29. Mr. SHIRLEY BENN
asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office if he will say how many claims for dependants' allowances made by soldiers have been referred to the War Office and are now being investigated by the War Office; and what is the average delay caused by referring these claims to the War Office instead of leaving them to be settled locally?
There are no records from which the precise number of miscellaneous cases could be ascertained. Cases of local disagreement as to assessment which have been referred to the War Office amount to 15,500. They are normally disposed of within two days.
30. Mr. SHIRLEY BENN
asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office if he will state how many claims for dependants' allowances made by soldiers are now being delayed in the pay offices at Woolwich, Preston, and Shrewsbury, respectively, awaiting investigation and return by the pension officers and committees; and whether steps will be taken to reduce this delay?
The number of cases not yet returned to these pay offices is as follows:—
These offices have had to deal with some 170,000 claims. Instructions have already been given to pension officers and committees to deal with such claims as quickly as possible, but the investigations naturally occupy some time. Arrangements have been made for the issue of temporary advances, as in the case of separation allowance.
Woolwich, No. 1 office … … 5,900 Woolwich, No. 2 office … … 3,398 Preston … … 3,825 Shrewsbury … … 2,594
§ 33. Viscount VALENTIA
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is prepared to consider the exemption from Income Tax of the pensions of widows of officers of the Army and Navy whose husbands are killed in action in cases where it can be shown that the deceased officer was in possession of no settled income beyond the pay of his rank?
§ Mr. ACLAND
The case of officers' widows should, I think, be met by an adequate scale of pensions rather than by exempting such pensions from Income Tax. I would also remind the Noble Lord that a large measure of relief is already granted under the existing provisions of the Income Tax Acts in cases where the total income is small.
§ Viscount VALENTIA
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the widows of subaltern officers killed in action are in very many cases in possession of incomes exceeding the Income Tax limit by a very small margin, whose husbands gave up a considerable earned income to serve the country, and does he not think the case of these widows one for exemption from Income Tax?
§ Mr. ACLAND
I think it is possible that those cases will be dealt with as a result of the deliberations of the Committee which is dealing with the question of military pensions, but I think it better to deal with all those cases by giving adequate pensions rather than by exempting some particular class from Income Tax.
§ 13. Mr. PETO
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether any provision by way of separation allowance is made in the case of the mother of a soldier who makes an allotment to her, and who has been dependent on the allowances made prior to the War by her son or sons; and whether, in the event of the death of any or all of such sons, the widowed mother is eligible for a pension?
Dependant's allowance would appear to be admissible in the circumstances stated. The question of pension would be for the new statutory body recommended by the Select Committee.