§ Mr. Kendall (Grantham)
I beg to move, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:this House is of opinion that the pay and allowances of members of His Majesty's Army are inadequate to enable them or their families to maintain a reasonable standard of living and that, therefore, it is urgent that immediate increases be made in such payments and allowances.I feel very deeply the great responsibility that rests on me during this Debate. I have been very fortunate in the Ballot to be able to bring before the House this matter, which affects so many millions of men and women in His Majesty's Forces. I am also fortunate in knowing that I have many supporters on all sides of the House on this subject. The last Debate took place, I believe, on 10th September, 1942, when the Government offered 3s. 6d. a week increase of basic pay for the soldier. I do not think the House was greatly inspired by that 3s. 6d. a week, nor by the additional 1s. given on the children's allowance. During that Debate, the hon. and gallant Member for Eastbourne (Major C. S. Taylor) brought forward many good arguments and reasons why the men and women in the Armed Forces, and in the Army in particular, should be given a square deal.
I am a little worried on one matter; I have been given to understand from various sources, including the newspapers, that the Government intend to offer some additional allowances for children. They are also, I am given to understand, ready to make some kind of promise that a further study will take place of the pay and allowances at some future date, with the hope that this will satisfy hon. Members in this House and so prevent a Division. I have no desire to divide the House on this issue, none at all, but if this is the intention of the Government I must state here and now that under these circumstances, whilst welcoming any additional allowances given to children, I 1680 cannot accept what the newspapers have suggested might be the Government's intention, and I hope that the House will support me on this. I trust, therefore, that the newspaper forecasts are entirely wrong, and that when the Government come to reply in this Debate they will prove themselves on this occasion generous and big in the treatment of the men and women who are offering their all, life and limb, in the cause of this country and in the cause of the democracy for which we are supposed to be fighting.
All ranks are concerned in this Debate to-day. I cannot possibly deal with all ranks of the Army, but I am sure that many other hon. Members who will doubtless speak in this Debate will deal with specific cases that interest them in particular, and those specific cases of which they have a full knowledge. Therefore, I propose to confine myself to that vast number of privates in the Army who are the average case, those with a wife and two children and who would not benefit, therefore, by war service grants, because, in parenthesis, I must point out that war service grants are for special cases and have nothing to do with the average case. I want to compare the total remuneration of these average privates having a wife and two children with that of a worker with a wife and two children who is employed in an engineering factory.
I am sure that this House will concede and agree that I have some practical knowledge of what takes place in engineering. The basic weekly pay of such a soldier is 21s. a week, from which he makes a compulsory allotment of 3s. 6d. per week to his wife, leaving him with 17s. 6d. a week basic pay. His wife is given 21s. 6d. a week plus the 3s. 6d., making her total allowance 25s. Then a further 18s. is given to the wife for the two children, 9s. 6d. for the first and 8s. 6d. for the second, making a total family allowance for the wife and two children of £2 3s. a week. The Government, in their White Paper of August, 1942, brought forth an argument regarding the 25s. a week that they estimated that a married soldier in the Army was getting in kind. The industrial worker who has been directed from another town into a factory is also given 24s. 6d. a week. I do not believe that either of these two figures have anything to do with the Debate to-day, any more than in 1942, 1681 because let us take the 25s. the Government raised in that Debate in 1942. It is quite valueless, entirely valueless, in respect of that soldier's family, because his home has to be kept going, his family have to be clothed and fed, and no part of this 25s. helps him in this problem or helps his family in this problem.
I would like to bring forward another little point and pass over it very briefly. In the White Paper the Government claimed at that time that they felt that the private single soldier would be getting 35s. a week in kind in the Army. If that be the case surely it destroys immediately the Government's claim that 25s. a week is enough for the wife of a married soldier? Let me go back to the case of this married soldier with a wife and two children. His family's total purchasing power—surely the thing we have to consider is that—is £2 3s. a week and no more. Let us examine what might be the modest expenditures of this family. Let us assume the rent to be 8s. 6d. per week, fuel 4s. a week, insurance or club money 1s. 6d., and light 1s. This totals up to 15s. definite expenditure, leaving 28s. for the wife and two children—for the feeding and clothing of them plus all the incidentals that come into everyone's everyday life, such as a railway fare to go to some place, dentist's bill, medicine and the hundred and one other things one has to deduct from one's total weekly income. When one examines the question from the human angle and what factually one can do and one cannot do, it makes one understand the appalling headaches that the mother of two children, with a husband in the forces, is confronted with in trying to make both ends meet on £2 3s. a week.
Let us compare the soldier's case with that of a married man in civilian life having a wife and two children and who has been brought into a factory and trained, for instance, as a milling machine operator. The basic rate of such a man is 1s. 8d. an hour, but the bonus rate of such a man means that he is able to earn nearly 50 per cent. of his day rate. That would give him another 9d. an hour, and very right and very proper it is. On a 52½ hour week the gross earnings of a milling machine operator would be £7 5s. a week, of which 12s. 6d. is taken away for Income Tax—this is a man with a wife and two children—leaving him with a net income of £6 12s. 6d. a week, 1682 and the man himself is given similar amenities to what the Government pointed out during the Debate in 1942 the soldier was given. He is given free medical treatment in the factory and all kinds of recreational facilities, equally with the soldier, but his purchasing power is £6 12s. 6d. per week, compared with the £2 3s. a week purchasing power of the soldier and his wife at home.
From my own personal experience of these men who work in factories, I can say that they deserve every penny they get, for it is hard work, doing the same operation for 52½ hours per week, day in and day out, lifting in many cases very heavy material, milling it off, and then having to place it ready for the next operation. But the soldier deserves an equal amount of money for the job that he is doing; and danger money could be claimed by the soldier in battle quite as justifiably as by workers in certain categories of industry. [Interruption.] There are many civilians who are risking life and limb handling certain types of explosives, as they are doing in my own factories; and the soldier has the same conditions to put up with. What peace of mind can a serving man and woman have in these days of high expenses after being called away from home to the Services, with the feeling that their dependants at home are not being adequately cared for? There can be nothing more demoralising than the fear that these dependants whom they have left behind might be in want.
When I ask for increases in pay and allowances to be made sufficient to ensure a reasonable standard of life, I mean that they should be sufficient to uphold a proper standard of self-respect in relation to the next-door neighbour, whose husband may be one of those milling machine operators to whom I have referred. It also means that the amount should be sufficient to enable a soldier to maintain his self-respect when he comes into contact with members of the Allied Forces, particularly the United States Forces. I believe that our soldiers should be paid rates comparable with those received by the industrial workers. It might be appropriate to suggest an amount which would be considered fair and reasonable by hon. Members of this House. I suggest that 5s. a day might be a reasonable basic minimum wage for 1683 a soldier, without any compulsory allotment being taken away; that for the wife, 35s. a week minimum should not be considered unreasonable; while the minimum for each child should be 12S. 6d. a week, cutting out all this nonsense of differentiation between the first child and the fourth child.
Can it be supposed that if any of these men and women were represented by the trade unions the present conditions would be allowed to continue? I think not. Consider what happens to those who are now called the "Bevin boys." We can make this comparison, because a ballot is taken, and a boy may be sent into the Army or he may be sent into the mines. What happened when the first lot of Bevin boys was sent to the mines? They found that the pay and conditions were not satisfactory, so they went on strike. What did the Government do? They immediately improved the pay and conditions of these boys. What happened recently in the miners' dispute? Under the Porter Award they have been guaranteed a £5 minimum. Although this is not satisfactory to many miners, it at least shows that the Government can make some gesture, even though it takes place only under compulsion. It is disgraceful that only under the threat of strikes or through the vigorous insistence of trade unions are the conditions of those directed by the Government to various occupations in civil life maintained at a higher level than the Government, presumably, would otherwise be prepared to grant.
The Army are not allowed a trade union: they are not allowed to go on strike; and, indeed, they do not wish to do so. Therefore, is it not very essential that the State should be a model employer in matters of this kind—and indeed in all matters affecting wages and conditions where the State is the employer? How has the State shown itself in the past as an employer? It has been mean, niggardly, and in most instances penny wise and pound foolish. In the House the other day we heard the Prime Minister's very proper glowing tributes to our original small Army who have fought magnificently on so many battlefields in this war. To-day the Secretary of State for War has himself suggested that the postwar Army shall have monetary advantages which would attract the best type of 1684 men from all classes. This is fine; but I cannot help feeling that now, in this time of war, glowing phrases should have a cash value entirely different from that which is being paid at present.
Let me deal with one other category, in one sentence. I heard yesterday of a draughtsman, a temporary civil servant, a single man, who was employed by the Ministry of Works. He was sent into the Army as a draughtsman, in the same line of business, but at lower pay. The Ministry of Works have for over three years been making up this draughtsman's pay, out of public funds, showing that at least one Ministry find that the pay of the private single soldier is totally inadequate. I want to make a special appeal to Members on the other side of the House. I ask them, while this Debate is in progress, to use the strength that their overwhelming voting power gives them in this House to impress upon the Government that this Debate is theirs as much as it is mine, and that they intend this time that the men and women of the Army shall get a square deal, and not just a lot of high-sounding promises or niggardly increases.
A Member on the other side of the House might have been fortunate enough to have got the ballot on this occasion, and in that case, if I had been fortunate enough to catch your eye, Sir, I would have made the same speech as I am making to-day. I would have supported any hon. Member on that side of the House who was fighting for this cause. I say to the Tory Party that this is their great opportunity on this occasion—[An HON. MEMBER: "The last one."]—it is their great opportunity to throw their weight on to the side of a cause with with the great mass of the British public are in deep sympathy.
Lastly, I address myself to all hon. Members of this House to say that, if I must divide the House on this issue, I want them to remember that they will not be voting for me and that they will not be voting against me. They will be voting for the right and justice of giving the men and women of the Army a square deal on this occasion. That is what they will be voting for—not for me. It does not affect my private life at all how hon. Members vote—and I therefore say this to them most earnestly and sincerely. I hope the Government will not force us to divide. It is up to them; they will have 1685 the final word in this Debate on what they are going to do. I am not trying to be at all humorous in closing, but I do not think I could do better than quote the title of Ernest Hemingway's book in asking hon. Members, before they go into the Lobby, and regardless of what the Whips have told them this time, to remember "For Whom the Bell Tolls."
§ Major C. S. Taylor (Eastbourne)
I beg to second the Amendment.
I wish to support the case so eloquently put by the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Kendall) and I would like to make it clear that I am not speaking for any Committee of Members of this House. I am not speaking for the Conservative Party Joint Services Committee; neither am I speaking for the Service Members Committee, but solely as an individual Member of the House.
I do not think that, on any political platform, or any political problem, the hon. Member for Grantham and I would ever agree, but I do not regard this question of Army pay and allowances as a political problem. I think it would be most terrible and frightful if ever it became a political issue, and I hope that no hon. Members will make it a political or party problem. I agree with the hon. Member who has just spoken that it is desirable that an immediate increase of pay and allowances should be given to officers and men in the Army. Although I do not believe that there is any extreme hardship, so far as pay is concerned, except in the case of lieutenants and captains, there is no doubt that the Army is inadequately paid. Several hon. Members, before this Debate, came to me and said "It is no good going out for increased pay; you will merely be banging your head against a brick wall. The Government will be completely adamant and will not give way an inch." When I look at the Secretary of State, who made such an admirable, such a magnificent speech, if I may say so, in introducing the Estimates, I see the personification of the brick wall against which I have to bang my head. I remember the lines in "A Midsummer Night's Dream"—I do not want this to be a midsummer night's dream, but a reality—the lines spoken by Quince to Tom Snout, who represented the Wall: 1686This man, with lime and rough-cast, doth presentWall, that vile Wall.Equally, in case the Secretary of State thinks this allusion to be too rude or vulgar, I would remind him that Pyramus spoke in more wheedling terms at a later stage:Thou Wall, O Wall, O sweet and lovely Wall,Show me thy chink.That is precisely what we want the wall to do to-day. We hope the wall will show us some chink and that, at the end of the Debate, we shall not again, like Pyramus, have to say:Oh wicked Wall, through whom I see no bliss;Curst be they stones, for thus deceiving me!The present-day soldier, whether an officer or serving in the ranks, has just sufficient money upon which to exist, plus an occasional very small luxury. Some have not even the money to get an occasional luxury. The older lieutenant, who may be doing a very good job of work—and, in these days of extremely active and mobile warfare, they have very little opportunity of promotion—is not only quite inadequately paid, but is not really given a living wage. I remember, from personal experience when serving full time in the Army, that junior officers had to count every single penny they had to save themselves from financial embarrassment. That is entirely wrong, and I would ask the Secretary of State to reconsider the budget of the captain and subaltern officers at the present time.
The basic pay of a second lieutenant—I do not want to go too much into figures—is 11s. a day, but, through recent changes in the Regulations after our last Debate, the second lieutenant becomes a lieutenant after six months' service, thereby getting an increase to 13s. a day. When he reaches the exalted rank of captain, he gets 16s. 6d. a day. Comparatively, a major is pretty well off, for he receives all £1 8s. 6d.—nearly double the captain and nearly three times that of the lieutenant. I feel that lieutenants' pay should be increased to at least 15s., and that captains' pay should be increased to at least 19s., which should be the lowest rates which lieutenants or captains should receive.
The next point with which I want to deal is the question of allowances to married soldiers. The wife of a married 1687 soldier with no children is, probably, able to supplement the family income by going out to work, and, quite frankly, in war-time, if she is not going out to work, she ought to be. If she does go out to work, the combined pay of the soldier-husband and the wife working at the factory, is sufficient to meet reasonable liabilities, but the husband and wife who are both in industry have a very much higher joint income. It is really not true to say that the married soldier, with no children, has no grievance, because he obviously has got a grievance in that the wife and husband in industry have a very much higher income. I do not want to dwell too much on that because there is a very much harsher grievance to which I want to refer.
The marriage allowance of the soldier with a wife and one, two or three children is completely inadequate. The wife, because she has children, is unable to go out to work. I am one of those old-fashioned people who do not want to see her go out to work. It is just as important for her to stay at home and look after the children, as it is to go out to work. She is unable to meet the liabilities with which she is faced. I would like the House to consider what the wife of a private soldier receives. She gets 18s. a week, plus an allotment of 7s. a week, half of which is paid out of the pay of the soldier by allotment and half by the State, making a total of 25s. This allowance is gradually increased over a period of years, so that after three years she receives a total of £1 12s., unless she is doing work on her own account, and even if she has no children, she may not be doing so, because she may not be fit.
Mr. Bellenģer (Bassetlaw)
In case the House might think that any of that increase comes from the Government, I would point out that none of it comes from the Government, but that it all comes from her husband in increased compulsory allotment.
§ Major Taylor
I am obliged to the hon. Member for calling the attention of the House to that point. Out of the £1 12s. which the wife receives she has to provide all the necessities of life, and for this purpose it is not very much. If she has children, she receives 9s. 6d. a week for the first child, 8s. 6d. for the second and 7s. 6d. for the third and 7s. 6d. for subsequent 1688 children. A wife with a family is probably not able to go—and I would hope that she does not go—out to work, and I am sure that hon. Members will agree that these amounts are not sufficient, in these days of high rents and high costs for clothing, food and everything else, to keep a wife and three children.
I turn to the case of the junior officer, The subaltern or captain, if he is on the higher rates of pay, receives 4s. a day for his wife and 7s. a day for a wife and one child, 8s. 6d. for a wife and two children and 1s. for every subsequent child. A wife with three children would receive £2 19s. 6d. with which to feed and clothe them and find somewhere to live, and we all know that in these difficult times it is not easy to find somewhere cheap to live. The subaltern and the captain, because they receive such a small remuneration, are entirely unable to help their wives and families further out of their pay.
The next hardship concerns the sick or wounded soldier in hospital. At the present time, if, a soldier is sick for 21 days, he loses his temporary or acting rank and has to revert to his substantive rank, which means that he also loses the pay of the higher rank. A soldier who is wounded is allowed to retain his acting or temporary rank for a period of three months before reverting to his substantive rank. These are both extremely hard cases, and I rather feel that the sick and the wounded soldier should be treated in the same way. Neither is to blame. A man may go out on an operation and get influenza or be unfortunate enough to be hit by a bullet. It is not the man's own fault. In either case he has to go to hospital, and after the prescribed period he loses his rank and his pay. An officer may often drop two ranks, from being a major to a lieutenant, after 21 days in hospital, or three months if he is wounded, and may lose an enormous amount of pay—from 28s. 6d. to 13s.—all through no fault of his own. I have received a letter from an officer, who shall remain nameless for obvious reasons, written from a hospital in North Africa, and I would like to read extracts to the House. He writes:This naturally originates with what might be considered possibly a personal injustice, but it would appear to be the outcome of a policy affecting many in my circumstances. Out here, if a commanding officer is so stupid or 1689 unfortunate as to get himself wounded, on recovery he is put into a pool and must await a chance of getting another command. He does not go back to his battalion to resume command. This has, or is liable to have, many unfortunate repercussions: first, financial loss to the commanding officer, who loses his command pay, and after three months"—and this applies to all ranks—although fit physically and mentally, loses his rank, with very heavy financial loss, and all because he is stupid enough to get wounded.The writer of that letter, who has been a Regular since 1915 and who commanded a battalion in France with great distinction in this war and obtained the D.S.O., subsequently commanded a battalion in Africa, yet, because he got wounded, because he showed dash and initiative in battle—which is what we want from officers in command—he was discarded or by-passed. Why should he lose his pay and future prospects? It is grossly unfair to those whose living this is and who have precious little to which to look forward in post-war years. It is a terrible injustice to penalise a soldier who gets wounded in this way. The troops are extremely irritated by these Regulations. I wonder what a Cabinet Minister would have to say if, after being sick for 21 days, he lost his rank and his pay. If that had happened, the Deputy Prime Minister would now be Prime Minister.
§ Major Taylor
But that is what happens in the Army. The second-in-command probably gets the command because the commanding officer has been sick for 21 days and has lost his rank and pay.
§ Major Taylor
I wonder whether the private employer would ever be able to get away with such a rule as that. There would be such an outcry against it that he would never be able to do it.
Now I come to my general proposals regarding the pay of the Army. I have tried to be reasonable so far in any demands that I have made. I really have not tried to be greedy but to show that, although immediate increases of pay are desirable from the point of view of justice and fairness, only in certain cases are they an absolute necessity, and I have 1690 tried to bring up those eases to-day. But I believe, from the point of view of justice and fairness, there should be a general increase. I have, however, two alternative suggestions to make and I hope that they will receive the earnest consideration of the Secretary of State not only for the War Department, but for the other Service Departments as well. This really affects all three Services. The first is, that an immediate increase of pay should be given, but not in the form of an immediate cash payment such as the hon. Member who proposed the Amendment suggests, but in deferred pay, so that at the end of the war those who are now serving will have an additional nest-egg to enable them to undertake civil employment and be able to find suitable employment after demobilisation without having to starve or go on the dole.
§ Mr. Shinwell (Seaham)
May I ask my hon. and gallant Friend, does that alternative not destroy the whole of his case? Is he not now saying that the men do not need this increase?
§ Major Taylor
I am saying that they should have an immediate increase of pay but, at the moment, the troops fighting in Italy do not want to spend their pay. The prudent soldier, if he had an increase today, would put something by until the end of the war.
§ Major Taylor
We are now discussing pay and not allowances. I would like to ask the Secretary of State whether he can make any statement about the question of gratuities at the end of the war. All those in the Services are banking on getting gratuities and, although I believe no actual promise has been made about gratuities, I can assure my right hon. Friend if gratuities are not given it will be regarded, rightly or wrongly, by those who are now serving as a breach of faith. I would also like to say that the gratuity should not be regarded as having anything to do with pay; it is a capital payment and should not be confused with any deferred pay which I have suggested.
I want to mention an alternative proposal to deferred pay. I myself think it is rather a better proposition which I hope will commend itself to the Secretary of State and to the House. It is that after 1691 demobilisation, every man in the Services should be given a period of holiday with pay—six weeks or two months, or some such period. The advantages of such a suggestion are that it would not be necessary for the soldier who is demobilised to jump into the first job that presents itself and thereby become a round peg in a square hole. Secondly, if no job is immediately available, he would be able to exist without going on to the dole and would be able to settle down, to try to find suitable employment during that six-weekly or two-monthly period. I want to be perfectly clear that this period, which I would like to call a holiday with pay, would not debar him from accepting civil employment immediately, in which case, of course, he would get his Army pay in addition for the period of holiday with pay. If the suggestion were adopted, there might then be no necessity to increase pay at the moment.
§ Major Taylor
This is an alternative method of increasing his pay. At the present time, although the war is by no means won, all eyes are turning to the post-war period. The Regular officer does not know to what he has to look forward in the post-war years. Although the War Office are trying to get people to stay in the Army, as a career, in the post-war period, they have not yet said what the conditions of service are to be for the post-war soldier. The temporary soldier is saying to himself, "What is going to happen to me, if I survive this war? What will be my position in comparison with the fellow who was directed into industry or into the mines? What will be my position in comparison with a fellow who was allowed to continue, for some reason or another, his civil employment?"
§ Major Taylor
As my hon. Friend has said, there are no trades unions in the Army and I believe it is up to hon. Members in this House—there is no other way in which it can be done—to see that the common soldier, without whose courage and effort this war could never be won, is given justice during the time he is a soldier and when he ceases to be a soldier.
Mr. Bellenģer (Bassetlaw)
I think it is my duty at the outset of my remarks to pay a tribute to the very moderate speech of the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Kendall) when he moved this Amendment. I do not think the Government have any cause to complain at the way he presented his case. He presented it fairly, and I think adequately. I can say at the outset of my remarks that I shall have to disagree with the conclusions which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Major Taylor) arrived at in his otherwise very good speech. Although we are only discussing the Army to-day, we know very well that when the Secretary of State rises to reply, he will speak for all three Services on this matter, and, quite frankly, we are determined to see that the men in those Services are not put in an inferior position compared with those who have been fortunate enough to have been directed by the Minister of Labour into industrial employment.
There are various comparisons that could be made. I am going to make what I think is the fairest comparison. I may have to mention the United States Army and the Dominions Armies, but I am not going to base my case on the rates of pay that they get. I mould like to draw the attention of the House to something that was said in the last Debate on this mattes, by the Minister of Aircraft Production who was then Lord Privy Seal. He spoke for the Government in September, 1942. Incidentally, it seems to me a very cumbrous may of settling the pay of our fighting men and women to have this series of Debates and arguments and bickerings and bludgeoning of the Government in order to get a few pence extra. There must be a better way, I should think, and I am going to make a suggestion in that respect later. The Minister of Production said:It is the duty of the Government to keep the matter under constant review.… All three Services have very able advocates for their cause within the Government itself in the persons of the Ministers responsible for those Services.I understand that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War is going to reply to this Debate and I would like him to give a reply to this question. What has he, in his capacity as Secretary of State for War, been doing to keep this matter under con- 1693 stant review? How far has he been an advocate for the men and women under his control for increased pay and allowances which the House is bringing prominently to his attention to-day? I happen to know, quite unofficially—and I expect other hon. Members know it too—that the War Office have been considering this matter. I have a shrewd idea of some of their recommendations, but what I want the Secretary of State to tell me is: What has happened to them? Where have they gone? Would we ever have heard of some of those conclusions which we hope the right hon. Gentleman will mention to-day, if Members of Parliament, by the luck of the ballot, by a lottery, had not been able to bring this matter to the Floor of the House? A predecessor of the right hon. Gentleman once told this House that he would "come clean" when he made his maiden speech on the Army Estimates, I would suggest to my right hon. Friend that he should do the same to-day; otherwise, I think we shall have very good cause to doubt his bona fides in this matter.
Then on the occasion to which I have referred the Minister of Aircraft Production, making proposals for certain increases, also said:… the rates of pay should be stabilised at the new level so long as prices remain at their present level."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th September, 1942; cols. 376–384, Vol. 383.]That was in 1942. Since then, the general price level has increased—perhaps not so much for rationed goods but everybody knows that uncontrolled goods, or goods that are not rationed, have shown an enormous increase in price, an increase out of all proportion to what the Ministry of Labour tell us in their index figure, is the increase in the cost of living. Therefore, on that ground alone, I think that the House has a case to-day which the Government must answer. The Minister of Aircraft Production on that occasion attempted to show that there could be no fair comparison between Service and industrial rates of pay. I, for one, reminded him then that that argument did not hold water, because what had happened before that Debate? The Government issued their famous—or perhaps I should say, "infamous"—White Paper, in which they attempted to show that the rates they were paying to Servicemen were, at any rate, comparable with the rates that were being paid in civil life. They did not say 1694 that it is so in actual fact, but they said that a married or single man would save so much—I think it was 35s. in the case of a single man and 23s. or 25s. in the case of a married man—on clothing, transport and other things which he would have to pay for himself in civil life. The Government themselves, in their own White Paper, took a somewhat similar comparison to the one I wish to make although theirs was rather distorted.
My hon. Friend the Member for Grantham mentioned that the Army had no trade union to speak for it. I suggest that no trade union would allow matters of pay rates to be argued on the Floor of the House as we are arguing this matter to-day. All through the war we have not abrogated the right of the industrial worker, through his properly constituted organisation, to raise issues like this and settle them outside this House. Seldom are matters like this, in relation to those people, brought into this House. Yet to-day this is our only method of voicing the grievances of the people in the Services.
Would not the hon. Member agree that it is entirely legitimate, considering that the Armed Forces of the Crown are in the employment of the State?
I have seldom heard my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) having to argue about the rates of pay which should be paid to those in the Civil Service whom he represents. Those rates are settled outside.
§ Mr. W. J. Brown
So far as civil servants are concerned, they have two weapons—one, is the ordinary weapon of direct negotiation with the employer and the second, if they do not get a fair result, is for me to raise the matter here. What I would like to see is the Army enjoying precisely the same rights as the Civil Service.
We have Service men working side by side with civil employees in Government establishments. Many of these establishments employ thousands of men in uniform, alongside their colleagues who are in civilian clothes. The civilian can air his grievances through his union, whereas the man in battledress has his lips sealed by King's Regulations. I will suggest later a proposal, which I hope will meet with some consideration from the 1695 House, that the question of pay and allowances should be settled in a different way. As to the comparison on which I base my case, it is the comparison between Service and industrial earnings. My hon. Friend the Member for Grantham quoted what he said was a specimen budget. I have no such specimen but I will take something from the Government's own figures, from the "Ministry of Labour Gazette" which, each half year, publishes a set of figures derived from the average earnings of over 6,000,000 workers. Taking this set of figures at the pre-war basis, in October, 1938, the average earnings of a man over 21, employed in a Government industrial establishment, were £3 15s. 3d. a week. In January, 1943—and no later figures have been published—that amount had increased to £6 1s. 11d., and I am informed by the Minister of Labour that even that figure has increased during the last year. As hon. Members know, the basic rate of the soldier was 2s. per day in 1938 and is now 3s. He is getting family allowances which are, I admit, a considerable increase on the pre-war figure and in all fairness to the Government I am bound to say that these allowances are free of Income Tax. If he is lucky, the soldier can get a War Service Grant of anything up to £3 a week. That is what the Ministry of Pensions tells us, but what are the facts? I think that less than 10 per cent. of those in the Army are receiving a war service grant.
I trust the Minister will let me make my case in my own way. I say that only about 10 per cent. of those serving in the Army to-day are getting a war service grant. I am not arguing only for the married people but for the single people as well, many of whom, as I shall attempt to show, have obligations just as onerous as those of the married men. The average war service grant is about 15s. a week. Higher rates of the grant would go mainly to officers. If you wanted to get a fair comparison between the rates of remuneration of industrial workers and Service people, I think the best indication, if we could get it, would be to find out the amounts of small savings which have been made by the industrial worker 1696 and by Serviceman respectively. I am sure it would be found that the Serviceman and his wife or his dependants would be a long way behind the civilian. If the House wants proof of that let hon. Members refer to a speech made by the Prime Minister when he broadcast his famous Four-Year Plan some time ago. What did he say? He talked of several millions of people after the war who would have a stake in the country to the extent of £200 or £300 of small savings. I am sure he was not referring to Servicemen. Obviously he was referring to civilians.
Another point that I should like to bring prominently before the House is the almost chaotic maner—I can find no other word for it—in which the Army settles its pay rates. I have here Part 2 of Army Book 64, which is the serving soldier's pay book. Although I must congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on making the Army pay rates a little bit more intelligible to the average soldier, when he opens it he finds that, if he enlisted before October, 1925, he is on one rate and if he enlisted after 1925, as most serving now in the Army have done, he is on a different rate. If he is still more curious he finds that, because he has enlisted or been called up to serve in this war, he is paid less than those who enlisted before 1925. There are two sets of payments for men doing the same job to-day. I agree with the suggested basic rate of 5s. a day—I have a suspicion that even in the right hon. Gentleman's own Department that figure coincides with some figures that they have in mind—and he should not have to Wait for that until he has served for three years. At present if he has served for three years he has Class 1 rates of pay, which bring him up to 4s. 6d., and if he has special proficiency he is raised to Class 1A, which brings him up to 4s. 9d. Yet after six months' training he is supposed to be proficient and maybe sent to fight overseas. He is denied Service increments because he has only six months' training.
Even this figure is below what is paid by our Dominions to their soldiers. Cannot this country at least observe the same standards as our Dominions? The figure of 35s. for wives is not too great, though it may seem so to some hon. Members opposite. It may be said that if she had 35s. the wife, especially if she had no children, could earn more. So can the 1697 civilian's wife. Are the wages of civilians based on what their wives can go out and earn? Why should the soldier's wife have to submit to these conditions merely because she can go out and earn money? Let us pay the soldier sufficient to maintain the wife in a decent manner without her going out to work, although I agree that during the war obviously, we have to mobilise the married women without children. They will go out even if you pay 35s. None will shirk their duty, because their husbands are serving.
There is another factor that we must never forget in the case of the married men. The married woman has to keep the home going whether she goes out to work or not. The husband expects her to do so. She has rent to pay. The mere fact that the husband has joined the Army does not reduce the rent. In the case of war widows the Ministry of Pensions grant a supplementary pension for rent of anything up to 12s. Why should we not observe the same kind of feature in paying the wives of serving men? May I quote something that happened in my own constituency. I was reading the report of the Housing Committee and I was surprised and shocked to notice what two councillors said. They were discussing arrears in rent for council houses. One said that, if the items were looked into, it would be seen that the great majority were Service people. The other councilor said that the borough treasurer had tried his best to get the money collected. If the Service men were taken out the arrears would be comparatively small. What better comment could there be on the inadequate rates of pay of Service men and on the distinction between Service men and civilians?
As regards children's allowances, I do not think anyone has mentioned a figure. I have one in my mind of 15s. a week with no diminution for the second, third or fourth child. It is a fallacy that the third or fourth costs less than the first. I have practical experience of that, because I have four children, and my wife has never asked me for less as the others have arrived. Generally it has been more. The present rates are 9s. 6d., 8s. 6d. and 7s. 6d. In justification of my figure I am going to give two comparisons. If a child is evacuated, the local authority pays a billeting allowance of 10s 6d. in the case of a child under five. If the 1698 child happens to be 14 to 16 it is 13s. and if 17, 16s. 6d. That is without the cost of clothing and all the other things a child wants. The Ministry of Health recently made an arrangement with the Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen's Families Association whereby when a mother is expecting another child, or where there is illness of the mother, where space is available, they are taken into Ministry of Health hostels. The Ministry asks the Association to pay 11s. a week for each child, with no diminution for the second and third. The irony of the whole situation is that the Association endeavours to get 11s. a week from the mother, though she is only receiving 9s. 6d., 8s. 6d. or 75. 6d. a week. In most cases she cannot pay, so a charitable organisation has to make it up.
When we come to the case of dependants and mothers, especially widowed mothers of single men, in most cases an even worse situation is disclosed. I do not much care for reading letters, which, like the Government figures, can be so manoeuvred as to present all possible angles of view, but this letter puts my case adequately.I have one child, a boy. I did my best to keep him at high school.Many of these women have been trying to do the same thing. The terrible thing is that it is not the very poorest who are penalised, but those people who are trying their best to give their children a good education. She goes on:He won a scholarship during the years when there was very little money about here, the years when Wales was suffering from depression. He gets a job which he likes very much. There is not much money until he is 18. What happens to him then? He is called up. I am left with nothing at all unless he allots me 75. a week, which he did. My husband is a cripple from the last war with a meagre pension. He has a small business, motor-hire. He cannot do any other job. He cannot go into a factory and earn much money, because his disability requires him to have a sitting job. Living round me are many with boys and girls, three or four, all at home earning good sums of money.Then she puts in brackets "Good luck to them." She goes on to say:I am 50. I look after my father 80 years of age, my stepmother 80 years of age, my uncle 81 years of age, all on old age pensions.A very famous member of the Tory Party, Lord Beaconsfield, once wrote about the two nations in this country. It is true. It is only when we get these letters and we 1699 can see into the minds of these families, that we can understand the penury, even the under-nourishment, certainly the hardship caused by, the present operation of the dependants' allowances by the Service Departments. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Major C. S. Taylor) has dealt with the junior officers' case so I will not elaborate that but will only say that I support him entirely.
The last point I want to put concerns the women. Hon. Members know that the women members of the Army are paid two-thirds the rate of their male colleagues. We have heard the Secretary of State talk about the wonderful work girls are doing on operational sites. Many of them are relieving male colleagues of work so that the male soldier can go and fight. These girls on operational sites are doing the same work and should get the same pay as their male colleagues. The Government had to face a hostile vote in this House on the question of equal pay, but to-day I limit my claim for equal pay to women in the Services who are on operational duties or in trade categories. There is a proposal I want to make to the House which I hope will be received sympathetically by the House and by the Government. We ought to take this recurring bargaining, almost auctioning on occasions, out of the atmosphere of party politics. I am bound to recognise the responsibility of the Government, and I do not wish to relieve them of that responsibility, but at the same time I do not desire to mitigate in any way the responsibility of this House to settle these matters.
To-day I have only touched the fringe of the anomalies. I could tell the House of at least 20 anomalies that ought to be settled, but which cannot be settled in two or three hours' Debate. I suggest that the Government should consult the House far more effectively. I think that it ought to be possible for a Committee of this House, composed of men and women who know the subject intimately, and drawn from all quarters, to go into this matter in detail, having the Service Ministers present at their meetings and being able to consult the permanent officials from the Service Departments. That Committee should make recommendations to the Government. It would 1700 be for the Government or the House to decide whether they should be adopted. If the Government set up some Committee like that, which could investigate all these matters and make recommendations, it might prove an effective way of settling many of these problems which we are constantly bringing before the House and are constantly told are being considered by the Government.
Writers like Kipling have written of the glorious deeds of the soldier. Books galore have described the epic events that have been performed by those of whom it may be said:Their's not to make reply,Their's not to reason why,Their's but to do and die.In each of these works is recorded the shameful treatment that we have meted out to those who have answered their country's call in her hour of need. Let us once and for all expunge these methods of parsimony from our King's Regulations and Pay Warrant. Let us remember that "fine words butter no parsnips." "Salute the soldier" is a mockery if merely used as a slogan by a war savings committee. More than words are required. I call on the Government to acknowledge by action—and quick action—the heroic work which is being performed by millions of our men and women scattered all over the world.
§ Captain Bernays (Bristol, North)
The hon. and gallant Member for Eastbourne (Major C. S. Taylor) quoted very effectively from "A Midsummer Night's Dream." I hope my right hon. Friend when he replies will not counter with "The Winter's Tale." I am bound to confess that the Government in the past have shown themselves alive to obligations to the Army. At the beginning of the war, after a man had made his marriage allotment, he was left with 7s. He now has 19s. That, after all, is a substantial advance. On the last occasion when this subject was debated the then Lord Privy Seal, now Minister of Aircraft Production, used these significant words:The Government unanimously take the view, and in this the Chancellor of the Exchequer fully concurs, that in such a question as that which is at present under discussion the primary consideration is justice for the men and women in the Services and not any mistaken ideas of economy. The gallantry and endurance of these men and women can certainly never be measured in terms of money."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th September, 1942; col. 376, Vol. 383.]1701 I think it is fair to say we need not appeal to the hearts of the Government in the matter. Their hearts are in the right place. What we have to show the Government is that our pleas for increases in pay and allowances are fair and reasonable. This is no new-found interest in fair allowances on my part, for as long ago as 1937 I seconded a similar Motion moved by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food. What I knew about pay and allowances in those days it is difficult to recall. I hope that I know more now.
I would like to say at the outset, even though it may be unpopular in some quarters, that I do not believe there is a strong case for a flat increase in pay. I do not believe that the single soldier has much cause for grievance—[Hon. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I do not think so, and I have some experience in this matter. During the nine months that I spent in the ranks I found it possible to live on the pay that I received across the pay table, excluding the occasions when I came up to attend to my Parliamentary duties. [Interruption.] I am only giving this as a personal experience, and I will say from my limited experience that the pay for the single soldier, though by no means lavish, is generally sufficient for the needs of camp life. I said at the beginning that this may be unpopular, but it is my view and I intend to put it forward. With regard to the married man without children, if his wife is in good health and can go out to work there is not a very great case for an increase.
§ Mr. Bernays
Yes, and I found what a difference it made when she started having children and did not go out to work. That is the point I am coming to. It is when there are children or when children begin to come that anxieties arise. The wife can no longer work, and the income of the family is halved at the very moment when there are new and great drains upon it. I feel, and this is my plea, that the children's allowances are inadequate and that the family incomes, where the head of the household is a soldier, are unfairly disproportionate to the family incomes where the head of the household is not in the Army. Children's allowances are not sufficient and 1702 too many men have grave anxieties about the conditions in their home. That will be confirmed by other serving officers in the House.
It is my job on occasions when I am orderly officer at my headquarters to visit the detention barracks, and I am very concerned to find how many men in detention are men with families. I suppose that absence without leave is the biggest reason that brings a man into detention. It is disturbing to find in how many cases the story of these men is that they went absent because of family troubles at home. It is difficult to give figures in this matter, but I would say, from such investigation as I have been able to make, that of the men in detention about 65 per cent. are there for persistent absence without leave. Of these men about 60 per cent. are married men with families. This is confirmed by the Prime Minister's inquiry into detention barracks in the Report of which stress is laid on the need for welfare work before the men get into detention. The Committee emphasised the importance of good welfare work in the units, and they considered that if the admirable notes issued to officers by the Adjutant-General under the heading "Soldiers' Welfare" were carried into effect, perhaps as many as 50 per cent. of those soldiers under sentence would never be sent to detention. That is a reflection on management in the Army, but I know how keenly the War office has been taking up that matter and how much it has done to improve it. At the same time, I would like to suggest that what an officer can do for men with grave family troubles is comparatively little, apart from an application for a war service grant. There is a danger that an officer is becoming, in regard to some of his men, a Poor Law investigator, for he has to spend an enormous amount of time on these personal cases, time that is taken off training and his other regimental duties.
I do not want to labour the difference between Army and civilian rates of pay. After all, there are compensations in the Army. It is for many men a grand life. [Laughter.] I do not think that jeer is going to be helpful to morale. Frequent requests are made by men for temporary transfer to the War Reserve in order to go back into civilian life for a time. It is not, in the great majority of cases, that they wish to evade their military responsibility. 1703 It is that many of them have got into debt and they feel that it is only by going back into civilian life for a time that they can wipe off their debts. I was interested in the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) on the question of rent arrears, which confirms what I am saying. The family allowances are not sufficient and there should be a substantial increase. The problem concerns officers as well as men, and I would like to reinforce the plea that has been made for junior officers up to and including the rank of captain. Some of them are experiencing the whip of real poverty. Again, I am not pleading for a flat increase in pay. I believe that the pay is generally sufficient for the single man and for the married man without children. It is when they have children, or start to have children, that the shadow of anxiety falls across their lives.
After all, they have to maintain not merely their wives and families but to live upon the money, and there are certain inevitable incidental expenses which are necessary to maintain their bare position as officers. I have been furnished by a brother officer with an actual monthly budget, and if the House will allow me I will read it. This officer has 13s. a day. He has a wife and two children, for which he receives 8s. 6d. a day. The total that he receives is £32 5s. a month. That seems a very substantial sum, but how does it go? There are home expenses: rent, £3 12s 6d. per month; furniture on hire purchase, £5 7s. 6d.; insurance, £1 12s. 6d.; coal, £1 6s. 0d.; food for one of the two children, £6 10s. 0d.—a very small amount; school fees, £2 3s. 0d.; incidental expenses 15s.; and clothing for wife and two children, £2 3s. 0d. That amounts to £24 10s. 0d. Then there are his own expenses, due to the fact of his living apart from his family. His mess bill, including mess subscriptions, is £1—very low. His batman receives 10s., laundry 10s.—absolutely down to the minimum—and cigarettes £2 15s. 0d. This may seem a great amount, but it only works out at ten cigarettes a day. [An HON. MEMBER: "What is the price of them"? He gets 40 at the pre-Budget price and then he has to take 20 in the usual way. I smoke more than that myself. He is left, for incidental expenses, with £2 5s. 0d. per month. So, he receives £32 5s. 0d. and he spends 1704 £32 10s. 0d. Hon. Members may question some of these items, but I think they are generally fair.
§ Captain Bernays
Yes, he does. He is left with little more than 10s. a week pocket money, rather less than many office boys are spending to-day. I would like to make three observations on that budget. Firstly, I believe it reveals a state of affairs which is not sufficiently appreciated by the War Office. I understand that the War Office expect an officer naturally to contribute the whole of his family allowance, but do not expect him to contribute more than two-sevenths of his net pay. An officer is expected to maintain his family on £18 a month; it cannot be done. This officer's accommodation is pretty low, £24 10s. a month, but instead of contributing two-sevenths of his pay he is contributing rather more than two-thirds. I would also suggest that no margin is left for sudden liabilities like illness, or confinement, or a pram, or even such ordinary contingencies as a burst water pipe or the renewal of a saucepan. These expenses have to come out of previous savings, made in civilian life, and such savings are being gravely depleted, if they have not vanished altogether.
Many young officers will leave the Army very much poorer than when they went into it. Some junior officers, too, are probably worse off than senior N.C.Os. I have further figures here. Talking of basic pay, and not of family allowance, a second-lieutenant gets roughly £200 a year. A warrant officer, Class I, gets £255. A warrant officer, Class II, £282. The warrant officer Class I is substantially better off than the officer, who has expenses not borne by the N.C.O. For instance, he has higher mess bills. He has to renew his clothing and there are certain articles of equipment which he has to purchase. In consequence of that, there is evidence that there is reluctance on the part of senior N.C.Os. to accept commissions. If that is so, it is a serious matter. The need for officers is urgent. The ranks have been combed and re-combed. The only available source of supply is from among the senior N.C.Os. I believe we shall not get them unless we tackle promptly this problem of the children's allowance. I know that it can be 1705 argued that officers, unlike warrant officers, can expect promotion, but promotion comes slowly, particularly in static units. The only promotion which is worth while is that salmon leap between captain and major.
I come to the problem of war service grants. I would like to say from experience that they have been efficiently and generously administered, but they were framed to deal with the exceptional case. The difficulties both of men and of officers, who are married and have children, are too great and too general to be met by any ad hoc grant from public funds. In any case, nobody can really say that the arrival of a child is an especial hardship which ought to be met by a grant from public funds, subject to a rigorous means test. That really cannot be maintained and ought not to be maintained. There is some evidence that all this is leading to a restriction of families. I have found in the House, and in the officers' mess, instance after instance of men who are either not starting a family or are not enlarging an existing family because the financial sacrifice expected of them is too great.
This is a state of affairs which the Government will ignore at their peril. After all, the men in the Forces are presumably the fittest men in the nation. In one respect an officer's position is worse than that of a man. My hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw and some other hon. Members, including myself, have been pleading strongly for a maternity grant, and that was conceded by the Government, but officers were excluded from it. I hope that that will be put right. I hope that the Government will not tinker with this question. I hope they will come forward with a substantial increase in the children's allowance. We were invited in moving terms to-day to salute the soldier, yet saluting the soldier is not enough. Let us manage so that, later, we can look him in the face and tell him, what he would much prefer to hear, that while he saved the Empire, his employer saved his place and his mates—that is you and I—looked after her.
We are in process of moving you out of the Chair, Mr. Speaker. This is the historic occasion for the redress of grievances. I hope that before you leave that Chair to-day, we shall have had a definite declaration from the Government that 1706 they will consider the representations we have made to them promptly and sympathetically. Such a declaration would bring aid and comfort to those now in action on our many fronts and to those at home now bracing themselves for the supreme ordeal of the grand defensive.
§ Mr. Shinwell (Seaham)
I confess there is little advantage to be gained by arguing all round this question. It is, for me, a simple proposition: Is the pay of the soldier adequate? If the answer from hon. Members is in the affirmative, that is an end of the matter. Are the allowances provided for the wives and children of serving men sufficient to enable them to live in comfort? I repeat, if hon. Members say "Having regard to this factor and that," and cloud the issue, then, clearly, we might as well not have had this Debate. We are grateful to the hon. Member for Grantham Kendall) for having raised the Debate, and, I add, for his forthrightness. He certainly knew what he wanted, but since then those of us who found our spirits rising have been almost completely disillusioned. There is no unanimity among hon. Members on the direct issue posed by the hon. Member for Grantham. It is not enough to divert hon. Members from the main issue by raising questions of long-term policy. The hon. and gallant Member for Eastbourne (Major C. S. Taylor) spoke of deferred pay. Well, if we are constantly to be offering—excuse my bluntness—pie in the sky for the men who are now—
§ Mr. Shinwell
—ready to make the supreme sacrifice, in my judgment it is an insult to those men and to the nation. In any event, have we not been promised by the Government full consideration of reconstruction proposals, including a policy of full employment for the men when they reurn? Why concern ourselves about deferred pay, for in any event what can it amount to? Does anybody really imagine that the amount of deferred pay that would accrue to a serving soldier as a result of the proposal that the hon. and gallant Member made would enable him to set himself up in business and compete with the monopolists? It is absurd.
As for my hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) I am bound to say to him, with the best will in the world, 1707 that if we are, as a result of this Debate, to set up a committee and then proceed to negotiate on the basis of further investigations this war may well be over before we reach a decision. That is not the issue at all. I repeat, is the pay of the serving man adequate? If it is, let us go home. The fact is that it is not adequate, and every hon. Member in this House knows that it is not adequate, in spite of the hon. and gallant Member for North Bristol (Captain Bernays), who informed us so blandly that when he was a serving soldier, a private or it may have been a lance corporal, before he reached his present exalted position in the Forces, he was able to live on the pay of a soldier. He has just told the House, after having made that bland declaration, how difficult it is for an officer to live on his existing rates of pay.
§ Captain Bernays
The hon. Member will forgive me, but I made exactly the same point both with regard to the officers and the men, that it was extremely difficul for a man who is married with a family, and an officer who is married with a family.
§ Mr. Shinwell
The hon. and gallant Member spoke of the single man and the OFFICIAL REPORT will show whether I am right or wrong in my interpretation of what he said. He referred to the single man, and the impression I derived from what he said was that the man serving in the ranks had sufficient to enable him to carry on quite well.
§ Mr. Shinwell
All I have to say is that I do not agree with the hon. and gallant Member. Let this be said without further ado. Every advance in pay and allowances to the men in the Forces has been forced upon the Government. On no single occasion have the Government taken the initiative. I have myself taken part in the agitations. I took a prominent part in the agitation for another 6d. a day. We had a devil of a job to get the Government to agree even to 6d. a day. We have been informed that the Government are ready to inform us of the assistance that they are now about to offer to men in the Forces. My hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw is in the know. Not being in the know I am bound to say to my right hon. Friend that 1708 I am a little doubtful and a little sceptical myself, knowing the Government on these matters. Of course, if I am proved wrong nobody will be more delighted, because what I shall lose in reputation the men in the Forces will gain in pay.
Indeed, that is what we are driving at. The position has always been bad. It was bad in those seemingly far-off days when my right hon. Friend the Member for Devonport (Mr. Hore-Belisha) was Secretary of State for War. We then sought to increase the soldiers' pay, without success. True, at a subsequent stage it was increased by 100 per cent., which made another 1s. a day. The percentage seemed a great deal; in actual money value it was very little indeed. Speaking for myself, expressing no party view, I am bound to say that the position has become intensified since the advent of American and Dominion Forces in this country. We have differences with the Government—my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House will not object to that, because I know the Government welcome a measure of opposition—but we take a great pride in the nation, and we feel that the nation's reputation is besmirched by the very fact that our men, as gallant, as ready to make the sacrifice, as efficient, as competent, as the men from the United States and from the Dominions, receive pay which is, in many cases, about half of what the men from overseas receive.
§ Sir Alfred Beit (St. Pancras, South-East)
That is just what the French said about the British Forces at the beginning of the war.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I anticipated that argument, but I am comparing our Forces with those from another part of the British Empire, and with the Forces of the United States of America—English - speaking people, accustomed, more or less, to the same standard of living. That is quite different from a comparison between the British and the French Forces. In any event, if any attempt is made to increase the pay of the French Forces it will not be done here. My hon. Friend can make his representations to General de Gaulle and the French Committee of National Liberation.
§ Mr. Shinwell
It was argued by the Deputy Prime Minister on one occasion, when I ventured to put the matter to him across the Floor, that you must relate the pay of the men in the Services to the cost of living to which they are subject in their own countries. The men from the United States and the Dominions are in this country, and when they are in North Africa and in Italy the exchange rates are very much in their favour, much more in their favour than in favour of our men, whose pay is much less. It is all wrong: there is something unjust, there is something invidious, about the fact that there is a lower rate of pay for our men—our single men—who want to have cigarettes as often as the men from abroad want them; who want beer—if that appeals to same hon. Members—as often; who want to stand their turn with the men with whom they must associate on the battlefield, and with whom they are anxious to associate, or, at any rate, with whom they should associate, when they are in this country. Why lower the standard and the prestige of our men? I object to it. If it meant an increase in Income Tax, I would rather see that than that our men should suffer in comparison with the men from other countries.
What would I do about this matter? Send it to a Select Committee? Of course not, Talk about deferred pay? Certainly not. I am not even going to speak in terms of a minimum of 5s. a day. I want something done, because I am practical—as, indeed, we all are. Give them at once another 1s. a day, and make a minimum of 30s. a week. That presents no difficulty. It solves the problem of another investigation. It takes a load off the mind of the Secretary of State for War, because he does not need to send out more reams of paper. Let him not shield himself by saying that it is a matter which affects all the Services, and that he cannot do it without consulting the War Cabinet, and, in particular, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If he wants to consult the Chancellor of the Exchequer, let him do it now; and I will sit down while he does it. That is the way to do it.
We expect the men to be off the mark quickly on the battlefield. Let the Government do things quickly, and encourage the men. That is the way to raise their morale. You do not raise morale by the way you are doing things now. It may be 1710 argued that the men do not seem to be discontented, because they do not go on strike. I am not suggesting that the men should have some kind of trade union organisation; we are the custodians of the rights of these men. That is not peculiar to any hon. Member: that is why we are all here. This problem is all part of the shelving process, leaving it to another day. I say, give them another 1s. a day, and a minimum of 30s. a week. There may be anomalies; but we will suffer the anomalies, so long as we know that the men are getting something extra. What about their families? I say, without hesitation—and I am on firm ground here—that there are hundreds of families of serving men in this country who are impoverished. Hundreds of them who are living on subsidies provided by their relatives—living on charity. There would be thousands still more seriously impoverished if it were not for the good employers, local authorities, and other organisations, making up the difference in pay. I can speak out of my own family experience. As one who is a father, a grandfather, and all that sort of thing—which happens to one in course of time, without malice aforethought—I would say that, although one naturally tries to come to the rescue of members of the family, one feels that it is not the duty of any father or grandfather, it is the duty of the Government, to do the right thing.
I am going to give an example. I do not require to go into statistics at all. Take two cases which occur to me. There were two men living alongside each other before the war. Both were engaged in business of some kind, both earning about £6 a week, which was the average pay for people of that kind, living in a certain standard of comfort. One man is called up for the Forces; and what happens? His pay is much smaller—with the allowance for his wife and children, just about half of what he was receiving before—except for this, that they can apply for a war service grant. So they apply, and get four shillings a week. This was before it was increased. Next door, the person retained in civil employment found that his £6 became £8 and in many cases £10. What justice is there in that? It is all wrong. It creates disquiet and discontent. You do not require agitators going round the place to cause discontent; it is born of the facts. 1711 How is that going to help? The war service grant was created, not to deal with the generality of cases, but with exceptional cases. Indeed, it deals only with exceptional cases. It does not dispense largesse or throw money away. An investigation is conducted and all sorts of inquiries are made, yet even with the war service grants, many families are impoverished.
Something has been said about the cost of living in this connection. I say it is time we stopped all this talk about the cost of living, because it is really irrelevant to the figures submitted by the Government Departments. If you take the elementary needs of life, you can base it on the Government statistics, but that is not how it works out, as every one of us knows. Furniture, furnishings, clothing are required—clothing, particularly for children, when obtainable—and also all sorts of luxuries and semi-luxuries. Why should the wives and children of serving men be deprived of luxuries and semi-luxuries accessible to us? There is no sob stuff about this. After all, in war-time, we are living in equalitarian conditions, or ought to be, and it is with the right idea of equality that we should approach the question.
I want to ask the Government to consider the problem in this fashion. Our duty is to relieve of economic worry the men who are fighting. I agree with what was said by one hon. Member that there is no pecuniary compensation that you can give, for engagement in battle and for making the sacrifice. That is perfectly true, but what is it that troubles the men who are abroad, and the men in this country divorced from their homes? I know it from my correspondence, and all hon. Members are aware of the fact through their correspondence. It is the fear that their families are not comfortable. It does worry them, and I can understand it, because it has been my fear in the past, and, if I may say so to hon. Members, a fear and impression that led to bitterness and sourness. That is all wrong. It is economic worry that is at the root of most of our ills. We have suffered it in civil life. Let us not allow it to be planted on the men whom we are asking to save the nation at the present time. The next thing is to relieve hon. Members of the worry of dealing with such cases. They ought not to be addressed 1712 to us at all. We ought to be able to say, when a letter comes to us appealing for higher pay, or better allowances, or more war service grant, "The Government are doing the right thing by you," and these Debates would be unnecessary.
Finally, it is our duty to provide the best possible conditions for these families. I have spoken vehemently—I am aware of it and sometimes hon. Members object to it—but if there is one thing I have felt from the beginning of the war—and I am sure I reflect the opinion of every hon. Member—it is that something has to be done about it, and we have to be forthright about it. I do not suggest that my right hon. Friends are adamant in the attitude of not wanting to do the right thing by the Service man. But what is the explanation? Can it be finance? I do not believe that finance is a matter of meaningless symbols, but I do say this—that, even if it costs another £50,000,000 to £100,000,000 a year, to provide another shilling for the men fighting, with a minimum of 30s. a week, and some additional recompense for the officers and perhaps another 2s. a day for the dependants—even if it costs that, it is worth while, because it will afford satisfaction to those concerned and satisfaction to hon. Members. Then, I would believe the nation was doing its duty. I say again that, no matter what difficulties in the way of finance are imposed on the people of this country at home, we must do our duty, and do it at once, by the men who are fighting.
§ Lieut.- Colonel Thornton - Kemsley (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Western)
For the past four and a half years it has been my privilege to serve as a soldier and to be accepted as an equal by men who have made the Army their career. I think these men would not want me to pay them a compliment, but I know the House will forgive me, and I hope they will too, for saying that I have come to realise how much the country owes to their integrity, loyalty and leadership. Every time I have received a new posting, I have had to live down the fact that I am a Member of this House. The Army never really understands Parliament and I am not at all sure that Parliament, even today, really understands the Army. The wells of understanding have been poisoned on both sides—on our side by memories of Cromwell's major generals and half- 1713 forgotten fears of the domination of a Standing Army, on theirs by memories of many injustices and neglects. If there is one thing above all others, which comes between us, it is the shadow of the Treasury. We have to face this fact if we are to build our post-war Army on sure foundations.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, in a speech to which many hon. Members have paid tribute—and I would join in those tributes—mentioned the Regular Army traditions and the need for getting the right type of man to make the Regular Army his career. But what inducement are we offering to these men? What kind of homes will they be able to build for their wives and families? What sort of security will there be for their dependants, if they are killed? What indications are there that their transactions with the Treasury will be marked by generosity and humanity? I have a fear that such indications are very few. Those men will not have far to look for instances of lack of vision and little-mindedness. The soldier's pay is a case in point.
How we have tolerated the present figure goodness only knows, and I join with other hon. Members, all of whom I think are agreed, in expressing my gratitude to the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Kendall) for directing the attention of the House to this matter. His speech expressed what many of us have been feeling for a long time and have been trying to say, and we are backing him on these benches for all we are worth.
I read in an article in the Press the other day that the wives of private soldiers received an allowance of 3s. 1d. a day, whereas civilian firewatchers got a subsistence allowance of 4s. 6d. a night. There is no sense in that kind of thing. All these allowances ought to be looked into, not excluding those of the wife of the junior officer, about which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Bristol (Captain Bernays) has spoken with such knowledge and so eloquently. The junior officer is having, I know from my own first-hand experience, a very hard time indeed. A large proportion of these officers, particularly the married ones, are having to carry heavy burdens. I think the House sometimes forgets that there are very few officers in the Army to-day who do not have to live on their pay. Many of them have financial obligations which 1714 they contracted at a time when their earnings were very much higher than they are at the present time. These men ought to be encouraged to marry and become the fathers of children, and I am certain that what the hon. and gallant Member for North Bristol said about the need for increasing child allowances ought to be carried into effect. I must in honesty say that, while I enjoyed his speech, I have been slightly disappointed with the two speeches delivered from this side of the House. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Eastbourne (Major Taylor) and the hon. and gallant Member for North Bristol made a very much stronger case than the relief for which they asked. They marshalled their facts well and made a strong case, and then weakened it, in the one case by asking for this post-war credit for the soldier, and in the other, by concentrating very largely on asking for an increase in child allowances. We have to go right out; we have to face this thing and it is well that we should do it now. Let us have it out and give the soldier a fair deal.
There is one other thing I want to say which, though of much less importance, has some effect on the income of the junior officer. I want to draw the attention of the House to the matter of separation allowances. It has been a long standing grievance in the Regular Army and its effect extends to a very large number of officers to-day. When an officer has the good fortune to be in a station where he can live with his wife, his allowances are considerably higher than they are if he is accommodated in W.D. quarters. If he is accommodated in W.D. quarters, he receives fuel, light and furniture and a servant instead of an allowance of cash in lieu, which is given in the other case. That is all very well in theory, but in fact the only reduction in expenditure which falls upon the housekeeper—and she is the person you have to consider—is that she has to feed one less mouth. All the other expenses go on, yet in this case the family income will be reduced by as much as £38 a year, in the case of the subaltern officer, and by about £67 a year in the case of the captain, because of this enforced separation. These figures take no account of the allowances in lieu of rations which a soldier living out must receive and the loss of which reduces the family income even further. It can- 1715 not be denied that it is relatively cheaper to maintain one combined establishment than two separate ones. It is inequitable, therefore, that officers who have to be separated from their families by the exigencies of the Services, and so, in effect, have to keep up two establishments, should be penalised financially. As I do not make these criticisms without alternative suggestions, my suggestion for putting the matter right is that family lodging allowances should be made equal to the allowances of the officer who can live with his family.
The British Army at home is preparing for an operation of singular difficulty, in which it will have to face great hazards and suffer severe casualties. Other preparations are on foot, too. As the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) reminded the House, preparations are being made to cash in on the light of publicity which these impending events shed upon the Army. The country is going to be asked to salute the soldier by buying more Saving Certificates. The response will be generous, as it always is. It would be a great thing for the country if the Treasury, which can hardly fail to benefit from these transactions, were itself to salute the soldier by recognising the justice of the pleas we are putting forward in this House to-day.
§ Mr. Walter Edwards (Whitechapel and St. George's)
I, in common with other hon. Members, would like to congratulate the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Kendall) on bringing forward the Amendment to-day. It so happens that I had the privilege of making my maiden speech in this House when this matter was last discussed on 10th September, 1942, and if it had not been for the luck of the Ballot on this occasion, it might have been another year or two before we had an opportunity of discussing the very important question of Service pay and allowances. I want to deal with one point in particular that was raised by the hon. and gallant Member for North Bristol (Captain Bernays) in what, in some respects, was an excellent speech, but which, in other respects, was not so excellent. He referred in particular to single men in the Army, and to married men without children, and stated that while he was serving as a private or lance-corporal he found the money he received 1716 was sufficient to keep him going. I happen to have served as a stoker in the Navy far a little longer period, receiving a little more money than he was getting, and I only had children who had left school, and I assure him that my experience was not entirely the same. I found out very quickly indeed that, in relation to my civilian pay, the Service pay is very small. I want to draw my right hon. Friend's attention to the position of single men who are now being called into the Forces. When this war started, the average age of single men called into the Forces was between 18 and 25, a particularly low age. To-day, we have men of 40 being called into the Forces at 3s. a day for the first six months of their service.
§ Mr. Edwards
Whatever the number may be, the allowance of pay they are receiving is either just or unjust, and the hon. and gallant Member was referring to single men as a whole, in the same way as I am referring to them now. It is hardly necessary to remind the House that the vast majority of these men who are being called up to-day, round about the age of 40, have been in receipt of an income of at least £5 or £6 a week. Out of that income, they have been helping to keep their old parents, and they have had sufficient to enable them to put by for a rainy day, perhaps for the eventuality of marriage, or even to have savings for old age. What is the position of these men now that they are being called into the Army? In the first place, the contribution they have been making to the home is lost, and the parents suffer, because a dependant's allowance is granted only after the strictest means test. Secondly, the man is going to get 21s. a week after having perhaps £3 or £4. I maintain that when men are put into that position, it must make them the most dissatisfied type of persons that we have to take into the Forces. Why should a man, as a result of conscription into the Forces, suffer any disadvantage at all? I contend that as a result of our Military Service Acts, the State should be responsible for these people getting a similar standard of living to that which they had whilst in industry. With the present rates, it is absolutely impossible.
1717 I do not think the argument applies wholly and solely to single men. As has already been pointed out, vast numbers of married men—thousands at the present time—are just existing on Army rates of pay, and unless there is that possibility of the wife being able to get a good job, their families are also suffering. It is an actual fact that many men, even out of their very small pay at the present time, are compelled to send home money to their wives and children in order that they can buy some little piece of clothing or footwear. I contend that it is absolutely disgraceful for the State to put those men into that position.
There is another point which was referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) with regard to equal pay. It so happens that both my children have been in the Services during this war. Unfortunately I have lost one, but I still have a daughter in the W.A.A.F. She is carrying on clerical work which had previously been performed by a man. She is doing exactly the same work, and I consider that where women in the Forces are performing work previously performed by a man—such as cooks, motor drivers and clerks—sometimes more efficiently than men, then the women should receive the same rate of pay as the men were receiving. I do not say we have to make it general. Again, when you come dawn to the question of women's rates, they are only two-thirds of the men's rates and the same argument as to the very low value of their pay applies to them as well as to the men.
I am convinced that the Government have to do something on this occasion. If they do not, they are falling out of line with public opinion in this country. On the day I was elected, I was asked by a newspaper correspondent what I thought was a fair day's pay for a man in the Forces. I stated then, as the mover of the Amendment stated to-day, that I considered it most unjust for any man who is taken into the Forces to receive less than 5s. a day. I still retain that view although, in comparison with 1942, it should be more. Nevertheless, I contend that the Government are out of line with public opinion in this country if they come forward with any offer which is going to be less than a basic rate of 5s. a day. I would warn the Government that the reasons for the results of many of the 1718 by-elections recently, have not been due entirely to the policy of the non-Government candidates. In my view, the results have been due, to a very large extent, to the niggardly treatment which has been served out to our Service men and their dependants since the war started.
§ Mr. H. Lawson
I am sorry to interrupt but will the hon. Member name any specific by-election where the pay of Service men has been made a major issue?
§ Mr. Edwards
I have not taken part in any of the by-elections and I cannot say where it has been made a specific issue, but I can say this. In voicing the opinion of my own constituents—and we have had no by-election there recently—I can say that they are strongly of opinion that the Government are not playing fair with the men and women in the Forces, and although it may not be made a specific issue at a by-election, that is borne in mind by the electors when they are dealing with the policy of the Government. I say quite frankly, that one of the reasons for the high anti-Government vote is the attitude which the Government are now taking on this question of pay, and I am confident that, unless they are going to make some reasonable and fair concession to-day, in the by-elections to come they will find they will get bigger thrashings than those they have been receiving recently.
§ Viscount Suirdale (Peterborough)
I would begin by congratulating the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Kendall) upon the way in which he made his speech, and for having brought up this issue at this time. It was high time it was brought up, and I agree with the hon. and gallant Member for West Aberdeen (Lieut.-Colonel Thornton-Kemsley) in that I am inclined to support the views of those on the other side rather than those of hon. Members who have spoken on this side. In fact, I am in the unusual position of objecting to the remarks made by the hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell) on the ground that he does not go far enough. The issue, as I see it, is a very simple one. It is: Are our Service men getting a fair deal compared with their opposite numbers in industry? It is a little difficult to work that out exactly, owing to the complication of the fact that Service men have "all found." There may be a certain amount of argument as 1719 to how much the services given to them by the War Office are really worth. The only document we can fall back upon is the White Paper, which my hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) has already described as an infamous White Paper. In this case it is actually a very convenient one. It seems to me to offer a perfect brief for a prosecuting attorney in this particular Debate, and I am prepared to base my arguments upon the White Paper and accept the figures put in it. The gap between the rates of Army pay and civilian pay is such that the little bit that might get lost in that does not seem to me to matter at all.
In the White Paper play is made with the fact that although the pay for a soldier, when he first joins up, is low, he has many and quick opportunities of getting more. I would like to take a typical case of a soldier who has been in the Army for 18 months. This is an average case, because the soldier has had a chance of getting certain increments. What I say applies equally to officers and other ranks and to members of the A.T.S., but I cannot give more than one or two examples and I would rather keep on the plane I know best and talk about the ordinary soldier. We have talked a lot about the unmarried man who, if he has 18 months' service, gets, in cash and kind, £3 1s. 3d. Making allowances for the difference in the incidence of Income Tax that is equal to £3 11s. The question is: Is that enough? My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Bristol (Captain Bernays) says that it is enough, because it is possible to live on that. But that is not the issue. I cannot see why a man, because he goes into the Army and puts on a uniform, should be put at a disadvantage in taking out his girl friend to the cinema, as against his opposite number in "civvy street." My hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw produced figures showing that the average income of a man over 21 in Government industrial work was over £6 a week. That is nearly double what the man in the Service gets and I think the Government must not talk to us about putting another 6d. on Army pay. They must go a long way to try and bridge that very large gap.
My other example is the married man with two children. I entirely agree with those who have said that the married man with children is the one who is worst off. 1720 A married man with 18 months' service, and with two children, is calculated to receive £4 8s. 9d. That may not appear to be a big gap, but the hardship is much worse. What he actually receives is £3 5s. 9d., and of that only £2 3s. is paid direct to the wife. A man can allot a considerable amount of his pay to his wife—a great many do—but it is a great pity that he should have to allot the major part of it. As my hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) has said, one of the vital things in military efficiency is morale and one of the things we have to fight is boredom. It is only right that these men should have some extra pay with which to go to the pictures and buy cigarettes, in a reasonable way. Although I think it is arguable that it is possible to live on the money the man's wife and children get now, it is not a fair deal at all, because they have no margin with which to meet the liabilities that may arise on a rainy day. From my own personal experience, this worry about wives and children is the thing that most concerns the troops. Nothing could be worse for morale than subjecting our troops to that worry.
This is a real grievance, and it is very much aggravated by the fact that the pay of American and Dominion troops is much more. Our troops mix with them, and they cannot entertain because they simply cannot afford it. There is a first-class case for raising the rates of pay, and an even better case for raising the allowances given to wives and children. What do we want? I go much further than the hon. Member for Seaham. I think that a substantial part of this gap of £2 a week should be bridged. I would accept the figure given by my hon. Friend the Member for Grantham as a minimum—5s. a day, plus another 10s. as the wife's allowance, plus 12s. 6d. as each child's allowance. I think the Government should meet that. It may be said that we cannot afford it, but I absolutely reject that idea. I refuse to believe that if America and the Dominions are capable of paying their troops properly this country cannot do the same. Therefore, I hope the Government will meet us. If they do not meet us substantially I, for one, will go into the Division Lobby against them.
The Secretary of State for War (Sir James Griģģ)
I have listened with the 1721 greatest interest to the remarks made by the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Kendall) and the other Members of the House who have taken part in this Debate. When this subject was last debated in September, 1942, my right hon. and learned Friend who is now the Minister of Aircraft Production, and who was then Leader of the House, said that the House of Commons and the Government are always most solicitous for the welfare of members of the Armed Forces of the Crown and are anxious that they should be fully satisfied that they have been dealt with justly in this matter of pay and allowances. For my part, I consider it vital that the financial position of the fighting man and his dependants should not be lost sight of for a moment, and I should be the last to quarrel with any sincere criticism of the rates of pay and allowances which have been adopted by His Majesty's Government during the course of this war.
The arguments, the criticisms and the cases put forward have fallen within three well-marked categories. The first, which was put forward by the hon. Member for Grantham, the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger), my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Viscount Suirdale) and others, involved an increase in the basic rates as being in accordance with some supposed principle. The principles expressed have been different. One has been that the soldiers' pay should be levelled up to industrial rates; another was based on some assumption that it would be quite wrong if the people of this country were unwilling to concede to their own soldiers and families the same rates of pay and allowances as some hon. Members thought the Dominions and United States troops had. The second case was made by the seconder of the Amendment and I do not think I am unfairly summarising it in saying it was that the case for an immediate basic increase was not very strong but that we must begin to think now of the position the soldier will be in when he comes to be released from the Forces. The third argument was that put forward by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Bristol (Captain Bernays) and, personally, I regard his argument as being entitled to great respect in this House because he has lived in the Forces, both in the ranks and as an officer. His argu- 1722 ment was, as I understand it, that there is no case now for a flat increase but that there are hardships which definitely ought to be considered.
Let me come back to the two main bases of argument which appeared in the first case, namely, for a substantial and immediate increase in basic rates on principle. The first basis of comparison was the levelling up to some supposed level of industrial wages. It is impossible to compare directly the total wages of the Service man with the earnings of his industrial brother outside. In fact there is a fundamental difference between civilian and Army earnings. The civilian receives a wage which is, in no way, related to the fact of marriage, or the number of children. Control of his wages is wholly his. In peace time, he can allocate it as he chooses among a variety of objects of necessary or additional expenditure, which form part of his life and the life of his family. In war time he is limited by the rationing system in the amount that he is allowed to spend on necessaries, and a good part of the luxuries or semi-luxuries on which he might otherwise spend his income, are not available. The soldier's position is quite different. More often the gross emoluments of the private soldier are not paid to him in cash at all. He cannot choose what food he will eat, what clothes he will wear, or how often he will replace them. For military reasons the amount and quality of the food that he must have, actually exceeds that which is permitted to civilians and his uniform clothing is of very good quality and is frequently replaceable. Marriage and children's allowances are paid directly to the family, and the money is not handled by the soldier at all. These are some of the reasons which make any direct comparison unprofitable, and even misleading. The hon. Member for Grantham compared the lowest paid soldier, a case which covers only 5 per cent. of the Army, with one of the highest paid industrial workers outside.
§ Mr. Kendall
I did not take one of the highest grade industrial workers. We have many far more highly paid industrial workers than a machine operator brought in from outside, quite untrained, who becomes a semi-skilled operator in an engineering factory.
Sir J. Griģģ
The hon. Member compared him with an industrial worker in the upper half of the wages rate.
Sir J. Griģģ
What I am clear about—and I am quite correct in my facts—is that the figure on which the hon. Member based his comparison, is, to my knowledge, above the average earnings of industrial workers, and that I will maintain, whether I know as much about industrial workers as the hon. Member or not. Anyhow, that is an additional argument to show how difficult it is to compare industrial earnings with the pay of the soldier. Moreover, in regard to levelling up, in some cases you get a levelling down, even if you get a proper basis. The level of industrial wages is by no means uniform. Some industrialists are definitely paid lower than the Army. This question of levelling up gets you nowhere.
Sir J. Griģģ
In any case there is no such thing as a general level of agricultural wages. It covers a very wide range of figures, and their inter-relationship varies from time to time.
The other basis that was taken was something like this. Surely we must level up the wages of the soldier to those of the Dominions. They vary very much and there is the same sort of argument there. If you are to level up to the highest, the figures involved would be of an extremely high order. During the debate I have made some rough calculations of the cost of the proposal of the hon. Member for Grantham and my figure—I do not place too much reliance on it—of what the cost would be for the three Services, is of the order of £200,000,000 a year. The figure based on the second argument, of levelling up to the Dominions or United States forces, would vary, according to which Dominion we choose, but I think you might say they would be double the £200,000,000 figure. On this first class of case an increase based on a comparison with outside industrial wages, or with Dominion forces, is one that cannot possibly be met, and the Government cannot possibly meet it. Apart from the general vagueness of the criteria proposed, there is 1724 not the slightest doubt that the figure would involve inflation on the very wildest scale, which would in itself completely derange the whole basis of values, and in a very short time the whole range of wages would be out of focus again, and you would get this continual process.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall (Colne Valley)
Some of us are quite unable to follow the right hon. Gentleman's argument. Which set of figures is it that he would have us believe would entirely upset the balance of things, if it were levelled up to the Dominions or America, or the 5s. which has been suggested?
Sir J. Griģģ
I took two alternative bases which have been put forward and I tried to point out that one would involve an additional expenditure of the order of £200,000,000 a year. The other basis was levelling up to something much higher, the pay of the Dominion and American Forces. It is clear from a casual look at the figures that it would involve something probably twice as high as the £200,000,000. Then my argument was that an extra expenditure of the order of £200,000,000 a year, with no corresponding production of goods which could be purchased with that money, and still more of £400,000,000, would set in motion the whole inflationary process which has been kept tin check up to now with great difficulty. That process of inflation would, in itself, derange the whole basis of values. It would throw the different wages in the Forces and the various forms of industry out of relationship again, and then we should have the whole process of levelling up again.
The right hon. Gentleman is using a very serious argument. He has thrown across the Floor of the House, figures which we have no means of checking. Are they gross figures? Do they take into account the drop in war service grants that would be bound to ensue? Do they take into account the increased taxation to the Revenue, and various things like that?
Sir J. Griģģ
These are not the only consequence we would have to take into account. What I say is that it would set up such forces that a whole series of reactions would begin which we cannot calculate, but which would certainly start the process of levelling-up again in a very short time.
§ Mr. Shinwell
This is pure reactionary Toryism of the worst kind. The right hon. Gentleman should tell it to the Trades Union Congress.
§ The Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Charles Williams)
It would be better if the Minister were allowed to state his case.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I am saying that the right hon. Gentleman, who is speaking on behalf of the Government, should tell the trade unions what he is now saying.
Sir J. Griģģ
The Government must decide and they must tell the House frankly that increases of this order and on these principles, and any adjustment of pay on that basis, are outside the range of practical politics.
Let me come to two other suggestions which were made. The first was made by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Major C. S. Taylor). Naturally one of the questions which is bound to be taken into consideration on demobilisation is the financial provision for the soldier as he leaves the Forces. A great deal of study has already been given to that. I cannot say that final decisions have been made, for obviously we have not got to the stage when they can be taken. There is not, however, the slightest doubt that some financial provision will have to be made for that contingency. I can certainly assure my hon. and gallant Friend that his suggestions will be carefully examined at the time when releasing men from the Forces becomes a practical possibility.
§ Major C. S. Taylor
The question of deferred pay is not a matter to be left until after the war. It has to be dealt with now.
Sir J. Griģģ
If a man gets a gratuity on demobilisation, or deferred pay, it all amounts to the same thing. It is money in his pocket on demobilisation. I do not think there can be any argument about that. I come to the hon. and gallant Member for North Bristol (Captain Bernays) and his classes of hardship. As I said when I opened my remarks, one of the duties of the War Office and other Service Departments is to study all evidence and the facts that come before them in relation to the hardship and the condi 1726 tions of service of the men under their care. We do that as a matter of course, and in view of the fact that a considerable number of Members have expressed anxiety about these grievances and hardships the Government are perfectly prepared to discuss with representatives of all quarters of the House, as was done about a year ago, any suggestions which they may wish to put forward in these two categories, the demobilisation category and the hardship category.
Sir J. Griģģ
That is the position of the Government. They cannot possibly consider increases of the very vast order which have been put forward from various quarters of the House. Subject to that, the Government are ready to discuss any suggestions for the relief of particular hardships and grievances with representatives of all quarters of the House, as was done a year ago, as I understood at the time and have understood for a considerable time since, to the general satisfaction of the House.
§ Mr. Hore-Belisha (Devonport)
For three hours the House has been discussing this important question. This is a Debate which is about to conclude, I think, without much satisfaction to any of the parties concerned—with no satisfaction to the soldier, with little satisfaction to the House and, as I imagine, with little satisfaction to the Government themselves. We all recognise the difficulty of the position in which my right hon. Friend is placed. Apart from other concerns which weigh upon him, he has had a very hard day. His peroration earlier to-day related to the post-war Army. It was a moving peroration, intended to raise the status of the great profession which he administers. He said that after the war the calling of the soldier must be made attractive, and that he must be paid better than he has hitherto been paid. My right hon. Friend now concludes the Debate, which deals with the Army of to-day, by endeavouring to persuade the House that the soldier is satisfactorily paid in relation to industry as a whole or, if not to industry, to agriculture. The Amendment upon which the House has to come to a decision asserts that the pay of the Army is inadequate and that it is urgent to increase it. Every speech that has 1727 been made in the Debate has been directed to proving that case. These speeches have been made almost entirely by hon. and gallant Gentlemen who have present or immediately past experience of the conditions now prevailing. Everyone of them has argued that the pay and allowances, both of the soldiers and of the junior officers, are insufficient. Every speech has been directed to proving that case.
It would be unfortunate, indeed, to the national interest if this Debate were read by the Army and if the conclusion of it were to be a reply from my right hon. Friend, which rejected, out of hand, the whole case presented. I want to be clear therefore as to what exactly is intended. Is the door closed on any increase of basic pay for the soldier? That is the first question I would like to ask my right hon. Friend. I want to know the position of the Government, because the House has a wish to come to a conclusion on these matters. Would my right hon. Friend tell me?
§ Mr. Hore-Belisha
No, I think the ordinary courtesy—[Interruption.] My right hon. Friend has made an offer to the House to discuss these matters with representative Members. Surely we are entitled to know whether the Government have already made up their minds on the question at issue before we accept that offer. I think it would be only the ordinary courtesy if my right hon. Friend would answer that question.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreiģn Affairs (Mr. Eden)
Perhaps I will be allowed to say a word. Let the right hon. Gentleman go on with his speech and I will wind up.
§ Mr. Hore-Belisha
Really, this is a very strange position. The Secretary of State for War has made a speech. I have also held the office of Secretary of State for War, and I ask him for the meaning of a sentence which he has used.
Sir J. Griģģ
I am perfectly ready to make clear the import of the speech I made. What I said was that the Government could not possibly accept any increase of the basic rates, in accordance 1728 with some presumed principle. That being so, I think the right hon. Gentleman can take it that there is no commitment on the part of the Government in favour of considering any increase in basic rates.
§ Mr. Hore-Belisha
I am very sorry indeed to hear what my right hon. Friend said. If the offer of the Government is to discuss this question and to hear the evidence that can be brought before the Government, to say in advance that the Government's attitude is rigid on that point is really to offer the House very little—and to offer the soldier very little. I agree, and I am prepared to accept the position, that the case of the wife and child is more insistent than the case of the man himself. I am prepared to accept that position, because it is obviously true. Am I clear—because I think the House must be clear before this Amendment is disposed of—that on this matter of the allowance to the wife and the children's allowance, family allowances as a whole, the mind of the Government is not made up, but they will hear representations?
§ Mr. Hore-Belisha
I have the assurance of the Government that on that matter their mind is not made up and that they will be prepared to hear the case. This is an offer by the Government to hear representations on the question of allowances and on hardship cases, but the mind of the Government is closed upon the question of basic pay. [An HON. MEMBER: "And allowances."] No, the Government admit that there is a case to be presented under the heading of allowances. What the result of those representations will be we cannot foresee, but in regard to those matters, at any rate, I think that if they were separated, the House would be wrong to challenge the Government, because that is a valuable and fair offer. [Interruption.] There is no question about it. That is an offer to receive representations, and to take action, presumably, if the case is effectively presented, on all allowances. I think that is a fair offer, and should be accepted by the House. Whether or not the House will be convinced by the Gov- 1729 ernment's proposals when they are ultimately presented cannot be prejudged. That will be for the House to decide at the time.
Lieut-Commander Gurney Braithwaite
Does not the right hon. Gentleman consider that the necessary representations have been adequately made in this House? The House requires the Government's decision to-night.
§ Mr. Hore-Belisha
Most certainly I think that there has been time, of course, on every day that has preceded this one, to consider this and other matters, but I do not think it would be—I say it at the risk of incurring my hon. and gallant Friend's displeasure—fair to any Government who said that they were prepared to listen to representations, immediately to reject the offer and to proceed to a Division. I think it would be an unwise course to pursue, because it would not get anything for the soldier; whereas this proposal to receive representations on allowances seems to me to meet the case under that head, provided the procedure is expeditious.
On the question of pay, I want to present a case to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, who sits opposite to me, because he is fairminded, in the hope that we may reach a solution that will be convincing to the Army and to the country and will not leave a sense of grievance behind. Since the matter was discussed in the House on 10th September, 1942, the world has not stood still. The American and Canadian soldiers have come here in great numbers since then—there were some at the time, but they have come here in greater numbers—and one has had experience of the relations between the two Armies. There have been great changes in the domestic wage structure in industry since then. It is not right, in my submission, to send a message to the soldier to the effect that he is to be the only member of the community whose pay is stabilised. That is not fair. If you were to have a general stop order on everybody's wage or salary, that would be clearly understood, but it is not right that the coal miner, the steel worker and the railway worker should be able to obtain increases from time to time while the Government take up the attitude that soldiers' pay must be stabilised. I want an assurance that that is not going to be the attitude of the Government and that they 1730 will admit that subject to discussion on the same footing.
When the matter was last debated I made this same case, and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Aircraft Production interrupted me in the middle of my speech and said:I am sure that my right hon. Friend would not do so consciously, but I do not want to be misinterpreted. I said it would be stabilised so long as the present price levels remain."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th September, 1942; col. 391, Vol. 383.]He was correcting me, and saying that they did not intend to stabilise the wage of the soldier. Since then, prices have risen—not the prices of the articles which the Government keep at a fixed level, but in other respects. Prices have altered. Wages have risen in many industries since then. The soldier, however, is asked to remain where he is. The Secretary of State told us just now that if he granted the proposal asked for it would be inflation. The procedure taken against inflation is to subsidise the cost of articles in ordinary consumption. The procedure taken against inflation is partly rationing. Inflation is caused by a rush on the goods which are available, in an endeavour to purchase more than the market can provide. That situation is under control, but, in any event, what I want to be assured about, is that the soldier is not to be the only member of the community to whom this argument is to be applied. There is no permanent charge being incurred here. There is no post-war charge being incurred here. There is an immediate charge. With the conclusion of the war, the Army will be demobilised and a smaller force will be kept in being. It will have a nucleus, as we have been told to-day, of better-paid men, and the kernel formed round it will be conscripts on short service. Therefore I do not think it is fair to address this argument of inflation exclusively to the soldier.
Whether my hon. Friend, who introduced this Amendment with great force and eloquence, is satisfied with the assurances given by the Government I have no means of saying. Personally, I would accept the offer to discuss the allowances and make up my mind on that aspect when the Government have reached their conclusions. I would not, however, be prepared to accept the statement that the pay of the soldier is stabilised and outside the realm of the discussion. Therefore, un- 1731 less I receive some assurance from my right hon. Friend that this matter is not prejudged, and that it will also be open to discussion on the same footing—an assurance that this message is not to be sent to the soldier, that, whatever happens outside, his pay is not in the sphere of discussion, I should think my hon. Friend's Amendment will be more widely supported that otherwise would be the case.
§ Mr. Buchanan (Glasgow, Gorbals)
I always think that a training on the Front Bench is an excellent thing. The right hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Hore-Belisha) has sat in this House for a long time. In the old days, when a Labour Government held a minority position, he and I on many occasions joined forces on the question of the Anomalies Act, etc. I admired his forthright argument, if I may say so, and his very straight way of putting things. Since those days he has been on the Front Bench and occupied Government positions, and now he occupies a seat on the other Front Bench. Some way or another I find he is capable now of a method of argument which I think in the old days was foreign to his approach. In other words, what is he saying? He says that the Government have decided to reject any increase in basic pay to the soldier, that definitely that is their position, but that he would not vote against the Government, although they have rejected that and picked the soldier out from the rest of the community. He would accept some vague terms indicating that they intend to deal with some cases very vaguely described to-day—nothing more than that.
Let me say a word or two to the Government on this matter. I hope this is not unfair to the Secretary of State for War. I can remember that the Chancellor, when he occupied another place, on one occasion came to the House to make an unpopular case and everyone was down on him. All that could be said about him was that the only difference between him and other Ministers was that he delivered his message much more honestly and straightforwardly than his colleagues would have done. The same is true of the Secretary of State for War, but I wish he would take a lesson from the Leader of the House and learn a little geniality and kindness. Really, offensive- 1732 ness is not argument, and offensiveness in this House is now becoming more than a joke. I do not know what he means. What is the offer he has made? No increase in basic pay. We may dismiss that definitely. Then he makes an offer, in a vague way, to discuss cases of hardship, because that is his phrase, "cases of hardship." That does not mean what the hon. Gentleman on this side said it meant. If he meant to discuss children's allowances, then that is not a case of hardship. That is a general class of case, and he should have said it.
§ Mr. Hore-Belisha
May I interrupt the hon. Member? We want to be quite clear. While I was speaking I put this question, and I understood that the reply I received was that the Government were prepared to discuss these allowances. My right hon. Friend certainly gave me that assurance. What the Secretary of State for War may have said in his speech may have been confined to hardship cases. Since then the Leader of the House has given me an affirmative answer.
§ Mr. Buchanan
He has given the right hon. Gentleman no answer. He may have privately told him in some way. This is becoming rather annoying, in these days of Coalition Government. In the old days one had only to fight the Government. Now one has to fight both Front Benches. I have been a backbencher for a long time in this House, and the back benches I have always occupied had a difficult time fighting one Front Bench. Now we have to fight two. The right hon. Member for Devonport says that he has an assurance from the Leader of the House. When did he get the assurance? Is he to get an assurance that I have not got? Is he to get an assurance that the House has not got? This is the House of Commons, not the right hon. Member for Devonport. In this place we are equal alike, and if assurances are to be given by the Leader of the House they should not be something private between two men; they ought to be given to the House properly and decently. If he has given some assurance let him state it now to the House.
The Leader of the House is a House of Commons man. It is an important place and he likes it. It is not House of Commons' work for some man on the Opposition Front Bench to say he has got an assurance from the Leader of the House. What is it? I dismiss it, because really it 1733 is fantastic. What is the issue? Why I do not regard the thing as being too sincere, is that the great occasion of moving Mr. Speaker out of the Chair is only presented practically once a year. It is the Parliamentary constitutional way, and the Government would know that great numbers of Members on this side of the House, and I should say also great numbers on the other side, knowing what is the feeling in their divisions, would if they were lucky in the ballot select the pay and allowances of the soldier. Every hon. Member knows it, and if the Secretary of State for War does not know it he should go back to the Civil Service and not be a politician.
The first job of a politician is to know the House of Commons and what it is going to do. Twelve months have elapsed and they should have made up their minds on the major issues. I could understand the Secretary of State for War, on a minor issue, which someone has raised as a bolt from the blue, and which no one had thought of before, saying, "That is a new point, and I will consider it." But questions like the basic pay, the marriage allowance, and the children's allowances have been first-class issues for 12 months. Now we get this offer, after the House of Commons have driven the Government to it—because they have only made it to escape from a dilemma. It reminds me of a football team, leading by one goal to nothing, with five minutes to go, kicking the ball out for time.
I do not always take the same view of the war as others take, but I know—and I said it to my union the other day, in connection with wages—that if this second front arises, with its terrible risks, people will not think much even of their own incomes. There comes the overwhelming shadow of sorrow and the things that war entails. I do not know whether the Government think that that will make this an aside, because it will be small compared to those things, but that is no reason why we should neglect the matter. It is all the more reason why we should solve it now. The Secretary of State for War said that this would cause inflation. In 1942 the standards were fixed. Since 1942, by a process of bargaining and negotiation, great masses of people, not merely workers but great masses outside the workers' range, have received increases of wages. The engineering trades, with which I am concerned, have twice 1734 received increases. Why should you say to the soldier, who, although he puts on uniform, is nevertheless still a worker, that he is to be left out? Conditions have been improved for the great mining community—and I say that they have not too much. The Civil Service have, in some degree, had improvements. Who, then, are to be left out, and told that the thing is stabilised? The soldiers, who, if you are going to fight a war, are perhaps the most important people in your whole community.
The right hon. Gentleman said that the case quoted by the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Kendall) represents only 5 per cent. I remember, in my early days in this House, watching two Conservative Members here. I had come raw to the House. I can name those Members, because I think both are dead. They were both kindly men: Austen Chamberlain and Lord Henry Cavendish-Bentinck. A Labour Member, with some eloquence, had made a speech on behalf of the blind, and somebody said that the blind were less than 1 per cent. of our total population. I can still remember the bitterness with which those men answered him. One of them said, "All the more reason why you should treat them well."
Sir J. Griģģ
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member, but I was not basing any argument on the actual pay of those 5 per cent. I was devoting my argument to the fact that the hon. Member had been comparing a very small minority at the lowest end of the Army scale, with people well up in the industrial scale.
§ Mr. Buchanan
The right hon. Gentleman said that this group represented only 5 per cent. I put it to the Leader of the House, I put it to all decent human beings, that this is not a matter for a Committee, this is a matter for us to deal with. Everybody is agreed, particularly in regard to children, on the great need for decent nutrition. Take the case of a woman with two children to keep, and an income of 43s. a week. Divide it up as you like; allow 8s. for rent, allow for coal and the ordinary things. What does it leave her? Every man in this House who has had children, who is a kindly father, would shudder to think of his children being treated in this way. He would not conceive of such a thing. He would not dream of waiting for a Com- 1735 mittee. There is the case, as I see it. The single men have a case, particularly those with widowed mothers. The hon. and gallant Member for North Bristol (Captain Bernays), to whose speech I took no exception, although he said things from which I differed, referred to the single men. Let me say this about the single men.
§ Mr. Buchanan
In every case that I am concerned with the man allows his mother at least 7s. a week. Some of them actually allow 10s. 6d. and 14s. But take the average case, of the man with 21s. who allows 7s., leaving 14s. If he is given an extra compassionate leave home, he has to pay his own train fare, possibly from as far south as Bristol to as far north as Glasgow. All that has to come out of his income. He has to provide the decencies of life. In these days I am becoming somewhat cynical: I have seen little change in all my political life, and sometimes I wonder if there is a place for me in it. Let me say this to hon. Members, particularly the Leader of the House and the Conservatives. In future, we shall be judged on realities more than ever we were in the past, on the real things that we have done. I would say to the Conservatives, and to my Labour friends, that if ever I could make a human appeal I would do it to them now. Let us rise above all our storms and stresses, and let us act as a House of Commons, and say to the Government that this delay has gone too far and that this great people—because after all the British are a great people—shall be treated in a just and honourable fashion.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreiģn Affairs (Mr. Eden)
The hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) can always be sure that what he has to say to the House will be listened to with respect because of the sincerity with which he speaks. I intervene only for a few moments because I am conscious that the House wants to come to a decision, and I am extremely anxious that the House should be in no doubt about the Government's position. If a decision is taken, nothing could be more unsatisfactory, 1736 from the point of view of our Debate, than that there should be misunderstanding and consequent unnecessary confusion. Let me try to state, in a very few sentences, what the Government's position is.
Let me first say what we do not accept. Two principles were put forward to-day for the comparison of the basic rates of pay in our Army and the basic rates of pay elsewhere. The two comparisons were the Dominions and United States and a certain level in industry. I must make the Government's position quite clear. We are not prepared to have a discussion with a view to raising the basic rates in our Army up to those levels. That is what we cannot do, and I must frankly tell the House that that is our position, and if the House thinks we ought to do that, they are perfectly justified and would be perfectly correct to divide against us.
Let me say what we are prepared to do. We are prepared, as we have said, to have the conversations on certain subjects, which I will enumerate in a moment, just as the Minister of Aircraft Production, when Leader of the House two years ago, had certain discussions. I want to be absolutely frank with the House, and my right hon. Friend the Chancellor will bear me out, when I say that I do not accept, in the light of the discussion that has gone on to-day, that a case has been made out for a flat increase in basic pay. That is our position. I do not accept that, but it is not the Government's position that, if there are discussions of these matters, we shall refuse to discuss whether or not some increase in basic pay should be made. What we will not accept are the two principles put forward in the Debate to-day, and it should be understood that we do not accept those principles, and are in no way committed in these discussions as regards basic pay. But we do not take up the position that they cannot be discussed. There are two other categories of some importance. One is the category of the hard case, including allowances.
§ Mr. Eden
So far as hardship cases are concerned, and allowances cases, obviously, they will be included in the discussion, and the Government are pre- 1737 pared to agree. It is very important. I do not want to give the House a false impression, and that is why I want to be sure I am completely in step with the House to-day. We admit that there are hardship cases, which will require examination and should be examined.
§ Mr. Eden
Oh, no, I never said anything of the kind. I spoke of all ranks in the Army. There is no distinction there. Finally, there is the case raised by the hon. and gallant Member—and it is one of some importance—the question of demobilisation and what financial provision is made at the time of demobilisation. I want to say that we have not just ignored this subject. We have been at work on it, and certain proposals are now under discussion before the War Cabinet, but it is not, in our judgment, an opportune moment to make an announcement.
§ Commander Sir Archibald Southby (Epsom)
Does the right hon Gentleman mean by that, that he is not prepared to discuss the question of children's allowances except on a hardship basis?
§ Mr. Eden
It is quite a fair question. No, it is not on a hardship basis. I am not now saying that the Government are going to make this or that decision. I am saying that these matters are not excluded from the discussion. I have, I hope, put as plainly as I can the position to the House. I have stated the Government's position on which the Government stand, 1738 and I hope the House will be prepared to give a decision.
§ Mr. Arthur Greenwood (Wakefield)
May I just say a word? My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House is not as oncoming as he usually is. I should have thought that the House to-day was very much concerned about the pay and allowances of the people in the Army. It may be that on all sides of the House the case that has been made has been pressed too high. But on occasions like this when the House expresses its view on a purely non-party basis, being concerned about the present plight of the men in the Army and their wives and dependants, I should have thought that the Government might have been a little more generous in their attitude. My right hon. Friend, I do not think, has shown that generous spirit in which I am accustomed to be treated by him, and which the House is accustomed to expect. I would have thought it a little unfortunate if His Majesty's Government were to try to limit any consideration by Members of this House, in discussions with the Government, and I would have thought it entirely wrong for him to say that we are ruled out of a discussion of basic pay.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Kilmarnock)
I heard two arguments reiterated by several hon. Members as illustrations, but they were not accepted. Do I understand that my right hon. Friend is willing to have a discussion, without consideration of these or any other illustrations?
§ Mr. Greenwood
That is really my point. If the Government expect to have a discussion with representative Members of the House on the whole question of pay and allowances, it would be foreign to the spirit of this House if His Majesty's Government were to lay down limitations before the discussions took place. If my right hon. Friend could not say it, I think 1739 that at least it was implied by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War. This discussion has been rather unfortunate. Let us, at least, know where we are getting. I am certain that every Member in the Chamber is concerned about the position of members of His Majesty's Forces. It is the desire in all quarters of the House that the Government should have a little time to think and be enlightened by Members of the House. I would suggest that, if there is to be a discussion, it must be on the broadest basis. Members of the House surely ought not to be denied the right to raise with His Majesty's Government any question affecting pay and allowances for members of the Army. If that could be agreed, without the limitations suggested by my right hon. Friend and rather hinted at by the Leader of the House, as far as I am concerned, I would be prepared to accept an arrangement of that kind. I doubt whether—taking the mood and temper of the House—it would be inclined to accept a limited set of terms of reference. The Amendment before the House is on the whole question of pay and allowances. I should hope that the Government would agree to a broad inquiry and consultation between representative Members of the House and the Government on the whole question of pay and allowances. If that offer were made, I believe the House would accept it.
§ Commander Sir Archibald Southby (Epsom)
May I remind the House that the well-being of the officers and men of the Army is in the hands of the House of Commons, as was said by the hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell)? Nobody can decide this question except the House of Commons nor can any of us, wherever we sit, escape our plain duty and responsibility in this matter. I have heard every speech made in the House to-day, and I am bound to confess that I did not glean the same ideas from the speeches as those suggested by the Leader of the House. I did not hear anybody suggest that the basic pay of men in the Army should be raised to a level of the rates paid in industry. What I did understand, and what I think is the temper of the House, is that an increase should be paid to officers and men in the Army. Some Members made the suggestion that it should be 5s. a day and others 35s. a 1740 week, but as the Debate progressed, it was clear that the feeling in the House, broadly speaking, was that officers and men in the Army are not paid sufficient.
Do I understand that the Government are prepared to go into the matter, with no limitations, to discuss whether the pay and allowances of officers and men in the Army shall be increased? That is the assurance that the House should get, and if the House is prepared to part with the Amendment, without that assurance, it will be letting down the officers and men in the Army. The ancient foundation of Parliamentary procedure is "No Supply without redress of grievances." The speeches have shown that the officers and men in His Majesty's Army have a grievance, and we have no right to vote Supply until that grievance has been redressed or until we have some authoritative assurance from the Front Bench that the grievance will be considered fairly and openly, without any limitations and a decision come to expeditiously.
The Army never had a better friend than my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War. He has been the best friend that the Army has had since I have sat in the House of Commons, and I was sorry for him when he had to stand at that Box and speak from the Treasury brief. To suggest that you cannot increase the pay, because of the fear of inflation, is to mislead not only the House but public opinion outside. As the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) said, this is not a charge which is going to remain after the war but only a charge during the war. A Member of the Government recently made a statement at a by-election that the Government were going to "out-Beveridge Beveridge." Whether that is right or wrong, the first thing they have to do is to pay officers and men in the Forces properly, while the war is on. If we can be given an assurance by the Leader of the House that what he said meant that there shall be a prompt discussion of the case for raising the basic pay, and also for increasing the allowances, then I for one would be satisfied. Unless I can have that categorical assurance, in plain words, I consider that we should go to a Division.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall (Colne Valley)
The hon. and gallant Member for Epsom (Sir A. Southby) has said most of the things I wish to say and said them a good deal 1741 better than I could, but there are two things that I would add. The Government have not shown up very well during this Debate. It is obvious and beyond question, that when the Secretary of State for War stood at that Box, he meant what he said, namely that they were standing pat and except for special hardship cases, which would be dealt with under ordinary service grants machinery, there was nothing doing and nothing was going to be done. Afterwards the Leader of the House got up and made a great advance on what the Secretary of State for War had promised. I want to join with the hon. and gallant Member for Epsom in asking that the Leader of the House should give the definite assurance to which the House is entitled. It is a strange and queer thing that we have debated these questions at intervals a number of times since the war began.
The Government knew that this Amendment was on the Order Paper. They had the Debate 18 months ago to go by, and yet they came here and, in the words of the Secretary of State for War, indicated that they were unaware of any hardship whatever, but that if hardships could be brought forward they would be willing to consider them. I think all that verges on sharp practice, and the House would be untrue to itself, and to the trust reposed in it by the Armed Forces of the Crown, if they allowed the Government to get away with that quite so easily as apparently they think they can. Therefore, I hope that we may get from the Leader of the House to-night a definite assurance that what he said meant this, that nothing would be ruled out, that they would be willing to consider both an increase in the basic pay, and also an increase in the allowances for children. If he can give us that assurance, the Debate may end in a very different way from the way it might otherwise.
§ Mr. Loverseed (Eddisbury)
I do not intend to keep the House for more than about three minutes. The statement made by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, frankly, as an ex-Serviceman, disgusted me. I only wish that the men of the 8th Army could have been present in this House to hear his statement. I doubt whether he would have survived it. The impression given was that even taking the gross figure of £200,000,000 per year which a flat increase would necessitate, it 1742 would have landed this country in bankruptcy, that the whole financial structure of the nation would have crashed around us. Even on that figure, I could suggest many ways in which the right hon. Gentleman opposite could find that £200,000,000. One way would be by "collaring" some of the money which is being dodged in E.P.T. Having said that, I only hope that this House will show to-night very firmly that it has a conscience, and that it is determined to fulfil its role as the custodian of the future of the men who are serving in the Forces to-day.
Major Manninģham-Buller (Daventry)
I would like to say a few words, if I can add anything to what has been said by the hon. and gallant Member for Epsom (Sir A. Southby) to induce the Government to reconsider this matter de nova. I must admit that I did not understand the observations of the Secretary of State for War with regard to pay. I thought he said quite clearly that the soldier's pay remaining at its present level was the rock on which the whole of our financial structure was based. I may have misunderstood him, but if he did say that, it does not seem compatible with what the Leader of the House said subsequently. Having had some experience in the Army, and having seen, in many instances, young officers lose their commissions because they did not meet their commitments through circumstances which were really beyond their control, I would ask the Government, with all the force that I can, to consider whether they really cannot go into this question of pay and allowances fully, promptly, and with the utmost vigour. The whole system seems to me to be entirely archaic, with large bodies of people engaged in working out whether an officer is entitled to 31 days' or 20 days' fuel and light allowance. If it is a question of spending £185,000,000 or £150,000,000 on a medical, comprehensive service, if it is a question of spending vast sums on Beveridge, I think the Service man has priority.
§ Mr. Eden
Well, they were illustrations. But I only want to make the Government's position clear on them. The Government position is that we do not accept these principles. We reject them either as illustrations or as principles. Provided it be understood that we cannot make any commitment in advance, nothing is barred from the discussion, neither rates of pay nor allowances, nor anything else.
§ Mr. Greenwood
If my right hon. Friend says that it is the Government's view that the two principles or illustrations are not accepted by them and that all questions are open for discussion does not that mean that the Amendment is acceptable? I am not trying to make trouble about this, but I am sure that it is the wish of the House that apart from principles or illustrations this House, or its representatives, would like to discuss with the Government the whole question of pay and allowances. The Government are not committed to accepting anything; all I am asking them is whether the problem would not be settled by accepting the Amendment.
§ Mr. A. Bevan
The Leader of the House is suffering from an unusual quality for the Front Bench—an excess of honesty. It is the first time I have seen it for many years. What we want to know is this: Does the right hon. Gentleman accept the Amendment before the House?
§ Mr. Bevan
The right hon. Gentleman rejects the Amendment. The Amendment contains two principles, and I wish Members would not try to dodge them. One is that there should be an immediate increase in pay and allowances. Every speech made from that side of the House or this has been in favour of that. My hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) made a speech which has not been answered. The Government have no excuse whatever for not answering it because they knew that all this would arise. It was well known that this issue would be raised. When the Government say that they are prepared to discuss everything but that they reject these two 1744 principles in the Amendment—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes, that is what the Leader of the House said.
§ Sir A. Southby
On a point of Order. The hon. Member is an old Parliamentary hand. Is it not a fact that the Government cannot accept the Amendment? It must be either negatived or withdrawn. It cannot be accepted.
§ Mr. Speaker
If the Amendment is accepted I cannot be moved out of the Chair. The Government can, of course always accept the principle of it.
§ Mr. Bevan
The difficulty is that the serving soldier cannot sympathise with the hon. Member's funniosities. We are discussing whether after 4½ years of war we can give the serving soldier a square deal. The Government say they cannot accept the two principles contained in file Amendment. Did the right hon. Gentleman say that?
§ Mr. Bevan
There are two principles in the Amendment, an immediate increase in pay and allowances, and the right hon. Gentleman cannot accept it. There is only one thing left, to divide the House. If hon. Members opposite want to dodge, they can select any kind of speech they like. All that is before the House is an Amendment to the Motion "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair." The Amendment asks that before he leaves the Chair, the Government should give an assurance of an immediate increase in pay and allowances. If the Government say they cannot accept that my hon. Friends should divide, because we have no other justification for the Debate. The Foreign Secretary says he is prepared to have an inquiry to discuss everything. What is everything? Everything except 1745 pay and allowances? That is the issue before the House. We are having the same thing year after year. The Government knew this issue was going to be raised and they are trying to find some way of avoiding coming to an issue on it. My advice to my hon. Friends is to put Members to the obligation of going into the Lobby and show exactly where they stand and not fall back upon the ambiguity of speeches made in the Debate.
§ Sir Ralph Glyn (Abingdon)
I feel, having listened to all the Debate, that there are certain things which are perfectly obvious. There has not been a single Member on this side who is not quite determined that the present position of the soldier is unsatisfactory. Secondly, we are quite determined that it is our obligation, which we cannot escape, that there is no one else to look after the Service man except this House. I believe all Members, including the Government, have an equal responsibility. There is now this confusion, which should never have arisen, and it would be disastrous at this stage of the war if it went out that there had been a Division which showed that the Government were not willing to support the troops. That I do not believe. I know from what the Secretary of State said that he is anxious to see everything done to maintain the morale of the Army and to make the men happy about conditions at home. Every day the welfare officer is overloaded with divorce cases and troubles and difficulties at home, and this is piling up immediately before we have the general offensive.
This is one of those few occasions which arise in the House when the House must give itself a lead if the Government do not make it sufficiently clear. The Leader of the House used an unfortunate word in "principles." Nobody has talked about principles. We want to make it clear that we do not want to press the Government for anything that is unreasonable. There have been many things said to-day which make it doubtful whether we could justify a case for the man in the Army without dependants being entitled to a flat rate increase. I believe there is an overwhelming case for married soldiers having up to 15s. minimum children's allowance. I believe there is a feeling of strong frustration among the junior ranks in the Army and a feeling that they have been cheated over field allowance. 1746 Because the Government put a poker, a table and a form in a room, the officer finds himself with so much less a week. Whatever may be the rights of it, he has a feeling that somebody is cheating. Our business is to see that that feeling is removed.
I believe that the Government and the Secretary of State are as anxious as any hon. Member to clean this thing up. I feel that we must get from the Leader of the House, in answer to the hon. and gallant Member for Epsom (Sir A. Southby), a clear statement that if Members are to meet the Government in a representative capacity there must be no limits to the discussion. It must be a free discussion without limits. We are not unreasonable people. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer says that a flat rate increase will cost £150,000,000, people will say that that is not so important as getting the allowances and the other things we want. I shall certainly go into the Lobby with great regret against the Government because this is an occasion when I think that the one thing that matters is that the House should act as trustees for the men in the Forces who are called upon to take action on the orders of the Government and who we know in our constituencies are feeling extremely uncomfortable that they have not friends when they need them.
§ Mr. W. J. Brown (Rugby)
I support what has just been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn). The House cannot leave the position where it now is on the statements that have been made from the Front Bench. The Armed Forces of this country are not allowed—I think wrongly—to have trade unions or to have conciliation machinery, or the right of taking their differences to arbitration. In the light of these denials it is this House that must make up its mind how the Armed Forces are to be dealt with. I should have hoped that the Government would have made a statement to-day which would have enabled the House to discharge its task relatively easily. I do not think my hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Kendall) raised this issue with a view to getting publicity or credit to himself, and I do not believe those who supported him on the other side are any more concerned about that than he is. I believe 1747 this is one of the rare occasions when the House functions without a sense of partisanship but with the conception of trusteeship.
The Government must either accept unrestricted discussion, with nothing barred, or must tell us what they will accept. The House wants to get the right thing done. If the Leader of the House, or the Chancellor—the silent sinner in this business—would get up and say that the Government were prepared to rest on the good sense of all parties in the House and remit the matter to discussion between the Government and representatives of all parties, with nothing barred, we might hope for agreement. If the Government stay where they now stand, and bar new principles against which they have not made a case, there will not be agreement. Are we to believe that, with a war expenditure of £5,000,000,000, the sum of £200,000,000 represents the dividing line between inflation and no inflation? Nonsense. If the industrial comparison is rejected, at least we are entitled to a reason. I would remind the Leader of the House that if he will not learn from this House, perhaps he will learn something from the Germans. Ludendorff expressed the conviction in his Memoirs of the last war that, among the reasons which led to the breakdown of German morale, the principal was the sense of outrage amongst the Army at their unfavourable treatment compared with that of the civil population. He might also learn from Himmler, that Hitler, as a preliminary to waging this war, decided that the same reason for moral collapse should not occur this time.
I do not want any unnecessary explosive material lying about at the end of the war. This is not a proposal that we should arrest the Chancellor under 18B and intern him, but that we should meet genuine grievances before the event, and not let them poison the post-war situation. I am not anxious to vote against the Government. I would prefer to see this matter taken right out of party controversy, and be determined by the good sense of the House, but if the right hon. Gentleman will not agree, then no one will go into the Division Lobby with a better heart than I will.
§ Major Nield (Chester)
Every speech in this Debate was in sympathy with the 1748 Amendment. From that it should be plain that it is the country's view that existing conditions of pay and allowances are not adequate. The question I ask is, Why cannot H.M. Government respond to that unanimous feeling? My second point is this: If it is a question of money, then I feel it is right to say that if one were able to ask the public, who in the end have to foot the bill, to shoulder the extra cost of additional provision for our fighting men who are rendering services greater than any other, their answer would be, "Aye, and gladly." My third point is this: It is rather a personal one, but I have no hesitation in putting it forward. One has some experience of meeting troops here and elsewhere. If to-day I have to choose my loyalties I shall choose the troops.
§ Dr. Haden Guest (Islington, North)
I have scrapped anything I had intended to say had I been able to speak earlier, but I do feel obliged to protest against the attitude of the Government on this matter. This is the grand occasion in the year for discussing War Office affairs. The War Office knew perfectly well that this matter was coming up, and they are practically dishonestly attempting to evade these problems. It was their bounden duty to have brought forward a considered reply with regard to the representations on pay and allowances, and in fact they could have done it. There have been, I know, inquiries made; there are facts available, and I consider that the Secretary of State for War is guilty of a dereliction of duty in not bringing a definite statement before the House. It is the whole country, not only the House of Commons, that is behind this demand for an improvement in pay and allowances. Vast masses of people in the country are behind it.
I recently had the honour of taking a chair at a meeting of the wives and dependants of Service men which represented a vast area of London. There were over 600 delegates sent from organisations. They were strongly behind this. They were moderate in their demands, they were constitutional in their demands. For the Secretary of State for War to come to the House on this occasion, when it is his duty to answer demands of this kind, and have no answer to give except what amounts to a flat refusal seems to me to make it imperative that unless the Gov- 1749 ernment now change their mind, unless the Leader of the House now throws over the Secretary of State for War and makes a conciliatory statement, it is up to the House to register its opinion of strong disapproval in the Division Lobby. This is not the way to bring the second front well forward, to treat the wives and dependants of Service men in this way.
I will give only one fact from those I had intended to give. There are thousands of cases in this country of malnutrition of children because wives do not get enough money. I think under these circumstances that unless the Leader of the House will give an assurance very different from what he has already given the House should go into the Lobby against the Government.
§ Mr. Molson (The High Peak)
I was privileged to take part in the discussions with the Chancellor of the Exchequer about 15 months ago when Service Members in this House made representations to him with regard to allowances and specially hard cases. Hon. Members who have spoken to-day would not have bandied about charges of bad faith or of lack of consideration if they had had the experience that my colleagues and I had on that occasion of the careful investigations of the Chancellor and the then Lord Privy Seal, now Minister of Aircraft Production, and the great care with which they went into these cases. I have listened with the most careful attention to what was said by the Leader of the House, and I should have thought that, if English words have any meaning, it was perfectly plain that the same kind of inquiry was going to be held on this occasion as was held on the previous occasion.
§ Mr. Molson
Actually, the results were regarded as satisfactory, not only by the hon. Members who took part in those discussions but by the House itself, at that time. The total amount, if my memory serves me rightly, was something like £50,000,000.
There have been two entirely different lines of argument in this House to-day. Certain Members who have said that there has been unanimity in support of the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Kendall) are mistaken. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Bristol (Captain Ber- 1750 nays), whose speech, I think, made so great an impression on the House, drew a clear distinction between those cases of married soldiers and those without dependants, and he brought chapter and verse; and the Leader of the House told us that he was prepared to investigate those particular circumstances. That is entirely different from the claim that there should be a general rise in basic rates. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Bristol took the view that there is a number of hard cases, especially those who are married and have dependants. I agree with him, and I know some of my hon. Friends do also; I notice that the hon. Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn) took the same view.
It is not reasonable of hon. Members to expect the Government, at a moment's notice—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Some hon. Members opposite would have been the first to complain if the Government had come here with some cut-and-dried plan before they had heard the case. The constitutional principle is that the Government hear the complaints that are made by hon. Members, and consider afterwards what they are able to do.
My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House will, I am sure, correct me if I am wrong, but what I thought I heard him say was that, while they are not prepared to accept the criterion of Dominion or American pay as necessarily applicable to our own troops—and why should the House of Commons assume that we are prepared to accept the levels of pay of some other Legislature?—and while they are not prepared to accept the vague principle, which can hardly be defined, that the rates of all in the Armed Forces should be brought into line with all the gradations of pay in industry—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] It is manifestly impossible to say what is the level of industrial pay. Some is based on piece rates, and some on time rates. If I understood my right hon. Friend aright, it is an undertaking that the Government are prepared to investigate this matter, to hear everything that can be brought forward by hon. Members urging that there are adjustments to be made. There was a number of Members of this House who considered, on the last occasion, that it was a mistake to have a flat basic rise in pay of 6d. a day.
There were some who did not stand in need of that sixpence, and many more, 1751 especially those who were married and with children, who were in need of something far more. I trust the House will be satisfied with the promise which the Government have given to investigate this matter, and, if the result is satisfactory, as it was on the last occasion, I do not think the House will have any reason to regret it.
§ Mr. Kendall
May I ask the Leader of the House a question? I have listened to the statements of the Secretary of State for War and the Leader of the House, and I would like to know—not being at all satisfied with the answers, though, maybe, I have not interpreted them properly—if the Government agree that the pay, family allowances and children's allowances are inadequate. I want to know that now, and, if that be so, and they agree that they are inadequate, then, what do they propose to do, and when do they propose to do it? That is all I want to know.
§ Major C. S. Taylor
I thought the right hon. Gentleman was going to answer all the questions. If he cannot answer them all, will he please answer one which I would like to put to him? The Government have said they are prepared to negotiate on the question of pay and allowances, and are perfectly prepared to hear arguments put forward. If they have made up their minds what they are going to do, shall we then have an opportunity in this House of showing our favour or disfavour?
§ Mr. Eden
I really think I can put the position in three sentences. First of all, as I have said, there are what I consider two principles mentioned in this Debate. So that there should be no misunderstanding, we do not accept, and cannot accept, the principle that changes are made on the basis of a comparison with the Dominions or the United States or on the industrial level. That is the first thing. This is so that the House may know what the Government's sentiments are before we take a decision. The second thing is that we are prepared to go into a discus- 1752 sion of pay and allowances, hardships and all matters, without commitment, of course, by the Government, as we did the last time. Two years ago, we had exactly the same procedure, and I must remind the House that it unanimously accepted the result, and it is not fair to suggest that it was a bogus show. The whole House accepted that result. We are willing to follow exactly the same procedure and discuss all these questions. Finally, I wish to make it absolutely plain that the position is, of course, that when these discussions reach a result, if they do, as I hope they will, we will come back to the House, and it will be for the House to approve them or not.
§ Mr. Kendall
Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the question I put to him? Do the Government agree that pay and allowances, and children's allowances, are inadequate, and, if so, what will they do about it?
§ Mr. Huģh Lawson
The Secretary of State for War has told us the principles he rejects, but he has not said the principles he accepts. I am putting just this one question. Does he agree that there should be a fair distribution of such consumable goods as we have in this country between all sections of the country? Is he satisfied that the Service men are getting their fair share?
That is the only point at issue. Nobody has suggested that we are asking for inflation at all. Will the Secretary of State for War say whether he will accept the suggestion as a basis for consideration? We think that we have made out a very strong case that both pay and allowances are too small. I add my plea to that of the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Kendall), who asked whether the Government accept the claim that we have made out a case for an increase. We are not asking them to say what that increase should be, as obviously there would have to be discussion on that matter.
Mr. Driberģ (Maldon)
Like other hon. Members I shall be very brief, but I do not think that anybody need apologise for speaking and keeping the House at this hour. Apart from the merits of the case, it is an excellent thing that it should go out to the soldiers that Parliament is working overtime to-day and has sat later than on any other day for many months on a matter which affects every soldier intimately. The Leader of the House has made the position clear, with complete courtesy and clarity: that there are to be discussions, with no commitments—discussions which should, and might, have been taking place for months or weeks past—and that the Government are going to approach those discussions with a fixed prejudice against the only possible basis for them. The only possible basis for discussion is contained in this Amendment. The Government have rejected the Amendment. But if there is no urgent need for an immediate increase in pay, there is obviously no need for the discussion at all.
The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War was, I think, the only Member of the House who used the comparison with industry in at all an improper way. He made a quite extraordinary statement which boiled down to this—that, because the agricultural worker is paid disgracefully low wages, therefore we ought to pay the soldier disgracefully low wages also. As to his argument with regard to inflation, can it seriously be suggested, as he did, that the raising of the basic pay of the soldier to, say, 5s, a day would necessarily start a general demand for wage increases among civilian industrial workers? If that is suggested, it is quite a ridiculous suggestion. Nobody would claim that the wages of the industrial worker must be raised to keep always ahead of the soldier's pay. Nothing could be more ridiculous.
Hon. Members by their action in this Division, which perhaps in many ways will be the most crucial of all that are likely to take place in this Parliamentary Session, will show their constituents precisely where they stand. Their constituents will be able to judge whether they truly represent the interests of the common people—whose spearhead and shield, whose salvation, and whose glory at this moment is the common soldier.
§ Sir Irvinģ Albery (Gravesend)
In view of the speech which has just been made, there are a few words I wish to say before we go to a Division. The Amendment which was moved to-day to bring forward the grievances of men in the Forces was supposed to be moved, and apparently was moved, with the idea of getting the Government to agree to consider their case with the ultimate object of taking some action. I have listened to practically the whole of the Debate to-day and I must say, quite definitely, that the offer which the Government have made, except for splitting hairs, is a very complete offer—[An HON. MEMBER: "Nonsense"]—to consider the grievances which have been brought to their notice. The fact that, when they have considered them, any decision which they take is then subsequently to be submitted to this House, gives this House eventually a further opportunity of saying whether they approve of the decision which the Government will have taken when that decision is submitted. I believe, Mr. Speaker, that the Amendment which you will put will be the Amendment on the Order Paper and, under the circumstances, I shall declare quite clearly, for myself, that in supporting the Government, which I shall do, I do not imply that I am satisfied with the present pay and allowances of His Majesty's Forces.
§ Mr. Mander (Wolverhampton, East)
We know that there have recently come into this House a number of hon. Members, particularly on the other side, who are among the most loyal and reliable supporters the Government could possibly have, and we have watched with interest the little meeting that has been held to decide whether actually they would support the Government or not. [An HON. MEMBER: "The 42 Club."] But I do feel that while there is a good deal of difference of opinion in the House on this question, there are some hon. Members who are quite as much interested in damaging the Government as the other side of the question. That is perfectly clear. There are perfectly sincere and determined opponents of the Government in this House, and they are making the most of their opportunity to-night.
§ Mr. Mander
I am a free man, entitled to say what I think. Now, Sir, I have 1755 not listened to the whole of this Debate, but I have heard enough of it to make me realise that the House of Commons has secured a victory over the Government. The Government came here with certain ideas and views as to how they would speak on this question of pay and allowances, and they found the House did not agree. One after the other has arisen from every side, and I entirely associate myself with the views that have been unanimously expressed urging the Government to alter their point-of-view, to be more generous, to consider making concessions—
§ Mr. Mander
If my hon. Friend will be patient, he will hear. I heard the Leader of the House on four or five, if not six, occasions to-day describe exactly what the Government's position was. He has made it perfectly clear, so far as words have any meaning, that the Government are prepared to consider the whole question of pay and allowances without any restrictions at all. It is perfectly true that he used certain words such as "not accepting certain principles," but that was only a little camouflage to cover up the fact that he was, in fact, making considerable concessions to the House. I think the Government have reacted to the House of Commons in an entirely proper, constitutional way. They have listened to
|Division No. 5.||AYES.|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Furness, Major S. N.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Glyn, Sir R. G. C.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Anderson, Rt. Hon. Sir J. (Sc'h. Univ.)||Grant-Ferris, Wing-Commander R.||Pym, L. R.|
|Balfour, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. H.||Grigg, Rt. Hon. Sir P. J. (Cardiff, E.)||Raikes, Flight-Lieut. H. V. A. M.|
|Beaumont, Maj. Hon. R. E. B. (P'ts'h)||Grimston, R. V. (Westbury)||Rankin, Sir R.|
|Beech, Major F. W.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Beechman, N. A.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A.|
|Bennett, Sir P. F. B. (Edgbaston)||Hogg, Hon. Q. McG.||Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir D. B.|
|Bernays, R. H.||Jones, L. (Swansea, W.)||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C.||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Storey, S.|
|Brocklebank, Sir C. E. R.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Brooke, H. (Lewisham)||Longhurst, Captain H. C.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Mabane, Rt. Hon. W.||Teeling, Flight-Lieut. W.|
|Conant, Major R. J. E.||McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Makins, Brig.-Gen. Sir E.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Comdr. R. L.|
|Drewe, C.||Mander, G. le M.||Waterhouse, Captain Rt. Hon. C.|
|Dugdale, Major T. L. (Richmond)||Marlowe, Lt.-Col. A.||Watt, Brig. G. S. Harvie (Richmond)|
|Eccles, D. M.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W. (Blaydon)|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Molson, A. H. E.||Womersley, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Morris, J. P. (Salford, N.)|
|Evans, Colonel A. (Cardiff, S.)||Nicholson, G. (Farnham)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:—|
|Fraser, Lt.-Col. Sir Ian (Lonsdale)||Paling, Rt. Hon. W.||Mr. Boulton and Mr. A. S. L. Young.|
§ the arguments put forward, they have adjusted and altered their point of view as time has passed, and I think we can claim that it will be impossible for the Government, after to-day's Debate, to do other than make such concessions as prove, in the course of the discussion amongst those interested, to be wise and practicable.
§ Personally, as one who is not at all ashamed to say that he is a supporter of a Government—[An HON. MEMBER: "Guilty men of Westminster"]—which is well fitted to carry on the task of winning this war, I think we can trust them to do what is wanted by the House.
§ Mr. S. O. Davies (Merthyr)
After the last two speeches we have heard we should try to make the situation perfectly clear. These speeches impressed me as being deliberately intended to obscure the position and attitude of the Government. The real position is this: The Government have not accepted the Amendment. They have refused to admit that the pay and allowances of soldiers are inadequate. All we have had is a vague promise to consider these matters without a committal to a single principle. It was necessary to make this clear before we divided.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 63; Noes, 40.
|Bartlett, C. V. O.||Dunn, E.||Mack, J. D.|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Edwards, Walter J. (Whitechapel)||Murray, J. D. (Spennymoor)|
|Bevan, A. (Ebbw Vale)||Foster, W.||Nield, Major B. E.|
|Bowles, F. G.||Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Ritson, J.|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. J. G. (H'der's)||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Brown, W. J. (Rugby)||Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Islington, N.)||Stokes, R. R.|
|Buchanan, G.||Guy, W. H.||Suirdale, Viscount|
|Bull, B. B.||Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Burke, W. A.||Horabin, T. L.||Thorneycroft, H. (Clayton)|
|Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||Hughes, R. Moelwyn||Thornton-Kemsley, Lt.-Col. C. N.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Lawson, H. M. (Skipton)||Walkden, E. (Doncaster)|
|Douglas, F. C. R.||Lipson, D. L.||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Loverseed, J. E.|
|Dugdale, John (W. Bromwich)||Lyons, Major A. M.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:—|
|Mr. Kendall and Mr. Reakes.|
§ Question, "That the Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.
§ Supply accordingly considered in Committee.
§ [Major MILNER in the Chair]