HC Deb 06 July 1944 vol 401 cc1303-4
42. Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware of the discontent caused by differentiating as regards gratuities to next-of-kin between those killed in action and those killed on active service; and whether he will consider doing away with the said differentiation.

The Minister of Pensions (Sir Walter Womersley)

The gratuity to which my hon. and gallant Friend refers was first instituted many years ago when death sustained in personal combat with the enemy was considered deserving of more generous compensation than death sustained in other circumstances. Under present-day conditions the gratuity is illogical and its continued payment on the present basis can be justified only on the ground of tradition. Any extension of the basis would create fresh anomalies even more marked than the present, and I regret that I cannot entertain my hon. and gallant Friend's suggestion.

Sir Lambert Ward

Is my right hon. Friend aware that cases have arisen where a widow has received a gratuity and has then been called upon to refund it, because it has been found out subsequently that her husband was killed on active service and not actually killed in action; and does he consider that that is fair to the widow?

Sir W. Womersley

I do not know of such a case, but if my hon. and gallant Friend will let me have particulars I will look into it.

Sir Lambert Ward

I have already put one case before my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Sorensen

Why does not the right hon. Gentleman abolish this illogical condition?

Sir W. Womersley

Because I have not the power to do so.

Mr. Sorensen

Why not obtain it?

Mr. Ballenger

Is the right hon. Gentleman correct? Has he not the power to amend the Royal Warrant which covers these cases, as he has done before in regard to other matters?

Sir W. Womersley

Not without the consent of this House.

Mr. Gallacher

Has not the right hon. Gentleman got it?

43. Mr. Lees-Jones

asked the Minister of Pensions if, in connection with the granting of a gratuity to the widow of a naval officer killed whilst on active service, he will take steps to have the words Killed in Action interpreted as directly or indirectly killed in action, so that the widow of an officer who is killed whilst his ship is on convoy duty through a collision with a ship in convoy, due to such ship taking evasive action, may be awarded a gratuity.

Sir W. Womersley

I would draw my hon. Friend's attention to the reply today to the hon. and gallant Member for the North-West Division of Kingston-upon-Hull (Sir Lambert Ward).

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