HC Deb 09 April 1940 vol 359 cc454-5
42. Mr. Tinker

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that Private G. Boycott, No. 3526238, is alloting 10s. 6d. a week out of his Army pay to his widowed mother, who resides at 16, Bold Street, Leigh, and no dependants' allowance is given to her because her son is a Regular soldier, and therefore, is held not to come within the regulations of contributing to the home six months before the war broke out; and will he consider bringing all soldiers within the allowance scheme?

Mr. Stanley

Dependants' allowance is designed to provide for cases in which hardship is caused through men who have joined the colours in connection with the war being unable to continue support which they had previously been giving to dependants. It is not a normal emolument of the Regular Army; but, where in fact a soldier who was serving before the war was for the six months preceding the outbreak of war contributing towards the support of a dependant an amount in excess of the qualifying allotment appropriate to his rate of pay and on a scale which would have rendered a dependant's allowance admissible had he been in civil life during that period, an award can be made. The previous contribution by the soldier is an essential feature of the scheme. According to my information, Private Boycott was making a contribution of only 3s. 6d. a week up to 20th March, 1939, when he increased it to 7s. a week. In those circumstances, an allowance in his case is not admissible.

Mr. Pethick-Lawrence

Will the right hon. Gentleman take into account the fact that many of these young men were apprentices before they joined the Regular Army, and that this test of what they were contributing before they went into the Army is very unsuitable?

Mr. Tinker

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the conditions of the home in this case have changed since the man joined, that the mother is now out of work, and that the man was contributing 7s. a week before May last? If I send particulars to him will the right hon. Gentleman go into the matter?

Mr. Stanley

Yes, I will look into it.

Mr. Silverman

Does not the Minister consider that where a serving Regular soldier before the war has been making some contribution to dependants it establishes, at any rate, partial dependency, so that something ought to be paid?

Mr. Stanley

The conditions are quite different. The whole basis of the dependant's allowance is that the man has been taken away from his civilian occupation and it has been made impossible for him to contribute to the family on the same scale as before. The Regular soldier is in the same position financially in war-time as he was in peace-time, and he is able to continue making the same contributions in war-time as he did in peace-time.

Mr. G. Griffiths

Does not the Minister see that this is unfair and is causing a great deal of discontent in the country?