New clause 19 - Full career pension

Part of Armed Forces (Pensions and Compensation) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:15 am on 26th February 2004.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Gerald Howarth Gerald Howarth Shadow Minister (Defence) 10:15 am, 26th February 2004

The hon. Gentleman makes an extremely good point. It will be interesting to see whether the Minister proposes that. I suspect that he will not.

The employee is compensated in other schemes with the same constraints. For example, the parliamentary scheme has a very fast accrual rate throughout to deal with this issue. The police scheme has an accelerated accrual rate in the last 10 years of service. The proposed police scheme has an exceptional lump sum of four times the pension. Other schemes grant additional years at the end of service. The employer, in this case the Government, restricts their employees' pension earning capability.

At 55, the employee has very limited prospects for continuing to earn a second pension of comparable value. Obviously some people will qualify, but many will not. The employer, again the Government, has a duty of care, which they should recognise. By selling our servicemen short, the Minister has abrogated this responsibility. The number of servicemen who continue to serve until they are 55 is very small and amounts to fewer than 5 per cent. of the total. These are people who have committed almost all their working life to their country. This is one of the greatest flaws of the new scheme, and it does not stand easily with the Government's sentiment that we have the best armed forces in the world when we withhold

from them an entitlement to earn a full career salary by a significant margin. Despite what the Minister said on the first day of our proceedings, I hope that he will reconsider the issue.