HC Deb 26 June 1963 vol 679 cc1325-6
23. Mr. Wade

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty how much pension is now received for herself and one child by the widow of a commander who retired after maximum service on the 1956 Code and died on 3rd November, 1958; and how much would she receive for herself and her child if he had died the next day, assuming in both cases that she is 50 years of age.

Mr. Hay

Including the child's pension, £274 6s. a year and £414 3s. a year respectively.

Mr. Wade

This is a similar point to one raised earlier this afternoon with the Minister of Defence. Is it not quite unfair that the widow who by misfortune lost her husband one day before 4th November, 1958, should receive little more than half as much as she would receive if he had died the next day? Surely this is illogical. Is it not high time that the Government ended this discrimination against widows of members of the Armed Forces?

Mr. Hay

I cannot accept the implication in the latter part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question. I do not think that there is any discrimination in the pejorative sense in which he used the word. Whenever there is a change of policy, there is bound to be a dividing line, and when that is a date some people find themselves on one side and others, perhaps more fortunate, are on the other side. I cannot say that this is a matter which is peculiar to the Royal Navy. I will take note of the point made and bring it to the attention of my right hon. Friend.

Captain Litchfield

Does my hon. Friend think that this sort of anomaly is acceptable? Does he appreciate the feeling there is inside and outside the Services? Does it not make a nonsense of the so-called principle of immutability?

Mr. Hay

As my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence said earlier his afternoon, we are well aware of the views held on these matters. They are being constantly looked at. I cannot go beyond that this afternoon.

Mr. Paget

Surely it is inevitable that the principle of one pension for one service has to be adopted? Is it not a question of the sooner the better?

Mr. Hay

I am afraid that I can only answer for one Service.