HC Deb 14 November 1957 vol 577 cc1142-3
49. Mr. Simmons

asked the Prime Minister if he will make the necessary provision of funds to extend the Victoria Cross gratuity, at present payable only to other ranks, to commissioned ranks also; and, as the present gratuity of £10 per annum inadequately expresses the nation's gratitude to those whose courage won the Victoria Cross, if he will substantially increase the amount.

The Prime Minister

Officers in case of need are eligible. With regard to the second part of the Question, I would refer to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. McKibbin) on 21st May. It is not proposed to make any change at the present time.

Mr. Simmons

Will the Prime Minister consider the desirability of removing the class distinction in this matter and opening the award to officers as well as to other ranks? Has his attention been drawn to the case of a major in my old regiment, the Worcestershires, who was wounded in Gallipoli and who at the age of 81 has now had to appeal for a loan of £100 to enable him and his 77-year-old wife to live? Is this not a disgraceful condition for a man whose valour won him the V.C. and who held commissioned rank in the British Army?

The Prime Minister

I am sure that that case is one which would be equally deserving of attention whether he was the holder of the V.C. or not. There are all sorts of ways in which help is made available to officers. As for the point of the Question, there is no distinction, because officers are eligible for the award if they are in need. That is the rule. As for the Answer which I gave on 21st May, I should like to point out that the provision of the old normal annuity of £10 can now be increased to £75.