HC Deb 21 May 1940 vol 361 cc3-4
2. Mr. Mathers

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is now in a position to agree that Army allowances in respect of adopted children will be put on the basis of proved maintenance irrespective of legal adoption?

The Secretary of State for War (Mr. Eden)

I am not in a position to extend the concession which my predecessor announced in answer to a Question by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Greenock (Mr. Gibson) on 7th May last, but if, in other cases, hardship can be shown to have arisen by reason of the soldier's service during the war, application for a special allowance may be made to the War Service Grants Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Pensions.

Mr. Mathers

Why is it that the War Office cannot put themselves in the same position as the Ministry of Labour and the Unemployment Assistance Board in respect of the maintenance of children who are adopted? Does the Minister not realise that legally to adopt a child in Scotland costs at least three guineas?

Mr. Eden

I do realise the difficulty of this question. A concession has been made to meet it, but I am afraid it is not possible entirely to meet the problem in the way which the hon. Gentleman suggests.

Mr. Stephen

Will the right hon. Gentleman say why the War Office cannot adopt the same practice as the Ministry of Labour?

Mr. Eden

The hon. Gentleman will be aware of the concessions which have been made. For the moment I cannot go beyond those concessions, but I am prepared to consider any representations which hon. Members like to make.

Mr. Buchanan

Will the Minister consult the legal authorities in Scotland to see if there cannot be a concession in regard to legal adoption?

Mr. McGovern

Why cannot the same provision be made for these children as for unmarried mothers? Surely if the Government do it in one case they can do it in the other.

Mr. Eden

I would remind the hon. Gentleman that a concession was made by my predecessor. I am prepared to consider any suggestions, but there is a difficulty in principle.

Mr. George Griffiths

Will the Minister tell us on what date the concession was made? I asked the question before the Recess but could not get an answer.

Mr. Eden

The 7th May.

4. Mr. Gallacher

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that wives of soldiers living on the Downham estate do not receive the extra 3s. 6d. allotted to wives of men living in London, owing to the postal address being in Kent; that rates are paid to the Metropolitan borough of Lewisham, which has resulted in a recent raising of rents on the estate; and, under the circumstances, whether he will provide for wives of serving men living on the estate to be paid the additional London allowance?

Mr. Eden

The additional allowance granted in respect of the London Postal Area is of long standing and applied also in the last war. It is recognised that, in present circumstances, it is somewhat anomalous, but any extension of the area would equally present anomalies. The general arrangement is that, in the case of hardship arising from high rents which cannot be met from the normal family allowance, application for an additional allowance can be made to the War Service Grants Advisory Committee.

Mr. Gallacher

In view of the fact that these dependants come into exactly the same conditions as those who reside in London, is it not desirable to make the same concession for these particular cases, and would it not solve the whole matter if the Ministry decided to make a general grant to all the dependants?

Mr. Eden

As I have explained, as London is in a special position it is not possible to extend the arrangements without certain anomalies arising, so that the only way in which to meet any hardship is in the form I have suggested.