§ 63. Mr. Stanbrook
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received asking the Government to rectify the anomaly whereby all public service pensioners receive credit for pre-appointment war service except where that public service was overseas.
§ Mr. Chris Patten
Over the past few years there have been many representations from the Overseas Service 18 Pensioners Association and its members, primarily through constituency correspondence. The Government have also taken note of early-day motions tabled by my hon. Friend on this matter.
§ Mr. Stanbrook
Is my hon. Friend aware that one early-day motion has been signed by no fewer than 245 right hon. and hon. Members, asking the Government to rectify this anomaly as soon as possible? Is it not a fact that the anomaly concerns only a small amount of money and that the number of people involved is small, and is getting smaller in the natural course of events, as most of them are elderly? Is it not a matter of honour for the Government to rectify this anomaly? Will my hon. Friend press for funds to enable him to do justice to these deserving people?
§ Mr. Patten
I think I am right in saying that the matter relates to between 5,000 and 6,000 pensioners. The estimated cost — it is only an estimate — is about £6 million a year. We are keeping the matter under careful review. I am afraid that, so far, the Government have not felt able to accommodate this extra commitment. I am sorry to have to tell my hon. Friend that I cannot add anything substantive to what my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs —the Member for Enfield, North (Mr. Eggar)—said in the debate last July.