Service Men (Pensions)

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th June 1988.

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Photo of Andrew Mitchell Andrew Mitchell , Gedling 12:00 am, 28th June 1988

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when service men will be able to purchase additional voluntary contributions for pension purposes.

Photo of Mr Roger Freeman Mr Roger Freeman , Kettering

Facilities for service men to make additional voluntary contributions to enhance pension benefits in particular categories have been available from earlier this year. Action is in hand to extend the range and scope of those facilities as far and as quickly as is practicable.

Photo of Andrew Mitchell Andrew Mitchell , Gedling

Does my hon. Friend accept that his answer will be widely welcomed in the armed forces, not only because it will maintain the quality of the pension, as is the case in civilian life, but because it will be especially good for morale? It will also help in the matter of retention.

Photo of Mr Roger Freeman Mr Roger Freeman , Kettering

I agree that the armed forces pension scheme is excellent. It costs the taxpayer £1 billion a year and enables a service man after, for example, 22 years' service to retire with an immediate and indexed pension. That must contribute to the excellent morale of our armed forces.

Photo of Mr Michael Stern Mr Michael Stern , Bristol North West

Has my hon. Friend learnt from the experience of other Government Departments that in the coming year there is scope for improving the arrangements for members of the armed forces to take up additional voluntary contributions? Does he agree that the need for flexibility in pension provision—however good the armed services pension scheme—is one of the great advances, especially for the armed forces, of the Social Security Act 1986?

Photo of Mr Roger Freeman Mr Roger Freeman , Kettering

I agree with my hon. Friend. It was not just the 1986 Act but the 1987 Act that made provision for additional voluntary contributions, both free-standing and in-house, for service men and, indeed, for civilians. I confirm that we are making rapid progress on completing the introduction of facilities for additional voluntary contributions for pensions for service men.