HC Deb 05 March 1940 vol 358 cc201-2
78. Mr. Ammon

asked the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been called to the case of the wife of Private 6745681, East Lancashire Regiment, who was granted a judicial separation order, with maintenance of 22s. a week, which sum has been reduced by the War Office to 10s. 6d. per week on the grounds that the separation allowance is to be divided with another woman for the maintenance of a child of which he is the father, thus depriving the legal wife and her two children of the means of livelihood; and whether he will say by what authority the War Office sets aside the judgments of the civil courts?

Mr. Stanley

There is, of course, no question of the War Office setting aside the judgments of the civil courts, but, under the provisions of Section 145 (2) of the Army Act, the amount of a compulsory stoppage from the soldier's pay to meet a court order for maintenance has to be fixed by the Army Council or an officer deputed by them, and must not exceed, in the case of a private soldier, three-quarters of his pay. The amount so stopped may, as I have explained in answer to previous Questions on this subject, be supplemented by a grant given by the Ministry of Pensions on the recommendation of the War Service Grants Advisory Committee.

In this particular case, the soldier was originally placed under compulsory stoppages of pay at the rate of 21s. a week, that is three-quarters of his pay. A claim then arose for a dependant's allowance for a woman with whom the soldier had been living and whom he had been supporting in civil life. For this purpose, the soldier was required to make an allotment of 2s. a day from his pay, and the compulsory stoppage under the court order was reduced from 29th January to 10s. 6d. a week, leaving the soldier with a minimum amount of 6d. a day prescribed in the Pay Warrant. A grant of11s. 6d. a week, bringing the total sum paid to the wife up to the amount of the court order, is being made by the Ministry of Pensions from 29th January. I may add that I have had the whole procedure for dealing with these difficult cases under review and that I hope to announce certain changes at an early date.