Armed Forces Pay

Part of Opposition Day - [4TH Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 1:43 pm on 1st November 2017.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Stewart McDonald Stewart McDonald Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Defence) 1:43 pm, 1st November 2017

The right hon. Gentleman makes an interesting point, and I look forward, as always, to hearing his contribution. To be fair to Members on the Opposition Benches, I do not think that anyone has said that this is just about pay. In fact, we had a very thorough debate earlier this week on flexible working, when many other issues were also addressed. I see that his colleague, the hon. Member for Burton, is nodding in agreement. [Interruption.] I understand what the motion is about. He is shouting from a sedentary position, but if he allows me to make a little more progress, perhaps he will hear what else I have to say on what might be stopping Scottish people joining the armed forces.

Colonel Kemp, who took command of UK forces in Afghanistan in 2003, has criticised the Government’s reliance on outsourcing with Capita, which in 2012 took over regular and reservist Army recruitment in a contract valued at around £44 million over 10 years. That seemed to cause a bit of a bun fight across the two Front Benches. I ask Government Members, and the Government Whip, the hon. Member for Burton, who seems determined to shout me down at every turn, why will they not heed the advice of a report part-authored by one of their own colleagues, the right hon. Member for Rayleigh and Wickford, which recommended in July this year that the Government should accelerate work on an alternative to the Capita contract? That thoughtful recommendation, which we support, was set out in a report part-authored by a Government Member.

I want briefly to mention pensions, because that is another area. I note that Sir Mike Penning has now left the Chamber, having asked me to talk about other areas, which is a shame. It is well known that the Ministry of Defence is working on a new joiners offer, which I would like to hear more about. On pensions, I would be grateful if the Minister confirmed that the Ministry is working on new joiners offer arrangements. If so, how does that square with the promise, given a few years ago, that pension arrangements were safe for 25 years? Will any new scheme apply only to those joining after a particular date, or will the cut be retrospectively applied to those currently serving?