HC Deb 17 February 1960 vol 617 cc1284-5
43. Lieut.-Colonel Cordeaux

asked the Secretary of State for War why it was decided, in introducing the financial benefits attached to the award of the Military Medal, to limit them to decorations earned on or after 3rd September. 1939.

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

I understand that the reasons for the decision taken in 1945 were financial and practical ones. There were about 116,000 Military Medals awarded in the First World War compared with 17,000 in the second. Apart from the cost involved in including the earlier awards, there would have been difficulty in checking entitlement, particularly if the next-of-kin of those who had died were made eligible.

The decision applied not only to the Military Medal but to a number of decorations the financial benefits of which were revised towards the end of the war. Details are set out in the OFFICIAI. REPORT for 27th February, 1945.

Lieut.-Colonel Cordeaux

In that case, will my hon. Friend consider restricting the monetary award to the earlier holders of the Military Medal who are still alive? Does he not agree that to do so would mean an enormous reduction in administrative work end in cost?

Mr. Fraser

Yes, Sir, but there are two problems. Quite apart from administration, the cost would still be very great. Secondly, payment to the next of kin of those who have died was permitted in the regulations in 1945 and would it not be fair to pay it in some cases and not in others.

Dr. King

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that surviving holders of the Military Medal from the First World War feel a sense of injustice about this matter? While it might not be possible to go the whole length of giving the award to the next of kin and so on, could not the hon. Gentleman perform a simple act of justice if he gave the award to surviving holders?

Mr. Fraser

No, it would not be just, in so far as some next of kin would receive it and some would not. We must abide by the decision of all Governments since the war, the Labour Government and this.