To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the arrangements for families of military personnel serving overseas to send gifts and receive telephone calls during the Christmas period, including those personnel not from the United Kingdom. [HL5212]
There are comprehensive arrangements in place to ensure that service personnel serving overseas can communicate with their families over the Christmas period. All personnel who qualify for the Deployment Welfare Package have a weekly allowance of 30 minutes’ free telephone calls to anywhere in the world throughout the year. Over the Christmas period this allowance is doubled to 60 minutes and over the past two years, the allowance has been further supplemented by an additional 30 minutes donated by the telephone provider, Paradigm, for those on operations. With regard to mail, the Enduring Families Free Mail Service enables friends and families to send packages of up to 2kg in weight out to operational theatres throughout the year. The British Forces Post Office also runs a free package service out to other remote BFPO addresses for the month running up to Christmas. Additionally most deployed personnel are able to access both the internet and the e-Bluey electronic mail system.