§ Mr. Foulkes:
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what proportion of the money his Department spent on school places for children of service personnel was spent in the independent sector in each year since 1996; and what he estimates the proportion will be in 2003; 
(2) what the average cost to his Department was of the school places provided for the children of service personnel in independent and private schools in each year since 1996. 
§ Mr. Caplin:
The information is not held in the format requested.
The various annual rates of Service Education Allowances per child, from 1996 onwards are shown in the following table:
The cost of uplifting only future payments of those affected by the mid-1970s trough would be very substantial and it would be impossible to avoid extending any change to those, whether in the armed forces or more widely, affected by other pensions troughs. It has been the policy of successive Governments that it would not be appropriate to make retrospective change to pension entitlements.
For the future, and reflecting the Society's concerns, Service personnel who become members of the new Armed Forces Pension Scheme will be less exposed to the effects of any periods of pay restraint and high inflation because their pensions will be based on their best earnings in the last three years of Service, with earlier years' earnings up-rated for inflation.