HC Deb 16 November 1914 vol 68 cc185-92

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether the wives of warrant officers serving in the Royal Navy are eligible for the separation allowance; and whether in this respect they are treated in the same way as warrant officers of the Royal Marines; and, if not, can he explain why a difference is made?


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether the wives of naval warrant officers are not receiving separation allowance whilst their husbands are on active service with the Fleet; and, if so, whether it is proposed to grant such separation allowance to them?


The wives of warrant officers of the Navy are not eligible for separation allowance. I am giving their case consideration, but can give no undertaking in the matter.


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether hardship has arisen in the case of widowed mothers of boys who have been lost in ships sunk during the War and who were within a short period of being rated; and whether he will consider the advisability of asking the State to pay these women something better than twelve months' pay at 7d. a day?


While I fully share the hon. Member's sympathy with the widowed mothers in these cases, I am unable to hold out any hope that the general principle of assessing gratuities upon annual earnings will be modified.

42. Mr. FALLE

asked the Secretary to the Admiralty if the grant of allowances to wives and dependants and also to widows and dependants apply to all married persons whether married before or since the War began?


So far as the Navy is concerned, yes, Sir.

45. Mr. NEWTON

asked the Prime Minister whether he will at once take the necessary steps to improve the pensions payable to the widows of and persons dependent upon soldiers and sailors killed in the War and to improve the pensions of soldiers and sailors wholly or partially disabled by wounds, illness, or accident sustained in or occasioned by the War?


I would refer the hon. Member to what I said on this subject on Wednesday last.

Sir J. D. REES

Has the right hon. Gentleman taken into consideration representations made to him by different bodies?


Yes, Sir.

51. Mr. BOYTON

asked the Prime Minister, whether he is aware that the wives of soldiers married after the enlistment of their husbands and since the 14th August are not receiving separation allowances; and if there are many who if they had remained unmarried would now be receiving separation allowances?


Yes, Sir, as a general rule; but it is not intended that a woman who was qualified to receive separation allowance as dependent on a soldier should forfeit it by marrying him.


asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that, by legislation passed since the beginning of the present War, the French Government has undertaken to pay to the wives resident in France of British, Belgian, Russian, and Serbian Reservists called up for service the same weekly allowance as is paid to the wives of French Reservists; and whether His Majesty's Government will take steps to reciprocate this good office in the case of the wives resident in the United Kingdom of French Reservists, and to extend it similarly in the case of our other allies?


The question has already been brought to the attention of His Majesty's Government. The French Government have been officially informed that there is every reason to suppose that private agencies in this country will be in a position to render the necessary assistance to the families of French citizens serving in the War, but that, in the event of these agencies failing, the French Government may be assured that effective measures to provide the necessary assistance will be taken by His Majesty's Government.


asked whether evidence was taken in connection with the inquiry into soldiers' and sailors' pensions and allowances and dependants' allowances; whether it was printed; and whether it can be laid before Parliament?


In the course of inquiries made by the Departments concerned, advice and assistance, for which the Government is most grateful, was freely forthcoming from many of those specially interested and informed; no formal evidence was recorded, and there are therefore no Papers which can be laid.


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he has had any adverse reports on the question of forwarding the lists of allotments from His Majesty's ships; is he aware that in many cases, owing to allotments not being forwarded in time, hardship has occurred to the dependants of the men making the allotments; that in several instances these dependants have had to seek advances from the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association when they ought to have been in possession of their own money, and that in some instances aid has had to be sought from charitable organisations; and will he see that in future, when a man makes an allotment, the officer responsible for forwarding the list does not make undue delay?


I am aware that there have been some cases of hardship, which have been alleviated by the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association, owing to the non-declaration of allotments on the part of the men. As far as active service men are concerned, there need have been no hardship as the Admiralty facilities for regular allotment to their families existed before the War. As regards Reservists, it is probable that in some cases, owing to the necessity for extremely rapid mobilisation and departure for various stations, the men did not find time to declare allotments before sailing, and that such allotments, declared later, could only be forwarded from the next port of call. I am not aware, however, that the allotment once made, there has been any delay on the part of the responsibile officers on board ship in forwarding the lists. There has been no delay in making payment when the lists were received, and every endeavour has been made, both by general Admiralty orders and by specific references to ships in particular cases, to induce men to adopt the method of allotment for forwarding part of their wages to their families; and I may add that the number of allotments has since the commencement of the War increased from 73,000 to over 160,000. I can only add for the information of the hon. Member, and any other hon. Members interested, that I shall be glad to receive personally particulars of any cases in which difficulties or delays occur.


Has not the right hon. Gentleman received any complaints that the assistant paymasters, Royal Naval Reserve, have not forwarded the allotment?


I cannot recall them. I have received complaints that wives have not received their allowances. They have been attended to. I am only too glad of the opportunity to deal with them.


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether a man on promotion to warrant rank from the lower deck is as a rule married; whether he has had before him the case of a boatswain who has attained warrant rank receiving 6s. a day and paying 30s. to £2 a month for his mess and washing; and will he say what amount of money that man can allot a month, taking into consideration the basis on which the new separation allowance scheme is formed, and show that this sum is sufficient to support a wife and six children as well as to meet rent and other necessary outgoings?


I am aware that a man on promotion to warrant rank from the lower deck is, as a rule, married, and I am, as I have already said, giving consideration to the question whether separation allowance ought to be extended to his case. I may add that a boatswain's pay on promotion is 6s. a day, of which he may allot £6 a month to his wife, but I have some doubt whether his ordinary messing and washing cost him as much as is stated in the question.


asked whether all claims for separation allowance to the wives and families of men who have enlisted are now receiving prompt attention; and whether all arrears in this Department have now been cleared up?


asked the Under-Secretary for War whether he can offer some reason for the delay in payment of separation allowances; whether he is aware that, notwithstanding the statements that have been made, hardship exists in homes owing to the non-arrival of separation allowances; and will he see that the department of the War Office which deals with this matter is better organised than appears to be the case in present conditions?


I will answer No. 74 at the same time. All known arrears have been cleared up.

66 and 67. Mr. HUNT

asked (1) the Under-Secretary for War, whether, in the case of men in the Army Special Reserve or Territorial Force who have served outside the United Kingdom and who die during the War, he can say whether their wives and those dependent on them will receive the same separation allowance till the end of the War as they would have received if these men had not been killed; and (2) whether, in the case of men in the Army Special Reserve or Territorial Force who have served outside the United Kingdom during the War and who die during the War, he can say whether their wives will receive the same weekly separation allowance after the War, unless they marry again?

86. Mr. LEACH

asked the Under-Secretary for War, if the Army Council is favourably considering, with a view to encouraging enlistment, the proposal to give a pension of £1 per week to every soldier so wounded in the War as to be unfitted to earn his own living, and a like pension to the widow of every soldier killed inaction or dying of wounds received in action?


I will reply at the same time to Questions 67 and 86. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has announced that he will appoint a Committee to inquire further into these matters.

80. Mr. BOYTON

asked the Under-Secretary for War whether he is aware that Mrs. Beckhurst, of 35, Upper Charlton Street, London, W., wife of Private William James Beckhurst, who joined the King's Royal Rifles on 28th August at Winchester, has only received the following moneys: £3 11s. 5d. to 11th October and £1 2s. 2d. each week from that date from the paymaster at Winchester; whether he is aware that the paymaster failed to answer letters of inquiry sent to him by the local Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association, dated 4th, 22nd, 23rd, and 28th October, and that it was not until a telegram was sent on 7th November that a reply was received stating the above-mentioned payments had been made to Mrs. Beckhurst, and that in the meantime charges of neglect had been made reflecting upon the conduct of the case by the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association, although as a fact the late employers of Private Beckhurst have paid Mrs. Beckhurst over £12 upon her representation that she had received nothing; and whether he proposes to take any action in the matter?


I am having inquiry made into the facts of this case.

81. Mr. BOYTON

asked whether the wives and dependants of soldiers who make inquiries at the new inquiry office which the Government has set up at the War Office, after giving all particulars of their cases, are referred back to their local Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Associations?


As far as possible arrangements are made by the War Office direct with the proper paymaster for payment. It is only where the circumstances do not admit of this and the case appears to be necessitous that applicants are advised to have recourse to the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Associations.

82. Mr. BOYTON

asked the Under-Secretary for War whether he is aware that the paymaster at the Army Pay Office, Hounslow, has told the wife of Private James Clancy, No. 2183, East Kent Regiment, that, as her husband has only allotted to her 4d. a day from his pay, which is 4d. a day less than the lowest allotment permitted for a wife and two children, he has therefore to deduct 4d. a day for seven days (2s. 4d. from her weekly allowance of 21s.), and remits only 18s. 8d.; if the statement enclosed, upon which is printed that the lowest allotment a soldier must make (8d. a day) is included in the separation allowance, is correct; and whether, under these circumstances, if the Government are not receiving the balance of the money (2s. 4d. a week) from Private Clancy they will get it from him and not deduct it from his wife's allowance?


Enquiries are being made regarding this case, but I have not yet received any report.

94. Mr. F. HALL (Dulwich)

asked the Under-Secretary for War whether some National Reservists recently rejoined the Colours on the distinct understanding that they were to be allowed a separation allowance for their wives and children; whether intimation has since been given to these men through their commanding officers that the allowance will not be granted; and, if so, in view of the importance of the question in regard to recruiting, will he state what course the Government intend to pursue?


I am inquiring into this case.


When will the hon. Member be in a position to reply?


I hope very soon.