HC Deb 17 July 1968 vol 768 cc1414-5
20 Sir T. Beamish

asked the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will appoint an independent arbitrator to consider the claim of Mr. A. W. Tucker, a former employee of the Sussex Territorial and Auxiliary Forces Association, to an award corresponding to that payable under the Redundancy Payments Act, 1965, in addition to the gratuity payable on termination of service, in view of the fact that neither Ministry of Labour Tribunals nor the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration have jurisdiction in this matter;

(2) if he will now introduce legislation to clarify the status of former civilian employees of the Territorial and Auxiliary Forces Associations since they have been ruled outside the jurisdiction of Ministry of Labour Tribunals because the Associations are emanations of the Crown, and outside the jurisdiction of the Parliamentary Commissioner because the Associations are not part of the Ministry of Defence.

Mr. Reynolds

The answer in both cases is "No, Sir".

Sir T. Beamish

Does not the right hon. Gentleman understand that these men, about 800 of them, have a serious grievance in that they feel that the Minister of Defence has acted as judge and jury in this matter? Is he aware that the refusal to appoint an independent arbitrator to clear up this highly complicated matter has accentuated these feelings of gross injustice?

Mr. Reynolds

I understand many of the feelings to which the hon. and gallant Gentleman refers. A number of hon. Members have written to my right hon. Friend and me on behalf of these men and there have been discussions about the matter in the House. I do not think it is necessary to go further into the matter.

Mr. Maudling

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is a very serious matter indeed for the men concerned? Is he determined to give nothing but wholly negative answers which are quite unsatisfactory?

Mr. Reynolds

The whole idea of the arrangement under the Redundancy Payments Act was to provide benefits to people who did not have them. These benefits do not apply to people who benefit by other arrangements.