HC Deb 06 March 1924 vol 170 cc1600-2
54. Captain BULLOCK

asked the Prime Minister whether the composition of the Committee to be appointed into the case of the ex-Army ranker officers and the terms of reference will enable those concerned to place their claim themselves before that body?

56. Mr. HANNON

asked the Prime Minister whether he has yet had an opportunity of studying the question of the assessment for pension of ex-Army ranker officers; and whether, if no general ruling is to be given on this matter, His Majesty's Government will be prepared to consider individual cases of hardship upon their own merits?


I have learnt, with great regret, that the other parties in the House are not prepared to co-operate with the suggestion, put forward by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister last Monday, that the matter should be remitted to a Select Committee for report. The Government are convinced that only by means of an impartial inquiry of this sort can the full facts be made available for Members who desire to discuss this question on the Army Estimates. I observe that the hon. and gallant Member for Nottingham Central (Captain Berkeley) has a Motion on this subject on the Paper for discussion on going into Committee of Supply, when the whole matter can be fully debated and, if necessary, a vote taken.


Instead of having a Select Committee, would it not be possible for the Government to circulate a White Paper; is it not a fact that the right hon. Gentleman's own party, and many of us on this side of the House—and on the other side of the House, too—are already pledged to support the ex-ranker officers in their contention; and has not the appropriate opportunity always been an Amendment on the Army Estimates?


I have no doubt that the latter points in that question will be the subject of debate on the occasion referred to. As to the first part, I can only say that we are driven to this course in view of our offer being refused.


Are we to take it that the full facts were not known to the Prime Minister?


It is always possible for an inquiry to add to any previous facts that we may know.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a Vote cannot be taken on the occasion he mentions without imperilling the whole of the Army Estimates for the year?


I think the meaning of a "vote" will be quite understood.