HC Deb 29 March 1955 vol 539 cc265-6

Motion made, and Question proposed, " That the Schedule be the Second Schedule to the Bill."

Mr. Gordon Walker

I am in doubt about the meaning of this Schedule and the difference between Part I and Part II. Part I applies to pensioners in India and Pakistan and Part II to pensioners in Burma. I cannot understand why there are so many differences between the two sets of pensioners. Part I deals with the Pensions (Increase) Acts, 1944, 1947, 1952 and 1954, whereas Part II deals only with the Pensions (Increase) Act, 1952.

Secondly, a lot of people are set out who are entitled to these pensions under Part I—quite an elaborate description—whereas when we come to Part II we find that it is only, A pension payable to or in respect of a European warrant officer of the Royal Indian Marine. That is a very small category of persons. No doubt there is an explanation of why, on the face of it, there are these marked differences, and I should be grateful if the hon. Gentleman would explain.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for having raised these points. Part I refers to India, as he said, and we always refer to the 1944, 1947 and 1954 Acts together.

The parent Act was that of 1944, and these three Acts restored the cost of living cuts which were made in the pensions between 1922 and 1935. Whereas these cuts were made to certain categories of Indian pensions, they were not made to any categories of Burma pensions and therefore there is no need to apply the 1944, 1947 and 1954 Acts, which hang together, to the second category, the Burma pensioners.

The Royal Indian Marine is a distinguished body of men which was not part of the Armed Forces. If it had been, it would have been covered by the prerogative. To make matters clear, it has therefore been thought best to insert these words in the Bill. On page 8 of the Second Schedule, Part I (4) reads: A pension payable to or in respect of a European officer of the Royal Indian Marine. These officers suffered cuts between 1922 and 1935 and therefore enjoyed restoration of those cuts under the 1944, 1947 and 1954 Acts.

In Part II it reads: A pension payable to or in respect of a European warrant officer…. They were the lowest rank concerned and as they did not suffer any cuts between 1922 and 1935, it has therefore not been necessary to restore the cuts. It is therefore only the 1952 Act which applies in that case.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill reported, without Amendment.

6.50 p.m.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

May I make clear what is to be done about payment, and how that is to be arranged. We are near the target date of the take-over, which is 31st March, the day after tomorrow, and, therefore, all these pensionary payments, as I have explained, will in future be paid out of the Votes, and in due course a new Estimate will be presented to the House. Pending the approval of this Estimate, it is proposed that payment of the pensions should be made from the Civil Contingencies Fund, and I hope that the House will agree that in the circumstances that will be convenient.

I should like to thank Members in all parts of the House for expediting the passage of the Bill so that it can be passed by 31st March.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.