HC Deb 13 November 2001 vol 374 c630W
Mr. Swayne

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the Veterans task force meeting held on 7 November. [13766]

Dr. Moonie

At the first meeting of the task force on 6 November, my ministerial colleagues from other Departments with an interest in veterans issues, representatives from the veterans' community and I agreed terms of reference committing us to making our policy development and services responsive to the reasonable needs and concerns of veterans. We agreed a vision focusing on the key themes of partnership, identity, recognition, education and care, and agreed a cross-government action plan to take these themes forward. This work is being undertaken in partnership with experts from veterans organisations and will include reviews of resettlement for the most vulnerable of those discharged from the armed forces, of the educational material on veterans and their achievements provided for Key Stage 3 of the national curriculum and of ways in which we might improve the effectiveness of our communications with veterans. Ministers also agreed to review their relevant public service agreements to identify those in which there was a significant and discrete veterans problem that merited action in its own right. Particular areas to be considered were focused on the most vulnerable and included the levels of service-related problems among the prison population, among marital breakdowns and among the unemployed. Deadlines have been set for action plan work items, and overall progress with the initiative will be considered at the next meeting of the task force in May 2002.

I consider that the task force agreements represent substantial progress towards achieving our objective of raising the profile of veterans' issues in Government and more widely across the nation, and of improving the delivery of benefits to veterans, particularly the most vulnerable.

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