HC Deb 07 June 1921 vol 142 cc1661-3
4. Colonel Sir C. YATE

asked the Secretary of State for India whether a decision has now been arrived at on the subject of the additional pensions of £100 and £200 a year which it was stated in the India Office memorandum of the 3rd June, 1920, would be granted to officers of the Indian Army on the supernumerary list who had held high civil appointments?

The SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA (Mr. Montagu)

I have not yet arrived at a decision, but hope to do so shortly.


A whole year has expired since the announcement was first made. Can the right hon. Gentleman say when I may expect an answer?


I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that everything possible is being done to expedite a decision; but these questions necessitate constant reference to India, and that must take some time.


asked the Secretary of State for India whether it is a rule that a wife of a retired officer of the Indian Army who is the innocent party in a divorce suit and divorces her husband, thereby deprives herself of any pension under Indian Military Service Family Pension Fund rules which, under ordinary circumstances, she would be entitled to on the death of her husband; and will he have the Regulations so amended as to permit of a divorced officer continuing, if he so desires, his subscriptions to the fund in question so that the wife who divorced him may not lose the benefits thereof?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. Only the person who becomes by law the officer's widow is entitled to pension under the Regulations. The question of the loss of contingent benefits under the Regulations by a wife who is the innocent party in a divorce suit was raised in the Report of the Esher Committee, and is receiving special consideration.


asked the Secretary of State for India whether he is aware of the injustice suffered by officers of the Indian Army who, having retired on pension and having had the misfortune to be involved in marital unhappiness, can, on the strength of a paragraph in Indian Army Regulations, have that pension, which they have earned by long and faithful service to the State, arbitrarily withheld on the mere statement of their wives, without their being afforded a chance to be heard in their defence; and whether Colonel J. C. P. Hennessy, C.M.G., I.A., retired, was deprived of the means of living by his pension being withheld for six months or more because his wife complained at the India Office that he had deserted her and left her without allowance for three years, which statement was subsequently proved to be without foundation?


The Regulation referred to by the hon. Member reserves to Government the right to withhold the pension of an officer, if he is guilty of grave misconduct. I am not aware that injustice has been suffered by any officer of the Indian Army under the Regulation referred to, which is brought into operation very rarely, and then only after the most careful consideration. Colonel Hennessy's pension was provisionally withheld pending his reply to the charges made against him, which was delayed owing to his being in East Africa. But no final decision was taken until his reply had been fully considered.

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