§ 41. Mr. Erroll
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he will now make a statement on the distribution of prize money derived from the proceeds of sale of captured enemy merchant ships and cargoes.
§ 42. Mrs. Middleton
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether he is yet in a position to make a statement about prize money.
§ 43. Commander Galbraith
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he has any statement to make about the payment of prize money.
§ 44. Commander Noble
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether he will now make a statement on the distribution of naval prize money.
62. Vice-Admiral Taylor
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether he will now make a statement as to the issue of prize money.
In so far as the Royal Air Force is concerned, I am speaking on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air.
The question of prize money has involved protracted negotiations, not only with other Government Departments at home, but with other members of the Commonwealth. Satisfactory progress has been made in these negotiations and the work of investigating entitlement to naval prize money of officers and men of the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines is proceeding. This investigation will take 390 some time, but it is preferable that it should be completed before applications for prize money are invited from officers and men of the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines. A Prize Bill will be introduced as soon as circumstances permit, and will contain proposals for declaring fixed sums which will be available for disposal as droits of the Crown to separate naval and Royal Air Force Prize Funds. It is estimated that these sums will be in the neighbourhood of £4 million for the Naval Prize Fund and £1¼ million for the Royal Air Force Prize Fund.
After the passage of the Bill it is intended to seek a Royal Proclamation making a grant of prize money for the benefit of individual members of the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines. It is not the intention to make an individual distribution to officers and men of the Royal Air Force, and the Royal Air Force share will be applied for the general benefit of serving and past members of the Royal Air Force. By the time the Prize Bill has been passed, examination of individual entitlement in the case of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines should be nearing completion and distribution will begin as soon as possible afterwards.
§ Mrs. Middleton
Will my hon. Friend bear in mind the necessity of keeping the grants as between officers and men in a reasonable relation one to another?
While I cannot state definitely what those grants will be, it will be found that the proportion as between the highest and the lowest will be somewhat less than it was after the last war.
Mr. J. P. L. Thomas
With reference to the droits of the Crown, will the hon. Gentleman tell the House what sum goes to the Exchequer from the droits of Admiralty?
That is quite another question. In fact the distribution of prize money on this occasion is following precedents of previous wars, and a distribution was not made to the Merchant Navy on those occasions.
When is it likely that these investigations will be completed? As some considerable time has passed, will the award be made retrospectively?
I should like to have notice of the second Question. With regard to the first Question, I hope it may be possible for distribution to take place some time early next year, but I cannot make a definite promise as to that. I would remind the hon. and gallant Member that distribution after the last war, although begun in 1920, was not finished until 1923.
§ Mr. Skeffington-Lodge
Can my hon. Friend say what is the position of any Army personnel who might have been serving on board ship, as many of them were at certain times during the war?
§ Lieut.-Commander Gurney Braithwaite
Is it not a case that, so far as the lower deck are concerned, scales of pay for the Royal Navy were on an infinitely lower level than in the Merchant Navy?
§ Mr. Nally
Could my hon. Friend explain on what principle it has been decided that in the case of the Navy the prize money will eventually take the form of individual distribution to officers and men, while in the case of the R.A.F. the money is to go to some welfare fund? Why is there a difference in the way the money is disposed of?
I can only speak for the Royal Navy. We are distributing on the same system as before. The Royal Air Force have decided to distribute their money in a different manner, and any question in regard to that distribution should be addressed to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air.
§ Air-Commodore Harvey
Will the hon. Gentleman take this matter up with the Secretary of State for Air? Why should the members of the Royal Air Force be treated any differently from the members of the Royal Navy? Is it not quite iniquitous?
The hon. and gallant Member should put a Question to the Secretar of State for Air if he desires information on the matter.
§ Mr. Scollan
In view of the important statement my hon. Friend has made, are we to understand that the Government have deliberately decided to disperse £4 million in the case of the Navy while they are asking the ordinary worker to wait for his Post-War Credit?
§ Mr. Chetwynd
Would it not be better and more desirable if my hon. Friend convinced the Admiralty that they should follow the example of the Royal Air Force in this matter of the distribution of these funds?