42. Colonel F. HALL
asked the Pensions Minister whether he is aware that a London telephone operator named E. J. Colling joined the Royal Field Artillery in April, 1915, went to France in the following December, and was battery telephonist until July, 1916, when his health broke down on the Somme; that he was invalided out of the Army in April, 1917, after being in hospital for nearly nine months, and received a total gratuity of £30; and, seeing that this man has had his health ruined in the service of his country, whether he will have the whole matter reopened with the view to granting an adequate pension to this ex-soldier?
§ Mr. HODGE
This man was discharged from the Army for neurasthenia caused by his military service and the gratuity of £30 was awarded by the special medical board, who considered that a gratuity would be more to the man's advantage than a pension. I am consulting the President of the Board as to the hon. and gallant Member's suggestion that the case should be dealt with by way of pension.
Does the right hon. Gentleman think a gratuity of £30 to a soldier who has been wounded and has been in hospital nine months is a reasonable allowance to be paid?
43. Colonel HALL
asked the Pensions Minister whether he is aware that there is considerable delay in receiving replies to communications to his Department; and whether, considering that such letters often contain inquiries for important information regarding pensions to soldiers and sailors, he will give instructions for an improvement in the machinery in his Department in order that delays of such long duration may not continue in the future?
§ Mr. HODGE
I am aware that there is frequently delay in answering correspondence. But hon. Members will, I think, agree that during recent months there has been a speeding up in this connection, and we are sparing no efforts to remedy the defects that undoubtedly exist. I am at the present moment arranging with Sir Woodburn Kirby, one of the greatest of organisers, who has placed his services at my disposal, for a thorough reorganisation of Chelsea. The hon. Member will, however, realise some of the difficulties from the fact that an average of 33,000 letters, etc., are dispatched every day, and that out of a staff of over 4,500, mainly women, who deal with pensions and other grants and with the treatment and training of disabled men, less than 2 per cent. had any previous Civil Service experience. I do not fear criticism, but I want the criticism to be helpful to the Department.
As the right hon. Gentleman is desirous that criticism should be helpful, is he aware that only this morning I received a reply to a communication addressed to the Ministry of Pensions in the middle of August?
§ 81. Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is mow in a position to make any statement with regard to the separation allow 24 ances to wives of warrant officers on promotion; and will he say whether the extra cost entailed in respect of uniform is still required to be paid by the men who are promoted?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the ADMIRALTY (Dr. Macnamara)
As regards the first part of the question, I am not in a position to say more than that the matter is under consideration by the Committee appointed to consider soldiers' and sailors' pay. As regards the second part of the question, warrant officers on promotion receive an outfit grant of £25, but any additional expense incurred in the provision and upkeep of their uniform is required to be borne by themselves.