HL Deb 06 July 1916 vol 22 cc599-601

LORD LEIGH had the following Notice on the Paper—

To call the attention of His Majesty's Government to the case of Mrs. Lauder-dale, of 16, Aybrook-street, Marylebone, who was previous to the war entirely supported by her son. He enlisted on January 24th, 1916, is on active service in France, and allows his mother 3s. 6d. a week. No supplemental allowance whatever, though due under the Regulations, has been paid to Mrs. Lauderdale, although she has on three separate occasions personally applied for it to the Post Office, to the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association, and to the Paymaster at Hounslow,

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I have ventured to place on the Paper a statement of the case of a woman to whom her son previous to the war allowed 18s. a week, this being the only support she had. On January 24 last the son enlisted, and is now serving in Prance. The mother then became entitled, under the Regulations, to an allowance of 12s. 6d. a week, but up to this moment she has not received a penny of the allowance due to her. This was in no way owing to lack of effort on her part, as she made three separate personal applications to the Post-office, to the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association, and to the Paymaster at Hounslow, and in order to journey to Hounslow she had to borrow the necessary money. This case, however, does not stand alone. I know of one where a woman was kept waiting for over three months for her allowance; of another where, in consequence of an acknowledged mistake on the part of a Government official, a woman has been deprived of what is to her a considerable sum of money; and I know of a further case of the deprivation of the allowance through an official mistake. I do not wish to detain the House with the details of these cases, but I can give them afterwards if desired. So widespread was the knowledge of the delay in paying allowances that it acted as a great deterrent to recruiting in the pre-compulsion days, men fearing that in the event of their leaving their homes their wives or their mothers might for many weeks find themselves absolutely destitute. In the case on the Paper to which I have specially drawn attention the woman has now been kept waiting, as I have stated, for five months without receiving her allowance.


My Lords, I am glad that the noble Lord has called attention to this case. He mentioned that ho knew of three or four others of which he could give details. If the noble Lord will be so good as to send me the particulars of those cases, I can promise him the most prompt inquiry. As regards the particular case of Mrs. Lauderdale, it is extremely to be regretted that delay should have taken place in paying her this allowance. Apparently there were a great number of transfers from one regiment to another, and unhappily this case remained in the background, but I am endeavouring to trace exactly how it occurred. I can inform the noble Lord that owing to his representation the money is either now being or has been paid to Mrs. Lauderdale, and she will, of course, receive the arrears due to her from the date of her son's enlistment on January 24 last. The noble Lord said that this woman was entitled to 12s. 6d. a week owing to the fact that her son had previously allowed her 18s. a week for her maintenance. I do not know whether the noble Lord is familiar with the usual routine in these matters. This claim first of all was, I believe, for 17s. a week. When a claim is made the pension officer goes into the case and makes an estimate of what he considers is the amount that a mother should receive, and this report is referred to the local pensions committee. In this case it was estimated that, instead of the woman being entitled to 17s., the amount should be 10s. When the sum to be given is 10s. a week, the private soldier has to subscribe 5d. a day, the amounts being 7s. 1d. from the Government and 2s. 11d. from the soldier; but in this case the soldier preferred to subscribe 6d. a day. Therefore the sum which Mrs. Lauderdale will receive is 10s. 7d. per week. I am much obliged to the noble Lord for calling attention to this case, and as a result I have taken steps, as far as I can, to see that no other cases of the kind are left undealt with owing to the various transfers to which I have referred.


I thank the noble Lord for his reply.