HC Deb 29 June 1943 vol 390 cc1452-4
8. Major Leighton

asked the Secretary of State for War whether marriage allowances are still being paid to the wives of men reported missing in the Far Eastern theatre of war; and whether he can assure the House that they will not be expected to refund these payments if their husbands are eventually proved to have been killed?

11. Miss Ward

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will give an assurance that the regulations governing any repayments of pay and allowances which may be due from Service personnel killed in action shall not operate for the next-of-kin of His Majesty's Forces in the Far East who are now posted as missing, but who may subsequently be reported killed, and that no repayments will be asked for?

Mr. A. Henderson

Any pay and allowances admissible in respect of an officer or other rank whilst missing are not in any circumstances recoverable if it is subsequently found or presumed that he was dead.

The House will like to know, in this connection, that we have again examined the periods for which normal allowances are continued to wives and other dependants of those reported missing in the Far East and have decided further to extend these periods. I will circulate details in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Major Leighton

Will my hon. and learned Friend see that wide publicity is given to this answer, because there are a great many who do not realise how they stand, and if it was published by the Press or done by directly informing the people, it would have the desired effect?

Mr. Henderson

I can only assume that the usual publicity will be given to a matter which is of great interest to many people.

Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward

Would it not be correct to say that, if a man is killed, his widow will receive a widow's pension from the date of his death which is invariably higher than the marriage allowance which she would have been receiving up to that time?

Mr. Henderson

I would like to have notice of the Question raising the comparisons between the payments by the War Office and those made by the Ministry of Pensions.

Following arc the details:

Allowances and allotments to wives and dependants of those reported missing in the Far East will be continued for the following periods, if the officer or man continues to be missing for so long.

Malaya and Burma, if missing before 1st November, 1942—Up to 95 weeks from the date the relatives were notified or to 31st January, 1944, whichever is the earlier.

Netherlands East Indies, where posted missing from 1st February, 1943—Up to 43 weeks from the date the relatives were notified or to 31st January, 1944, whichever is the earlier.

Burma, if missing on or after 1st November, 1942, and before 1st June, 1943—Up to 52 weeks from the date the relatives were notified.

It will be observed that the date of expiry of these extensions is the same for Netherlands East Indies, Malaya and the earlier Burma cases: and that the difference in the periods between Netherlands East Indies cases and those in Malaya and Burma is approximately the same as the interval between the fall of Singapore and the date from which those known to have reached Netherlands East Indies (and not subsequently heard of) were posted missing.

The extension of the later Burma cases carries them beyond the date on which the earlier cases would expire.

These cases, and new cases arising after 31st May, 1943, will again be reviewed, before the end of the year.

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