§ Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What increases in pay would be receivable by a private soldier on a six monthly overseas unaccompanied emergency tour if he were paid at the rate of the National Minimum Wage. [HL4651]
§ The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean)
Unlimited liability for duty is essential to operational effectiveness of the armed forces and, given their unique status, the Services are exempt from the provisions of the National Minimum Wage Act 1998. However, the Government's view is that Service personnel should not be disadvantaged by being exempt. Levels of Service pay are based on the recommendations of the independent Armed Forces' Pay Review Body, which works on the principle of broad comparability with the pay of civilians in jobs of similar weight and responsibility (derived by job evaluation) against a number of factors. An additional element called the "X-factor" (currently 13 per cent of basic pay) is then added to reflect the overall balance of advantages and disadvantages experienced by members of the armed forces which cannot be taken into account when assessing pay comparability. Soldiers receive the X-factor throughout their careers, wherever they are serving, and it is pensionable. Therefore, they do not receive an increase in basic pay when deployed on operations. The Government believe that the Review Body arrangements are flexible and robust enough to provide a fair level of remuneration for armed forces personnel, especially once all allowances and welfare benefits are taken into account. Over a career, individuals should not be placed at a disadvantage in relation to groups covered by this legislation.