§ Mr. Ingram
With regard to progress on the review of the Armed Forces Pension Scheme, I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 25 October 2001,Official Report, column 319W, to the hon. Member for New Forest, West (Mr. Swayne).
With regard to the potential cost of the proposed new scheme, it is Government policy that improvements in public service pensions should generally be paid for either by savings elsewhere in the scheme, or by scheme members through contributions. In addition, the review took account of the fact that the current Armed Forces Pension Scheme is one of the most expensive in the public sector. In the proposals issued for public consultation in 72W March of this year, we sought to re-balance the benefits to reflect the needs of the modern armed forces, with regard both to those who can expect to serve a full career and those who we require to leave earlier. These proposals were cost neutral. We will, of course, consider carefully the views submitted in response to the consultation.