Examination of Witnesses (Questions 120
WEDNESDAY 6 MARCH 2002
KCB OBE, MAJOR GENERAL
CBE AND AIR
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.
121. Every serviceman has the opportunity
(Air Chief Marshal Sir Roger Palin) That is an associated
problem. This is part of the generational problem.
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 samethat they should be given the same status, but
it should not be funded from other areas existing in the pension
(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 todayit goes wider,
of course, than pensionsif 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 recentlythe 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
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.