HC Deb 12 December 1989 vol 163 cc593-4W
Mr. Nicholas Winterton

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the basis for awarding ex-gratia payments to the widows of service men killed in Northern Ireland prior to 1973; on what grounds it was decided that those payments did not set a precedent for other groups of pensioners; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Archie Hamilton

The extra payments were designed mainly to help the widows and families of those younger men who had no entitlement under the occupational pension scheme, which was at the time under review. Where entitlement did exist under the occupational scheme, this was taken fully into account in determining the size of ex-gratia payment to be made. Some account was also taken of any lump sums awarded as compensation by the Northern Ireland Courts. These arrangements applied to those regular service men or members of the Ulster Defence Regiment killed or injured as a result of terrorist activity in Northern Ireland, and were designed to recognise the exceptional circumstances at that time. They did not represent retrospection of the revised provisions which were introduced within the armed forces pension scheme for those who gave service on or after 31 March 1973.

Mr. Allen

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what would have been the cost since October 1975 of paying pensions to those war widows widowed before 1973 at the same rate as post-1973 widows, for each year for which figures are available.

Mr. Archie Hamilton

The figures requested are not available on a year-by-year basis. Broad estimates of the cost of paying attributable forces family pensions to the widows of service men whose last day of service was before 31 March 1973, at the level of awards current at the time of estimation, have been made on a limited number of occasions. The most recent such estimate is that the cost would now be in the region of £200 million a year.

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