HC Deb 17 July 1968 vol 768 cc1396-7
2. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether, in reviewing the pay and allowances of Naval personnel serving in dollar areas, he will take early action to avoid hardship; and whether he will pay special attention to the cases of those who have their families with them and so are not necessarily covered by his formula that only three-quarters of two-thirds of all pay is spent abroad.

The Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Navy (Dr. David Owen)

I take it that the Question refers to the review of local overseas allowance now taking place.

My right hon. Friend, the Minister of Defence for Administration, explained during the defence debate on 5th March how interim rates of these allowances had been assessed to compensate for the devaluation of the pound.

The normal cycle of reviews has been speeded up and I am satisfied that there will be fair treatment for all Servicemen abroad, with retrospection for increases including, of course, those serving in dollar areas and those serving on accompanied tours of duty.

Mr. Digby

May I take this opportunity of congratulating the hon. Member on his appointment and of wishing him every good fortune in it? Is it not becoming increasingly difficult, with the constant defence cuts of this country, for our Service men abroad to compete with their opposite numbers, especially when they have had to suffer a pay decrease of 6 per cent. at the same time as their American opposite numbers have had an increase of 6 per cent.?

Dr. Owen

I thank the hon. Member for his earlier remarks. The Government are very conscious of the need for speed in this review and we intend to introduce the results to the House as soon as possible.