HC Deb 20 January 1944 vol 396 cc356-8
46 and 47. Mr. W. J. Brown

asked the Prime Minister (1) whether he will cause the rates of pay of officers and men serving with the Forces to be reviewed to bring them into greater relation to the wages of industrial workers and the rates of pay of American and Colonial troops serving in the same theatres of war;

(2) whether he is aware of the grave social consequences arising from the present inadequate scales of allowances to the wives and dependants of men serving with the Forces; and whether the Government will comprehensively revise the present scale.

Mr. Attlee

I would refer the hon. Member to the answers given to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for East Leicester (Major Lyons) on 6th May and 8th December last. The review of the remuneration of Members of the United Kingdom Forces to which reference is made in the answer of 6th May included family allowances in which substantial improvements were made.

Mr. Brown

Does not the Minister realise that his reply leaves the point of the Questions completely untouched? Is he not aware that there is a very grave feeling in the Armed Forces about this disparity of pay between themselves and the soldiers of other countries like New Zealand and Australia? Is he not also aware that there is a great deal of feeling about the inadequate allowances, and is that all he has to say about it?

Captain Plugge

Would my right hon. Friend consider suggesting to the United States and to the Dominions that a pool should be made of all Army pay, so that all ranks of the Services of the United Nations should receive the same rate of pay, according to their rank?

Mr. Attlee

I do not think that the last suggestion is practicable. With regard to the points earlier put, I can only say that they were fully stated in the Questions and fully answered.

Mr. Shinwell

Would not the right hon. Gentleman give further consideration to this question of the rates of pay of men in His Majesty's Forces, in view of the fact that many letters, particularly from theatres of war where men are actively engaged, have been addressed to hon. Members commenting on the disparity in rates of pay among members of Allied Forces?

Mr. Attlee

I am sure that my hon. Friend realises the practical impossibility, where various countries with different rates of pay and different costs of living are meeting together, to adjust them all together. It is quite an impossible proposition.

Mr. Shinwell

While I think that all hon. Members appreciate the difficulty which presents itself in lifting up the pay of our men to the pay of the men in the American and Dominion Forces, is it not possible to make some modified adjustment in order to meet the discontent which prevails?

Mr. Attlee

My hon. Friend will realise that a modified adjustment would not meet the point made by the hon. Member who put the Question.

Sir A. Southby

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the men in the British. Forces do not complain so much in regard to the rates paid to the Forces of other countries, as about the injustice of comparison between their pay and the payments received by workers in industry?

Mr. Gallacher

Will the right hon. Gentleman take note of the fact that hon. Members who were anxious to give privileges to the soldiers will not now support proposals which would give justice to the soldiers?