§ *EARL STANHOPE rose to ask the Under-Secretary of State for War whether any application had been made that pensions and allowances should be paid to the men of the 4th London (Howitzer) Brigade injured by a motor-van on August 12 last, and if so, what action His Majesty's Government proposed to take in the matter.
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, the Question I have put on the Paper refers to an accident that happened on August 12 last year on Salisbury Plain. Your Lordships may, perhaps, remember that the 4th London (Howitzer) Brigade was returning to camp, I think after doing its annual firing, when a newspaper motor-van dashed into the rear of the column, hurling the men in all directions. Five of the men were so seriously injured that they were unable to return to their ordinary vocations for a considerable period, and two others were injured to such an extent that there is great doubt whether they will ever completely recover. I am informed that the owners of the motor-van, the Daily Chronicle, have behaved with considerable liberality, but the men have not yet really received proper compensation. I believe I am correct in stating that there is no legal liability on the War Office to make any payment at all; but were these men employed by private individuals they would receive compensation under the Act, or if they were members of the Regular Forces they would receive the usual pensions and allowances. I think your Lordships will agree, therefore, that there is considerable moral obligation that some payment should be made to them. Perhaps it is going rather far to state that if the War Office behaved with generosity and promptitude in this case it would be an incitement to people to join the Territorial Force and be run over by a motor-van; but I think the noble Lord will agree that if a grievance, either real or imaginary, is allowed to continue in such cases, it will at any rate be a grave deterrent to recruiting, I therefore trust that the noble Lord will be able to assure the House that the claims of these men will be met in a satisfactory manner.
My Lords, one of the men injured in this unfortunate accident last year died; nine were treated in the 391 military hospital, two of whom were removed in November to St. Bartholomew's Hospital; and six men were treated in camp. I take it that the noble Earl's Question refers more particularly to the two men who were very seriously injured. They have just recently, 1 understand, left the civil hospital to which they went, and have, I very much regret to say, been discharged from the Territorial Force as being medically unfit to perform their duties. We deal with Territorials in such cases as this on exactly the same lines as we deal with Regulars. A man who has to be discharged from the Army as being unfit to perform his duties has a claim for a pension, and we have done with regard to these men what we should have done with regard to Regulars. We have forwarded their case to the Chelsea Commissioners, who are at the present moment considering whether they can give pensions in this case. As your Lordships know, the rules with regard to the granting of pensions are laid down, and they are rules from which we can never depart in any circumstances whatever. They are carefully drawn up and extremely fair. But I can assure your Lordships that the case of these men will receive the fullest consideration, and that they will be treated in every way exactly as if they were men of the Regular Army who had been injured. With regard to the other men whose injuries were not of what may be called a permanent character, we have a special method of treating such injured persons. Whilst they are in hospital or under medical treatment they draw for every day they are there a certain rate of pay, usually 3s. 6d. a day. I am sorry to say I have not been able to get accurate information as to whether those men have received the pay to which they are entitled, but 1 have no doubt they have. If the noble Earl has any information to the effect that they have not, I hope he will communicate with me, and. I will see that the money is paid, though I have every reason to believe it has been.
§ LORD HAVERSHAM
My Lords, I think it would be satisfactory to your Lordships if my noble friend could give some assurance that if these pensions are not granted by the Commissioners and cannot come within the terms of the Army regulations, the greatest possible 392 pressure will be used by the War Office to obtain pensions from those who caused the injuries. If I recollect aright, it was the most disgraceful case of racing in the early morning that I ever heard of. The men in this motor-van, in the rush to sell their newspapers, drove right into this Brigade. There was a dense fog at the time, and when the motor-van was in the midst of the men the driver drove on and injured more. I never heard of a worse case, and it will be a national disgrace if these men do not receive pensions from some source.