HC Deb 20 February 1945 vol 408 cc630-2
56. Sir Wavell Wakefield

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how soon officers and men who have already left the Services will be invited to apply for the gratuities due to them according to the service they have given; and how soon will it be possible for payment to be made to them.

Sir J. Anderson

I am not yet in a position to specify more precisely than I could on 6th February how soon after the start of releases under the Reallocation Scheme applications for gratuity can be invited from those who have already left the Services.

Sir W. Wakefield

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are many officers and men who would be greatly helped in rehabilitation if part, if not all, of their gratuity could be made at as early a date as possible? Will my right hon. Friend expedite this matter, if he can?

Sir J. Anderson

Payment prior to the general reallocation process was not contemplated in the statement I made. I doubt if it would be practicable at the present time to deal with particular cases.

59. Major Lloyd

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will give an assurance that the proposed gratuities payable to Service men and women will not be withheld in part or whole, either by the Income Tax authorities or through Service paymasters, to meet any arrears of Income Tax that the individual Service man or woman may have at the date of demobilisation.

Sir J. Anderson

While there is a general right of set-off which it is important to maintain, I am glad to be able to inform my hon. and gallant Friend that it is not proposed to recover any arrears of Income Tax by deduction from war gratuities payable to members of the Forces.

Major Lloyd

Is the Chancellor aware that that answer will be received with the greatest satisfaction in the Services?

62. Mr. Astor

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what would be the additional cost of paying officers' gratuities after this war on the same scale as were paid in 1919; and of paying officers gratuities increased in a similar ratio as the gratuities to other ranks are proposed to be increased.

Sir J. Anderson

An exact comparison is difficult, because the basis of calculation adopted after the last war was entirely different, but, taking account of the relative numbers and length of service of the various ranks, the cost for this war of paying the same gratuities as were paid after the last war would be about £100,000,000, as against £36,000,000. This last figure, however, takes no account of the various other benefits available for demobilised officers for which there was no counterpart in the last war; for instance, release and foreign service leave and civilian outfits alone are expected to cost some £40,000,000 for officers. In addition, there will be resettlement grants and provision for further education and training.

Mr. Astor

In view of the fact that the announcement of these diminished grants caused deep disappointment and a sense of grievance amongst officers in all three Services, will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that the House will be able to discuss this whole matter before the scheme goes through?

Sir J. Anderson

As my hon. Friend knows, that is not a matter for me.

Mr. Astor

Then may I ask the Leader of the House whether, in view of the fact that officers are deeply distressed because their gratuities are being reduced, while others are increased, the House will have an opportunity to discuss the matter before the scheme goes through?

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Eden)

I think I have already given such an assurance. Certainly that is our intention.

Mr. Gallacher

Will the right hon. Gentleman not think of the amount of the gratuity that is being paid to other ranks, as well as to officers, and then double it?