HC Deb 06 February 1951 vol 483 cc1530-1
51. Mr. William Teeling

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer by what percentage the allowances of those serving under the Foreign Office in France have recently been increased; to what extent this was according to a scale based on the cost of living recently decided upon, and how many officials were involved; by what percentage have the allowances of those members of the Royal Navy, Army and the Royal Air Force serving at present in France been reduced during the same period and how many people were involved; and why one service should have an increase and others a decrease.

Mr. Gaitskell

The allowances of Foreign Service officers employed in France were increased by rather less than 10 per cent. last April in the light of the local cost of living and the effect of the devaluation of the pound in September, 1949. This affected about 150 staff.

There are about 450 members of the British Armed Forces serving in France. They received an interim increase in their allowances in September, 1949, immediately after and in consequence of devaluation. On a review in January, 1950, new consolidated rates replaced these interim rates, being slightly higher in some cases and slightly lower in others. There has been no subsequent change except that in July, 1950, a special increase of about 35 per cent. was made in the ration allowance of those members of the Forces who were stationed in Paris.

The allowances of members of the British Armed Forces employed abroad are assessed on a different basis from those of the Foreign Service and are designed to cater for different circumstances and requirements. Changes in the allowances do not, therefore, necessarily take place at the same time or to the same extent, but I have no reason to believe that there has been any unfairness resulting from the recent changes I have described.

Mr. Teeling

Surely members of the British Forces who are serving abroad, and who may be attached to embassies or consulates or are working very closely with them, ought to be looked after in the same way as are the Foreign Office officials in France when the cost of living is going up.

Mr. Gaitskell

I have no reason to believe that the present arrangements are in any way unsatisfactory so far as the members of the Armed Forces are concerned.

Mr. Harrison

Can my right hon. Friend say whether the increased cost of living referred to in this Question applies only to Socialist countries and not to capitalist countries?