HC Deb 04 February 1965 vol 705 cc1276-7
Q5. Sir J. Smyth

asked the Prime Minister what further consideration he has given, following fresh representations to him, regarding the grant to holders of the George Cross of the same —100 tax-free annuity, irrespective of need and any other conditions, as is at present granted to holders of the Victoria Cross.

The Prime Minister

As the George Cross is the civil counterpart of the Victoria Cross I am proposing that the —100 annuity should be extended as from the coming financial year to holders of the award for whom the United Kingdom Government are responsible. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has agreed to include in the next Finance Bill a proposal for the exemption of the annuity from taxation, Following the equivalent exemption for holders of the Victoria Cross.

Sir J. Smyth

Does the Prime Minister realise that his reply will give very great satisfaction to the 124 living holders of the George Cross in Great Britain and the Commonwealth and to their 236 comrades of the Victoria Cross? I thank the Prime Minister for agreeing to reconsider the matter and for the personal attention that he has given to it.

The Prime Minister

The hon. and gallant Member has been more than fair. When he first raised his Question in the House, I gave a negative answer but said that I would be prepared to look into it with him again if he would provide further information and evidence of hardship. On looking at that, I thought that the issue was conclusive, but I am sure that we all owe a debt to the hon. and gallant Member for pressing this matter.