New clause 19 - Full career pension

Part of Armed Forces (Pensions and Compensation) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am on 26th February 2004.

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Photo of Gerald Howarth Gerald Howarth Shadow Minister (Defence) 10:30 am, 26th February 2004

That is entirely fair and I accept that. It still means that few will qualify for the full 662/3 per cent., but the case has been made.

The hon. Member for Falkirk, West made an extremely useful contribution by making it clear that because of the need to maintain the youthfulness of the armed forces—particularly the Army, which is the biggest employer—the accrual rate operates more swiftly in the early years than later on. He made the point that the AVCs that the Minister said would be available for people to buy were not as worth while as perhaps they might be.

It is still an unsatisfactory state of affairs, but there is not much point in pressing the new clause to a Division because I would not win the vote. We argued the case forcefully both on day one and today. The Minister will not fully convince us, or the beneficiaries of the scheme, that his proposal is the best way to deal with the problem. However, I recognise that the cost-neutrality corset into which all the aspects of the new scheme have to be fitted means that Ministers have to make difficult decisions. This is one of them. I suggest that we think again and perhaps consider whether the parliamentary scheme or one of the other schemes that I mentioned might provide a solution. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.