New clause 8 - Transition arrangements

Part of Armed Forces (Pensions and Compensation) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:45 pm on 24th February 2004.

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Photo of Mr Ivor Caplin Mr Ivor Caplin Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Defence 4:45 pm, 24th February 2004

I know that this is difficult for members of the Committee to believe, given how IT systems develop, but I said that we have people working on a programme, not working on a system. I make that distinction for the record. The work to identify the appropriate system is in hand, and there are people working on it. This is a huge issue.

There are other, similar systems; we are not trying to re-invent the wheel. We have obviously considered the civil service scheme, which went before us, so we are not re-inventing the processes. I believe that that is acceptable.

The hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I do not commit myself to a date on which to report to Parliament on an IT system. I recall that Ministers over the years, going back over successive Governments, have fallen foul of that, so I shall learn the lessons of my predecessors, not just at the Ministry of Defence, but at other Departments. My hon. Friends are clear about the fact that we do not need these four new clauses and I shall ask them to resist the proposals if the hon. Gentleman does not see fit to withdraw them.

I want to clarify for the Committee a point that was raised in an earlier sitting. I can confirm that all changes to the pension scheme rules will be made by statutory instrument and will therefore be subject to the negative resolution procedure, which we discussed on the last full day on which we sat a couple of weeks ago. On that basis, I invite my hon. Friends to resist the new clauses if they are pressed to a Division.