Clause 3 - Accrued rights

Part of Armed Forces(Pensions and Compensation) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:45 pm on 10th February 2004.

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Photo of Gerald Howarth Gerald Howarth Shadow Minister (Defence) 4:45 pm, 10th February 2004

At least that is an explanation. The Minister says that the clause is designed to protect scheme members from the diminution of their entitlements. The existing scheme will be subject to reduced benefits by virtue of it being succeeded by the new scheme, in which the benefits will be comparatively less favourable. As for choice, I suppose the Minister will say that members need not be consulted about that modification because they will ultimately be able to choose. However, if the new scheme is subsequently amended in a way that would adversely affect scheme members, there would be a requirement to modify. I put it to the Minister that, under my understanding of the procedure that I tried

to explain, the legislation simply leads us back to clause 1, which states:

''The Secretary of State may by order establish schemes''.

We are back to square one. If individuals refuse consent in accordance with clause 3(1)(a), the Secretary of State can modify the scheme ''in the prescribed manner'', which means exercising the absolute power that he would have under clause 1. In that way, he can circumvent any opposition that there might be to changes, if consent is withheld, by applying the consultation requirements in clause 3(1)(a).