HC Deb 15 November 1949 vol 469 cc1840-1
24. General Sir George Jeffreys

asked the Secretary of State for War what are now the conditions of award of the Meritorious Service Medal; and what steps have been taken to speed up the award to those who have been recommended for it.

Mr. Shinwell

To qualify for registration for the Meritorious Service Medal, a candidate must have 21 years' Colour Service, be at least a sergeant, possess the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal and have an exemplary character. A candidate is registered on the recommendation of his commanding officer and remains on the waiting list until his turn for an award occurs. The waiting list is long and the method of selection adopted is to take the oldest eligible candidate belonging to the branch of the Army to which the vacant award is allotted. The question of speeding up the award of this medal to those who have been recommended for it, has recently been investigated by a Working Party within my Department and is under consideration.

Sir G. Jeffreys

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that on 13th April, 1948, he gave me an answer on this subject and he said then that the conditions were under consideration; further, is he aware that one old soldier recently received this medal after waiting for 33 years and that he died within a week of receiving it? Will the right hon. Gentleman cause this method to be really speeded up and, in view of the small sum involved, will he cause the issue both of the medal and of the annuity to be very greatly accelerated?

Mr. Shinwell

The position is that in the past, generally speaking—there may have been exceptions—the medal was awarded simultaneously with the granting of an annuity. It is precisely that point that we have been investigating. I think that a conclusion may be reached, which will be implemented shortly, that we may award a medal without regard to the granting of the annuity which may come later on.

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