§ 27 and 28. Mr. Lewis
asked the Secretary of State for War (1) if he will give an assurance that the dependants and next-of-kin of the late Private Donald Harrison will be properly and adequately compensated financially;
(2) why, in his letter to Mrs. Dorothy Harrison, mother of the late Private Donald Harrison, he made no mention of the War Office accepting full financial responsibility for their neglect; and whether he will take the necessary action to rectify this.
§ 29. Wing Commander Hulbert
asked the Secretary of State for War if consideration has been given to the making of an ex gratia payment to Mrs. Harrison, the widowed mother of the late Private Harrison, who died in a military hospital last April.
§ Mr. Speaker
The first Question is in rather general terms and does not impinge upon the subject matter of the court martial. I was about to warn the House that, if there were any straying into the merits of the case, that would be out of order.
§ Mr. Bellenger
Further to the point of order. Is it not a fact that a court of inquiry has investigated certain matters connected with this case and has reported publicly and that these Questions do not deal with any matter which is sub judice?
§ Mr. Speaker
We had better wait and see how the answers to subsequent Questions go. The point made by the hon. Member for Lichfield and Tamworth (Mr. Snow) has substance in it.
§ Mr. Lewis
The Minister has not attempted to answer Question 28. I ask in Question 28 whether or not he could give a reason why in his letter, which I agree was very sympathetic, he made no mention of the War Office, the Government or any Department accepting financial responsibility. Can he now explain why he did not in some way give some alleviation to the suffering of this mother by mentioning it in the letter which he sent her?
§ Mr. Head
That matter did not escape my notice, but I deliberately refrained from saying anything because the final decision did not lie within my province and had not been made. I think it would have been very wrong to give any assurance to her which could not be fulfilled, and I deliberately delayed it until a decision had been made.
§ Wing Commander Hulbert
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the late Private Harrison was a constituent of mine and I am quite capable of looking after his interests without the assistance of the Opposition? May I further ask my right hon. Friend if Mrs. Harrison has been informed of this award, and if he can now tell the House what the award is?
§ Mr. Head
My hon. and gallant Friend will appreciate that it is not for me to inform Mrs. Harrison, but for the Minister of Pensions, and I am not aware whether he has done so. So far as the award is concerned it has been worked out as being the maximum which she can have which will not proportionately reduce the other assistance given to her. That is the basis on which it has been made.
§ 30. Mr. Hastings
asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of recent disclosures, he will institute an inquiry as to the organisation and administration of military hospitals and the desirability of the treatment of Service patients in civil hospitals as in the late war.
§ Mr. Hastings
Will the right hon. Gentleman agree that the best medical advice should be available to all Service personnel, and that that advice is much more likely to be obtainable in a large general civilian hospital than anywhere else?
§ Mr. Lewis
Is the Minister aware that these two individuals did go to some pains and did in fact cause themselves great difficulty in drawing public attention to this matter? Surely they should 1672 receive some recompense? If it is not given on this basis, can the Minister do something with regard to the court martial and have it expunged from the record?