HC Deb 06 August 1924 vol 176 cc2896-8
8. Lieut.-Colonel Sir P. RICHARDSON

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty upon what grounds the recent 5½ per cent. reduction of the retired pay of officers is made upon the whole pay and not upon the amount added to meet the high cost of living only?


It is not the case that in 1919 additions were made to the pre-War scales of retired pay to meet the high cost of living only, but entirely fresh scales, which for officers of considerable service were appreciably higher than the old scales, were then introduced, and it was decided by His Majesty's Government that 20 per cent. of the new scales should be regarded as due to the high cost of living in 1919. The fall in the excess cost of living over the pre-War figure since July, 1919, was approximately 27½ per cent. at the time the decision regarding the reduction was taken, and consequently a reduction equal to 27½ per cent. of the variable element of 20 per cent. or 5½ per cent. of the total retired pay has been made.

Captain Viscount CURZON

Does the index figure to which the hon. Gentleman alludes take any account of rates and taxes?


The index figure dealt equitably with all classes of the community.

Viscount CURZON

May I ask for a reply. Did it deal with rent, rates, and taxes?


No. I have said it dealt with the necessities of life.


Is it not a fact that the index figures of the cost of living have reference to 13 articles only, and conse- quently have very little reference, indeed, to the general expenss of such a class as is referred to in the question?


The index figure has reference to all workers' wages.


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty on what basis the cost of living has been computed in determining the reduction of the retired pay of naval officers by 5½ per cent.; and whether he is aware that, in the case of such officers, the cost of the main items of necessary expenditure is rather increasing than decreasing?


The basis on which the cost of living has been computed in determining the reduction of the retired pay of naval officers is the ordinary basis adopted by the Minister of Labour in computing the index figure for the cost of living.


Do we understand that this reduction will not reduce the pensions of officers below pre-War rates?

13. Viscount CURZON

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether the Committee have agreed to the payment of the withheld retired pay of naval officers; whether he is prepared to make any statement; and whether he can take steps to render the evidence given before the Committee available to Members?


I would refer the Noble Lord to my reply of the 29th July to a supplementary question by the hon. Member for North Portsmouth. It is not proposed to publish the evidence which was not included in the report forwarded by the Committee.

Viscount CURZON

As we are to separate in a day or two, cannot the hon. Gentleman tell us whether the Government accept the Report of the Committee or not?


I am afraid I cannot say that. It is a matter obviously for the Cabinet.


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that, although the naval rates of retired pay have now been granted to those pre-War pensioned marines who served as temporary Army officers, the rates appropriate to higher rank than that of captain have been withheld from those officers who attained and held field rank; and if he will state why the Lords of the Admiralty, who in all other matters connected with retired pay and pensions affecting ratings and marines have shown consideration for services rendered, should, in the case of marines who served as Army field officers, decline to fulfil the Regulations and grant the retired pay of the rank?


The intention was to grant these officers the rate of retired pay which they might reasonably have been expected to receive, had they been granted temporary commissions in their own corps and not in the Army. In such a case, they would not have risen above the rank of captain, and to give them a higher rate of retired pay than that of captain would accord them preferential treatment over other marines, which could not be justified. They have already received much more favourable terms than have been accorded to pre-War Army pensioners granted temporary commissions in the Army. It is incorrect to state that the Admiralty declines to fulfil the Regulations in these cases, as the Regulations are applicable only to pensioned Royal Marines who served as temporary commissioned officers in their own corps.