HC Deb 13 June 1945 vol 411 cc1647-8
47. Mr. Tinker

asked the Prime Minister if he is aware that the Government's scheme for war gratuities is not giving satisfaction to the Services; and will he give further consideration to it.

Mr. Butler

The answer to the first part of the Question is in the negative, and the second part, therefore, does not arise from it in any direct manner.

Mr. Tinker

I am rather sorry the right hon. Gentleman has had to reply because I wanted to get at the Prime Minister. This matter has been before the Prime Minister several times, and it is unfair that the Minister of Labour should now have to reply. Is he aware that there is great dissatisfaction among Service men about gratuities? I would like to know whether he has made inquiries on the subject.

Mr. Butler

I have given the information which is in my right hon. Friend's possession, and if my hon. Friend has any further information, I am sure my right hon. Friend will be pleased to have it.

Mr. Shinwell

Will the right hon. Gentleman explain why, to-day, he is answering Questions for the Prime Minister whereas, the other day, the First Lord of the Admiralty, who is sitting be- side him, answered Questions for the Prime Minister? [Hon. Members: "No.".] What is the reason for this change? The Chancellor of the Exchequer also answered Questions for the Prime Minister. What is the reason for this? Why this demotion?

Colonel Sir Arthur Evans

May I ask whether the matter referred to by the hon. Member comes within the functions of the Opposition?

Mr. Shinwell

Can I have an answer to my question, Mr. Speaker? On a point of Order—

Mr. Speaker

I am saying something. The hon. Member must not rise when I am on my feet. This Question deals with war gratuities.

Mr. Shinwell

With great respect, Sir, I did not observe that you were speaking at the time. I have no desire to be disrespectful, but we are entitled to ask why, when Questions are addressed to the Prime Minister, and the Prime Minister, for quite good reasons, is not available, other right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench should take turns about to reply.

Mr. Speaker

It has nothing to do with me.

Mr. Pritt

On that point of Order. Cannot we have an explanation, and in particular, could we be told whether the astonishing demotion of the First Lord has the approval of Lord Beaverbrook?

Mr. Gallacher

I would like to inform the Minister that hon. Members are continually receiving letters from serving soldiers and discharged soldiers on this question of gratuities, and to ask him whether he will consult the Secretary of State for War and have some of the correspondence sent to him on this matter. Will he look into it?

Mr. Butler

I have, of course, been in touch with the Secretary of State for War, and I am also aware that the system agreed to by the last Government appears to be the best possible.

Mr. Collindridge

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the volume of opinion in the country to the effect that equal danger shared by all ranks should warrant equal grants?