5. Captain GARRO-JONES
asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office, why pay records showing a credit balance due to demobilised soldiers are destroyed after three years, thus making it impossible to pay the legitimate claims of men who may, owing to absence abroad or some other reason, have been prevented from making earlier claims?
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the WAR OFFICE (Captain Douglas King)
The reasons for the destruction of soldiers' pay documents, after having been kept for the three years' period prescribed under the provisions of the Public Records Office Act, were explained by my right hon. Friend in answer to a question by the hon. Member for Darwen (Sir F. Sanderson) on the 24th February last. A record is, however, kept of any credit balance outstanding and not paid owing to the man's whereabouts being unknown. It is not the practice to refuse a man's legitimate claim to his credit balance which would have been paid at the time had his whereabouts been known. If the hon. and gallant Member has any particular case in mind and will let me have details, I will have it inquired into, but. he will understand that my reply refers solely to credit balances on men's accounts, and not to a fresh claim for emoluments which, if admissible, should have been made years ago.
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that I have sent him specific cases, and that he has replied to me to the effect that the man might have had the amount owing to him or might not, but that, owing to the fact that the case is three years old, the records have been destroyed, and, there- 1990 fore, it is not possible to verify whether the balance is truly owing or not?
§ Captain KING
If the hon. and gallant Gentleman will look at my answer, he will realise that, if a man had a credit three years ago, his papers would have been kept to show it, but no such record is here in these cases.
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that the answer he gives me now does not tally with the answer he gave me by post a few days ago?