HC Deb 03 February 1949 vol 460 cc1805-6
1. Mr. A. R. W. Low

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations if officers of the Indian Army who have subscribed to the Indian Military Service Family Pension Fund for varying periods of not less than 34 years have just been informed that future family pensions from the transferred section of the fund are to be reduced by 10 per cent. with the possibility of a future 10 per cent. reduction; and if he will take steps to see that this reduction is not made.

The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker)

As I explained in answer to the hon. and gallant Member for Petersfield (Sir G. Jeffreys) a week ago, the Indian Military Service Family Pension Fund is self-supporting, and the rates of pension payable are, therefore, necessarily limited by the resources of the fund. I greatly regret that a reduction in the rates should now be required, but I am glad to tell the hon. Member that after this reductions has been made the rates will still be substantially higher than those originally laid down.

Mr. Low

Is it not most unfortunate that this reduction should have happened to these people at a time when the £ has lost value; and will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that the fund is kept under constant review so that in future, if rates of interest allow, the amount of pension can again be increased?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Yes, Sir, I agree that it is most unfortunate that any reduction should be made at any time. I will certainly keep the fund under review.

Mr. Godfrey Nicholson

Can the right hon. Gentleman answer the question I asked the other day: What arrangement is made about the ultimate fate of the capital held by this fund, owing to the fact that the need for the fund will gradually dwindle away; and cannot some of the capital be used now?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Yes, Sir, I hope that it can be in due course, but the actuaries tell us that we must look forward to the fund having an existence of many years still, and the reductions now required are due to the fact that the pensioners are living longer. Therefore, I think that it would be rash to look forward to using the capital on a large scale now.