§ MR. HAY (Shoreditch, Hoxton)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the fact that the persons dependent upon the war gratuity due to the estates of officers who have died in the service of their country in South Africa are often in needy circumstances, he will state the cause of the delay which has hitherto occurred in the payment of this gratuity; whether such gratuity is subject to any deduction; and, if so, under what circumstances; and whether he will give immediate in 473 structions to secure the prompt issue of this gratuity in the future?
On the death of an officer his estate is wound up by a committee of adjustment as required by the Regimental Debts Act. Owing to the conditions of active service in South Africa there is generally considerable delay in sending home the report of the committee. On its receipt immediate steps are taken to issue the estate, but probate has to be obtained except in cases of estates under £100. The gratuity referred to by the hon. Member forms part of the estate and like the rest is available to meet the debts of the deceased. To expedite matters the gratuity has recently been issued to the representatives on their giving a guarantee to meet all preferential charges.