HC Deb 23 November 1914 vol 68 cc756-8

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that, looking to recent regulations, separation allowance to wives and dependants is conditional upon the allotment by the man of a certain minimum sum, in two cases from His Majesty's ships "Hogue" and "Aboukir," and now from His Majesty's ships "Good Hope" and "Monmouth," no allotment papers have apparently been received at the Admiralty, although there is a strong presumption that the men intended to provide fully for their wives in this way; whether he is aware that, in consequence of these allotment papers not having been received, the wives affected have had no separation allowance since the War began, and in some cases have been almost destitute; and whether the Admiralty will allow as much latitude as possible in this matter?


As regards men killed before the 1st October, the date as from which separation allowances were payable, any allotment having been declared is paid at the end of the month in which the death took place. Concurrently with this, pensions to the widow and orphans, if any, have been awarded on the old scale. In the case of men killed since the 1st October, the allotment, if any, is treated similarly; the allowances are being continued in anticipation of the decision to pay them for six months after the notification of death; and in certain cases, widows' and orphans' pensions on the old scale had already been paid in advance for a period of three months. With regard to the "Hogue" and "Aboukir," so far as I know, all pensions or separation allowances payable, have been or will immediately be awarded. Claims arising from the loss of the "Good Hope" and "Monmouth" are being dealt with with all expedition. In the absence of any allotment all that will be payable at the moment will be the widows' and orphans' pensions on the old scale. Should that scale be improved, of course the persons concerned will receive pensions on the revised scale. The question of continuing for twenty-six weeks allotment and allowance in such cases as those indicated in the question, i.e., where it would clearly have been very difficult, if not impossible to have made allotment, is receiving consideration.


Will allotments be made in those cases where they have not yet been received on account of the men being drowned?


I have just said that those cases are being considered.


What has been done with regard to the Paymasters who have been unable to make a return of allotments to the Admiralty?


The Paymasters have nothing to do with it. If the hon. Member means that allotments that should have been made in the ordinary way have not been received, I say that we are taking those cases into consideration.


asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware of the inconvenience, hardship, and poverty caused by the delay in the payment of separation allowances and allotments; and, in order to avoid these results, if he is prepared to establish a correspondence bureau in towns and districts under the control of the old age pensions committee and the officer, so that the wives and dependants may at once communicate with the Department affected?


As my hon. Friend is aware, this proposal has been sympathetically received by the War Office, but I understand that it may be within the scope of the committee on pensions and allowances.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this matter is urgent, and it is with me a question whether or not the matter is within the terms of the reference to the committee. If the hon. Gentleman can assure me it will receive the attention of the committee I will not press it?


I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the matter is within the terms of reference to the committee, and I have no reason to doubt that they will look upon it as a matter of great urgency.


asked the Prime Minister, whether, in the event of a Committee being set up to inquire into and to recommend a just and adequate scale of pensions for injured soldiers and sailors, and of allowances to the dependants of those killed in the present War, he will consider the desirability of including within the scope of such inquiry the question as to whether the pensions of soldiers and sailors disabled, and the allowances of the widows of those killed in the South African and other wars should be revised and made to conform to such new scale as may be determined?

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Asquith)

The House has approved the terms of reference of the Pensions and Grants Committee, which is now sitting. I fear I do not see my way to extend the terms of reference in the sense proposed.