HC Deb 31 October 1944 vol 404 cc615-6
34. Viscount Hinchingbrooke

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the effect of 437/44 is to permit the regimental paymaster to inflict financial hardship upon the wife of a soldier after the penalty for any crime has been paid; and whether he will amend this instruction which makes more difficult reconciliation between husband and wife.

Sir J. Grigg

The whole object of this Army Council Instruction is to ensure that every possible effort is made to effect reconciliation between husbands and wives who have become estranged, particularly where such estrangement would result in the stopping of family allowance. But the regulations necessarily reserve to the Department the right to withhold public money from a woman whose behaviour is a public scandal. The reference in the A.C.I. to this power is only included in order that there shall be no misapprehension as to the regulation on the point. Fortunately the power does not often need to be used.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this Regulation is causing anxiety to welfare officers and to voluntary organisations, and is impeding them in their work? Will he look into it from that aspect?

Sir J. Grigg

I have looked into it with some care. The Regulation is applied only in really scandalous cases, such as a woman keeping a brothel, being a prostitute, or being repeatedly convicted of theft, drunkenness; or cruelty to children. I cannot believe that if that knowledge is known to welfare officers, as it must be, that is any excuse for impeding their work.