HC Deb 25 August 1914 vol 66 cc8-10

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty a question, of which I have given him private notice, namely: Whether he is aware that owing to the fact that the men in the Fleet were ordered off hurriedly they had no time to sign their remittance papers, a large number of those dependent upon them are at present without money; and whether he is aware that a large number of remittances have been sent from the men in the Fleet and are now lying at the Admiralty and Post Office, and owing to the fact that men have unintentionally disclosed what ships they belong to and where those ships are situated, it is impossible to send out the remittances until such letters are censored; and whether he can in the first case make some temporary allowances to those relatives who have no remittance papers, and, in the second case, add to the Censor's staff, so as to expedite the receipt of money sent home by the men by remittance?


No doubt in the rapid mobilisation of large numbers of men there is bound to be some dislocation in the routine ordinarily followed in peace time. So far as the men on the active service list before mobilisation are concerned, the money relations between themselves and their wives continue very much the same as before the outbreak of hostilities; very large numbers had already declared allotments, and these will be continued without intermission. Many who before the outbreak of hostilities were sending remittances no doubt find that method of assisting their wives and families more difficult, especially where they followed the practice of sending the remittance in a personal letter as against the system of making a remittance through official channels. Every endeavour has been made to meet the immediate case, particularly of the wife of the Reservist, and I will send the Noble Lord a statement of the steps taken. As the Noble Lord is aware, every Reservist on mobilisation is entitled to a month's pay. On 6th August we decided that in cases in which men on mobilisation had not received that advance, the first payment of any allotment declared should be made at once, and the second at the end of the present month. The number of these immediate payments up to yesterday was 5,600. Further, on 10th August we authorised the registrars of the Royal Naval Reserve—of whom there are 160 in various parts of the country—to advance to wives of men of the Royal Naval Reserve in urgent cases a sum not exceeding 10s. a week for three weeks from the date of the men being called up. On 21st August we issued general orders to Commanders-in-Chief directing that the system of regular allotments should be encouraged in preference to the system of remittances. And throughout we have kept in the closest touch with the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association.


Am I not correct in saying there are a large number of Reservists who have sent remittances which cannot be delivered until the letters are censored?


Yes. The Noble Lord is, of course, familiar with the procedure. If the man remits on the official form no difficulty arises, but if he puts a postal order in a private letter difficulty may arise, and we will see if we can do anything to give money in those cases.


Is it not possible to pay these allotments in advance? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in many cases allotments have been made, and that the money cannot be obtained from the Post Office?


If a man has received his month's pay for August there is nothing due till 1st September. We are taking a variety of means to cover the period between the 4th August and the 1st September. If the man has not received his month's pay we have arranged for the allotment to be made forthwith.