AN05 EX GRATIA PAYMENTS BY THE UK, CANADA AND NEW ZEALAND | Compensation and Support Reference Library, Advisory Notes, 2001

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AN05 EX GRATIA PAYMENTS BY THE UK, CANADA AND NEW ZEALAND

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Advisory from Disability Compensation Branch

No 5 of 2001


This is an advisory note only.  It is not a Repatriation Commission Guideline or a Departmental Instruction.   The advice is not intended to conflict with any information that may be made by the respective Governments concerned. All veterans must be encouraged to satisfy themselves on any details of these matters. Nevertheless it represents a considered view that should be taken into account by all departmental staff when providing information.

Ex Gratia Payments

by the United Kingdom,

Canada and New Zealand

Surviving ex PoWs of the Japanese

and

Surviving spouses

Following on the announcement by Canada both the United Kingdom the New Zealand governments have announced similar payments. Canada is paying surviving ex PoW(J)s an amount of up to C$ 28 000, based on the days spent in captivity. The UK is making an ex gratia payment of UK 10 000 pounds to British survivors, and surviving spouses, who were held prisoner by the Japanese during the Second World War, as PoWs or civilians.  New Zealand is paying an amount of NZ$30 000 to surviving ex PoW(J)s, civilian internees and surviving spouses of both groups.

UK announcement

2On 7 November 2000, the Under Secretary of State at the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence, Dr Lewis Moonie, announced that in recognition of the

'unique circumstances of their captivity, the British Government has decided to make a single ex-gratia payment of 10 000 pounds to the surviving members of the British Groups were held prisoner by the Japanese during the Second World War.'

3In a statement to the House of Commons, Dr Moonie also indicated that where a person who would have been entitled to this payment has died, their surviving spouse will be entitled to receive the payment instead.

4It is understood that the British Government has decided that it had a moral responsibility to make these payments.  The estimated cost of this initiative is 100 million pounds, indicating payments to 10 000 veterans, civilians and their surviving spouses, but not to other relatives.

5Of the 50 016 British military personnel taken captive by the Japanese, 12 433 died or were killed in captivity.

Persons Eligible for Payment

6There are five categories of people who are entitled to make a claim for this ex gratia payment.  These are:

  1. surviving former members of HM Armed Forces who were held as Japanese prisoners of war in the Far East during the Second World War;
  2. surviving former service personnel who received payments after the Treaty of Peace with Japan in 1951.  These were certain members of the then colonial forces, Indian Army and Burmese Armed Forces;
  3. surviving members of the Merchant Navy who were imprisoned by the Japanese in the Far East during the second World War.  For the purposes of this scheme, a member of the Merchant Navy is a person who has been employed, or engaged as, or for service as, a mariner in a British ship;
  4. surviving British civilians who were interned by the Japanese in the Far East during the Second World War; and
  5. the surviving widow or widower of a person who would otherwise have been entitled under category a, b,c, or d above, providing they were still married at the time of death.

Claiming payment

7The ex-gratia payments will be administered by the War Pensions

Agency (WPA), which is part of the Department of Social Security based at Blackpool.  The WPA has introduced arrangements in order to deal with these payments and has published a leaflet about the new scheme, which includes details on how to lodge a claim. Please advise any British veterans who are seeking advice on the UK gratuity for British veterans to contact the WPA in Britain.

8.There are some British veterans who have contacted Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) State Offices for advice on this UK gratuity for British Veterans.  DVA is not providing any service to the British PoWs in Australia so they can access this gratuity from the British government.  Those British PoWs who require further information and assistance should be referred to the British War Pensions Agency (WPA).  Further relevant information on this ex gratia payment and a claim form can be accessed at WPA website on www.dss.gov.uk/wpa/index/htm.  Alternatively the WPA can be contacted by telephone, for those calling from overseas on + 44 1253 866043, for those calling from within the UK the Freeline number is 0800 169 22 77.

Canada

9.Canada made their announcement in late 2000.  In Canada's case the bulk of their PoW(J)s were captured in Hong Kong in 1942/43 and were then used in Japanese factories.  Few other Canadian elements were involved in the Pacific theatre.  Accordingly the Canadian government decide to pay on the basis of the days spent in captivity and multiply that by the rate of pay they would have received if Japan had paid them ordinary worker's wages. That set the maximum amount at C$ 28 000.  Veterans and spouses who were surviving at the time of the announcement would get that or a pro rata amount depending on the length of captivity of the veteran.

10.Claims need to be directed to the Canadian Embassy in Canberra or direct to the Department of Veterans' Affairs (Departement du Anciens Combatants), Charlotte, Prince Edward Island, Canada.

New Zealand

11.In recognition of the unique circumstances of their captivity, the New Zealand Government announced on 23 April 2001 that it is to make a single ex-gratia payment of NZ $30,000 to the surviving members of the New Zealand groups who were held prisoner by the Japanese during the World War II.

12.There are five categories of person who are entitled to make a claim for this ex-gratia payment. These are:

  • surviving former members of the New Zealand Armed Forces who were held as Japanese prisoners of war during the World War ll;
  • surviving members of the Merchant Navy who were imprisoned by the Japanese during World War ll.  For the purposes of this scheme, a member of the Merchant Navy is a person who has been employed, or engaged, for service as a mariner on a New Zealand ship;
  • surviving Coast Watchers or Radio Operators who were imprisoned by the Japanese during the World War ll;
  • surviving civilians who are New Zealand citizens and who were New Zealand citizens when interned by the Japanese during the World War ll; or
  • the surviving widow(s) or widower(s) of a person who would otherwise have been entitled under one of the categories outlined above.  Including the Coast Watchers and Radio Operators who were executed in Kiribati.

13.To claim a veteran needs to complete a claim form, which can be obtained by:

  • telephoning 0800 483 8372
  • faxing 04 495 2080
  • writing to Ex-Gratia Payment, Office of Veterans' Affairs, HQ NZDF, Private Bag, Wellington
  • sending an e-mail to veterans@xtra.co.nz

Australian PoW response

14.Since World War 2, successive Australian Governments have acknowledged the debt that Australia owes to ex-PoWs, especially those of the Japanese.  Over the years policies have been developed and steps taken to compensate veterans who were subjected to harsh and brutal treatment at the hands of their captors.  Successive Australian Governments have recognised the special circumstances of former PoWs and have compensated them by ensuring that their ongoing needs are met.  For example, the government pays all nursing home fees regardless of means testing, former PoWs receive a Gold Card, which provides them with medical treatment of all conditions at the Department's expense.  Special provisions are in place to accept conditions such as ulcers, hepatitis B, anxiety state and psychiatric depression as war caused disabilities for the purposes of disability pension.

15.The Australian Repatriation system and the British systems are very different.  In Australia, the Department of Veterans' Affairs exclusively caters for the care, compensation and commemoration of veterans of Australia's Defence Force and their families.  While in Britain, compensation for war veterans is within the general welfare system.  In addition, the Australian system is more generous with respect to determining compensation claims. For example, the standard of proof for PoWs is based on the reverse criminal standard; that is the Commission must have legal reasonable doubt that there is no connection to service.  With respect to widows, automatic grants of war widow's pension are made to the widows of former PoWs and, unlike the UK, war widows do not lose their pension on remarriage.

16Media reports have speculated on a similar ex gratia payment of

$25 000 to Australian ex PoW(J)s.  At this time no announcement has been made and the reports can neither be confirmed nor denied.  Further advice will be provided when any announcement is made.

John R Douglas

Disability Compensation Branch

30 April 2001