HC Deb 27 January 1949 vol 460 cc1080-1
8. General Sir George Jeffreys

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations whether he is aware of the dissatisfaction caused amongst former officers of the Indian Army by the proposal to reduce pensions secured under the Indian Military Service Family Pension Fund to dependants of subscribers who are still living; and whether he will ensure that all dependants of subscribers to the fund are granted the full rates of pensions to which they are entitled under the scheme.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

The Indian Military Service Family Pension Fund is self-supporting, and the rates of pension payable are necessarily limited by the resources of the fund. The rules, therefore, provide that these rates may be varied from time to time, as the state of the fund requires. After the first world war, the rates of interest then current were so high that the benefits were increased to 50 per cent. above the level originally laid down. The reductions now proposed result from the fact that those who receive the benefits live longer than they used to.

Sir G. Jeffreys

Does not this scheme guarantee to those who contribute to it certain benefits, and is it honest to refuse those benefits, especially at a time like this when all the dependants of those formerly in the Indian Government Service are particularly embarrassed? Is the attitude of the Treasury one of "heads I win, tails you lose."

Mr. Noel-Baker

No, Sir. When the fund prospers, the Treasury does not gain at all; the members of the fund get the benefit. Therefore, when the fund prospers a little less, I cannot see that I should be allowed to come to this House and ask for a vote of money. The reductions which are now proposed will leave the rates 25 per cent. higher than those originally provided.

Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre

Is it not a fact that the reason why this cut has been made is due to amounts of capital of this fund being invested in industries now nationalised; and is this not a perfect example of the injustice done to individuals by the compensation terms of the Government?

Mr. Noel-Baker

I could not admit any of those propositions.

Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre

Is the Minister aware that a few months ago he gave me a list of the investments held by this fund, and that a very considerable proportion of the capital is in industries which have been nationalised?

Mr. Fernyhough

Could the Minister say how these weekly pensions compare with Old Age Pensions?

Mr. Godfrey Nicholson

Does not it follow that the need for this fund will lapse in the course of time? In view of that fact, are steps being taken under actuarial supervision to distribute any of that capital?

Mr. Noel-Baker

All this is being done after most careful actuarial examination. If I am right, the fund will not lapse for a good many years to come.