HC Deb 04 May 1944 vol 399 cc1469-70
49. Miss Ward

asked the Prime Minister if he will circulate with the OFFICIAL REPORT the points which are under discussion with the Service Departments arising out of the informal committee on Service Pay and Allowances.

Mr. Attlee

No, Sir.

Miss Ward

What objection is there to letting the House of Commons and the country know what are the points which are being discussed? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I think the whole situation has been extremely badly handled?

50. Commander Sir Archibald Southby

asked the Prime Minister whether he is prepared to amend the provisions in the White Paper on Service Pay and Allowances regarding the allowances to be paid to widows and children so that payments may be maintained at the same rates as those which obtained before the death of the serving man.

Mr. Attlee

No, Sir.

Sir A. Southby

Does my right hon. Friend realise that this is a matter which is giving grave concern in the Services, and that although his laconic and somewhat rude answer may go down in the House, it will not go down in the Services?

Captain Plugge

Would my right hon. Friend make provision for the widow to receive, on the death of a serving man, the gratuity for which he has qualified?

Sir I. Fraser

Does my right hon. Friend remember that in August last the Government assimilated these rates, which were previously different, so that the case for the fatherless child having the same money as the child of a serving soldier was admitted by the Government then? In the light of this, will the Government reconsider the matter?

Mr. Attlee

My hon. and gallant Friend knows very well that there are different conditions. There is, for instance, a rent allowance in one case and not in the other.

Mr. Shinwell

Does my right hon. Friend realise that there is really no justification for this discrimination, and that, in fact, when a wife becomes a widow she may require more remuneration than before? Would he not in all the circumstances take this back and give it further consideration?

Mr. Attlee

The matter has been carefully considered. As I pointed out to my hon. and gallant Friend, there are other matters to be taken into consideration in the question of a widow's pension, notably the rent allowance.

Mr. Turton

Surely the rent allowance was given before. Will my right hon. Friend consider reconvening the conference to consider this problem, which was not considered at the conference?

Mr. Attlee

I do not think that is necessary.

Mr. Bellenger

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, although a rent supplement is made to the widow, the war service grant that she may have been drawing while her husband was alive is withdrawn soon after the death of her husband, so that the one balances the other?

Sir A. Southby

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the replies given by the right hon. Gentleman I should in ordinary circumstances have given notice to raise the matter on the Adjournment, but, in view of impending operations, I reserve my right to raise it later on.

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