HC Deb 24 April 1918 vol 105 cc972-4
3. Mr. PETO

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he can now state the terms on which pensions and allowances will be granted to widows and dependants of officers and men in the mercantile marine serving on vessels in Admiralty employ; and when the new scale will be operative?


I am glad to inform my hon. Friend that it has been agreed that as from this date grants and allowances to the widows and dependants of officers and men, and disablement grants and allowances to officers and men of the mercantile marine who have signed on or may sign on in the Service and pay of the Admiralty for the period of the War on vessels to which the provisions of Section 90 of the Naval Discipline Act have been applied, will be placed upon the Service scales as administered by the Pensions Ministry. There appears to be some doubt as to whether under statutory authority that Ministry is entitled to apply the sums voted to it by Parliament for this particular purpose. That point is being cleared up. But if it be found that the Ministry is not so empowered, steps will be taken to regularise whatever expenditure may be necessary under the concession which I have now announced.


Do I rightly understand that this fresh arrangement will have no retrospective effect, and that widows whose husbands have lost their lives before this date will not get the Service rate of pension?


It is not retrospective as regards arrears certainly, but already the widows and orphans of men who have signed on for the period of the War are getting the Service rate, though widows and orphans of officers are not; neither are men nor officers themselves as regards disability. They will all be on the Service scale as from this date. The hon. Member had better put a question down, and I will make the point quite clear.


asked the Pensions Minister what steps, if any, he proposes taking to relieve the position of men who were invalided from the Services prior to the War on account of accidents or from being found medically unfit, and who were granted pensions entirely inadequate to meet the cost of living during war-time?


In response to a general public demand I have, as my hon. Friend is aware, secured an increase of pension to soldiers and sailors who are totally incapacitated by reason of disabilities incurred in former wars. It is not, how- ever, proposed to increase other disability pensions granted before the outbreak of the present War.


Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the justice and advisability of so increasing, for the time of the War, the pensions of the men referred to as to bring them up to the same purchasing value of the sovereign they were before?


I am afraid the hon. Gentleman must address that question to the Admiralty and the War Office.

31. Mr. WATT

asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether he is aware that the separation allowance granted to wives and dependants of soldiers resident in London amounts to 16s. a week, while in other large cities it amounts only to 12s. 6d. weekly; will he say why this substantial difference is made in these allowances; and whether there is any proposal to raise the lower figure?


This difference arose from the fact that the soldiers' lodging allowance, before the War, was 6d. a day higher in London than elsewhere. There is no intention of raising the rate outside London, as the supplementary rent allowances issued by local war pensions committees take account of the difference in the War Office grants.