions associated with operational status will also cease, such as operational telephone allowance, welfare entertainment, free e-blueys and the award of operational medals. Other Northern Ireland-related allowances, including: Northern Ireland resident's supplement, which is paid to all personnel serving on permanent assignment in Northern Ireland, in recognition of the impact of the security situation on them and their families; Northern Ireland journeys, which allows personnel and their accompanying families to return to Britain regularly to obtain respites from the pressures of living in Northern Ireland; and other lesser provisions will be retained for the time being, but will be kept under review as the normalisation programme progresses.