HC Deb 15 July 1959 vol 609 cc381-2
4. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will make a statement on the death of Sergeant James Walker, Territorial Army, 151 Cairnwall Drive, Mastrick, Aberdeen, and of Q Battery, 275 Highland Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, Territorial Army, who was killed during the weekend 4th–5th July while on military service; and what provision will be made for his dependants.

The Under-Secretary of State for War (Mr. Hugh Fraser)

I should first like to express my sympathy with Sergeant Walker's family in their loss.

Sergeant Walker was a motor cyclist on convoy duty with his unit travelling to their annual camp. He collided with a vehicle in the convoy and was fatally injured. His family will be entitled to a pension from the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance. The rate and conditions will be the same as for a member of the Regular Army whose death is due to his service.

Mr. Hughes

Is not the hon. Gentleman in a position to make a more concrete or definite statement with regard to compensation for this death which occurred in the course of and arising out of the man's military service?

Mr. Fraser

As the hon. and learned Gentleman doubtless knows, the rate of pension will, of course, be that for an Army sergeant. I am sure the hon. and learned Gentleman also knows that this rate is higher than that for a civilian.

Mr. Wigg

Will the hon. Gentleman be good enough to tell the House whether a court of inquiry was held, and, if so, what its findings were, and whether, if it found that the soldier was not guilty, the War Department instructed the Treasury Solicitor to take action on behalf of the family of the deceased soldier in order to recover damages from the offending party?

Mr. Fraser

An Army board of inquiry has been held, but it has not yet published its findings. With reference to the hon. Gentleman's other point, as he knows, in the case of an inquest in Scotland, it is in the normal way for the Procurator Fiscal to decide, and he has not yet decided on this point.