§ Mr. Rathbone
asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will estimate the number of widows of armed forces pensioners who are not at present eligible for or receiving an armed forces pensioners' widow's pension; and if he will estimate the cost of extending such pension rights to all of these widows.
§ Mr. Wiggin
There are three groups of service widows who do not qualify for an award from my Department even though their husbands were in receipt of an armed forces pension. They are as follows:
- i. those whose husbands retired before 6 April 1978 and married them after retirement;
- ii. whose husbands gave less than the minimum qualifying period of service for a forces family pension (five years' service over the age of 18) but who were receiving a pension for a disability attributable to their service (a widow's pension may be awarded only where death is also attributable to service); and
- iii. those who would otherwise qualify for a special widow's pension under the arrangements announced by the then Under-Secretary of State for the Royal Navy on 8 November—[Vol. 973, c. 262–64]—but who were disqualified because they are receiving a war widow's pension from the Department of Health and Social Security.
There is insufficient information to provide a reliable basis for estimating the total number of widows affected and consequently the cost of extending an entitlement to them all.
§ Mr. Rathbone
asked the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will estimate the potential annual cost of extending pension rights to all armed forces pensioners' wives who are not at present eligible for such an eventual forces widow's pension;
(2) if he will estimate the number of armed forces pensioners whose wives are not now eligible for a forces widow's pension.