§ Mr. Teddy Taylor
asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the financial provision made by his Department for the families and dependants of the 10 Scottish Territorial soldiers who were drowned during a recent exercise, and, in particular, on the circumstances in which sums have been claimed by the Army authorities from funds raised from the public to aid the dependants.
§ Mr. Robert C. Brown
The widow of a TAVR member whose death is attributable to service receives a war widow's pension from the Department of Health and Social Security. This pension, which is the same for members of the TAVR and Regular Army, is £894.40 a year for the widow of a sapper or private and £348.40 for the elder or eldest child and £296.40 for each other dependant child.
In April 1974 the Ministry of Defence introduced new benefits to members of the Reserve Forces who are killed or injured in the course of peace-time exercises or training and whose death or injury is attibutable to service. Under this scheme the Ministry of Defence pays to the widow of a TAVR member an 263W additional pension of £481 plus a further £160 a year for each of up to four dependent children. Also under this scheme the Ministry of Defence pays a gratuity to the estate of any unmarried TAVR member killed attributably. This gratuity was increased from £254.67 to £321.14 from 1st December 1975.
No member of the families concerned has been or will be asked to make any repayment whether to public or nonpublic funds, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence has made a full public statement on this matter. The Ministry of Defence has met from public funds the full costs of the funerals of the soldiers drowned. The unit concerned made temporary grants, in cases of need, from non-public funds collected specifically for the children whose fathers had died, and the trustees of a separate civil non-public fund, raised for the benefit of the families, have decided to make good these grants.