HC Deb 19 December 1945 vol 417 cc1312-4
9. Vice-Admiral Taylor

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he will now make a statement with regard to prize money.

10. Mr. Willis

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if it is intended that prize money shall be paid to naval personnel in respect of prizes taken during the war, as has formerly been the practice.

Mr. Alexander:

It has been decided that prize money in respect of the proceeds derived from the sale of captured enemy merchant ships and cargoes which has traditionally been granted to the Navy, shall again be granted, but it is the intention that a proportion of the proceeds should on this occasion be allocated for the benefit of Air Force personnel. It has been decided, however, that a grant of prize bounty shall not be made. In previous wars, this grant has been paid to the officers and crews of such of His Majesty's ships as were actually present at the taking or destroying of any enemy warships, but in the Government's view such a grant is inappropriate under modern conditions of war, and should be regarded as obsolete.

The Dominions Governments and the Government of India have concurred in principle in these decisions. So far as the United Kingdom Forces are concerned, however, it is the Government's intention that this shall be the last occasion on which prize money will be paid.

Vice-Admiral Taylor

Arising out of that very satisfactory answer, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is aware of the great satisfaction that the answer will give, not only to His Majesty's Forces here and those of the Dominions, but to the R.A.F.? May I further congratulate him on being successful in being able to maintain this ancient custom of giving prize money?

Mr. Willis

Will my right hon. Friend consider paying this money on a flat rate basis?

Mr. Alexander

That is what I might call a leading question. I do not think I can accept that proposition; but I do intend a variation of the payment among the ranks from that which took place in the last war and that the gap shall be very largely closed. A very different basis of distribution will be adopted from that of the last war.

Captain Marsden

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the gradation of the payment of prize money has been in force for a very long time? Can he say how soon information of the new system will be made available to the Navy?

Mr. Alexander

The decision, you mean?

Captain Marsden

The proportion in which the money will be shared and allocated.

Mr. Alexander

We will make the information available as early as possible. I can assure the hon. and gallant Member that most of this prize money is still the subject of long litigation in the courts. There is no great hurry, except to let people know what is likely to happen.

Mr. Kirkwood

Will the First Lord of the Admiralty give serious consideration again to the question just put to him by my hon. Friend, that the prize money should be paid on a flat rate?

Mr. Alexander

At this moment, I have nothing to add to the answer which 1 have given to the hon. Member.

Vice-Admiral Taylor

Do we understand there will be no question of differentiation?