Press Notice 09, Session 2006-07

22 January 2007

PASC hears from Minister for Veterans on former civilian internees in the Far East

PASC - the Public Administration Select Committee - is taking evidence from Derek Twigg MP, the Minister for Veterans, at 10.00am on Thursday 25 January in the Grimond Room, Portcullis House.

The Committee will be hearing from Mr Twigg to find out how a scheme to recognize the suffering of former civilian internees resulted in findings of maladministration, and government defeat in the courts, to discuss who is now eligible for the payments, and to find out what lessons have been learned.

The Government introduced an ex-gratia scheme in November 2000.  In July 2005, the government rejected the Ombudsman's findings that the introduction of a “blood link” criterion had been maladministration, since it had meant that applications received after this was introduced were treated differently from those beforehand.  (The “bloodlink” was the requirements that the applicant, or a parent or grandparent had to have been born in the United Kingdom)  The MoD only realised that the Ombudsman had been correct when officials were preparing for a hearing on the case before PASC. The Government was also forced to admit the scheme was indirectly discriminatory in the courts, and the Court of Appeal found that there was no justification for the blood link.  The scheme has since been revised so that twenty years’ residence in the United Kingdom is required to qualify.

FURTHER INFORMATION:

The Committee was nominated on 13 July 2005. Its terms of reference are to examine the reports of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsmen, and to consider matters relating to the quality and standards of administration provided by Civil Service departments, and other matters relating to the Civil Service. The Membership of the Committee is as follows:

Tony Wright (Chairman) (Lab) (Cannock Chase), Mr David Burrowes (Con) (Enfield, Southgate), Paul Flynn (Lab) (Newport West), David Heyes (Lab) (Ashton under Lyne), Kelvin Hopkins (Lab) (Luton North), Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger (Con) (Bridgewater), Julie Morgan (Lab) (Cardiff North), Mr Gordon Prentice (Lab) (Pendle), Paul Rowen (Lib Dem) (Rochdale), Grant Shapps (Con) (Welwyn Hatfield), Jenny Willott (Lib Dem) (Cardiff Central)

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