HC Deb 10 February 1942 vol 377 cc1377-8
23. Mr. Bellenger

asked the Secretary of State for War what instructions have been given to commanding officers and paymasters regarding the writing-off of over-issues of pay to soldiers, due to faulty administration?

Sir E. Grigg

Commanding officers are authorised to put forward a submission for write-off of the whole or any part of an over-issue of pay which has arisen owing to circumstances outside the soldier's control whenever they consider that hardship would be caused by recovery of any portion of the over-issue. As an experimental measure, instructions are in course of issue which will relieve commanding officers of part of this work and speed up the settlement of such cases by placing the responsibility for initiating and preparing the submission in suitable cases upon the Paymaster, without, however, disturbing the powers of commanding officers to make representations in such matters whenever they think fit. The new arrangements will, I hope, give a considerable measure of speedy relief in appropriate cases in which debts have accumulated in circumstances outside the soldier's control.

Mr. Bellenger

Is the procedure now followed merely one of reference to King's Regulations, and will the hon. Gentleman issue special instructions to commanding officers, and to the Forces in general, so that they may have an opportunity of making proper application to the right quarter? There are hundreds of cases at present of men who are drawing only a few shillings a week.

Sir Richard Acland

Will the hon. Gentleman make sure that commanding officers really know about the rights which he has just mentioned? I am quite certain, from experience, that an enormous number are quite unaware of their powers in this matter.

Sir E. Grigg

The purpose of the new instructions is to call attention to the matter, so that they shall be given such an opportunity. We are very anxious that the facts should be known to all officers. If hon. Members are convinced that they are not known, we will take further steps.

Mr. A. Bevan

Will the ordinary soldier have some way of being informed that these instructions are being sent to commanding officers, so that he can check up? Every hon. Member knows that at present great hardship is being caused.

Sir E. Grigg

Yes, I will do that.

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