Posted: Sun 15th Jan 2017

MP’s letter from Government Minister gives Connah’s Quay war widow ‘room for hope’

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Sunday, Jan 15th, 2017

A letter received by a Flintshire MP as part of a campaign for pension justice for war widows gives room for hope.

Delyn MP David Hanson wrote to Mark Lancaster, Minister for Defence, Veterans, Reserves and Personnel after the plight of war widows who remarry between 1973 and 2005 was brought to his attention by a campaign run by Welsh Labour colleague Carl Sargeant, Assembly Member for Alyn and Deeside.

Mr Sargeant first took up the case in June with Kath Webster, the widow of Sergeant Malcolm Wigley of Connah’s Quay who died in the Falklands War in 1982. Mrs Webster had to surrender her war widows’ pension when she remarried, yet from April 1 2015 war widow pensions were awarded for life, with the rule only applying going forward.

In November Mr Sargeant was joined in his fight by Welsh Labour MPs, and David Hanson, Alyn and Deeside MP Mark Tami and Pontypridd MP Owen Smith wrote to the Ministry of Defence asking them to right the unfairness to widows who remarry or cohabit between 1973-2005.

Mr Hanson’s reply is similar to an early reply received by Mr Sagreant, explaining the context of the decision that as of 1 April 2015 widows, widowers and surviving civil partners already in receipt of an Armed Forces pension no longer have to surrender it on remarriage or cohabitation.

It also says that the decision not to apply the change retrospectively is in line with successive Governments when changing pension provision.

Emotive Issue

However Mark Lancaster does state: “I realise that this is a very emotive issue and I remain sympathetic to those widows who were not affected by this change and have asked my officials to consider potential options given the financial and legal constraints we are faced with.”

Mr Hanson said “Mr Lancaster has raised the opportunity for war widows’ pensions to be reformed further. I am strongly in favour of these steps, but I will be watching closely as time and time again there is a growing disparity between what the Government say and what they do.”

Carl Sargeant said: “I’m grateful to my colleague David Hanson for keeping this important issue high on the agenda on behalf of people across the UK in the same situation as Kath Webster.

“David’s response from Mr Lancaster gives us room for hope and keeps the issue in focus. I hope the Ministry of Defence will get the message that we will not give up until these widows get what should be rightfully theirs.

“If anyone reading this would like to help, they can sign my online petition or write their own letter to Mark Lancaster. For further information please call my office on 01244 823547.”

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