HC Deb 01 December 1948 vol 458 cc2001-3
48. Captain John Crowder

asked the Minister of Defence whether he will grant the increases in pay and allowances which have just been announced to all National Service men who are serving in Malaya.

Mr. Alexander

National Service men serving in Malaya, as elsewhere, qualify for the recent increases in pay when they complete a year's service. As for increased pay during their first year's service and increased Marriage Allowances, I greatly regret that I could not make an exception to the general rule in their favour. I would remind the House that, in cases of need, these men can have recourse to War Service Grants or, from 1st January next, to the new scheme of National Service Grants to which I referred in my announcement last week.

Captain Crowder

Would not the Minister of Defence think it only fair that National Service men, who are now serving on active service abroad, irrespective of their length of service, should get the same pay as the regular soldiers alongside whom they are serving? Will he look into the matter again?

Mr. Alexander

The pay of Regular soldiers will be calculated on the new code of qualifications immediately; that of National Service men at the end of 12 months' service.

Mr. A. R. W. Low

Is it not a fact that before sending these men to Malaya, the right hon. Gentleman and the Service Ministers felt that they were good enough to go there and face the dangers, and, in those circumstances, ought they not to receive the increased pay?

Mr. Alexander

No. This matter has been considered with regard to the effect upon National Service men as a whole.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore

Will the right hon. Gentleman reconsider o the question in relation to officers in Malaya as well? Is he not aware that, in recent months, some British officers have committed suicide because of their financial difficulties? I can give the right hon. Gentleman instances.

Mr. Alexander

I cannot accept the suggestion of suicide coming from the kind of rates of pay paid to officers. No doubt, there will be a debate later on, and a comparison will show that a good many of the things being said are not really justified, now that we have made these adjustments.

49. Commander Noble

asked the Minister of Defence if he will keep the pay and allowances of the Services under constant review.

Mr. Alexander

As my statement of last week shows, a review of Service pay is undertaken whenever the circumstances call for it.

Commander Noble

Would the Minister of Defence bear in mind that, although the increases announced last week are a step in the right direction, they do not by any means solve the problem?

Mr. Alexander

All I would say is that the provisions made by this Government for the remuneration of the Services are incomparably better than those of any previous Government.

Mr. Eden

When the right hon. Gentleman makes this sweeping statement, will he bear in mind the purchasing power of the pound?

Mr. Alexander

All that has also been taken into account, and in relation to the payments for similar groups outside.

Mr. Cobb

May I ask my right hon. Friend when he will be able to make his promised statement about a review of the pay of the Women's Services?

Mr. Alexander

I hope very shortly.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Will not the right hon. Gentleman realise that statements about what was done by previous Governments do not alter the fact that the recent increases in pay are still insufficient, and that that is a fact that must be faced?

Mr. Alexander

I do not agree.

Air-Commodore Harvey

Will the right hon. Gentleman study the figures which I sent him today showing that R.A.F. officers are worse off now than they were under the old pay code?

Mr. Alexander

Of course, I will study anything which the hon. and gallant Gentleman sends me, but I still say that we have made a very great effort to meet the situation in very difficult financial circumstances.