§ Mr. Forman
asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will take action to ensure that the widows of NCOs enjoy a pension from the State in the same way as widows of commissioned officers.
§ Mr. Duffy
The widows of all ranks of the Armed Forces—officers, non-commissioned officers and junior ranks—have for many years been eligible for a widow's pension under the Forces Occupational Pension Scheme, provided that their husbands had given the necessary qualifying service. It is true that, in the case of men who ceased service before 1st September 1950, a distinction based on rank applied, with the result that widows of those in this category who did not attain the rank of Warrant Officer Class I, or equivalent, receive no pension under the scheme. This has been debated in the House on a number of occasions and most recently on 3rd May 1976—[Vol. 910, c. 1025–36.]—when I explained why it was regrettably not practicable to change the rules retrospectively to cover these cases.