HC Deb 02 May 1973 vol 855 cc317-8W
Mr. Dykes

asked the Minister of State for Defence whether he can now make a statement about further improvements in the Armed Forces occupational pension scheme.

Mr. Ian Gilmour

Last year we revised and improved the rates of pensions and retired pay. We are now introducing substantial improvements in benefits for invaliding and for widows and dependent children. These improvements apply to those who give service on or after 31st March 1973.

The main features are earlier eligibility for invaliding and widows' pensions, much improved rates both of those pensions and associated lump sum grants, and special benefits where invaliding or death is directly attributable to service.

The qualifying period for pension on invaliding and for widow's pension on death in service will be reduced to five years' service from the age of 18 or over. Enhancements will be given of up to five years' service beyond that actually completed. For service after 31st March 1973, widows' pension will be at one-half the rate of the husband's pension, instead of one-third, and this will apply to the widows of retirement pensioners as well as to the widows of men invalided or dying in service. Arrangements are being worked out for optional payments to secure the higher rate of widows' pension in respect of service before 31st March 1973. Death gratuities will be paid at a minimum level of about one year's pay.

When men are killed or invalided for reasons attributable to service, the benefits described above will be paid in addition to the disability or war widows' pension payable by the Department of Health and Social Security. We will also pay if necessary a supplement to bring the total benefit up to a minimum level which, for those invalided, will vary with the degree of disability; a supplement will also be payable to eligible widows. Where this supplement is payable, there will be consequential adjustments to certain of the minor allowances payable under the war pensions scheme. Special additional lump sums will also be payable in cases of invaliding and death attributable to service.

These changes mean new and welcome improvements in the Armed Forces' occupational pension scheme. We are continuing our review to work out a scheme of deferred pensions in line with the proposals in the Social Security Bill now before Parliament.