§ Mr. Gough
While thanking my right hon. Friend for his full and helpful reply, may I ask him if he realises that this decision is in sharp contradiction to the reply made by the Minister of Labour to my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) on 1st July? Does he, further, agree that his action, far from showing any saving, is really adding a burden to the Exchequer, as Mr. Christmas will now be thrown on to National Assistance?
§ Mr. Head
I am aware of the position of Mr. Christmas, and I feel considerable sympathy for him, but the fact remains that the War Department's industrial agreement with the trades union states quite definitely the action we have to take in this particular case of redundancy, and, short of tearing up the agreement, I do not see what I can do to help Mr. Christmas.
§ 19. Mr. Yates
asked the Secretary of State for War why a National Service man suffering from deafness was discharged from the Army a week before his Parliamentary Secretary stated in a letter, dated 11th July, to the hon. Member for Ladywood that the soldier wished to continue in the Army and that consideration 1241 was being given as to how he could best be employed; and why two months were allowed to lapse before action was taken in this matter.
§ Mr. Yates
Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that after I received the letter to which I refer in my Question the man came to see me to inform me that he had been discharged, and showed me his papers: is there not, therefore, something wrong; and will the right hon. Gentleman take some steps to see that there is more efficiency in the Department, as it places Members of Parliament in a very serious position when they get information of this kind?
§ Mr. Head
When my hon. Friend wrote to the hon. Gentleman instructions had been sent out at the same time that, if possible, this man was to be retained in the Army, as was his wish, but at almost that identical date a medical board sat and discharged the man from the Army. The two events coincided. If I could have a word with the hon. Member I think I could explain it to him. It is extremely difficult to find a job in the Army for a man who is so deaf.
§ 23. Mr. Yates
asked the Secretary of State for War if he has now re-examined the case of 916925 Gunner C. D. Yates, Royal Artillery, reported missing for 10 years; if he has considered additional evidence sent to him on 10th June; and if he will now presume the death of Gunner Yates and pay a widow's pension to Mrs. Yates accordingly.
§ Mr. Head
Yes, Sir, but unfortunately the additional evidence, which tends to show that Gunner Yates was last seen on board a ship sailing to Australia, does not help very much. In all the circumstances, however, I have now decided to presume death. The question of a widow's pension is for consideration by my hon. Friend the Minister of Pensions.