HC Deb 07 November 2000 vol 356 cc159-70 3.30 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Dr. Lewis Moonie)

With permission, I should like to make a statement.

In April this year, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister held a meeting with representatives of the Royal British Legion to discuss the British groups who had been held prisoner by the Japanese during the second world war. He subsequently initiated a reconsideration of the longstanding policy of the Government towards those far eastern prisoners. The review took time to conduct because of the complexity of the issues involved, but it has now been completed.

I am very pleased to be able to inform the House that, as a result of the review, the Government have decided to make a single ex gratia payment of £10,000 to each of the surviving members of the British groups who were held prisoner by the Japanese during the second world war, in recognition of the unique circumstances of their captivity. In cases in which a person who would have been entitled to the payment has died, the surviving spouse will be entitled to receive it instead.

As hon. Members will recall, on a number of occasions in recent months, in debates in which many right hon. and hon. Members have spoken, the House has debated the situation of those who were held prisoner in the far east during the second world war. We had those debates because what happened to those prisoners was often so appalling that, for many, it has remained with them for the rest of their lives.

Many hon. Members will be aware of the stories told by now frail constituents about that terrible time, and members of the public will be familiar with the books and films about it. However, if we look back at the histories, we come across a simple, stark fact that makes clear to everyone the enormity of what happened: of the 50,016 British service personnel who were reported captured by the Japanese, 12,433 died or were killed in captivity. In other words, conditions were so bad that one in four did not survive.

We are all very thankful that such a situation did not occur anywhere else during the second world war and has not recurred since. The unique nature of Japanese captivity in the far east was recognised in the 1950s, when those who had been held became eligible for modest payments from Japanese assets, made under the provisions of the 1951 San Francisco treaty of peace with Japan. As hon. Members are aware, the maximum payment available at that time was £76 10s.

In the intervening years, the former far east prisoners pursued the issue of additional compensation with Japan. More recently, they have also campaigned for the British Government to make a payment. However, as hon. Members on both sides of the House will be well aware, it has been the policy of successive Governments over many years not to make payments in such circumstances.

We are now making an exception for the British groups that were held prisoner by the Japanese during the second world war in recognition of the unique circumstances of their collective captivity. Those who will be entitled to receive the payment are former members of Her Majesty's armed forces who were made prisoners of war, former members of the Merchant Navy who were captured and imprisoned, and British civilians who were interned. Certain other former military personnel in the colonial forces, the Indian army and the Burmese armed forces who received compensation in the 1950s under United Kingdom auspices will also be eligible. As I said earlier, in cases in which a person who would have been entitled to the payment has died, the surviving spouse will be entitled to receive it instead.

We estimate that up to 16,700 people may be eligible for the ex gratia payments, which will accordingly cost up to £167 million to make. I will not go into detail about the new payment scheme now, except to say that this single ex gratia payment will not be taxable, nor will it be taken into account for benefits purposes. We intend to make these payments as quickly as possible, although it will take a little time for the appropriate regulations to be made. We expect everything to be in place by February.

Further details of the scheme are being published today in a leaflet by the War Pensions Agency, which will be administering it. A copy will be placed in the Library of the House. The leaflet and a claim form will also be available on the agency's website.

The Government recognise that many UK citizens, both those serving in the armed forces and civilians, have had to endure great hardship at different times and in different circumstances, but the experience of those who went into captivity in the far east during the second world war was unique. We have said before that we believe the country owes a debt of honour to them. I hope that I am speaking for everyone here when I say that today something concrete has been done to recognise that debt.

Mr. Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford and Woodford Green)

On behalf of the Opposition, I wholeheartedly and without reservation welcome what is frankly a generous settlement. As the Minister knows, we support the inquiry and the settlement and there is no question but that he has our support today. I also congratulate the Royal British Legion and far east prisoners of war on conducting a dignified and successful campaign that has finally brought their case to the Government's attention and resulted in a settlement.

The Minister was clear about the appalling death rate and special circumstances that apply to all those who were Japanese prisoners of war, and on that basis we all welcome his statement today. The settlement applies to all service men, to those who served in the merchant marines as well as to civilians. That was a key area of concern and I welcome the Government's generosity.

I particularly welcome the Minister's reference to widows. There is no question but that war widows occupy a very special place in the hearts and minds of the British public for the privations that they suffered, first not knowing what had happened and then discovering the terrible circumstances under which their husbands suffered. I also welcome the generous inclusion of those who served in the ex-colonial forces—the Indian army and the Burmese forces. It is a generous gesture and quite right and proper. The fact that the settlement is not being taxed and will not affect benefits is also a welcome gesture.

This week of all weeks, it is absolutely right that the Government should make a proper and final settlement. During the war, those who served in the far east became known as the forgotten army. Sadly, after the war, they became known as the forgotten heroes. It is so right that we have remembered them today.

Dr. Moonie

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his warm words and associate myself with everything that he said. I am glad to say that this is not a party political issue. Governments of successive hue have held a consistent line on the issue for many years. I am glad to say that today we have changed that.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

This is indeed good news, including for the widows. Are we not today recognising our debt of honour to these very brave people who suffered so much? Obviously, compensation should have been paid by the Japanese; failing that, we have done our duty and rightly so. Would it not be appropriate at this stage for us to remember again all those who were held as prisoners—military and internees—who were never to return home and who suffered and died as a result of the starvation diet, the slave working conditions, the cruelty and often the torture? It would be a sad day if this country ever forgot them or forgot to honour their memory.

Dr. Moonie

I thank my hon. Friend for his kind words. He, with other Members on both sides, has played a major part in keeping the matter at the forefront of our attention. We shall take on board all that he has said about recognition.

Mr. Menzies Campbell (North-East Fife)

This has been a victory—if victory it be—for Back Benchers, and I congratulate those on both sides who have pressed the case with vigour and robustness over a long period. Does the Minister agree that, welcome though £10,000 may be, the true measure of his announcement for many of those who will receive the money will be the public recognition, albeit belated, of the terrible privations that they had to endure? I hope that that will help the recipients, if not to forget, at least more easily to come to terms with those terrible experiences.

Dr. Moonie

I entirely agree. No financial sum can be adequate compensation for what those people suffered. This token ex gratia payment will, I hope, go some way to relieving their distress.

Mr. Brian Jenkins (Tamworth)

Will my hon. Friend pass on to our Government the congratulations of my constituents, particularly ex-service men? Does he agree that we, as a civilised and decent society, should recognise all the—often young—men and women who have put their lives or health on the line for their country? Does he agree that they all deserve recognition of this nature? That said, I do not wish to spoil today's events, and I congratulate the Minister and thank the Government.

Dr. Moonie

I thank my hon. Friend. The announcement will clearly be welcome in all parts of the country, and I join him in paying tribute to all those who have given their lives or suffered for their country.

Mr. Mark Oaten (Winchester)

On behalf of the all-party group, I thank the Government for the announcement. When the Government come to organise the detail of the payments, will they consult the Royal British Legion and POW groups so that we can be sure not to miss any individual who may be entitled to claim compensation?

Dr. Moonie

I pay tribute again to the work of the all-party group on this subject. I guarantee absolutely that we shall consult all those involved to ensure that no one misses out on the payment.

Mr. Bruce George (Walsall, South)

I am delighted to participate in a rare moment of unanimity in a defence-related debate. On behalf of my constituents and the Select Committee on Defence, which I chair, and in my role as honorary adviser to the Royal British Legion, I am delighted to express my gratitude to all the Departments that participated in this welcome statement. The Government appear to have covered all possible angles of criticism by including widows, merchant seamen, civilians and those from the Commonwealth and empire who fought on our behalf.

I ask the Minister to pass on our rare collective congratulations to the many organisations that fought through all adversity and overcame every obstacle to achieve justice. Finally, and without ringing a note of disharmony, I hope that the Japanese Government are hanging their heads in shame at the fact that it was left to the British and Canadian Governments to repair the damage caused by something that was not their fault and to take the responsibility for it.

Dr. Moonie

I thank my hon. Friend. It has taken us a long time to come to this decision, largely because of its complexity and the need to ensure that all those who are properly due the payment will receive it. A lot of hard work was done by our officials, and I am happy to say that it has paid off.

Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire)

I thank and congratulate the Government, but must ask the Minister to ensure that the old and frail are not faced with filling in complicated forms before they can have the money.

Dr. Moonie

I assure the hon. Gentleman that we shall do all in our power to ensure that compensation is as simple and easy to understand as possible. I am well aware of the difficulty that elderly people have with filling in forms.

Jane Griffiths (Reading, East)

I join my hon. Friends and other hon. Members in expressing a heartfelt welcome for the statement. Many of us have hoped for such a move for a considerable time. Can the Minister confirm whether compensation for civilians who were prisoners will be paid to those who were children at the time, or whether it will apply only to their parents? Does he join me in hoping that there will be no move in the House to condemn the Japanese Government at this time? Demands have been made for an apology from the Japanese and I understand the feelings behind those demands, but at this time we should welcome the move by the British Government, and that of the Canadian Government previously, to give some—[HON. MEMBERS: "Question!"] Does my hon. Friend agree that, today, we should simply be glad that the veterans and former prisoners of war will now at last receive some compensation?

Dr. Moonie

I can confirm that all the prisoners are entitled to the payment. Of course, those who were children then are no longer children now. The position of the Japanese Government has been clearly stated and recognised in international law. They have expressed regret for what happened and, today, I think that I should leave it at that.

Mr. Roy Beggs (East Antrim)

I congratulate this Labour Government on taking a courageous decision—a decision that was deferred for far too long by successive previous Governments. In congratulating the Government and welcoming the announcements, may I ask whether the Minister agrees that the decision, which will be widely welcomed by all who were affected, would be greatly enhanced if, even at this late stage, the Japanese Government had the decency to apologise?

Dr. Moonie

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his kind words. There is little that I could say to disagree.

Mr. Denis MacShane (Rotherham)

In welcoming this announcement, for which many of us have campaigned, I must mention Arthur Titherington and Keith Martin, who have steadfastly maintained the campaign for many years. We must also have regard to the Prime Minister's victory. For 50 years, Foreign Office lawyers said that the money could not be paid, Ministry of Defence bureaucrats said that it should not be because it would set a precedent, and Treasury officials said that it must not be because it would cost money. While those wonderful people resisted the Japanese army for five years, this Labour Prime Minister has defeated Whitehall—and for that we should all give thanks.

Dr. Moonie

I am certain that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will have listened closely to my hon. Friend. Something was needed to break the logjam of many years and my right hon. Friend provided it.

Mr. Julian Brazier (Canterbury)

May I underline the comments of the Chairman of the Defence Committee, the hon. Member for Walsall, South (Mr. George), including those on the Japanese? I congratulate the Government. This announcement will be very welcome in Kent among members of the Buffs, the Royal West Kents and other elements of the armed forces who served in the far east. Finally, as the grandson of an Indian army officer, may I say how welcome are the provisions on certain members of that army?

Dr. Moonie

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his kind words. He has for some time been associated with the efforts of Labour Back Benchers in this matter and I recognise his contribution.

Mr. Gordon Marsden (Blackpool, South)

May I add my congratulations to the Government on behalf of the many far east prisoners of war in my constituency who were caught up in the surrender of Singapore, in particular Mr. Ian Mitchell and Mr. Bill Griffiths, both of whom have written moving books on the subject? On top of all the generous tributes that have rightly been paid to the Government for removing a logjam of 40 years, as has been said, this may be an occasion at least to press the Japanese Government, however gently—even if they feel incapable of offering a formal apology at the moment—to make more effort in their schools, education and curriculum to tell the truth about the second world war and the situation of those prisoners of war.

Dr. Moonie

We are well aware of the situation, and recognise what my hon. Friend says.

Mr. Martin Bell (Tatton)

On behalf of the Japanese Labour Camp Survivors Association, of which I am president, I thank the Minister for the announcement. It is a debt of honour, long overdue, paid to a band of British heroes to whom we owe so much for their service and sacrifice. As politicians generally—because this is not a party political issue—perhaps we might reproach ourselves that it has taken so long.

Dr. Moonie

I pay tribute again to the sterling work undertaken by the hon. Gentleman on this matter. After his three and a half years in this place, he will realise that it is sometimes difficult to move Governments from their chosen path—especially when the Government are trying to do that to themselves. I am happy that we have managed to succeed on this occasion.

Mr. Chris Pond (Gravesham)

May I add my thanks on behalf of many of my constituents? I also congratulate those organisations and individuals involved in the matter. I add personal thanks because my father fought in Burma and never lost the fear that he might be taken prisoner.

As we prepare for the weekend when we shall honour the dead of those wars, is this not the best way in which we can repay our debt of honour to many of those survivors who are still living, and to surviving spouses?

Dr. Moonie

It is significant that we have managed to do so at a time when we shall be returning to our constituents at the weekend to join them in remembering those who died in successive conflicts.

Mr. Patrick Nicholls (Teignbridge)

The Minister will remember our exchanges over the years on this subject. I offer my unreserved congratulations on his announcement today. The statement was comprehensive; he and his right hon. and hon. Friends are rightly to be complimented on it.

I remind the Minister of the remarks made by Members on both sides of the House—his hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) was the first to mention the matter: a Japanese Government should have been making this gesture. If the Government of Japan want to see their country join the full community of civilised nations, they will hang their heads in shame that we have had to make this gesture today.

I have a question on one detail—not to carp, but to ensure that no problem arises. After the Minister's statement today, it will inevitably take several months to see the whole matter through. Am I right to assume that the announcement refers to those survivors or widows of survivors who are alive today? Unhappily and inevitably, some of them will no longer be alive by the time the process is complete. If the Minister cannot clarify the matter now, will he write to me?

Dr. Moonie

I am happy to pay tribute to the passion with which the hon. Gentleman fought his case during several debates. I am also happy to assure him that what he says is absolutely right. All those alive today will benefit. We shall do everything in our power to make the payments as quickly as possible; we do realise that some people will die before we can make them.

Mr. John McFall (Dumbarton)

I thank the Minister for his statement. For many of my constituents who were Japanese prisoners of war, the Japanese Government's expression of regret is still not enough.

It must be recognised that, despite the Minister's modesty in pointing out that the issue is not party political, it took a Labour Government to deliver the settlement. For many of the survivors, the £10,000 is not the real point; it is the fact that they carried a psychological burden for many years and that society has now recognised the trauma that they suffered. This is a day of celebration for those former prisoners of war, because they have finally received that recognition.

Dr. Moonie

Yes, I am happy to associate myself with the remarks made by my hon. Friend about the many people who suffered during that conflict.

Mr. Dafydd Wigley (Caernarfon)

I thank the Government and I congratulate the Minister on the announcement. After hearing the graphic account of my constituent, Arthur Christie of Porthmadog, who suffered with many of his colleagues at unit 731 in Manchuria, I know why the statement was necessary; it should have been made a long time ago.

The Minister mentioned that widows alive today will all—quite rightly—benefit. Does that include widows who have subsequently remarried?

Dr. Moonie

That is the case.

Mr. Peter Bradley (The Wrekin)

The announcement is welcome not least because it is inclusive and generous and also because it is based on an ethical decision rather than on the expediency of the past.

Will my hon. Friend join me in regretting that it has taken so long? In fact, it has taken so long that my constituent, Mr. Ian Mason-Summers, who waged a long and futile battle with the War Pensions Agency for some recompense, has died. I am glad that his widow will now benefit.

Will my hon. Friend give the House a clear assurance that the Government will continue to put pressure on the Japanese Government to issue an apology to those who were subject to such persecution that we had to make this payment? For those who survived, it is a matter not of compensation but of principle. That principle demands that in due course—indeed, the sooner the better—there should be an apology from the Japanese Government.

Dr. Moonie

I am happy to give my hon. Friend the assurance that I will be bringing his views and the views of many here to the attention of my colleagues in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Mr. Edward Garnier (Harborough)

Given that a number of the far east prisoners of war will have died since the 1951 treaty of San Francisco, either unmarried or without a surviving spouse, will the Minister—I accept the generosity of his statement and congratulate him on it—consider making a payment to a suitable military charity or charities in memory of those prisoners of war and to assist with their work?

Dr. Moonie

The hon. and learned Gentleman makes an interesting point. We have managed to be generous today and to recognise the unique suffering and the unique collective experience of those who were in Japanese prisoner of war camps during the second world war.

Mr. Peter L. Pike (Burnley)

As one of those who have pursued this issue with the British Government and the Japanese Government in the past 17 years, I welcome what my hon. Friend the Minister has said this afternoon; but is it not important that we remember that, for former prisoners of war and their families, money can never compensate for what they endured in the wartime years? Should we not recognise that most of them believe that the Japanese Government should be paying the money, not the British Government, and that Japan's financial position now is very different from what it was at the time of the San Francisco agreement in 1951?

Dr. Moonie

I am happy to take full note of what my hon. Friend says.

Mr. David Rendel (Newbury)

I welcome the fact that all members of families who were interned will receive the payment, and that there will not be just one payment per family. May I bring it to the attention of the Minister that it is in the nature of such families that many have not returned to Britain or may not live here? Will he assure me that where they are living will make no difference to whether they receive the payment?

Dr. Moonie

I assure the hon. Gentleman that that is certainly the case.

Mr. Jim Murphy (Eastwood)

In welcoming this good news, may I relate to the Minister my experience of only this morning? I spoke with four constituents of mine who are survivors of the far east prisoner of war camps. When I spoke about the announcement, it was telling that not one of them asked, "How much?". What was important for them was that the statement was taking place at all. While £10,000 may change the financial position of some of the survivors, my conversations with them reinforced for me the fact that what was important was that at last a Government of whatever political persuasion had recognised their unique suffering, and for that I thank the Minister.

Dr. Moonie

I am happy to accept what my hon. Friend has said and to recognise the quiet dignity with which people have borne over many years the suffering that resulted from their captivity. We all know that money is no full recompense for that, but we have at least marked our recognition of what they went through.

Several hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. I wish to call every hon. Member who is standing. I will be helped if the questions are brief.

Mr. Nick Hawkins (Surrey Heath)

I thank the Minister and the Government for the statement. I, like the hon. Member for Gravesham (Mr. Pond), am the son of someone who was lucky enough not to be captured, but did serve in a far east theatre. May I ask for a couple of points of clarification? Will the Minister's colleagues in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office request that the money be repaid to the British taxpayers by the Japanese Government? Where someone is the surviving widow of a far east prisoner of war, will she still receive compensation even if she has remarried, perhaps after nursing her first husband for many years?

Dr. Moonie

It is not a matter of making a request to the Japanese Government. They are well aware of our views. They have been repeated many times. I am happy to say again that if someone has remarried following the death of her husband, she will still be eligible.

Mr. John Cryer (Hornchurch)

I congratulate my hon. Friend on the announcement and I hope that he accepts the congratulations of my constituents who are surviving POWs and their relatives. I have to say that the Japanese Government should be making the payments. Does my hon. Friend accept that on days such as this I realise how important it is to be a Labour Member of Parliament, because it has taken a Labour Government to make this announcement and make the payments?

Dr. Moonie

I thank my hon. Friend for his contribution and I recognise what he says on the subject.

Mrs. Jacqui Lait (Beckenham)

As the daughter of a Japanese prisoner of war, may I on behalf of my mother and my constituents, particularly the civilian internees, thank the Government for the announcement? Will the Minister clarify whether the War Pensions Agency's records on pensioners will enable it to pay the £10,000 without their even asking for a claim form? May I double-check that the £10,000 will not be taken into account under the capital rules for benefits?

Dr. Moonie

As a point of amplification, I confirm the latter point. One of the reasons it has taken so long to make the announcement is that we have had to ensure that we get the regulations watertight.

On the hon. Lady's first point, clearly, not everyone will be registered with the War Pensions Agency. Although to some of us it might appear to be a simple form, many elderly people might require help to fill out what they regard as a complicated form. I am sure that many organisations are ready to give a hand to identify all those who are entitled to the payment and to ensure that they receive help in filling out the necessary forms. We shall also ensure that additional staff are available at the War Pensions Agency to cope with the extra work.

Dr. George Turner (North-West Norfolk)

My hon. Friend the Minister will probably be aware that people from Norfolk were disproportionately represented among those imprisoned in Japan. I probably have met, know and represent disproportionately more former prisoners of war than any other Member. I therefore thank my hon. Friend wholeheartedly for this decision. However, given that the one thing that will be said almost universally about the decision is that it is late, will he ensure that, whatever computer hiccups there are, everything will be done so that, in the weeks to come, we do not have to apologise for any further delays? Will he ensure that, having made the right decision, it is followed through and payments follow rapidly?

Dr. Moonie

I am happy to give my hon. Friend that assurance, but it will take a little time to make sure that the regulations are properly in place to allow us to implement our decision. However, we shall do that with all possible expedition.

Mr. David Heath (Somerton and Frome)

I wholeheartedly welcome the Minister's announcement and thank him on behalf of my constituents, including Mr. Yerbury, who came to my surgery in Frome soon after I was elected and expressed to me in no uncertain terms just how bitterly the view that these prisoners had been ignored and perhaps actively misled by successive Governments was held.

I have one specific question. I very much welcome the extension of the provision to civilian prisoners of war, but do we have adequate records to ascertain the whereabouts of those of them who do not receive war pensions and are therefore much more difficult to trace?

Dr. Moonie

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his kind words. He has put his finger on a problem. We do not know where all these people are; it would be impossible for us to do so. Initiative will be required by the people involved or by their relatives and friends, who, I am sure, will know who might be eligible for the payments. As I said, we are happy to employ extra staff to deal with the matter and to ensure that all inquiries are properly answered. I am certain that the decision will be widely publicised, and we shall do everything that we can to ensure that everyone who is entitled to the payment receives it.

Mr. Desmond Browne (Kilmarnock and Loudoun)

On behalf of my constituents—in particular, Brian Brown, James Miller and Hugh Irvine—I thank my hon. Friend the Minister for the statement and congratulate the Government on the decision. Those constituents were former Japanese prisoners of war and they have campaigned for decades for this day; thankfully, they have lived to see it. However, will my hon. Friend take this early opportunity to lay to rest the speculation in today's press that some of the money may be creamed off the top to pay the lawyers who have represented far east prisoners of war in litigation in Japan?

Dr. Moonie

I am happy to confirm to my hon. Friend that the payments will be made to the individuals concerned and not to the lawyers.

Mr. Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley)

I thank the Minister for the announcement. Although he said that it can be only a token payment, it is more than a gesture; it is a recognition of the sacrifice that so many have made for us.

On a practical note, in the search for the former prisoners of war and their relatives, will special targeting be carried out, with the assistance of the Royal British Legion and other associations, of the nursing and residential homes where former prisoners of war and their relatives may now be?

Dr. Moonie

That is an excellent idea and we shall follow it up.

Mr. John Wilkinson (Ruislip-Northwood)

In expressing my appreciation of this thoroughly welcome announcement, may I ask to what extent Her Majesty's Government have been able to discuss the matter with the Governments and service authorities of India, Pakistan and Nepal, to identify potential recipients? People in those countries served the empire, shared the sacrifice and, as the Minister said, are equally entitled to the benefits.

Dr. Moonie

I am not sure of the exact mechanisms involved, but I assure the hon. Gentleman that we will take steps to ensure that all those people in the categories that I mentioned receive the payments for which they are eligible.

Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East)

In welcoming what the Minister said, I note that he referred to the appalling conditions in which far east prisoners of war were held. Will he confirm for the record that many thousands of people did not come back because they were deliberately executed, including several members of Her Majesty's Fleet Air Arm who were killed after the war had ended? Will he also confirm for the record that, as the late Lord Cheshire VC explained, the Japanese would have murdered all remaining prisoners of war in their captivity, but that that was pre-empted by the dropping of atom bombs? Will he also consider a small group of members of the British services who were incarcerated in Nazi concentration camps? They have not been mentioned, but they underwent similar experiences and suffered similar privations.

Dr. Moonie

I recognise that other groups suffered. Today's announcement recognises the unique collective nature of what happened in the far east, as the hon. Gentleman's remarks graphically illustrate.

Mr. Crispin Blunt (Reigate)

I hope that the Minister will be able to confirm that the payment will also apply to the widows of those who died in captivity before the end of the war. In dealing with the veterans of the Indian army who have properly been included in the statement, will he make it clear that it would be wholly unacceptable if members of the Indian army who deserted in captivity to join the Indian national army received the payment?

Dr. Moonie

I should point out that only a relatively small number of people who served in other armed forces are eligible for the payment. As for widows, we have tried to be as inclusive as possible.