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Earl Russell: My Lords, does the Minister understand why her argument reminds me of the people who said, "You cannot give some people the vote; you might have to give it to all of them"?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I am afraid I do not understand that. We are dealing here mostly with real women who are in very difficult positions. While we have an enormous amount of sympathy for the women whom the noble Baroness, Lady Strange, has drawn to our attention, I must in all equity point out to your Lordships that there are many widows whose husbands have died as a result of pursuing their duty and public service in dangerous and difficult circumstances who will feel embittered, upset and angry if this amendment is passed. Therefore, I do not accept the analogy, intellectually clever though it may be, as real in human terms.

I assure the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, that the issues are not being set on one side or ignored. Not only are they understood, they are under active consideration. Her Majesty's Government believe that the right way to tackle this issue is through the detailed review of the pension scheme, looking at a wide range of possible changes for members of the scheme, including improved pension arrangements for families.

Of course, a number of other options can be considered. There are many different ways of tackling these issues, which are reflected in different pension schemes in the public and private sectors. However, the point is that the review has to be far more wide-ranging and comprehensive than the noble Baroness's amendment. It must be fair, or as fair as it can be, to everybody, not only to those people who naturally command a certain amount of public sympathy.

The noble Baroness, Lady Park of Monmouth, drew our attention to the difficulties faced by women with peripatetic lifestyles in setting up superannuation. These issues are understood. Indeed, it was an understanding of those issues which prompted different arrangements under this Government 18 months ago for spouses in the Diplomatic Service. I remind the noble Baroness that we do understand these issues and that they will be taken into account.

Of course, I cannot give any undertakings about the outcome of the review. It would clearly be premature to do so; nor will I raise expectations that may not be fulfilled. However, I can assure the House that all the options will be considered. In that regard, I very much hope that the War Widows Association will give us the benefit of its advice and experience.

In view of those assurances, I hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Strange, will acknowledge that her very powerful advocacy has had its effect on ministerial thinking and that she will agree to

27 Oct 1999 : Column 313

withdraw the amendment. However, if the noble Baroness is unwilling to withdraw her amendment, I must ask the House to oppose it.

Baroness Strange: My Lords, I thank all the noble Lords who have spoken today: my noble kinsman, Lord Russell; the noble Baroness, Lady Turner; my noble and gallant friend, Lord Craig of Radley; my noble friends Lord Freyberg and Lord Northbourne; the noble Baroness, Lady Park of Monmouth; the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish; the noble Baroness, Lady Fookes; and indeed everyone who has spoken. All the war widows are deeply grateful for their support.

I particularly thank my noble friend Lady Hollis for allowing my noble friend Lady Symons to answer on behalf of the MoD. The MoD is, of course, the payer-out of the attributable forces family pension, although this money comes from the Treasury, whose money comes from us, the taxpayers.

I suspect that the Minister, my noble friend Lady Symons of Vernham Dean, is also a friend of all the war widows. We greatly value her sympathetic and sensitive summing up. We also greatly value the time that she has spent with us. We are very grateful to her for her sympathy, time and understanding.

However, this issue has gone on for long enough. We heard exactly the same arguments from the MoD in 1995. We are referring to 2,650 ladies, not 68,000, and we hope that there will not be many more. All those beautiful ladies who picnicked in Westminster Hall and were sitting in the Galleries of your Lordships' Chamber on Monday are growing older by the minute. All those lovely children, who some of your Lordships met, are growing up without much chance of a second father. Time is not on their side, nor on ours. I would like to test the opinion of the House.

3.58 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 1) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 166; Not-Contents, 107.

Division No. 1


Ackner, L.
Addington, L.
Alderdice, L.
Aldington, L.
Alton of Liverpool, L.
Annaly, L.
Archer of Weston-Super-Mare, L.
Arran, E.
Ashbourne, L.
Ashley of Stoke, L.
Avebury, L.
Bathurst, E.
Berners, B.
Bledisloe, V.
Bradshaw, L.
Brightman, L.
Brookeborough, V.
Buccleuch and Queensberry, D.
Cadman, L.
Calverley, L.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Carlisle, E.
Carver, L.
Castle of Blackburn, B.
Chadlington, L.
Charteris of Amisfield, L.
Chesham, L.
Clancarty, E.
Clement-Jones, L.
Cochrane of Cults, L.
Cockfield, L.
Cornwallis, L.
Cox, B.
Craig of Radley, L.
Cross, V.
Cuckney, L.
Dacre of Glanton, L.
Darnley, E.
Davidson, V.
De L'Isle, V.
Denham, L.
Dholakia, L.
Dundee, E.
Dunleath, L.
Ebury, L.
Eden of Winton, L.
Elibank, L.
Erroll, E.
Exmouth, V.
Ezra, L.
Falkland, V.
Ferrers, E.
Fookes, B.
Freyberg, L.
Gainsborough, E.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Geddes, L.
Geraint, L.
Gilmour of Craigmillar, L.
Glanusk, L.
Goodhart, L.
Gray, L.
Greenway, L.
Grey, E.
Hampton, L.
Hamwee, B.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Haslam, L.
Holderness, L.
HolmPatrick, L.
Hooson, L.
Hylton-Foster, B.
Ilchester, E.
Ironside, L.
Iveagh, E.
Jellicoe, E.
Kimball, L.
Kinloss, Ly.
Kintore, E.
Lane of Horsell, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Linklater of Butterstone, B.
Liverpool, E.
Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, E.
Long, V.
MacFarlane of Bearsden, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
McNair, L.
Mar, C.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Methuen, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Milverton, L.
Molyneaux of Killead, L.
Monro of Langholm, L.
Monteagle of Brandon, L.
Morris, L.
Mountevans, L.
Munster, E.
Naseby, L.
Newby, L.
Northbourne, L.
Norton, L.
Norton of Louth, L.
Nunburnholme, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Onslow of Woking, L.
Oxford, Bp.
Oxfuird, V.
Palmer, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Phillips of Sudbury, L.
Prior, L.
Pym, L.
Radnor, E.
Reay, L.
Redesdale, L.
Rees, L.
Rennard, L
Renton, L.
Ridley, V.
Rix, L.
Rogan, L.
Russell, E. [Teller]
Russell-Johnston, L.
St. John of Bletso, L.
Sandberg, L.
Sanderson of Bowden, L.
Sandwich, E.
Sandys, L.
Shannon, E.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Shaughnessy, L.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Slim, V.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Southwark, Bp.
Stair, E.
Stodart of Leaston, L.
Strange, B. [Teller]
Strathmore and Kinghorne, E.
Suffield, L.
Swinfen, L.
Swinton, E.
Taverne, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Thomas of Swynnerton, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thurso, V.
Tordoff, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Vivian, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Warnock, B.
Watson of Richmond, L.
Weatherill, L.
Westbury, L.
Westmorland, E.
Wigoder, L.
Wilberforce, L.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Williamson of Horton, L.
Windlesham, L.


Acton, L.
Ahmed, L.
Amos, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Bach, L.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Blackstone, B.
Borrie, L.
Bragg, L.
Brett, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Burlison, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.
Carter, L. [Teller]
Christopher, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Crawley, B.
David, B.
Desai, L.
Diamond, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Ewing of Kirkford, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Gale, B.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Goldsmith, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Grabiner, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Grantchester, L.
Gregson, L.
Grenfell, L.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harrison, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howells of St Davids, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Islwyn, L.
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jay of Paddington, B. (Lord Privy Seal)
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Kennet, L.
Kilbracken, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Levy, L.
Lipsey, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Longford, E.
Lovell-Davis, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Molloy, L.
Monkswell, L.
Montague of Oxford, L.
Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Nicol, B.
Northfield, L.
Orme, L.
Peston, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Puttnam, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Sawyer, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Serota, B.
Shepherd, L.
Shore of Stepney, L.
Simon, V.
Skelmersdale, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Taylor of Gryfe, L.
Varley, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

27 Oct 1999 : Column 315

4.10 p.m.

Baroness Castle of Blackburn moved Amendment No. 2:

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