HC Deb 08 October 1940 vol 365 cc247-8
45. Mr. Cary

asked the Prime Minister, whether, in view of the many outstanding acts of bravery and devotion to duty performed by civilian services personnel and individual citizens, he will take steps to establish civilian divisions of the Distinguished Service Order, the Military Cross, the Distinguished Conduct Medal and Military Medal, and vest powers of immediate award in the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Scotland, being the two Ministers directly in touch with local authorities?

46. Sir Henry Morris-Jones

asked the Prime Minister, whether, in view of the heroism shown by the civilian population and by those concerned with civilian defence in recent phases of the war, he will establish a new war decoration for those who show special courage and valour, on similar lines to those given to the Services?

48. Captain Elliston

asked the Prime Minister, whether in view of recent developments of modern warfare, he will advise revision of the Royal Warrant so that the Victoria Cross may be awarded to any subject of His Majesty who displays supreme courage in countering enemy action?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Members will have learnt from His Majesty's broadcast speech on 23rd September, and subsequent announcements, that His Majesty has created the George Cross, which will rank next to the Victoria Cross. For this honour, men and women in all walks of civil life will be eligible. The George Medal, which has also been instituted, is a gallantry award for wider distribution.

Sir H. Morris-Jones

Will my right hon. Friend consider the whole question of these awards, in view of the completely altered standard of risk as between civilians and the Services in this war? Why should not civilians get the Victoria Cross for heroism in the face of the enemy, just as did soldiers in the Army in the last war? The whole standard ought to be changed.

The Prime Minister

There is no difference in merit between the Victoria Cross and the George Cross; the George Cross ranks equal with the Victoria Cross, and after it in priority only. The whole question has been most carefully reconsidered, and the very far-reaching scheme which has been announced and the new decorations are the fruits of that reconsideration.

Mr. Cary

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the gracious act of His Majesty the King in creating an adequate award for civilian bravery has met with the widest possible satisfaction throughout the Empire?