HC Deb 13 February 1940 vol 357 cc560-2
22. Mr. Chater

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he can now give an answer upon the case of Mrs. E. Morris whose allowance was stopped on account of a military offence committed by her husband, and whose case has been under consideration since 1st November, 1939; and whether he can say that the practice of penalising a soldier's wife for her husband's offence will be terminated?

Mr. Stanley

As the hon. Member is aware, the normal family allowance was not stopped, but only the allotment from the soldier's pay which he had forfeited. Under present rules, the amount of the allotment ceases to be paid to the wife during a period of forfeiture of pay, unless that period is less than light days, when payment is continued and subsequently recovered from the soldier. An extension of the eight-day limit is under consideration, but could not be applied retrospectively.

Mr. Chater

Does not the right hon. Gentleman consider it unjust that payment should be stopped from a married woman because her soldier husband has committed a military offence?

Mr. Stanley

I am looking into the question of a possible extension, but I would like the House to understand that the pay of the soldier is in respect of services rendered. If, owing to some crime, he gets a long sentence of detention during which he does not render any service to the State, it is difficult to see any reason for continuing to pay him.

Mr. Buchanan

Is the Minister aware that, in that case, the woman is left with a serious stoppage of income and the children are often left penniless; and, as the poor law authorities will not help them, would the right hon. Gentleman kindly tell us how the wife and children are to be maintained in view of that stoppage of income?

Mr. Stanley

That Question raises a different point and I will certainly look into it, but, as I said, I am looking into the question of the extension of the period during which stoppage will not be made.

Mr. Ede

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider, where punishment may take the form of a stoppage of so many days' pay, having some alternative form of punishment such as a fine of a certain amount, so that the question of the day's pay does not arise?

Mr. Stanley

I will certainly look into that point.

58. Miss Ward

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will give the reason for the delay in the payment of 5s. per week, a court award to Mrs. Murray, Griffiths Terrace, West Allotment, Northumberland, in view of the fact that the receipt of the court order was acknowledged by a letter stating that payment would be made in October; and will he see that Mrs. Murray gets her legal rights by the payment of arrears?

Mr. Stanley

I am informed that the claim made by Mrs. Murray in October was for dependant's allowance, and that it was the investigation of this claim that brought to light the court order. This order was called for and received at some date last December, and was then referred to the appropriate military authorities. A compulsory stoppage of pay at the rate of 5s. a week from 30th January has now been made, and that amount is being issued to Mrs. Murray. The question of arrears is under investigation.

Miss Ward

In view of the fact that there seems to be great difficulty, will the right hon. Gentleman ask for an examination into this particular case as a great deal of delay does occur?

Mr. Stanley

The delay in this case is largely caused by the fact that the lady herself, when she made her written application, did not state that she had a court order.