HC Deb 13 February 1979 vol 962 cc949-50
15. Sir David Renton

asked the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to complete his consideration of the anomalous position now prevailing with regard to the retired pay of officers of the Armed Forces under the 1976 and 1977 pension codes; and when his decision will be announced.

Mr. Duffy

The position referred to is not confined to Armed Forces' pensions but exists throughout the public services. The studies so far undertaken suggest that the implications for the whole system of public service superannuation schemes should be considerable. I cannot, therefore, at this stage predict whether or when any practicable or acceptable solution will emerge.

Sir D. Renton

Is there not a serious anomaly? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in the autumn of 1977 officers approaching retirement age in the next two or three years were told that it would be to their advantage to retire before 1 April 1978, and that those who retired at that time found that they were in a worse position than those who retired the year before and the year after? When will he remove the anomaly?

Mr. Duffy

The right hon. and learned Gentleman will appreciate from the correspondence that we have shared that I appreciate his concern. The problem is not confined to the Armed Services. It applies throughout the public services. It affects teachers, policemen, firemen, Health Service and local authority workers. A detailed study is in hand. The fact that different groups of public servants have been affected in the way that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has described must make for a slow, difficult and complicated study.

Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

Surely the Minister is responsible for the Armed Forces. Does he realise that there are glaring anomalies for which he is responsible? Will he please take an early opportunity to make a statement to the House on this admittedly complicated subject?

Mr. Duffy

I take the hon. and gallant Gentleman's point. He will understand that the introduction of an arrangement only for the Armed Forces would have repercussions throughout the public services. Therefore, such an arrangement could not be introduced only for the Armed Forces.