HC Deb 30 November 1972 vol 847 cc603-4
6. Mr. Thomas Cox

asked the Minister of State for Defence what representation he has received from holders of the Meritorious Service Medal calling for a reduction in the waiting time before payment of the annuity is made.

Mr. Blaker

Since June 1970 we have had 13 inquiries on this subject, by or on behalf of holders of the Meritorious Service Medal, some of which have implied that the waiting time should be reduced.

Mr. Cox

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his reply, but I am sure that these letters will have indicated to him the considerable time that many holders of the medal have to wait before the award is made to them. I know of cases where men have waited over 40 years and are still not in receipt of the annuity. Will the hon. Gentleman find out exactly how many holders of the award are not in receipt of the annuity and then fix a date when all holders of the medal will start to be paid the annuity? This is the only way to treat men who have loyally served the country for many years.

Mr. Blaker

I fully appreciate the loyal service which holders of the medal have given but, as the hon. Gentleman knows, a review is under way and I must await its results.

Mr. Concannon

I, too, have written to the hon. Gentleman about this problem. Will he take it from me that the system is quite unsatisfactory? A person has to take part in a ballot, or join a queue of some kind and wait until someone else dies, before he gets to the head of the queue for the annuity. If we cannot do something better than this, would it not be better to stop issuing the medal altogether?

Mr. Blaker

It is not a question of a ballot but of a "queue", as the hon. Gentleman called it. No doubt all these matters will be taken into consideration by the review.