HC Deb 27 June 1950 vol 476 cc2092-3
44. Mr. G. P. Stevens

asked the Secretary of State for War what steps are being taken to ensure a quick decision on the conditions attaching to the award of the Meritorious Service Medal.

Mr. Strachey

It has been agreed that all those who have already been registered for the award of the Meritorious Service Medal shall, in principle, receive the medal now. The actual issue may take some two years owing to practical difficulties. The grant of any annuity will be made as in the past, as vacancies occur. Once the medal has been issued to those at present registered, its issue in future cases will take place at about the time of registration. The numbers awarded will be such as to provide the numbers who may ultimately expect to receive the annuity, but for many years to come there will be a long period between the award of the medal and the grant of the annuity

Mr. Stevens

Having regard to the fact that some of those awarded the medal have been waiting nearly 30 years for it, would it not be possible to ensure that the medals are delivered in under two years from now?

Mr. Strachey

The numbers involved, as the hon. Member knows, are quite large, and I am advised that that is the time in which it can be done.

General Sir George Jeffreys

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his predecessor, when answering a Question on this matter some six months ago and answering the same Question some two years ago, in each case said that it was being considered by a board at the War Office, and that a decision was hoped for at a very early date? Is there any reason to expect that that decision will be come to quickly, and that it will be one favourable to these men?

Mr. Strachey

The decision has been made to issue the medals without waiting for vacancies to occur on the list of those eligible for the annuity.

Lieut.-Commander Gurney Braithwaite

Does "in principle" mean the payment of the annuity almost immediately, although the medal may not be received for two years?

Mr. Strachey

No, Sir. The payment of annuities can only begin as vacancies occur on the list.

Sir G. Jeffreys

Is the Secretary of State aware that his predecessor held out hopes that the medal might be issued to all the men concerned after a reasonable period, even if the annuity was not available? Is there any chance of that being done?

Mr. Strachey

I have just announced the decision that that will now be done.

Commander Noble

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what the cost to the Treasury would be if the annuity list was complete?

Mr. Strachey

Not without notice.