HC Deb 14 July 1997 vol 298 cc11-2
8. Mr. Brazier

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with the armed forces pay review body on the subject of rents for married quarters. [6514]

Dr. Reid

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence has had no recent discussions with the armed forces pay review body on the subject of rents for married quarters. However, my Department will, as normal, be submitting evidence for the review body's annual assessment of charges.

Mr. Brazier

Does the Minister agree that, in this time of overstretch in the armed forces, the maintenance of families within their communities is a particular priority, especially in the Army? Does he further accept that there is considerable concern among many Army families that the AFPRB wants to link rents to two thirds of civilian mortgage payments, bearing it in mind that mortgage payments lead to the ownership of a house? Finally, does he agree that there is a strong case for persuading the AFPRB that, in striking a balance between pay, allowances and rents, at least within those forces that have an accompanied service policy, encouragement should be given to the wives and families who make the sacrifice of travelling with their husbands as part of the service community?

Dr. Reid

This is an extremely complex subject, in which the hon. Gentleman has a great deal of expertise. I have read his letter and pamphlet. He may be surprised to learn that I find many of his points pertinent, and one or two of them persuasive. I have therefore instructed my officials to give me advice. When they have done so, perhaps the hon. Gentleman would care to discuss the matter with me in the Ministry of Defence.