Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £100, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the expense of certain additional married quarters, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1960.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Fernyhough
I have raised previously the problem of men who have given long service to the Army and who, at the expiration of that service, find themselves without a home. I think that the only thing worse than being without a home is being without a home and without a job, and these men generally find themselves in both categories. What is the War Office doing to help men who, on completion of their service, are turned out of Army accommodation and have nowhere to go?
I have repeatedly asked that the War Office should make funds available to local authorities so that the local authorities can build houses which would be specially allocated to men in this category, but the War Office argues that it has not the necessary power. I want the Minister to understand that if he came to the House and asked for the powers they would be readily granted. It is unfair to expect local authorities to give these men special priority, because the authorities are in great difficulty and have very long waiting lists.
§ The Temporary Chairman (Mr. James H. Hoy)
Order. May I remind the hon. Member that this Vote does not cover local authorities, but deals purely with Army housing? I allowed him to say a few words about it, but he must not go deeply into the question because it is not covered by the Vote.
§ Mr. Fernyhough
The local authority cannot give these men special priority, because it has many other claimants. Moreover, the Army has the moral responsibility for them, and I am pointing out that the War Office ought to ask the House for the necessary powers in order to provide accommodation for men who have given long service and who, at the end of it, are thrown out on the streets with nowhere to go.
§ 7.3 p.m.
§ Mr. H. Fraser
I do not know whether this is in order—I doubt it—but perhaps I may reply briefly. This matter must remain the interest and the prescriptive right of local authorities. The Army cannot take on this type of organisation. The Army must provide pensions and financial help to those who have served it, but it is not for the Army to provide housing accommodation for those who have left its service. Its chief job at present is to provide housing for those serving, whether married or single.
§ 7.4 p.m.
§ Mr. Mellish
I have much sympathy with what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Jarrow (Mr. Fernyhough). The Army has gone a long way to gel as many long-serving soldiers as possible by means of the very fine pensions which have been introduced. There is every encouragement for a man to serve for twenty-two years in the Army. The young man at 20 who joins the Army and serves for twenty-two years is only 42 at the end of his service and, apart from employment, one of his biggest problems then is the absence of a home.
The Army is being very good about this in giving some financial help. A terminal grant of £700 is given. Nevertheless, we must show some imagination here. I had a letter from the War Office explaining why it could not set up the apparatus of a hire-purchase scheme for housing for men. Probably this would be difficult. Nevertheless, I think that the time has come when we ought seriously to consider how we can help these men 1155 in establishing themselves in civilian life after they have left the forces. One of the biggest deterrents to recruiting today —and we are all keenly interested in recruiting—is what happens at the end of a man's Army career.
I do not ask the Under-Secretary of State to reply tonight, because it would be unfair to do so, but I leave the point with him. If we give a guarantee of some help, for instance, by low loan charges, at the end of a man's service, it will eventually lead to our having more recruits at the beginning.
§ Question put and agreed to.
That a sum, not exceeding £100. be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the expense of certain additional married quarters, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1960.