Dr Julian Lewis: Does the Minister [Dr Lewis Moonie] agree with the thrust of what was said by the hon. Members for Clydesdale (Mr. Hood) and for Hereford (Mr. Keetch)? For many years, has there not been a culture of resistance in the Ministry of Defence to questions in regard to which matters concerning pension rights become controversial? Will the Minister consider looking again at some of the outstanding issues in relation to which that controversy persists?
I am thinking particularly of a case advanced by the Forces Pension Society involving serving officers who marry after their term of service has ended, usually because of the nature of their careers, and then find that their widows – should their wives outlive them, as will probably be the case – will be entitled to nothing from the pension contributions that they have made. Might not Ministers do better to be a little more sceptical about some of the advice that they receive from their MOD officials on such matters?
[Dr Moonie: I assure the hon. Gentleman that we consider all such issues carefully when they are raised. Obviously we do not spend all our time considering them, or we would not be able to do our other jobs; but we review them periodically to see whether anything can be done. Contrary to belief, when the MOD is clearly liable it makes no bones about paying compensation. As for the specific issue mentioned by the hon. Gentleman, it is a while since I considered it. I will have another look at it.]