We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Armed Forces Pay

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 19th December 2011.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Jon Ashworth Jon Ashworth Opposition Whip (Commons) 2:30 pm, 19th December 2011

What recent discussions he has had on armed forces pay; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Philip Hammond Philip Hammond The Secretary of State for Defence

I provided oral evidence to the Armed Forces Pay Review Body on 13 December. The discussion covered various aspects of the current remuneration package for members of the armed forces, as well as the broader economic context.

Photo of Jon Ashworth Jon Ashworth Opposition Whip (Commons)

I thank the Secretary of State for his answer. He will, of course, be aware that the pay freeze and changes to pensions are causing some concern, perhaps even anger in some quarters, not least among non-commissioned officers. Does he have any concerns in that regard, and does he have any contingencies in place should the changes to pensions and the pay freeze lead to an exodus of experienced personnel?

Photo of Philip Hammond Philip Hammond The Secretary of State for Defence

The Government recognise the unique and important role played by the armed forces, which is why we doubled the operational allowance to £5,280 tax free, why the incremental pay system will continue during and after the pay freeze, and why we have exempted the armed forces from the average 3% increase in pension contributions that public sector workers will pay. I recognise the concern that the hon. Gentleman expresses, and I have discussed it with the Armed Forces Pay Review Body. The proposals that the Chancellor announced in the autumn statement for continued pay restraint after the freeze include flexibility for the Ministry of Defence to address specific problem areas if we find we are losing, or failing to recruit, specialist staff.

Photo of David Nuttall David Nuttall Conservative, Bury North

What does my right hon. Friend think will be the effect on the morale of our armed forces personnel of their pay being frozen this year, while many people on benefits are being given a 5.2% increase?

Photo of Philip Hammond Philip Hammond The Secretary of State for Defence

My hon. Friend will recognise that by doubling the operational allowance for the armed forces, exempting them from the pension contributions increase and continuing the incremental pay system, we have sent a very important signal to them about the importance that we attach to them. I think that most members of the armed forces understand that we are facing some very tough decisions in order to get the MOD budget back on track and ensure a sustainable future for our armed forces, and that the restraint was necessary to achieve that.

Photo of Kevan Jones Kevan Jones Shadow Minister (Defence)

Frozen pay, reduction in the pension and compulsory redundancies: can the Secretary of State explain how that squares with the Prime Minister’s statement in The Sun this morning that he intends to uphold the military covenant and support our servicemen and women?

Photo of Philip Hammond Philip Hammond The Secretary of State for Defence

I think that the hon. Gentleman was a member of the last Government, so he will be very clear about the scale of the financial problem that the MOD and the wider public sector face. The armed forces are playing their role in helping to correct the deficit and get this country back on track.

Photo of Philip Hollobone Philip Hollobone Conservative, Kettering

What discussions has my right hon. Friend had with the Department for Education about financial incentives to encourage retiring service personnel to take up teaching as a career, in order to get some self-respect and discipline taught to our young people in schools?

Photo of Philip Hammond Philip Hammond The Secretary of State for Defence

My hon. Friend will know that the Secretary of State for Education has announced the “troops to teachers” scheme. Work is ongoing to put the flesh on the bones of that proposal, and an announcement will be made in due course.