§ Mr. Bob Russell
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Social Security about members of the armed forces claiming benefits; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Spellar
Service personnel and their families resident in the United Kingdom have the same degree of entitlement to receive benefits as other members of the general population and are subject to the same qualifying criteria. My Department has not held discussions with the Department of Social Security other than to ensure that Service personnel and families are not penalised as a result of their required mobility.
MOD Ministers and officials discuss periodically with other Government Departments, including the Department of Social Security, a range of policy issues affecting the Service community. Most recently these discussions have taken place within the forum of the Service Families Task Force.
The independent Armed Forces Pay Review Body provides robust arrangements for a fair level of remuneration for the Armed Forces and ensures that Services' pay does not fall below the national minimum wage. This year's Armed Forces Pay Review Body award was above inflation, implemented in full, on time and un-staged for the first time since 1995.357W