Clause 8 - Commencement

Part of Armed Forces – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am on 24th February 2004.

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Photo of Mr Ivor Caplin Mr Ivor Caplin Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Defence 10:30 am, 24th February 2004

I am happy to try to do that. I shall not deny that it is a tight programme, both in terms of completing the passage of legislation—that may not happen until October—and of implementing the new pensions arrangements. I shall focus on the pensions arrangements, because the compensation arrangements apply to everyone.

On pensions, I should repeat that it is a new scheme for new entrants. There will be an opportunity for existing members of the armed forces to exercise a choice, and we are considering the new arrangements for personnel management, which will enable that choice to be made as easily as possible. Ultimately, individuals will decide what is best for them, with their families and partners. I am confident that we can achieve the timetable that we have set out. We are already undertaking a communications process; I do not know whether it was for my benefit, but when I was in the west country a few days ago, the leaflets advertising the pensions scheme were on everyone's desks. I am pleased that they are at least being distributed. We have a communications strategy in place. Obviously, we are holding back slightly because we want it to get through some part of the legislative process—although I am not pre-empting in any way the right of both Houses to have their say on the legislation, which I regard as an important part of the parliamentary process. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I do not go into too much detail, but I can reassure him on the points that he made. Perhaps we shall have a fuller debate on the matter under new clause 8.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 8 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 9 ordered to stand part of the Bill.