North peer hits out over delays to injured veterans' compensation claims

Labour's Jeremy Beecham has called the situation "shameful" and criticisms come as Rory Stewart MP stands down from Veterans Review

Lewis Arnold Former council leader Lord Beecham at Newcastle Civic Centre
Former council leader Lord Beecham at Newcastle Civic Centre

A North peer has accused the Government of letting veterans from the region down as it emerges there is a backlog in compensation claims.

Labour’s Jeremy Beecham said the Government is showing a “shameful” lack of commitment to former soldiers and urged the Coalition to take action.

It comes as it is revealed the Ministry of Defence is dealing with serious delays in getting compensation to injured veterans.

One veterans’ group has said waiting times for claimants has increased from 82 days in 2010 to 219 days.

The Tyneside politician has also spoken of his disappointment that Cumbrian Tory MP Rory Stewart is no longer responsible for the Veterans Review.

Lord Beecham had spoken out about the issue of veterans becoming involved in crime after they leave the forces and had suggested creating special veterans’ courts to address ex-soldiers’ specific problems.

However, Mr Stewart, Conservative MP for Penrith and the Borders, insisted veterans are still a priority for the Government.

Lord Beecham said: “The Government is not doing enough to honour the military covenant.

“Little or no progress has been made on the issue of ex-service personnel who get into trouble with the law since I raised the matter and proposed the idea of veterans’ courts.

“Rory Stewart had begun to take matters forward but has been replaced after being belatedly appointed to look into this and allied concerns.

“And now we have the revelation of huge delays in dealing with compensation claims which the Government insultingly describes as reflecting a compensation culture on the part of men and women who may risk their lives in the course of serving their country.”

Mr Stewart said he only stood down from the Veterans Review because of his appointment to the Defence Select Committee, and said his successor, Stephen Phillips MP, is experienced and passionate about the issues.

He said: “I’m pretty confident his report will be making some important recommendations on how to help veterans in the criminal justice system.”

He added the Government was treating the backlog in compensation claims as an urgent issue.

He said: “I think any backlog is terrible for the people involved but especially in relation to veterans who risked their lives for our country.

“We must be absolutely sure they are looked after to the very best of our ability - we have a moral obligation to do that.”

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