HC Deb 05 November 1940 vol 365 cc1173-4
1. Mr. Robert Gibson

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will consider making a suitable increase in the allowance to the wife or dependant o a soldier in the event of the soldier being transferred overseas, the increase being to cover the increased cost of postage, the usual weekly parcel weighing four to five 1bs. sent by the wife or dependant to the soldier?

The Financial Secretary to the War Office (Mr. Richard Law)

Considerable reductions in the postal charges for parcels despatched to British troops serving overseas were made early in the present war. The rates of allowances paid to soldiers' dependants have recently been the subject of an all-round increase, as my right hon. Friend announced in answer to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham (Mr. Dobbie) on 8th October last, mainly on the ground of the increased cost of living, and I regret that it is not possible to consider a further increase of limited application on account of one particular item in the expenditure of certain soldiers' dependants.

Mr. Gibson

Does the Minister appreciate, when he speaks about the cost of living, that when a soldier is ordered overseas and is sent a parcel, his cost of living is altered, and will he reconsider the matter from that point of view?

Mr. Law

indicated assent.

5. Mr. Mander

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the hardship caused to wives by the complete cutting off of all allowances and allot- ments when a husband is posted absent without leave until he returns to his unit, he will consider the advisability of arranging that, in future, the allowances, at any rate, shall continue to be paid in such circumstances?

Mr. Law

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Clitheroe (Sir W. Brass) on 23rd July last, of which I am sending him a copy.

Mr. Mander

Is my hon. Friend aware that this matter is causing the greatest inconvenience in many homes, as it is not the fault of the wife concerned; and is it not about time the Government did something to remedy a state of affairs which is causing such grave inconvenience and hardship?

Mr. Law

The present arrangement is perfectly fair. When a soldier forfeits pay without being absent from duty the allowances to the wife are carried on. It is only in the case of what is in effect desertion that the allowance is stopped, but it is not stopped until after seven days' absence.

Mr. Buchanan

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this does not punish the man, but punishes his innocent children who have no control over him; and will he take steps to see that only the man is punished and that nothing is done to harm the lives of the children?

Mr. Law

I do not think I have anything to acid to what I have said.

Mr. Buchanan

Is it not possible for the hon. Gentleman to apply his mind to this question and get it settled as it is a shocking thing that the children, who do not deserve it, should have to suffer?

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