§ 33. Mr. Gardiner
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps the Government are taking to improve service welfare telephone allowances. 
§ Mr. Spellar
We recognise the importance of personnel deployed on operations being able to telephone home. We increased the free telephone allowance from 3 to 10 minutes in the Strategic Defence Review last year. The previous Secretary of State for Defence, Lord Robertson, announced on 28 September 1999 a further increase, doubling the allowance to 20 minutes a week. This was to take immediate effect and demonstrated our commitment to the welfare of Service personnel.