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

I am sure that the Minister's officials will be delighted that he is going to check on their scheme. I am sure that will endear him to them.

If what the Minister thinks to be the case is the case, then he makes the point for us. If the existing civil service scheme provides for less than 662/3 per cent. and the new one provides 662/3 per cent., then there should be parity for the armed forces. However, I am grateful for his offer, which is helpful.

The Minister said that the starting age for qualification for pension entitlement will be 18. We accept that, but it does not obviate the fact that few people will be able to qualify for the full 662/3 per cent.

He defends that on the grounds that today's armed forces acquire skills that have a transferability value into other employment. I am sure that he is right. Our servicemen and women have always acquired skills over the years that in most cases make them attractive to future employers. However, that arrangement was patchy in the past and will continue to be so. There will be some who do frightfully well and some who do not. It is rather like ex-Members of this place. As a former Labour Member of Parliament said to me, ''There is nothing as ex as an ex-MP.'' Some do very well and command huge fees for after-dinner speeches; others do not do so well. The question is where to strike the balance.