Select Committee on Defence Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 120 - 126)



  120. I am surprised at that.
  (Air Chief Marshal Sir Roger Palin) Yes, they are. Those who are married and have been widowed do not like to see that unmarrieds should have the same rights as marrieds.

Mr Howarth

  121. Every serviceman has the opportunity—
  (Air Chief Marshal Sir Roger Palin) That is an associated problem. This is part of the generational problem.

Mr Hancock

  122. I would be interested to see if they have given any evidence to that effect to the Widows Association.
  (Air Chief Marshal Sir Roger Palin) Yes. I am Patron of the RAF Widows Association, so it is anecdotal in a sense, nothing written, but it is just discussion, talking.

  123. I am rather surprised about that. What is your view on the same-sex relationships?
  (Air Chief Marshal Sir Roger Palin) I have no doubt that the views will change over time.

  124. Is your opinion on the same-sex relationships the same—that they should be given the same status, but it should not be funded from other areas existing in the pension scheme now?
  (Major General Gordon) I think the argument is the same. If the Government believe that including same-sex partners in so-called married benefits as exist today—it goes wider, of course, than pensions—if that is what the Government pursue, then there can be no logic to excluding them, but if it is funded by a diminution of current benefits, that would be outrageous, in my view.


  125. Thank you so much, that was most helpful.
  (Air Chief Marshal Sir Roger Palin) Chairman, could I make one final point, because it has not been covered and it is an important one. It is alluded to in our evidence, and it is forewarning you, in a sense, of what the MoD might be saying about the cost of this scheme. One of the arguments they have been pushing at us recently—the more we have tested them, the more different arguments we get coming out, and I have to say that some of them are highly suspect, but one of them is that this is the most expensive scheme there is in the public sector. They will pray in aid certain figures. They will quote the cost of the officer scheme and then say, "look, that's 33 to 34 per cent higher than anybody else, because all the others make a contribution", but they are using very, very dodgy arithmetic, because they exclude from that calculation the fact that the pension bill has already been abated by 7 per cent, so they are dividing the cost of the benefits into an already-discounted sum and coming out with a higher percentage, comparing that with everybody else and saying, Look, but of course they are also cherry-picking the officers. The weighted average, as in government audited documents, is 22 per cent, and if you actually take away from that the abated pay, you get that the Armed Forces Pension Scheme is by no means the most expensive. Let us just say it is broadly around the average, but it is certainly not the most expensive scheme in the way it is being portrayed. That really is the final point I would like to make.

  Mr Hancock: I think we could do with a note on that, because that particular point is, I think, a very relevant one for us to argue in our report.


  126. Right. We shall now draw stumps. Thank you so much.
  (Air Chief Marshal Sir Roger Palin) Chairman, thank you very much for this opportunity to come here.

  Chairman: I am sure we will be in touch again. Thank you so much.

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