HC Deb 11 June 1940 vol 361 cc1139-40
65. Mr. Gardner

asked the Minister of Pensions whether, in view of the fact that many wives of men serving in the Armed Forces have great difficulty in meeting civil liabilities and are unaware of the existing machinery available for obtaining special war service grants in cases of hardship, he will take some early opportunity to make known to the Forces the existence of this special war service grants machinery?

67. Mr. Rhys Davies

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he will arrange to make it more generally known to men called up for service that they may apply for special grants if they have heavy commitments not capable of being met by their service pay; and if the methods for securing these grants may be made clear to men before enlistment?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions (Miss Wilkinson)

I do not think that any difficulty arises in the case of men now joining the Armed Forces, as Recruiting Officers are required to bring the War Service Grants Scheme to the knowledge of voluntary recruits and men called up are given the opportunity of applying for a grant at the time of medical examination. Every effort has been made by broadcast and Press announcements, by notices in all Post Offices, and by the supply of information through offices of the Assistance Board, to make the special grants scheme known to persons who may be eligible for grants in respect of men already in the Forces. My hon. Friend is considering the possibility of still further steps to this end.

Colonel Nathan

Is the hon. Lady aware that the welfare organisation of the Army which is always available for this purpose is much used, and can she say whether the attention of troops has been drawn to that fact?

Miss Wilkinson

We are well aware of the excellent work which is being done by the welfare organisation of the Army, and if I may say so, Members of Parliament might be able to help in this matter in regard to their own constituents.

Mr. Rhys Davies

Cannot the man be supplied with a document on enlistment showing that to which he is entitled?

Miss Wilkinson

When a man is called up for medical examination he is supplied with a pink form upon which he has to make an application and on which the particulars are given, and he can see the welfare officer if he is in any doubt.

66. Mr. W. H. Green

asked the Minister of Pensions in how many cases of applications for special war grants have more than six weeks and eight weeks, respectively, elapsed since the date of application and the determination of the claim?

Miss Wilkinson

I regret that the records of the Ministry do not enable me to furnish the information asked for, but I can assure the hon. Member that cases are dealt with as expeditiously as possible.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

Are there so many of them that they cannot be counted?

Miss Wilkinson

We have very accurate records of actual applications but owing to the fact that more than half of our staff are in the North, it is not possible to get quite the actual information that we could get if they were all in London, but I am glad to say that generally the excess of these totals over intake is now more than 900 cases.

Mr. Hall

Will the hon. Lady remember that people are awaiting decisions and that they want the money?

Miss Wilkinson

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that that matter is constantly in the thoughts of my hon. Friend.