HC Deb 21 July 1965 vol 716 cc1563-4
16. Mr. Awdry

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will now announce the Government's intentions with regard to the Armed Services pensions.

28. Mr. Kershaw

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether, in view of the rise in prices, he will expedite his study of the problems of Service pensions; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Mayhew

I have nothing to add to the statement I made on the Adjournment last Wednesday.

Mr. Awdry

Will the Minister accept from me, in view of the very clear pledges on this subject given by the Labour Party in its manifesto last October, that there is a widespread feeling of frustration among retired officers throughout the land? Will he show a greater sense of urgency on this matter?

Mr. Mayhew

As for a sense of greater urgency, I noticed in the debate when I made a full statement last Wednesday that there was no member of the Opposition Front Bench present.

Mr. Kershaw

While recognising the completely unsatisfactory nature of the Minister's Answer, may I ask him to bear in mind, in trying to come to a conclusion on this matter, the possibility of making a new datum line for everyone concerned? Will he bear that in mind?

Mr. Mayhew

All these considerations have been borne in mind and we will make a statement as soon as possible.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

As both sides appear to have been committed to these proposals during and since the election, why cannot the Government do this, as they appear to be doing it in regard to the judges? Most of my hon. Friends would prefer these people to get increases rather than the judges.

Mr. Mayhew

Nothing I have said should lead my hon. Friend to suppose that we are not going to help these pensioners. [HON. MEMBERS: "When?"] I hope and believe that he will give these pensioners a great deal more support in any measures we have to help them than he has given in the case of the judges.

Sir T. Beamish

As the Minister knows, very positive promises of parity for all Service pensioners were made by the Prime Minister, the Colonial Secretary and the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) before the election. Will he say whether those promises have now been turned down, or does he stand by them?

Mr. Mayhew

The hon. Member is quite mistaken. If he had taken the trouble to attend the debate last week he would have heard a full statement on these things. The Government are bound by the pledges they gave in their election programme and stand by them.

Mr. Soames

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind the grave sense of disillusion in the country in view of the promises made before and during the election by the party opposite and the fact that the position has greatly worsened since then by a considerable rise in the cost of living?

Mr. Mayhew

The right hon. Gentleman had plenty of opportunity of tackling this problem when he was in Government. Since he went into Opposition, if he wishes to help pensioners, he could at least be in his place when their case is debated.

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