HC Deb 12 December 1939 vol 355 cc1010-2
42. Mr. T. Williams

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will take all possible steps to obtain the widest publication of the salient features of the White Paper dealing with family and dependants' allowances (Cmd. 6138), set out in plain understandable language for the benefit of the very large numbers of the general population affected?

23. Mr. Ridley

asked the Secretary of State for War, in what form it is proposed to make the contents of Command Paper 6138 known to men serving with the Forces, and to those to be subsequently enlisted?

Sir V. Warrender

The contents of Command Paper 6138 have been drawn from a number of Army Orders, Army Council Instructions, etc., which have been issued to the Army from time to time. A further Army Council Instruction setting out shortly the general position in regard to the allowances and the way to obtain them was issued on 23rd November last, with a special injunction that commanding officers will be responsible for seeing that it is brought to the notice of every officer, warrant officer, non-commissioned officer and man. The scheme has already been given considerable publicity through statements and answers to questions in the House, through the Press and by broadcast. The White Paper, which I think is written in plain, understandable language, is on sale to the general public and can be obtained through any bookseller for the price of twopence.

Mr. T. Williams

Will the hon. Gentleman see that copies of this document are available at Employment Exchanges, public assistance offices, unemployment insurance area offices and post offices, so that any person desiring this information can have it handy? Is he aware that there are still cases where husbands left home seven or eight weeks since and where no allowance has been received? Will the hon. Gentleman not only publicise the recent very clear statement, but facilitate payment in these outstanding cases?

Sir V. Warrender

We are trying to clear up outstanding cases as quickly as we can, and if hon. Gentlemen will send cases to me we will do our best to clear them up. With regard to having the White Paper available at the premises mentioned by the hon. Gentleman, I will look into that.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

Can this White Paper be simplified, as it is a curious mixture of past and future and few people can understand it?

Mr. Sandys

Is it not the case that applicants whose cases are under review and who suffer hardship can, under present arrangements, receive relief pending a decision?

Sir V. Warrender

Yes, that is so.

Mr. Maxton

Is there any appeal against the decision of the paymaster where the settlement is considered unfair?

Sir V. Warrender

These cases are settled on questions of fact, and paymasters are able to judge for themselves whether the facts are fulfilled. I do not think the hon. Gentleman would accuse them of unfairness.

Mr. Maxton

If my judgment of a case differs from that of the paymaster from my reading of the papers, to whom has the aggrieved soldier an appeal? Am I to receive hundreds of these cases each day and send them on to the Minister?

Sir V. Warrender

The hon. Gentleman frequently writes to me.

Mr. Maxton

I do not want to do so.

Mr. McEntee

Will the hon. Gentleman give an answer that can be published which will enable these people to go to somebody and get relief while they are waiting? If they go to the Unemployment Assistance Board they are told that the Board have no powers.

Sir V. Warrender

I will let the hon. Gentleman have the information.