HC Deb 22 June 1949 vol 466 cc201-2
47. Mr. Low

asked the Minister of Defence whether, in view of the relatively late age at which medical officers are called up for National Service, he will authorise the payment of marriage allowances at the recently increased rates to those who have been married before being called up or during National Service.

The Minister of Defence (Mr. A. V. Alexander)

The higher age and special qualifications of National Service medical officers are recognised by the grant of higher rank and pay on entry; if married, they are entitled to marriage allowance at the rates appropriate to other National Service officers. I regret that it is not possible to treat medical officers more favourably than other National Service officers or than National Service men in this matter.

Mr. Low

In view of the considerations which the right hon. Gentleman has just mentioned, will he not reconsider this matter? Is it not very important that these men, who are necessarily called up much later than anyone else, should be treated in a way proper to their age and calling?

Mr. Alexander

The average age of entry is about 24 years and nine months. These medical officers start with the rank of full lieutenant or the equivalent and are much better off than other National Service officers.

Colonel Stoddart-Scott

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that some medical officers are not called up until they are nearly 30, until they have specialised, and that it is a great disadvantage to these men to have a low marriage allowance at that age?

Mr. Alexander

I do not think that they are badly off at that age compared with the position of other National Service officers.

Mr. N. Macpherson

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the qualifications are exactly the same, whether the medical officers are National Service officers or Regular officers? Could he give the reason for this discrimination? Is it really to the advantages of the Services?

Mr. Alexander

This matter has already been considered. The policy of the Government has been stated, and I am not in a position to suggest any variation of it.

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