§ 7. Mr. STEWART
asked the Ministry of Pensions whether the Officers' Friends Branch of the Ministry of Pensions, being satisfied that assistance is necessary for the maintenance and education of an officer's children, are unable to make any grant before the officer makes a return of his financial position; whether this is the case if the officer has deserted his wife and the children are in the custody of the wife, and the officer refuses to make any such return; and whether, in any such case, the Ministry of Pensions would withhold the personal pension payable to such officer until he made the necessary return to the officers' friends branch?
§ Major TRYON
I may explain that in no circumstances is the Officers' Friend Branch empowered to make grants: the function of that branch is to inform and advise officers as to their rights under the Regulations of the Ministry. My right hon. Friend has no power to withhold payment of retired pay in the circumstances stated. Grants under the Regulations of the Special Grants Committee to assist a disabled officer to maintain and educate his children are subject to his being in need and to other conditions, and can only be granted on the officer's application. In the particular case which I understand my hon. Friend has in mind 2341 it is impossible to decide whether the conditions are satisfied in the absence of information from the officer.
§ Mr. STEWART
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this lady has an Order from the High Court for £120 a year alimony, and has never been able to get anything at all, and cannot something be taken from the pension?
§ Major TRYON
I am aware of the difficulty and sympathise very much with my hon. Friend's point of view, but the fact is, this officer's pension is a statutory right and we have not got power to stop it.