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Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate has been made of the cost to the Armed Forces Pension Scheme of maintaining the early pension point; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram: Under the terms of the Armed Forces Pension Scheme, an Immediate Pension (IP) is paid to scheme members much earlier than most other schemes. This is to allow the services to retain the expertise of personnel who might otherwise leave during their thirties, while also recognising the needs of those to whom the services cannot offer further employment from around the age of 40.
In reviewing the Armed Forces Pension Scheme (AFPS), we have considered a number of alternatives to the current IP point and their effect on recruitment and retention. It was concluded that any significant delay in the IP point would require costly alternative retention measures likely to outweigh any savings from such a delay. The confidence of the services in the efficacy of the early IP as a well-proven manning tool led to the conclusion that it would not be sensible to undertake a costing of alternative measures or therefore a net costing of the early IP. The provisional conclusions of the review, issued for public consultation in March of last year, therefore recommended only a small change should be made to the IP point, to provide a common point at age 40 (or after 18 years service, whichever is later) for officers and other ranks.
Mr. Pollard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to assist ex-service men who were unable to join a pension scheme during their Army careers; and if he will make a statement. 
28 Jan 2002 : Column 17W
Prior to 1975, when the pension arrangements for the armed forces were brought into line with the Social Security Act 1973, there were no legal requirements for pensions to be preserved for those who left before meeting the qualifying period for payment of pension. Officers leaving the service without completing 16 years' service after age 21 and other ranks leaving without completing 22 years' service after age 18 were not entitled to a pension. Officers who left with between nine and 16 years of service and other ranks with between 12 and 22 years of service were, however, paid a gratuity in lieu of pension. Those who left with less service had no pension rights.
28 Jan 2002 : Column 18W
for preservation of pension benefits for those who left before the retirement age of the scheme. It has been the long-standing policy of successive Governments that individuals should be treated under the rules of the pension scheme applying at the time they retire. Improvements to benefits were therefore restricted to those currently in service and were not made retrospective.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) RAF and Royal Marine officers, (b) Navy officers and (c) Army officers have retired before receiving a full pension, after serving for over 10 years, in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. 
|1 November 1998 to 31 October 1999||1 November 1999 to 31 October 2000||1 November 2000 to 31 October 2001|
|Naval Service and Royal Marines||327||322||278|
Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of serving military personnel in (a) the Army, (b) the Royal Air Force and (c) the Royal Navy are (i) single, (ii) married, (iii) divorced and (iv) separated listed by age ranges (1) 16 to 20, (2) 20 to 24, (3) 30 to 34, (4) 35 to 39, (5) 40 to 44, (6) 45 to 49, (7) 50 to 59 and (8) 60 and over; what percentage of force strength this represents in each age range; and if he will make a statement. 
|24 and under||11,958||96.2||447||3.6||23||0.2||12,428|
|45 and over||149||6.2||2,120||88.2||135||5.6||2,404|
|24 and under||40,029||89.4||4,663||10.4||65||0.1||3||0.0||44,760|
|45 and over||117||3.4||3,218||93.5||108||3.1||24||0.7||3,467|
|24 and under||10,528||90.0||1,072||9.2||8||0.1||89||0.8||||0.0||11,697|
|45 and over||124||2.7||4,154||89.4||201||4.3||137||2.9||30||0.6||4,646|
28 Jan 2002 : Column 19W
Separate divorced/separated figures are not available for the Naval service. Widowed figures are also not available for the Naval service. Separate figures are not available for the Army. These are included in the married figures. Figures are provided for the UK regular forces and show trained and untrained personnel including officers and other ranks. The figures exclude gurkhas, full time reserve service personnel, home service battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment and mobilised reservists.
Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 27 November 2001, Official Report, column 760W, on plastic baton rounds, what reasons HM forces have given for requiring guidelines for use at variance with those governing law enforcement officers engaged in joint operations. 
Mr. Ingram: The armed forces are deployed to Northern Ireland to provide military support to the Police Service of Northern Ireland, which has primacy for security matters in the Province. Soldiers carry out their role using the same practices and procedures that are applicable to the rest of the British Army wherever they may be deployed in the world. While these practices and procedures may be different to those of the police, they are of a commensurate standard.
As I have already stated in my answer of 27 November 2001, Official Report, column 760W, differences between the guidelines for the police and the Army on the use of baton rounds stem entirely from the differences in their respective operational structures and practices. There are therefore no plans to bring the guidelines exactly into line with the regime governing the use of those weapons by the police.
Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 27 November 2001, Official Report, column 760W, on plastic baton rounds, how many plastic baton rounds have been fired in each overseas operational theatre since 1981; how many such firings have resulted in death and injury; and what compensation has been paid to victims of firings. 
Mr. Ingram: The Ministry of Defence's records show that there has been one occasion on which British forces have fired plastic baton rounds since 1981. On 1 February last year, 58 plastic baton rounds were fired during a public order incident at Mitrovica in Kosovo. We are not aware of any civilians being injured as a result of the firings or of any claims for compensation.
28 Jan 2002 : Column 20W
Mr. Ingram: I am withholdings details of the number of plastic baton rounds procured in accordance with Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information. I am also withholding information on costs on the grounds of commercial confidentiality in accordance with Exemption 13 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.
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