Pledge from Brown in Row over Armed Forces' Wages

Article excerpt

Byline: Gavin Jones

GORDON BROWN last night promised his government would do "everything in our power" to recognise the armed forces' contribution to the nation's security.

The Prime Minister was speaking in the wake of calls from the head of the army for more money for troops.

General Sir Richard Dannatt, the Chief of the General Staff, compared the pay of servicemen and women with traffic wardens, and said he would like to see above-inflation rises for troops.

The general's comments angered union leaders representing traffic wardens, who argued that many of the workers only earned the minimum wage.

Mr Brown said a White Paper would be published within weeks setting out the help available to troops in areas such as accommodation, health care and education.

"I recognise the huge contribution that our armed forces make to the security of the country and we will continue to try to reward our armed forces for the dedication and commitment they show, often in very difficult theatres of war," the Prime Minister said.

"We will do everything in our power in the years to come to recognise the great individual contribution that is made by all the members of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force."

The 9% pay rise granted to the most junior ranks last year was an indication of the Government's desire to ensure they were properly rewarded, he added.

Mr Brown said that the armed forces had enjoyed above-inflation pay awards for the last two years and also had their council tax reduced or removed while in theatre, and received an in-theatre allowance of about pounds 2,300.

Gen Dannatt's remarks come after an Army briefing paper last month warned that increasing numbers of soldiers were now close to the Government's definition of poverty.

It found that growing numbers were being forced to leave the service because they could not afford to bring up a family on Army wages.

In an interview with The Sun newspaper while visiting troops in Afghanistan this week, Gen Dannatt said: "You look to see how much a traffic warden is paid and compare that against what a private soldier gets paid. …