The Rt. Hon. Greg Knight M.P.
House of Commons
Dear Mr Knight,
Many thanks for your letter recently in support of our campaign to secure pro rata occupational pensions for those serving in the Armed Forces prior to 1975. We now have the support of several M.P.s we have corresponded with, but it was all the more gratifying to receive your support ‘out of the blue’! This is an injustice which cannot just be pushed aside, and requires urgent redress. We have already lost two of our Members. As the Queen stated at Christmas …… ‘We must always be grateful to those who are prepared to put their lives at risk on our behalf’.
The big question is, can you and your fellow M.P.s persuade the opposition Leadership, and perhaps even this Government to give their support to our claim? I put this question to Michael Howard M.P. when he was Leader of your Party and failed to receive a reply. It was sent to him by recorded delivery requesting him to reply personally. This Government seems to think our pensions were a matter for previous Administrations irrespective of whether the pension scheme was flawed or not. This is incorrect of course. Service Pensions and responsibilities are spread over a life time of Governments and Administrations.
It should be remembered the generations in question fought in the Second World War and protected this country’s interests afterwards into the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s. Borneo, Malaya, Korea, Palestine, Egypt are just some of their operational theatres which required their services. They also experienced the deprivations following the Second World War and subsequently helped to rebuild the economy and Nationalised Industries and from a much higher level of income tax. This country has much to be grateful to them for.
We are presently carrying out an indepth research study into the Pay levels, Pensions and Allowances for the Armed Forces prior to 1975. On completion we intend to send each M.P. a Report in the form of a Petition which we hope to be available by early Summer. The Report will highlight the numerous financial injustices, not just related to the pro rata question but many others also.
Our Federation was inaugurated in March 2004 and modelled on the Police Federation, and open to all ranks. We have no remit or wish to become involved in the ‘Operational decision making processes’ within the Armed Forces and we regard these as the total responsibility of Superior Officers of any rank. In essence we are a representative body for the Armed Forces when anomalies arise related to finance and legal issues. There is a common misunderstanding both within the Services and even among some Government Ministers, that any Membership of a Trade Union or Professional body is illegal for the Armed Forces. This is incorrect and the accepted relationship is included in the Queens Regulations. I have enclosed a copy for you. There has been considerable demand for some time now for a representative body for the Armed Forces but, like the Police Federation it would need to be on a ‘Closed Shop’ basis, whereby subscriptions are deducted at source. Whether this would be acceptable to our present day Service Personnel is a question only they can answer and a vote would have to be taken. As I understand it, under present day legislation an organisation can operate a ‘Closed Shop’ provided there is a majority in favour of it? Our Membership at present is comprised of ex Members of the Armed Forces but we have the ability to extend our services if the present Members of the Armed Forces wish, and they are already welcome to join anyway. The Membership costs £2 per month and includes their Husbands/Wives/Named Partners and Children. Do you think your shadow Defence M.P. (I think it’s Dr Liam Fox M.P.?) could be persuaded to request the Defence Minister Dr John Reid M.P. to carry out such a poll within the present Armed Forces? I’m sure if there had been a Federation during our periods of service, those serving prior to 1975 would have been receiving prop rata pensions when they were due and not have to persuade this Government now they have a duty to do so. We are at present applying to the Charity Commission to become a ‘Not for Profit Charitable Company, Limited by Guarantee’.
Thank you for writing to me and taking an interest in our cause.