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Widows (Pensions)

Volume 973: debated on Thursday 8 November 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence when he intends to introduce pensions for pre-1950 Service widows; and if he will make a statement.

I have been considering how best to honour the commitment in our manifesto to introduce pensions for those widows of pre-1950 Service-men who did not receive one. I am glad to say that this examination is now complete and a special once-and-for-all-scheme to give pensions to the so-called "pre-1950 widows" will be introduced from Monday next, 12 November 1979.Briefly, the background is that, although Service officers' widows have been eligible for pensions for a century or more, the same facility was not available for ranks below that of warrant officer class I, until 1 September 1950. Thus the widows of many retired Service men were not able to receive any part of their husbands' pensions, which simply died with them.This anomaly is peculiar to the Armed Forces and my hon. Friend and others have fought a sustained campaign over many years to get this anomaly put right.I am glad to say that from 12 November pensions determined by reference to a minimum length of service will be available on application to those widows of regular Service men who do not now receive a Forces family pension or a war widow's pension and who fulfil the necessary conditions. The most important of these are that the husband was in receipt of a Service pension during his lifetime, or if he died in service, would have been eligible for a pension if he had been invalided on the date of his death; and that the widow was married to her husband while he was still serving.The rate of pension will be related only to the husband's pensionable rank, ranging from £21.47 to £35.33 per month and will be updated in line with pension increases.It is not possible at present to say how many widows will be covered by this

Number of jobs in United KingdomOf which in Scotland
Service personnel232,00019,000
MOD civilians (excluding ROF employees) 214,00019,700
PSA personnel employed on defence account19,8001,750
Estimated number of direct job opportunities in British industry (including ROF employees)200,000*
* No geographical breakdown available.