HC Deb 03 August 1944 vol 402 cc1671-87
Mr. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)

My hon. Friends who introduced the subject of pensions dealt with a category of people whose claim on the Government for compensation is due to the fact that somebody has been killed or disabled in the war. I believe, and hope, that those will be far fewer than the number of fit soldiers who will come through this war, and their dependants, whom we have to consider and protect, just as much as we have those who are affected by war action. Therefore, in mentioning the few points that I want to raise, I am dealing with a much larger body of persons. I do not for one moment disagree with the very substantial points that have been put by my hon. Friends—I may say that I agree with them entirely, and I am not satisfied, as I am sure that they are not, with the Minister's answer. My points are directed to the Financial Secretary to the War Office. I am going to try to compress my remarks very much, in order that we may get back to the time-table, which has been upset, for various reasons. That means that I shall not be able to put my case to the Financial Secretary as completely as I should want to do, but I hope that he will not take the abbreviated case that I am putting to him as covering the whole case, which is much larger.

I want to refer to the Royal Air Force and naval personnel who are being transferred to the Army. I am not complaining about the Government's action in saying to these men, some of whom have volunteered—though certainly not in the case of the Navy, where, I think, it applies only to conscripts—that they are to be transferred from one Service to another. That is due to what we call the exigencies of the war. But the fact that the war situation necessitates the transference of a substantial number of men from one Fighting Service to another affects very distinctly the pay and allowances of the Service to which these transferees are sent. In the case of the R.A.F. personnel who are going to be transferred to the Army, we have had a guarantee in this House from the Secretary of State for Air that, when they are transferred, they will not lose in pay and allowances merely because the necessities of the war have caused the Government to transfer them. I think that that is only right—although I may say, in passing, that that principle is not always followed in industry, because the Minister of Labour has power to transfer certain classes of labour to lower-paid jobs, and the workers transferred do not then retain the higher pay that they had been drawing. However, in the case of the R.A.F. personnel transferred to the Army, the principle is established that they shall not suffer by drawing rates of pay lower than those that they were drawing in the R.A.F.—because R.A.F. personnel are better paid than Army ranks, and that is not due to the fact that the R.A.F. have better tradesmen than the Army.

I would like to know from the Financial Secretary what is to be the machinery to ensure that this substantial number of R.A.F. tradesmen who are transferred to the Army are not going to be prejudiced in their pay and allowances. I am basing the statement that there will be a substantial number on an announcement made in "The Times," and if I am challenged I can quote it. The Army at the present moment, through their regimental paymasters, are conversant only with Army rates of pay. Therefore, if R.A.F. personnel are put into the Guards, and given jobs for which the Guardsmen working alongside them are paid less than they are, just imagine the complexity of the situation, to put it no higher than that. There may be in the Guards a little, shall we say, talking, in spite of their discipline. So what machinery is going to be devised by the War Office to ensure that the guarantee given by the Secretary of State for Air will be implemented when these men get into the Army? That raises a very vital point of principle. I believe that some of these men will have to be switched back to the R.A.F. and the Navy when we have finished with Germany. What is to happen if we get conditions which necessitate the switching of large bodies of men, some of them volunteers, from one Service to another, if we maintain the present differential rates of pay? This matter is very vital in connection with our post-war Fighting Services. It has got to be settled; and, in my opinion, it has got to be settled in this way.

When you are using men for combined operations, putting naval men into battle-dress, as you have been doing, and now putting R.A.F. men into khaki battle-dress, you must have some basis on which to recruit your post-war Services; and that basis must be equal as between the three Services. You have to break down, to some extent, as the war is doing, the old, self-contained system whereby one Service is complete in itself, including its pay rates, and has no relation to its sister Services. That is the principle which I am afraid I am not able to elaborate to-day, but to which I shall return in this House, and possibly outside, again and again until it is settled. Are we, after the war, going back to the pre-war days, when we had to induce C.3 men to come into the Army, and to give them 2½d. a day extra for milk, so that we could make soldiers of them? If we are, and if there is any resuscitation of the fighting spirit in some aggressor nations after the war, we are going to start the next war—and some Members talk about the next war, although I hope we are going to avoid it, by methods that I will not go into now—with an Army and an Air Force not able to compete in stamina with those of potential aggressor nations.

I want to come to an anomaly, which I think my hon. and learned Friend understands, arising out of the White Paper that the Government recently issued regarding the improvement in pay and allowances. This bears some relation to my previous point, namely, the sort of inducement that you are going to offer to men to get the best sort of personnel for your Army, Navy and Air Force, either now or in the future. In the White Paper, the maximum qualifying allotment that a man has to make, up to and including the rank of corporal in the Army and comparable ranks in the other two Services, in order that his wife shall draw the family allowance of 35s. laid down by the Government, is 10s. 6d. It is well-known that the backbone of the non-commissioned ranks are probably the sergeants. I do not think that any hon. Member with Service experience would deny that, just as the junior officers, the platoon commanders, are really the backbone of what we might call the front line troops, the sergeants are the backbone of the N.C.O.'s. I speak from experience of that, and I would far rather, in going into battle, have a good sergeant even than a good colleague as second lieutenant. The good seasoned sergeants, and, of course, the more senior N.C.O's, such as staff sergeants and the rest, are the backbone of the non-commissioned ranks. Yet, under the White Paper proposals, as soon as a corporal becomes a sergeant, his qualifying allotment is increased to 17s. 6d., and the Government allowance is reduced by 6d. They add to the maximum allotment made by the corporals and privates 24s. 6d., which brings the amount for the wife up to 35s., if she has children, but, in the case of the sergeant, they say to him, "You have done very well: you have earned your third stripe. We will increase your pay to 7s. a day, but we will increase your allotment to 17s. 6d. and we will contribute, not 24s. 6d. but 24s." The corporal's wife gets 35s. a week, and the sergeant's wife gets 41s. 6d. You are, to some extent, penalising these men, who are doing their best to qualify for promotion by becoming good N.C.O's. I think the Financial Secretary should tell the House that the War Office are prepared to reduce the qualifying allotment that the sergeant has to make, and, at the same time, to keep the allowance to the wife at the same figure, or, in some way, to ameliorate the conditions the sergeant has to face when he rises to that rank.

The next thing is a question, raised by a deputation consisting of Members of this House and members of the Soldiers', Sailors' and Airmen's Families Association, relating to those unfortunate cases where husbands and wives fall out. There are quite a number of such cases, far too many, in the Services, I am sorry to say. In those cases, the first step that the soldier takes is to say, "I am not going to continue my contributory allotment," and then the War Office say, "We are not going to pay family allowance to that wife." She may be guilty or innocent, but in the case of these innocent wives, who, for some reason or other, the husbands refuse to support, the Government then say "Well, if the husband will not make the wife a contributory allotment, we will not support her, either." Excellent machinery has been set up by the War Office to try and effect a reconciliation, and there is a certain branch of the War Office which is doing good work in this respect. I wish more of these distress cases would go there rather than to the civil courts, but the unfortunate thing is that the Air Force tries to force these people into the civil courts. I only wish they would set up analogous machinery to that of the War Office to try to keep such matters within the control of the Service Department so that such cases can be settled, if possible, without publicity and by agreement, and, if not, to enforce a compulsory stoppage by an adjudication by a Service officer.

In these cases, if the man stops his family allotment, there is a gap until the reconciliation machinery is set in force or until the court order is made. The deputation asked the War Office to bridge that gap in some way so that the wife, if she was innocent and it had not been her fault that there had been some separation, should not lose her family allowance. The woman may have children, and it is obvious that we want to keep that woman going in the interval. What has the War Office done? It has said that, where redress is sought through the courts they will stop the family allowance six weeks after the decision of the soldier to stop his allowance. In the case of the reconciliation machinery at the War Office, I think six weeks is sufficient to get the whole matter straightened out, but, in the case where the wife decides to go to the civil court, I do not think it is long enough. Especially is this so if the soldier is serving overseas, where the process of law does not work so quickly for a court order to be made and thus ensure that the wife suffers no gap in her family allowance. I think my hon. and gallant Friend the Financial Secretary is seized of that point. I am asking him to do better than he has already done, although I admit that the War Office have done a considerable amount in trying to see that, in those cases where the wife decides to go to the civil court, she is not penalised by that long process of law as she used to be.

Finally, I want to mention the question of the officers' marriage allowance, or, as I think it is called, family lodging allowance. The deputation put the case to the War Office, and, indeed, to the other two Services, and asked that the officer's liability to maintain his wife should be a statutory liability, just the same as it is for a soldier, because it is enacted by the Army Act that every soldier is bound to support his wife and children, and that enables the War Office, in very hard cases, to make a compulsory stoppage. In the case of officers, there is no such provision, with the result, in a very small number of cases—but hard and sad cases—an officer can neglect his duty to his wife. We asked that it should be made compulsory, either by including in the Army Act or by some other way, a provision that an officer be liable to maintain his family and that, if he did not meet such obligations, the War Office, Admiralty or Air Ministry, would be able to make a compulsory stoppage, which they are not able to do at present, only being able to exert moral pressure on an officer to meet his engagements. I admit that it is hardly feasible to change the whole system of family lodging allowances for wives of officers as we do in the case of men, but it is a point which I urge my hon. and gallant Friend to look into, because I think there is no hon. Member in this House who would wish that any officer holding His Majesty's commission should have the chance of avoiding his domestic obligations. Every hon. Member in this House knows that there is a small minority—very small, I am glad to say—who do try to repudiate these liabilities, and it is left to the Service department to exert moral pressure through commanding officers.

Major C. S. Taylor (Eastbourne)

There is one statement which the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Kendall) made at the beginning of this Debate which I think, in fairness, should be corrected. The hon. Member traced the history of the battle of pay and allowances in this House, and referred to the time when he had the privilege of introducing a Motion on pay and allowances in the House which I seconded. My hon. Friend said that, because of the unfortunate attitude of the Secretary of State for War, hon. Members and himself forced a Division, as a result of which certain meetings took place between hon. Members and Ministers upstairs in a Committee room. Of course, that is not altogether correct. The Government, through the Leader of the House, made a promise before the Division took place that meetings would take place upstairs in a Committee room between Ministers and hon. Members, and, on that assurance, some of us did not vote in the Division and saw no real reason for dividing the House.

Many months ago, the late Colonel Victor Cazalet made a suggestion in this House. I do not know whether he actually made the suggestion on the Floor of the House or in a Committee room upstairs, but his suggestion was that it was unfortunate, when members of the Forces were fighting battles all over the world, that we should continually have wrangling over their pay and allowances on the Floor of this House. He made a suggestion which I think was a good one and which I should like to repeat. It was that a permanent committee of hon. Members should be set up to examine the whole question of pay and allowances and any point which any hon. Member from time to time liked to put before it for examination, and that the committee should make recommendations to the Service Ministers. I think that would be a much more happy way of dealing with the matter than the method of having to come back continually to the Floor of the House and produce point after point when they arise. Unfortunately at the moment, we have not got that machinery in existence, and therefore there is one point, of which I have given the Financial Secretary notice, that I want to raise to-day. It is the question of the pay of Army chaplains.

Army chaplains, I admit, when they go into the Army, receive the rank of captain or major, or higher rank, which is given to them because of the dignity of their calling. They do not, however, receive the rates of pay to which their rank normally would entitle them, and I feel it is most unfair to make a chaplain a captain and yet not to pay him as a captain. I admit that they start as a captain, but, nevertheless, the same thing happens in the medical profession, to a certain extent. If a doctor goes into the Army as a general practitioner, he goes in as a full lieutenant, and, if he is a specialist, he goes in as a major and receives pay according to his rank. I think it is a bit hard, in a Christian country, that we recognise the doctor, who looks after the physical needs of the soldier, and pay him according to his rank, while the man who looks after the spiritual needs of the soldier is not paid according to his rank. I hope the Finan- cial Secretary will be prepared to say that he will have that anomaly altered.

Mr. W. J. Brown (Rugby)

The subject-matter of the present section of the Debate rather overlaps the subject-matter of the Debate which we have just concluded, and I want to begin by asking one specific question which is rather more appropriate to that Debate than to this. My daughter lost her husband in Normandy last week. He was a private. The majority of the Army must inevitably consist of privates; they cannot all be generals. She had, by him, a child, and drew a separation allowance in respect of her husband and a child's allowance in respect of the child. She had no grant from the War Disabilities Grants Committee, and will not be eligible for the additional grant in the cases of rents over 8s. a week. Her circumstances before and after the death of her husband, so far as the cost of living for herself and her child are concerned, are absolutely identical. Nevertheless, her own personal allowance will be reduced by 2s. 6d. and the allowance in respect of the child reduced from 12s. 6d. to 11s. I submit that there cannot, in that case, be the slightest justification for any reduction whatever. If I quote my daughter's case, I do it for two reasons—first, that it is typical of thousands and thousands of cases and because the majority of the other cases are far worse than the case of my daughter, because, in her particular case, there is a stout parent—physically and financially—who will look after her if things go wrong. I hope that observation will be passed on to the Minister of Pensions, because the House ought not to be content with the reply it has had from the Minister on this subject.

I come now to the other section of the Debate on the Adjournment. I want to support the plea just made, and on which I have been anticipated, by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Major Taylor) for some sensible method of settling questions of Service pay and allowances. In the old days, which I remember as a boy, the question settled itself automatically. The Army was the last refuge of the "down and out," and hunger and poverty were its recruiting sergeants. That was in the days before unemployment insurance came into being in Britain. The pay of the Army was automatically settled on the basis of what a man would endure rather than starve. I must say that, although we have gone a considerable way from that day, still that old conception saturates our thoughts. It is true we have separation allowances and children's allowances. We have built up a great pyramid, but the base of that pyramid still is our conception of the soldier as it existed 30 years ago when I was a boy. As a result, we have an immense anomaly between the conditions of the soldier and the industrial worker, which may yet prove to be the cause of grave trouble here in Britain. We have another set of anomalies between the pay of the British soldier, and the pay of the American, Canadian, Australian, South African and New Zealand soldiers. Again, they are anomalies which cause grave difficulties in our own country. The English soldier cannot be the social equal of the American soldier, in the bar or anywhere else, with the present differentiation of pay.

I can see only three ways of dealing with the matter. First, there is our present method of allowing grievances to accumulate until they precipitate a Parliamentary crisis, and, after a series of hurried and unsatisfactory conferences upstairs, produce a botch of a report. That is not an unfair description of our present method of regulating pay. The second and much more satisfactory one is to allow the troops to have a trade union. I am aware that this suggestion would cause shocks in Cheltenham and Leamington Spa, but I see no reason myself why a soldier in his capacity as an employee, which he is, should not be just as free to have a trade union as a civil servant, a prison officer, or any other section of public employees. I think I may be told, as indeed I shall, that the Army is a "disciplinary service" and that you cannot have trades unionism in a disciplinary service. My answer is that that is bunkum. There is no service, from divine service to domestic service, which is not a disciplinary service. The more disciplined the service, the more military in character it becomes, the more arbitrary the character of the power exercised in it, the more does the man need the protection of some kind of organised association to look after his own interests. So I am not impressed by the argument that in a disciplinary service you cannot have a trades union. It is just as possible to distinguish between such matters as pay and allowances, on the one hand, and military discipline on the other, as we do in the Civil Service, between the interests of the civil servant as a wage earner and his duty as a civil servant.

But I do not think that I can, in a ten minute speech, convert the House to the view that trades unionism in the Army is necessary and, therefore, I am driven to try the next alternative, which is, that we should have a permanent commission which could deal from day to day with grievances as they arose, instead of allowing them to accumulate and then have a spring cleaning and a political crisis every two years over Army pay. The severity of any grievance is in inverse ratio to the duration of its existence. The longer a grievance lasts the more acute it becomes. A little grievance can become a big grievance in time, and a great grievance can become a little grievance if dealt with on the spot. It ought to be possible day by day for a Committee of the House, in conjunction with Service Ministries, to deal with difficulties and troubles and so relieve this House of the long series of Debates which we have had, and are bound to continue to have, on the subject of Army and other Service grievances until we establish some sensible machine.

It is obvious that after the war we shall have a larger standing Armed Force than before. The Army, the Navy and the Air Force are bound to play a much bigger part in our total economy than in the past. If so, we have to make them attractive as careers. If they are to be attractive as careers, the remuneration will have to be set into some sort of relationship to the kind of reward a man may get in industry elsewhere. I do not think that we shall get that result if we trust to our present haphazard methods of dealing with Army pay and allowances. I beg of the Government to think seriously, first, of the suggestion that we might have a trade union. I am not hopeful in this regard as a result of the Government's consideration. It will be too much to hope that half of them can bury their past or the other half remember it. My suggestion is the sounder one, but I urge strongly upon the Government the acceptance of the alternative recommended by the hon. and gallant Member for Eastbourne. I believe that to be a concrete, practical and helpful suggestion, and I commend it heartily to His Majesty's Ministers.

The Financial Secretary to the War Office (Mr. Arthur Henderson)

I have a good many points with which to deal and, on the other hand, the time is limited. Like my hon. Friend who opened this Debate, I will try to cover as much ground as possible in as short a time as possible. The hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown), as usual, has raised some very interesting matters, which at another time I would be very glad to discuss with him. I am sure that he would not expect me to enter into discussion with him on the merits or demerits of trade unionism for the Army, nor would he expect me to go into any long examination of all the various aspects of the general position with regard to pay and allowances in the three Services. It is possible to compare the rates that are paid in the British Services with those that are paid in similar services in other countries, sometimes to the advantage of this country, and sometimes perhaps to its disadvantage. I propose to content myself on that point with reminding the House that the position is not quite as bad as it sometimes appears on the face of it. I find that increases in pay and allowances which have been made since the beginning of the war will cost the State this year not less than £210,000,000. That is a large sum of money.

My hon. Friend who opened the Debate raised a number of points, the first being with reference to the transfer of personnel, but perhaps he would first allow me to express the sympathy of the House with the hon. Member for Rugby in the sad bereavement he has suffered as the result of the loss of the gallant young soldier in Normandy last week. My hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) asked whether I could give him any information with regard to administrative machinery governing the transfer of the personnel from the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy to the Army under the recent announced arrangements. These men will be discharged from the Navy and the Air Force and, as he indicated, simultaneously called up under the National Service Act by the Ministry of Labour, with orders to report to an Army transit camp, where they will be directed to the appropriate arm of the Service. They will be given a special block of Army numbers and while the arm of the Service to which they are posted will be administered in the ordinary way by the appropriate record offices, it is intended that a special staff of the Royal Army Pay Corps officers and other ranks will be provided to deal with pay matters affecting the men transferred. In addition, a special staff of officers and other ranks is being provided at the transit camps under War Office instructions to deal with documentation. There will be, as he knows, no possibility of any loss of rank as a result of the transfers, because no men are being compulsorily transferred who have N.C.O or equivalent rank in the other two Services.

Service in the Navy and the Air Force is to count for Service increments of pay and for classification as if it had been service in the Army. In cases where men were receiving a higher rate of pay than that to which they would be entitled under Army Regulations they will on entering the Army be given a vested right to retain their existing rates, as long as they are higher than their Army rates would normally be, subject to the normal Army rules regarding efficiency, which will, however, not be applied until the end of an initial period of six months. None of the men transferred will be regulars, so that no question of loss of pension rights will arise. No allowances and allotments issued to dependants will be disturbed by the transfer. Dependants will get their allowance books in the first instance, but gradually they will be withdrawn and replaced by Army allowance books. I do not think that there will be any danger of the allowances being stopped by the change over, because the new allowance books will be sent to the various post offices before the old books are withdrawn and dependants will be advised that they will have to exchange their books on the next occasion when they go to the post offices to draw their allowances. My hon. Friend made the suggestion, as I understood it, that there should be either general conditions or unanimity of conditions of service in the three Services. I am sure that he will appreciate that that is a very far-reaching proposal which will require the most careful examination, and I am afraid it is not possible for me to deal with that suggestion at the moment.

The next matter to which he drew attention was the position of sergeants in relation to the recent increases in pay and allowances. He emphasised the fact that other ranks up to and including the rank of corporal are required to pay qualifying allotment up to a maximum of 10s. 6d. a week, whereas a sergeant is required to pay 17s. 6d. This point has not escaped notice in the War Office, but the important point, as explained in the White Paper, is that the Government decided to give help where it was most needed, namely, in the lower ranges of pay. The inevitable result of this policy is to telescope to some extent the gradations in the emoluments of other ranks. In other words, while the lower ranks and their wives are much better off than they were before this change, the benefits become proportionately less as the ranks begin to rise. When the changes in the White Paper were under discussion this difference—the question of the 10s. 6d. and the 17s. 6d.—was certainly left untouched but, none the less, the State contribution to the widow's family allowance was increased from 21s. 6d. to 24s. I do not think it can be argued that the position of a sergeant is such that it is not worth while being a sergeant. If one takes the case of a married private, he finds that he and his wife, if there are children, are receiving 56s. a week, a corporal receiving 56s. 6d. a week, whereas the sergeant receives 73s. The limit between the qualifying allotment of 10s. 6d. for the rank and file and the 17s. 6d. for the sergeant is obviously somewhat steep, and I can assure my hon. Friend, for what it is worth, that the possibility of some adjustment is actually under consideration now in the War Office, but I cannot say further than that at the moment.

My hon. Friend referred to what is known as the "gap" and he clearly explained to the House and saved me having to repeat the explanation that in many cases where the Army reconciliation machinery fails to bring about a resumption of normal domestic relations between the soldier and his wife and the soldier persists in withdrawing family allowance there is a gap in the support of the soldier's wife between the date of the cessation of family allowance and the date on which the wife obtained an order from the court or under the Army Act. I can assure my hon. Friend that his apprehension as to the wife being penalised when she comes to the civil court is met. I may say that it has been necessary to overcome substantial legal and other difficulties but I am glad to be able to say that a solution has now been found to this problem, and that administrative arrangements are now actually in operation which in fact bridge this gap, and should ensure that a soldier's family need not be left destitute owing to the soldier withdrawing his qualifying allotment without due cause. I think my hon. Friend will find that the arrangements which have been made by the War Office adequately deal with that aspect of the problem.

Mr. Tinker

Do I understand that if a soldier without just cause withdraws his allotment to his wife, it is for the War Office to determine whether he is right or not, and if not, the War Office can make it good at his expense?

Mr. Henderson

No, Sir. The soldier has the same right as any civilian, namely, to withdraw support from his wife subject to the wife having redress in the court. What happens in a case affecting a soldier is that if he notifies his commanding officer that he has ceased to live with his wife—to maintain normal relations—then we cannot compel him to pay his money towards the maintenance of his wife by the method of the qualifying allotment, which is essential if the family allowance is to be claimed. I referred to the legal difficulties that obviously exist and which we hope we have overcome, but time will show whether we have or not. What we are proposing to do is to make arrangements which provide that if a soldier notifies the military authorities that he no longer wishes to maintain his wife—he has ceased to live with her—nevertheless we are going to insist that payment shall continue to be made to the wife under the existing arrangements until she has had an opportunity either of going to the civil court for an order for maintenance or, to adopt the alternative procedure, which is to apply to the competent military officer under the Army Act, Section 145, and receive the benefit of an order by him. I do not know whether that explains the position clearly?

Mr. Bellenger

But my hon. and learned Friend ought to say that he gives a limit of six months, in which the wife has to get a court order. My point is that if the man is serving overseas, it cannot be done in six weeks.

Mr. Henderson

I think my hon. Friend can take it that, in the event of the wife, with reasonable cause, not being able to take proceedings within six weeks, if she notifies the military authorities that that is the position, then we shall continue to bridge the gap.

Mr. Mathers (Linlithgow)

So that no gap will occur?

Mr. Henderson

Exactly. I think my hon. Friend made another point, the question of officers' wives being entitled to receive direct the payment of family lodging allowance.

Mr. Bellenger

The question of statutory obligation on the officer.

Mr. Henderson

The question of statutory obligation raises a question which is not possible under the law as it stands to-day. This proposal was reconsidered following the deputation to which my hon. Friend referred. It has been found impracticable for administrative reasons to introduce it during the war except to a limited class of officers, to which I made reference when the deputation was received. Perhaps the House will be interested to know what those exceptions are. Officers commissioned after the 21st August, 1941, if stationed in the United Kingdom, or if commissioned after 8th May, 1943, wherever stationed except India and Burma, to whom family allowance was in issue at the date of their appointment to O.C.T.U. or direct from the ranks, have the option of having their family lodging allowance paid direct to their families weekly in arrear by means of the Family Allowance Order Book, or to themselves monthly in arrear in the normal way. That is the position and we cannot change it at present.

With regard to chaplains, my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Major Taylor) said, and it is quite true, that doctors in the Royal Army Medical Corps start as lieutenants at 19s. 10d. a day, whereas chaplains start as chaplains 4th Class at 15s. 4d. a day, with the equivalent rank of captain, increasing after three years' service to 18s. 2d. That was an increase which I announced in the House on the Adjournment a year ago. That is the position to-day. The view has always been taken that doctors should have a higher rate because they have to undergo a long and expensive training and, on the average, might be expected to enter the Army at an older age than chaplains. Moreover, the earnings of doctors in civil life are normally much higher than the stipends of clergymen.

Major Taylor

I only mentioned the doctor for the purpose of argument. I want the chaplain to be paid according to the rank he holds.

Mr. Henderson

I understand that the view of the Service Departments has always been that, broadly speaking——

Major Taylor

He is paid less than the ordinary officer.

Mr. Henderson

I do not think it is quite right to say he is paid less than the ordinary officer. Let me take combatant officers. Until April, 1943, the chaplain was paid 15s. 4d. up to three years' service, when he goes up to 18s. 2d. These rates compare favourably with combatant officers, for a 2nd lieutenant receives 10s. a day and, after six months; becomes a lieutenant, with 13s. a day. After three years' service the combatant officer receives 14s. 6d. a day.

Major Taylor

What does he get as a captain?

Mr. Henderson

A chaplain has the advantage of getting captain's rank as soon as he joins, so he gets the status of a captain, although he has not had the experience of the young combatant officer who, as my hon. and gallant Friend said, is the backbone of the Army.

Mr. Mathers

The chaplains are very important combatants.

Mr. Henderson

They are not combatants, of course. I want to be quite fair to the chaplains. I have here an extract from a report on the work of the Army chaplains in Normandy, which I am quite willing to read to the House. It says: Pre-battle services were widely held in concentration area camps at embarkation points, and in ships. First-wave chaplains had a rough time and did magnificent work. To many of them it was their first action; and they proved to be well trained. They knew what to do, and did it. They found the dressing stations, helped with the wounded, and opened cemeteries. All through, the chaplains have been well up in action, and the Commander-in-Chief commented personally on the number of casualties among them, saying: 'I see these things and I know it means the padres are well up with the fighting troops.' I am quite willing to pay tribute to the work that the chaplains are doing, but it is a very different thing to say that they should be given the same pay as captains, many of whom may have had 10 or 15 years' service.

I hope I have covered most of the points raised in this Debate and, if I have not, I hope the House will excuse me, having regard to the fact that I am well past the time allotted to me.