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Diocese of Peterborough
Diocese of Peterborough.jpg
Diocese of Peterborough
UK News

'Complete nonsense and shameful' Bishop slams government over 'scandal' affecting some war widows' pensions

by Press Association

Ministers have come under withering cross party fire in the Lords over the "scandal" affecting some war widows' pensions.

The Government was accused of "dragging its feet" in helping around 300 widows who missed out under a change in the rules five years ago.

In 2015 the Government ruled war widows could keep the £7,500-a-year "killed in active service" pension if they remarried.

But around 300 widows missed out as they'd remarried before then and the law was not backdated.

Labour's Baroness Crawley, a vice president of the War Widows' Association, said she was extremely disappointed that the Government was "still dragging its feet after five years on reinstating these widow's pensions".

Lady Crawley said the widows' former partners had served in the Falklands, Northern Ireland and the first Gulf war.

"Their only course of action today if they want their pension reinstated is to divorce and remarry their present partner. How bonkers is that?" she added.

Defence minister Baroness Goldie acknowledged it was an emotive issue but said there was a difficulty in applying "retrospective treatment" for the widows.

It had been the policy of successive government that such benefits could not be applied retrospectively, she said.

Tory Baroness Fookes said that, as president of the War Widows' Association, the Government's response would "not wash" for ladies who felt "naturally aggrieved" by the decision.

The Bishop of Peterborough, the Rt Rev Donald Allister, said the "particular scandal of this situation is that it only applies to those where the incident causing the death occurred between April 1973 and April 2005".

Those widowed before or after didn't lose their benefit if they remarried, he said. "This is complete nonsense and is shameful.

"It must be put right."

Lady Goldie said the change had been welcomed in 2015 but acknowledged the strength of sentiment expressed by peers and undertook to relay it to the Ministry of Defence.

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