BUSINESS QUESTION – SERVICE WIDOWS' PENSIONS – 10 April 2014

Dr Julian Lewis: This is two for the price of one, because I am asking this question with the strong support of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Beckenham (Bob Stewart), who cannot be here this morning. Given that women’s rights are currently so much in the minds of the Government and the Opposition, may we have an urgent statement on the continuing scandal of the cancellation of service widows’ pensions when they remarry or cohabit? The cost to the Ministry of Defence of removing this archaic rule would be £250,000 – less than that when we take away the cost of policing the rule. This is an anachronism that ought to be removed as soon as possible.

[The Leader of the House of Commons (Mr Andrew Lansley):  I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising this issue. I will, of course, ask my hon. Friends in the Ministry of Defence to reply in detail. He will understand that if service personnel die as a direct result of service, their widow still receives their pension, even if the widow were to remarry or cohabit. The treatment of widows where the spouse’s death is not as a result of service is broadly the same as for other public service pension schemes. The armed forces pension scheme 2005, and the new pension scheme to be introduced in 2015, will continue to pay widows a pension irrespective of how their spouse died. There are further detailed points that I know my hon. Friends in the Ministry of Defence will want to convey to him and other Members.]