HC Deb 07 December 1943 vol 395 cc758-9
23. Mr. Quintin Hogg

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the officer recently discharged as unfit, of whose name he has been informed, and who was recently asked to refund £185 after being wounded and decorated, has no private income or invested assets and is entirely dependent on his pension and such salary as he can now earn; that his wife is expecting a child and his family are refugees from Jersey; that his civilian clothing has been lost and that he was ignorant of the Royal Warrant which made the overpayment a mistake on the part of the War Office; and whether he will reconsider his decision to press the claim for refund?

Sir J. Grigg

This is a case in which a Crown servant has received more money from the State than he is entitled to. It is right in such cases that a refund should be made, and it is commonly anticipated that officers who find themselves in that situation will desire to make a refund. It is always open for the officer concerned to plead that refund would represent an intolerable burden, and in such cases, if the plea is sustained, it is customary to write off so much of the amount as the officer cannot reasonably repay. In the present case I have now received a letter making such a plea, and the officer will be invited to discuss his circumstances with the Department.

Mr. Hogg

Having regard to the fact that the original overpayment was made by a mistake of the War Office, and that it was received in good faith, would it not be better to assume in the first place that a claim for such a sum would be an intolerable burden on a junior officer?

Sir J. Grigg

I do not think so. The circumstances of even junior officers differ very widely.