HL Deb 31 January 1946 vol 139 cc124-42

5.12 p.m.

LORD CROFT rose to call attention to the post-war code of pay, allowances and Service Pensions and Gratuities in Gmd. Paper 6715; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, in calling your Lordships' attention to the White Paper on the Post-War Code of Pay, Allowances and Service Pensions and Gratuities for Members of the Forces Below Officer Rank, I must at the outset say that I think it is regrettable that since the whole intention of the Government, quite rightly, is to give some hope of definite careers in the three Services, conditions of pay and allowances for officers have not been announced simultaneously. The great need, it seems to me and I am sure your Lordships will agree, is to get experienced members of the Forces who fought through this last great war, to stay on; but even now, six months after the end of the war with Japan, there is no indication as to what the career really is for which we are asking other ranks to stay on in the Services. The proposals before us, welcome though they are as indicative of the new outlook of the nation towards its fighting men, appear to me thus to put the cart before the horse. A definite decision with regard to the conditions for commissioned ranks is now imperative at an early date if we are not to lose the flower of our young officers, warrant officers and noncommissioned officers, and if we are clearly to demonstrate to all the Services the fact that real careers are offered and where they lead to.

Taking the scheme broadly, I am very glad to see that the Government has decided to carry out in most particulars the plans for post-war Services on which some of us were working as far back as two years ago. In this connexion I welcome the great uniformity which is being adopted for the three Services, and especially that marriage allowances, pensions and gratuities will be the same in all three. What a pity it is that the Government could not have gone the whole hog and had a common basis of pay for all three Services, instead of certain variations which still remain with regard to some grades of skilled technicians in one Service. However, I am not going to stress that point, because it is quite clear that a very genuine effort has been made to make the conditions in the three Services similar. A closer approximation to civilian pay at long last is to be welcomed, as is the effort to make the married man's pay and allowances equivalent to £5 for a civilian, as claimed in the Paper. The doubling of recruits' pay compared with the pay pre-war is what we all have wanted and have begged for, and it brings the Services up to date. The recruits who join the Forces of the Crown in future will not be confined, as they were in days gone past, to the very patriotic or the very needy. The Services are something which a man can go into in future on somewhat comparable terms to entering into industry.

I regret that marriage allowances have not been increased in regard to payments where a number of children are concerned, but that instead a flat rate of 5s. a week,. under the Family Allowances Act, for the second child and subsequent children, has been decided upon. I feel that that is a retrogression. I think I am right in saying that at the present time the soldier gets for every child 12s. 6d., and that being the present rate I very much regret that this difference has been introduced into the scheme. I know it sounds logical that the Service man's children should be treated on exactly the same basis as the children of civilians. After all, it does make a general scheme for the whole country—one can appreciate that. I must point out, however, that, the difficulties of providing a home in the case of a married man in the Services are much greater than in the case of a civilian. A civilian, after all, can choose a home anywhere near his work, within a mile or so, or he may be able to go a considerable train journey to get to his work; whereas I think I am right in saying—I do not want to exaggerate the case—that the Service man is compelled to have his home adjoining or in very close proximity to barracks. The result of that is that in garrison centres such as Aldershot, Chatham, Portsmouth or Catterick, there is an enormous demand for such housing accommodation as is available, and prices, owing to the competition, tend to be very much higher in cases where you are housing a family of several children, by reason of the very dearth of accommodation caused by this demand on the Service man to be right on the spot.

Moreover, a soldier, airman, or, man in the Navy may be suddenly ordered to a new garrison elsewhere in this country or overseas, and may have to leave his family behind. He may be unable to move them because a house is not available. This does impose a very heavy financial burden. I hope, therefore, that the noble Lord- can assure us that this is not final in the realm of allowances, and that account will be taken of the case I have tried to make. I would point out to him that there are not many Service men who have very large families, and there are not likely to be many. Therefore, greater generosity in this respect would certainly not be costly. There are such good reforms in these proposals that I do hope His Majesty's Government will not spoil the ship for a ha'porth of tar.

The Services have, of course, lost a very considerable advantage in the shape of the income Tax concessions which are no longer to apply to allowances. I think that in the past some Service men have not altogether appreciated the value of that concession, but I am afraid they will feel the draught when the concession is no longer granted. To that extent, of course, the improvements in conditions are partly discounted. When the Government reduce taxation from a war basis to a peace basis—and surely it is about time that that was done—then, of course, the loss of this Income Tax concession will not be quite so marked, but so long as these gigantic rates of war taxation continue in time of peace, so long will this change be very much felt by those who have not realized the advantages of the tax concession in the past.

I regret that in the pay improvements the gap has been narrowed in the rewards for great success, as in the case of warrant officers and similar ranks. After all, there are not many warrant officers. I think it is a great pity that these men, who are the key men of efficiency, should not have had an increment similar—I know there is an improvement—to that given to those who are not holding those ranks. I know that the Socialist theory is that you must not, for fear of offending the wild mob, encourage too much merit, efficiency or hard work; those must be discounted. But all of your Lordships who know the Services will, I think, agree with me that if you want the men to lead, men who will be followed, you really must have the best and they ought to receive remuneration comparable to their ability and their skill. I am not applying this to the noble Lord who is going to reply, but he will agree with me that a very large number of his noble friends and their colleagues elsewhere, have during the last four or five years always been telling us that we should emulate the example of the Russian Army. In referring to that, I desire to say at once that I pay my tribute to the great fighting quality of the Russian Army. I think very few things are comparable in history to the way in which, after those terrible disasters of the early part of the Russo-German War, they stood and fought and came back and were such an essential advantage to the whole Allied cause. But if my noble friend and those who think with him feel there is much to be learnt from the Russian Army, I would point out that there the gap between the officer and man, instead of being narrowed down, has been greatly widened. Whereas at the beginning of the war the Russian officer was not a very important person—he always had a Commissar standing behind him—as the war went on and they shed their politics and got down to real combatant soldiering, the pay of the Russian officer went up, and now indeed he is in a class completely by himself. He is a member of the new aristocracy of that great country and he receives a rate of pay which is incomparably greater, compared to other ranks, than that which is given in this country.

Whilst we make these small criticisms, I believe your Lordships will be more than pleased with the equation of fighting men with tradesmen. This is a reform which I personally have long desired. During the war my colleagues and I were deeply impressed with the fact that the fighting soldier has in these days to be a very skilled man, with a knowledge of a great number of different weapons and their tactical use, and in many cases has to have as much skill in the handling of vehicles and repairs as men in the technical corps. Having regard to that and to the fact that casualties amongst the fighting men were immensely greater than those amongst men in the various technical corps which serviced the Army, it was a monstrous injustice that the highly skilled fighting man should lag in pay so far behind his other comrades who so frequently, although by no means always, were in positions of very much less danger. I think your Lordships will, therefore, welcome very cordially the removal of this glaring injustice, and also the fact that the combatant soldier and his technical brother can obtain stars which qualify them for equal recognition of skilled services in their particular work. It is also a great gain that pay is to be simplified by reducing the number of different rates.

My chief complaint against His Majesty's Government in the presentation of their White Paper is that they have reproduced in it a plan of pay before policy. It seems to me now to be quite essential that they should make an announcement as to what their policy is for the future defence of this country, explaining why this revised code of pay and allowances and service pensions is necessary, what are the main purposes for which the forces are to be used, and what are the numbers of the forces envisaged. Until this broad information is forthcoming and until we know the conditions under which the commissioned ranks are asked to continue, the opportunities and hopes of definite careers are not disclosed. As a consequence we are losing every day—I emphasize the words "every day"—hundreds of most valuable officers, warrant officers and non-commissioned officers who, if they really knew the terms and conditions of service in the career open to them, would remain in the Services, in which they have made so great a contribution to victory.

I must say one word with regard to pensions, which, I presume, will usually be given to a sailor, soldier or airman when he leaves the Service at some age round about 42 years. I am sure all will welcome the new pension rates, but unless a man leaving the service finds definite work on discharge it will, of course, still be rather near starvation rate. It is therefore immensely important that the Government of the day should insist that a far larger proportion of jobs under the Government shall be kept open for ex-Service men, for only in that way can a pensioner be regarded as having a really secure future. A terrible lack of imagination was shown on this subject by Governments prior to the war—because I do not think the war period counted, and I must include in that all Governments—and I hope it may be cured by a resolute determination to see that every Service man of good character, not trained as a skilled technician for a trade, shall have the first choice of those thousands of openings in our modern bureaucracy which have hitherto been filled by those with no such claim to national consideration.

I welcome what has been described by the heads of two of the Fighting Services as a charter, and what I think was described by the First Lord of the Admiralty as "a little revolution in peace-time conditions," and which in so many respects appears to carry out the plans for simplification and higher status which were worked out by the predecessors of the present Government. I should like to assure the noble Lord for that reason that even if it is "a little revolution we are all glad to join in it. But it would be wrong to give the impression that the Services are receiving conditions much superior to those existing at this moment, although I admit that they are an improvement. I would call the attention of the noble Lord to page 18 of the White Paper, as showing that actually, taking a comparable number of men in the three Services under the new scheme, as compared with a comparable number at the present day, the actual cost of the Army is slightly down, while that of the other two Services is slightly up. I wish, however, to be absolutely fair to the Government, and I presume that that is due to the fact that children's allowances no longer come into the picture, and, it may be, Income Tax as well. I merely quote that to show that there is not so great an increase as might be supposed when this is spoken of as a charter.

As far as other ranks are concerned, the main proposals are, I feel good, and to be welcomed as leading to greater uniformity between the Services, as likely to attract recruits, and as eliminating many of the different scales of pay so confusing to soldiers in the past and so exasperating to the pay department. I think that we shall all, on whatever side of the House we sit, wish to give a wel- come to the new scale of gratuities on discharge at the end of long and good service. Let us hope that we may now learn where this new plan is meant to lead, and the form of commissioned service of the future, and what is the real career held out to men of all the Services. I beg to move.

5.33 p.m.


My Lords, I find myself in almost complete agreement with the remarks of my noble friend in whose name this Motion stands. Like him, I welcome the simplification of Service pay for other ranks; like him I welcome particularly the recognition of the skill required by the infantry soldier. It has always appeared to me a subject of legitimate grievance that the man who does the fighting should not at least earn the same pay as others, and I emphasized that in another place in a speech which I made upon the Army Estimates. My only regret is that that recognition could not be granted during the war, while they were fighting; but it must be a matter of pride to the infantry and to the Fighting Services in general that their record in this war has earned them the recognition that they are no longer the least considered part of the Army, at any rate as far as pay is concerned.

I should like to draw attention to certain interrelated statements in the White Paper. The noble Lord, Lord Croft, has dealt with them to some extent, but I should like to consider them a little more carefully. On page 5, where the special features of Service remuneration are considered, the White Paper says: Consideration has been given to the question whether these two features"— that is, accommodation, rationing, and clothing; and marriage allowances— must be retained, or whether a system of inclusive remuneration such as is normally found in civil life could be introduced into the Services, charges being male for items provided in kind, and the married man and the single man being paid alike the rate for the job.' It is, however, essential that members of the Services should be accommodated, fed and clothed to certain common standards. It is also inherent in the conditions of Service life that personnel are liable to frequent changes of station and to service overseas; and these incidents of Service life inevitably affect the married man to a greater extent than the bachelor, since they frequently involve his separation from his family And the provision of a separate home. The conclusion has therefore been reached that these two special features must be retained in the new pay code. I would now call attention to page 7, where an attempt is made to compare the basis of Service pay with earnings in civil life. You will notice that in that case the basis of comparison is not the bachelor but the married man with no children. There is still recognition in this White Paper of what I might term the tripartite basis of Service pay: one rate for the bachelor, lower than he might expect to earn in a civil occupation, another rate for the married man with no children, and another for the married man with children; but in this White Paper the balance has been distorted, in my submission, by lopping off a part of the pay—namely, the rather generous children's allowances—so that no more is there a low rate for the bachelor, a comparable rate for the married man and a good rate for the married man with a family.

Let me draw attention to a specific example. Under present rates, a married man with two children would draw 86s. 6d. a week with his marriage allowance and children's allowances. Under the new scale he would draw 82s. 6d. Under the present scale, with his compulsory allotment and allowances, his wife would get a minimum of 60s. Under the new scale his wife would get a minimum of 50s. 6d. It is perfectly true that in this White Paper, in the section which deals with marriage allowances, it is laid down that the soldier is expected to contribute more than his compulsory allotment out of his increase in pay, but what is the effect on two men in the same battalion and living in barracks together? The bachelor would appear to get 42s. a week, if a "two-star" soldier, whereas the married man with two children is left with 31s. 6d. a week, and, if he is a good father, he will feel bound to contribute at least 10s. of that to his family. You will therefore have two men living side by side, one with 42s. to spend, and one with 21s. 6d. That result is obtained by distorting, as I submit, the tripartite basis of Service pay.

The noble Lord, Lord Croft, has pointed out that on page 18 of this White Paper, where the cost of the 1938 Army under the present code and under the new code is compared, there is an actual reduction in the cost to the Exchequer of some £280,000. I think that when we remember the encomiums which greeted this White Paper when it first came out, we cannot help feeling a little cynical when we find that the Treasury are up on the deal. We ask ourselves how that has happened, and I do not think that the reason is far to seek. As Lord Croft has pointed out, we do not yet know the size, structure or cost of our post-war Forces. The Treasury are not in the habit of giving blank cheques. They are unlikely to give the War Office, the Air Ministry or the Admiralty a blank cheque to increase the pay and allowances of the Services until they know what the cost will be; and so we have the fact that, under the proposed code, the additional cost is less than £1,000,000. Now I think that is a pity.

This is a revolution in Service pay to simplify and create a common basis for the three Services. It is an advance. I would beg the Government not to blot their copybook, so to speak, by being mean towards the married man. The noble Viscount, Lord Simon, is at present presiding over a Commission which is to study the population question. Surely, it is hardly an encouragement for the Services to produce children when they find that the position of the married man has not improved but has deteriorated. In another place, there was a debate during the last Parliament on the Children's Allowances Bill, and I well remember that in the Committee stage of that Bill there were protests from all sides of the House when it was proposed, under Clause 13, to withdraw from Service men the right to receive the allowance of 5s. after the first child, under the national scheme. Protests from all sides of the House succeeded in retaining that right for Service men. So I cannot help feeling a little bitter when I find after a lapse of time, although they have kept the right to the national allowance they have had children's allowances deducted, despite the assurances then given. I would beg the Government to consider that matter again very carefully. It is bound, not unnaturally, to cause dissatisfaction in the Services. I do not think that the encouragement which should be found in this White Paper will be forthcoming unless this reform is carried out and unless there is a much more generous attitude towards the men who, after all, have the greatest commitments.

5.43 p.m.


My Lords, I do not propose to detain you for many moments, but there are one or two matters concerning the Royal Air Force upon which I would like to touch. First of all I would like to say that I am sure that noble Lords on all sides of the House are grateful to my noble friend Lord Croft for this opportunity of debating this most important subject at this particular time. I think this is the first attempt of real magnitude that has been made to make Service Life economically comparable to civilian life in peace-time, and to that extent all of us who take an interest in the Services must welcome these proposals. But, at the same time, I fear that these proposals do not go far enough, and I think that in several directions which Lord Croft and Lord De L'Isle have just indicated there are anomalies and faults which will need to be remedied.

The proposals go some way, but pay is not everything by a long chalk as regards contentment in the Forces. I hope the Government will address themselves to making Service life, apart from pay, much more attractive than it used to be in peace-time, by removing some of the small but irksome restrictions for many of which it is difficult to find justification, and which always annoy while doing little good. Such things as sleeping-out passes, I suggest, might be granted on a tar greater scale than ever before. Then concessions might be made in the matter of according permission to wear civilian clothes whenever a soldier, sailor or an airman is out off duty. Sympathetic attention to such small things in Service life would do much to make happy, fit and contented men such as we must have for our Imperial and international defence.

I wish to deal with one or two matters especially concerning the Royal Air Force. I am glad that the Air Ministry has not fallen for the blandishments of the War Office—which I well remember were often put forward in the days when I was in office—designed to inducing us to extend our tour overseas in order to come in line with the War Office. Our answer always used to be: "Let the War Office come down to the Air Ministry's standard." I hope that the War Office may be able to do that in the future. I am delighted to see that we have maintained our position of having a maximum overseas tour of three years, with an even lesser period in certain theatres of war. I trust that the noble Lord will be able to convey the gist of some of these re narks to his noble friend the Secretary of State for Air. I hope that in the future we are going to see the Air Force carry out all its troop movements by air. I cannot see any reason why the Royal Air Force should not fly its men, and their families, from place to place as an exercise, and also as a means of getting the ground crews into the air. It: is very curious that whenever one finds a contented station it is always a place where the ground airmen have a chance of going up in the aeroplanes. The more the Royal Air Force flies the better is the Royal Air Force and the happier. Service it is.

The R.A.F. system of pay and pro motion, as the White Paper says, is based on the group principle, and I am glad that the groups have been reduced to three. Nevertheless the smooth functioning of our group system is dependent upon and is interlocked with two things; first 'establishments, and second a central system of records and postings. If those two do not work smoothly our group system is liable to break down. Before the war we had to have a central posting system at the Air Ministry in England, which did all the postings for all the men in every theatre of war Including Iraq and India, because those men could only be posted to any vacancies in their group if there was a vacancy in the establishment of that group, and the vacancy for a man in Iraq might well be a vacancy in India. Therefore, that postulates a central posting system. And, if there is not sufficient flexibility in that central posting system there is gang to be discontent. I hope there will be an improvement in that as compared with what existed before the war. The second point is that each man in order to get promotion within his group must pass a trade test. Would the noble Lord draw the attention of the Air Ministry to the fact that sometimes at overseas stations men were at a considerable disadvantage in that they only got a chance of appearing before a travelling Test Board, say in the Sudan, once a year, whereas men in the same group in England could go for their trade test at any time? This causes great resentment. If we could have a much more flexible system of Trade Test Boards, I am sure that the group system would work more smoothly.

One further point, which concerns the proposals for air crews. These mean the introduction of the short-term system for those air crews who are not commissioned. My noble and gallant friend Viscount Trenchard was, I think—indeed I know he was—instrumental in bringing about that most successful short-service commission system before the war, and it is now going to be extended to those who do not hold Commissions who serve in air crew category. I hope that at the same time as this system is introduced there is going be introduced an even more active organization for ensuring employment for the short-service people when they come out of the Royal Air Force. We had a good organization before the war which placed something over 80 per cent. of the short-service officers in good appointments in civil life. Let us be sure that we extend that system to those who are non-commissioned, to those who will be coming out shortly.

Before the war there was a special Air Ministry sponsored scheme with insurance companies whereby any man serving as a pilot or on air crew duties could, under favourable terms, insure his life in favour of his family and thus make a provision beyond that which the Government makes for dependents in the case of war. I should like to ask if the Air Ministry's attention could be drawn to the desirability of resuscitating that provision and if necessary whether the Treasury—that Department which is so easy to approach but not so easy to obtain success with—could be approached to see if some subvention could not be made to ensure that the men in non-commissioned categories had an opportunity of insuring their lives and of paying the premiums by thrift—premiums which it will be within their capacity to meet. I welcome these proposals as a half-way measure towards the complete structure of Service life, glorious and fine and comparable in every way, during and after Service, with civilian life in this country.

5.52 p.m.


My Lords, I shall not detain your lordships for more than a few minutes, but I should like to support whole-heartedly the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Croft, on this subject. I should particularly like to refer to two points which I think are of the greatest importance. The first point which Lord Croft made was that we have not yet had a scheme for officers pay. A large number of these officers got their Commissions from the ranks and they are being penalized. A scheme for the pay of other ranks has gone out but not one for officers. They are the same men in many cases and they are being penalized. They will suffer, as the best men will get the worst deal in civil life by entering it now. In that connexion I want to refer to another point. The noble Lord who introduced the Motion referred to the gap. It was not long ago that I heard an important member of the Government in another place get up and take pride in the narrowing of the gap, not it is true, in connexion with pay, but in connexion with money which had to be given out under another category. I should just like to give my view on all this. I am not going into all the detail which Lord De L'Isle and Dudley or Lord Croft entered into. But it is most important that when people are looking to what the Service will do or into what career they will go, they should have a career between the ages of their lives which matter.

I believe that it is between the ages of twenty-eight and forty that the pay should increase at a much greater rate than it does in this scheme. By that I mean not only the ages but the rank. If a man sees that he has got a chance of getting on and that when he grows up the prize will be still greater, it is better. It is hard to say that in the White Paper the gap between a warrant officer and a private is not closed a good deal more than it was in the past. I hope also that with the officers we shall be careful not to close the gap between the Pilot Officer, or the young Lieutenant and the General, too much. Let them get up quickly and get good pay and good chances of promotion when they are thirty and above.

5.57 p.m.


My Lords, let me begin by saying that this is, I believe, the first occasion on which the recent White Paper has been discussed in either House of Parliament. I think it is right and proper that it should be discussed. I welcome the occasion and I wish to express thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Croft, for having introduced this Motion to your Lordships and for the very friendly way in which he has done so. Indeed, as regards all the speeches which have been made by noble Lords today, the Government have no cause to complain. Of course there are points of criticism. What scheme can be submitted without arousing a certain measure of criticism? But the general temper of the discussion has undoubtedly been one of approbation. It was in November, in the course of a debate which the noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Trenchard, opened on that occasion, and in which the noble Lord, Lord Croft, participated, that a request was made that at the earliest possible moment an announcement should be made by His Majesty's Government as to the future terms of service in the Forces. I was able on the following day, I think, to state that so far as the other ranks were concerned, publication would take place in the middle of December. This is the Paper we are now discussing, which was produced in the latter part of December. Noble Lords have stressed the desirability of there being published at the earliest moment a similar Paper with regard to officers. His Majesty's Government share the desire that that should be published at the earliest moment, and I can tell your Lordships that the expectation is that such a Paper wild be published in the second half of next month, February, that is, within the next three or four weeks. Let me say that just as the terms promulgated in the present White Paper will take effect as from July 1, 1946, so the terms to be set out in the White Paper as to officers will also take effect as from July 1, 1916.

The fundamental principles underlying the scheme set out in this White Paper are those of simplicity, so that the soldier shall know clearly what he is entitled to receive, an equitable measure of uniformity as between the three Services, and a broad measure of comparability with civilian earnings. Also, for the future, to which attention has already been drawn, they put the skilled tradesman and the lighting man on an equal footing for the first time, and indeed show that we regard the skilled fighting man as exercising a trade not less valuable, and one which should not be less well remunerated than those which in the past have been denominated trades in the Services.

Some emphasis has been placed by the noble Lord, Lord Croft, and by the noble Lord, Lord De L'Isle and Dudley, on the question of marriage allowances, that in future there will be under this White Paper a flat-rate marriage allowance of 35s. a week. It has been suggested that that operates, or might operate, as a great hardship on a soldier compared with what he is receiving at present. Let me make it clear to noble Lords that this scheme is directed to attracting into the Forces soldiers for the Regular Army of the future, recruits from outside the Army, and also those who are now serving on war-time engagements. Those who are now serving on war-tine engagements, and who are in receipt of marriage allowances at the present rate, will continue to receive those marriage allowances at the present rate subject to some slight modification as to the increased qualifying payment and also, as has been mentioned, liability to Income Tax.

When I say they will continue to receive the allowances at the existing rate, I mean they will continue to receive them as long as this general position is better than that under the present White Paper. I do not think noble Lords Lave altogether appreciated how very beneficial this flat rate may be to the soldier. While it is true that it is payable at that same rate irrespective of the number of children, it is equally true that it is payable at that rate where there are no children. It is equally true, in contradistinction to the present code, that this rate of 35s. a week is payable when the children have passed out of entitlement to children's allowances altogether. Once a man is married, the mere fact of his marriage, so long as his wife lives, enables her to receive during the period of his service a sum of 35s. a week irrespective of whether there are any children or riot. That is a very substantial advantage to which I do not think sufficient attention has been paid. I ought to mention that steps are being taken to bring this matter to the attention of those in the Forces.

The White Paper is, of course, not a very exciting document to read, and not altogether simple to read. Indeed, I must safeguard myself in addressing your Lordships by saying that my statements are broad statements without "ifs" and" buts, which will be found in the White Paper. That is inevitable in addressing your Lordships unless at inordinate length. Steps are being taken to apprise those in the Forces of these new condi- tions. There are two booklets already produced and in process of issue to those now serving in the Services, so that they may know the future that lies in front of them if they remain in the Service. Both of those booklets have a title ending with a question mark: the Admiralty, "Staying On?" and the Regular Army, "Why Drop Out?" I think your Lordships would find those books not unattractive, and if you care to apply to me for copies I shall be very glad to furnish you with them.

The noble Viscount as well as the noble Lord opposite, referred to the question of the narrowing of the gap. I have not had an opportunity during the course of the debate of actually making a calculation of the figures; nor was it a point which had been so present in my mind that I had prepared myself with the figures beforehand in a form which would enable me to answer the question. Perhaps, however, I may give one or two figures which I do happen to have before me. I will see if I can do a calculation whilst I am standing here, and learn what the result may be. In the case of a private of, let us say, five years' service, he was getting 47s. 3d. a week, and a sergeant under that scheme was getting 68s. 3d. per week, making a gap of 21s. Under the new scheme the same private will get 52s. 6d. and the sergeant 94s. As I do the calculation rapidly, I make that to be a difference of 41s. 6d. a gap of 41s. 6d. under the new scheme compared with a gap of 21s. under the old scheme. Whilst the debate was taking place, I made such other rough calculations as I could. It would appear that in each case the gap is increased. I do not wish to make a categorical statement, because I have not had an opportunity of making a careful check, but that is the way in which the figures seem to me to work out; that is, that the gap is greater and not less than it was.


I do not wish to interrupt the noble Lord. I cannot quite follow that, but I will read Hansard. I would like to know what the percentage would be for a sergeant as against a private under the old scheme and what the percentage is under the new scheme. On a percentage basis, let us say, the sergeant got double; well, does he still get double?


As the noble Viscount will readily understand, to calculate in percentages is something I cannot attempt while standing actually at the Box. It will, however, be an interesting calculation, which I will make, and I will inform the noble Viscount as to the outcome of my study.

The noble Lord who opened this debate raised a question which certainly strikes a chord in my own mind, for it relates to the welfare of the fighting man. That was with regard to openings being reserved for ex-Service men. I have no doubt that the noble Lord is already aware of the fact that there are many openings reserved for the ex-Service man, and I have no reason to doubt that further opportunities will be created for him. The whole question which he raised in this respect will certainly receive the most careful consideration.


Is that all that you can say?


I do not think I am prepared to go further at the moment than to say that the provision of further openings will be given the mast sympathetic consideration.

The noble Lord, Lord De L'Isle and Dudley, for the most part dealt with the position of the married man. In that regard I might say that noble Lords do less than justice to this scheme when they adjure the Government to be fair to the married man. The married man, while it is true that he will not have a children's allowance based upon the number of his children, will have an allowance with the attributes which I have already mentioned. His children's allowance, as such, will be limited to the allowance under the Family Allowances Act of 5s for the second and subsequent children.


I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord. The whole point of my remarks was not so much the injustice to the soldier serving now, but that the scales in this White Paper have been weighted unfavourably for the married man in the future. In fact, he gets less under the new code than at present, and the shoe pinches where it hurts most. It is quite clear that a married man without children benefits, but the man with children does not.


I mentioned in my opening observations that there was an attempt to get a general comparability with civilian life, and in civilian life, where a civilian worker receives his remuneration, whether salary or wages, he receives it subject to the commitment of looking after his children, without any increase being made in his remuneration by reason of the fact that he has children. That, in future, will be the position so far as the Service man is concerned.


Not the bachelor.


The bachelor, in the case of the Service man, will not, for the reason that has been outlined in the Paper, be entitled to the amount provided for marriage allowance. But the basis of Comparability between those in the Forces and those who are not is, as the noble Lord is aware, the two-star married man. On that footing the amount attributed to the soldier's pay is 35s. but we have in fact made the basic pay, both of the married man and of the bachelor, 42s.

The noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, who speaks, of course, with an intimate acquaintance with all that concerns matters of the air, both as a skilled airman and as a former Minister in the Air Ministry, will not expect me to follow him in some of the technical matters to which he referred in relation to the Air Force. I have no competence to do so. I can say to the noble Lord, however, that he may assume that the matters which he has mentioned to-day will be brought to the attention of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State. The noble Lord, however, did make one observation to which I will refer, which was of general application. He adjured the Government to do its best to make Service life more attractive. That observation falls upon a receptive mind. There has been of recent years, as of course the noble Lord knows, a great amelioration in the strictness of the discipline—what to-day would be thought, perhaps, the pettifogging restrictions of the past. The position has greatly changed. The whole approach in temper of mind is quite different from what it was many years ago, and such questions as sleeping-out passes, and the wearing of plain clothes, no longer present the same difficulties as they did in days gone by. I think that in the course of my few observations I have already mentioned the points raised by the noble and gallant Viscount, and there is little more that I need say except to thank the noble Lord for raising this question and for the manner in which he has done so.

I ought to add, and I wish to add, as a final word, that we look to this White Paper as a factor—not the only factor but an important one—in making it clear to those who may be considering their future, the young men looking for a career and those already in the Forces who feel they would like to remain there if conditions were satisfactory, that a career with such conditions is open to them.

6.15 p.m.


My Lords, I will not detain your Lordships with any further remarks. I am glad to think that on this subject there is no great difference of opinion between us. I hope that the noble Lord will look into the actual question of the gap between the recruit and the warrant officer, but still more I hope that he will give his serious consideration to the question of marriage allowances and the child allowance, because there is no doubt that it does make a great deal of difference. I think it is generally admitted that, anyhow as far as, the first child is concerned, the married man does not get the kind of assistance he has been wont to receive during the war period. I hope he will consider that matter, because it really is in the interests of the Services in the days to come that he should do so. I beg to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.