§ 2.56 p.m.
§ LORD TEYNHAM rose to call attention to the pay and conditions of service of officers of the Armed Forces of the Crown; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this Motion I think it would be opportune if I were to remind your Lordships of the important and relevant statement made in another place on November 2 last year. This statement was made by the then Minister of Defence with regard to the pay and conditions of service in the Regular forces. What was the main content of that important statement made in another place? It declared that the Government's aim was to raise conditions of service in the Armed Forces to standards comparable with those in civilian life. This is an important statement, a statement such as has never been made before, and I hope that Her Majesty's Government will implement it. I think I am right in saying that Her Majesty's Government are now considering ways and means of bringing about, this most desirable project. For that reason, I would suggest that it is highly important that the Government and the public generally should be made fully aware of the feelings, difficulties and hardships of officers in the three Services.
§ May I suggest, in the first place, that all Governments, both Conservative and Labour, during recent years have failed to realise the impact on the Services of the changes in the life of the community during the last decade. In days gone by, most officers had some private means, but this is now exceptional. The position of the Service officer in those days was certainly equivalent to, if not higher than, his opposite number engaged in industry and commerce; nowadays the position is vastly different. I think it is true to say that officers to-day nave come to realise the great change that has occurred in their position and status in the community, and I am sure that it is having an adverse effect on their outlook on Service life. Surely, there cannot still be an attitude of mind ire the Treasury that officers are not expected to live on their pay—an attitude of mind which certainly prevailed until a comparatively short time ago. Sometimes one cannot help thinking that, even to-day, there is still lingering feeling in that direction.527
§ It is true that there were selective increases in pay in 1954: and last year there was the educational grant. But in each case I would say that the increases have been too little and too late. The fact is that the time lag between the proposal to make increases in pay and allowances and its actual fulfilment is so great that the conditions calling for the increases have usually changed for the worse. The selective increases in pay which were made in 1954 were, I believe, recommended as far back as the year 1947, while the educational grant was recommended, I believe, two years ago. Surely this delay is quite unnecessary, and it affects the situation very badly. I have little doubt that the reason for these delays is that as soon as the facts of the officers' situation become apparent the whole procedure of bargaining with the Treasury commences, and pruning proceeds until the essential measures are completely out of date and whittled away beyond all recognition. That happens not only among the "middle piece" married officers but also in the more senior grades, owing to their greatly increased expenses. I believe it is true to say that officers of the rank of general or admiral have not received any rise in basic pay since 1946.
§ The single officer can now live at a reasonable standard on his pay and allowances, but there is no doubt that the small additions which are given to a married officer are insufficient to enable him to live at a comparable standard. This is a most important point, which appears to have been forgotten by the Treasury and Governments generally and which is the cause of a great deal of discontent in the Services to-day. I maintain that the essential remedy is to widen the gap in the total amount of basic pay and allowances between married and single officers by increasing marriage allowances. Many of your Lordships are aware that there is increasing evidence that a large number of the more promising "middle piece" officers are applying to retire prematurely. These are the type of officer that we are most anxious to retain in the Services—those who perhaps will one day rise to high rank and command. The position is very serious in all three Services, and I believe that if it is not rectified very shortly it will have a devastating effect on the officer structure in all three Services. 528 We must adopt the overriding principle that expenses which have to be incurred by married officers to enable them to live at a reasonable standard must be accepted, and must be the basis of their pay and allowances; otherwise we shall never have contented Services.
§ I do not want to go too deeply to-day into the question of pay and allowances—no doubt many noble Lords who are to follow me will deal with those points—but there are one or two points which I would particularly like to mention because they relate to my own Service. I wonder how many of your Lordships are aware that the command pay of a captain, Royal Navy—10s. a day—is at the same rate as before the First World War, with 5s. for a commander and 3s. for a lieutenant-commander. It is almost unbelievable that this payment has remained the same over these years, bearing in mind the fall in the value of money. These allowances are taxed. I maintain that there is no possible argument against an increase in these rates. The responsibilities of command are certainly not less. Ships are much more complicated than they were forty or fifty years ago, and responsibilities are consequently larger. Compare, for example, command of a modern 2,500 tons destroyer with one of 500 tons in the 1914–18 war, when I first went to sea. I mention this particular allowance to indicate how little sense of fairness has been shown towards officers for many years.
§ Again, entertainment allowance is generally the same as before the First World War—8s. per day for 1st class captains, sea-going command, and 2s. 6d. per day for a commander in command; but the lieutenant-commander in command gets nothing at all. What an appalling state of affairs when ships are sent to foreign ports to show the Flag and commanding officers have to entertain, as they should do! Their allowance certainly does not cover their expenses, and a lieutenant-commander gets no allowance at all. Perhaps one of the most bitterly resented things in naval service is the purchase tax on officers' uniforms, more especially as naval ratings' uniforms are not so taxed. Many items of clothing sold by the supply department of the Navy to officers and men, such as towels, oilskins, sea boots and so on, are identical; but the officer is forced to 529 pay considerably more for the same article because of purchase tax. That does not sound at all reasonable to me.
§ I should like to say a few words on education grants. The Services appreciated the recent introduction of an allowance of £75 per annum for boarding school fees for officers' children over eleven years of age, but the amount is far short of what is really required. I believe I am correct in saying that men in the Foreign Service get anything from £120 to £150 as education allowance, and further, it is given for children from the age of eight. They have been getting this allowance for some years. I suppose the fact is that the Civil Service always manages to look after itself better because it is nearer to the Treasury's ear. In both cases this education allowance is taxable when the parent is stationed at home, while, of course, the boarding school fees remain the same. That does not seem at all logical. Only recently the Essex Education Authority provided £90 a year tax free to parents who live or own a house in the county and whose child has passed the eleven-plus examination. Why this niggardly allowance of £75 for a Service education allowance when the Foreign Service and a county council can do so much better?
§ Service children must go to hoarding schools, for only in that way can an interrupted education be avoided. The argument that Service children under the age of eleven should not be at boarding schools does not hold water. The fact is that the fathers of these young children obviously tend to be in the more junior ranks of officers, and liable, certainly in the Army, to more frequent postings. I suggest that educational grants should be given at a much earlier age than eleven and should be on a basis comparable with the Foreign Service provision at the age of eight. Why should there be any difference at all?
It may well happen—and it frequently does—that members of the Foreign Service are able satisfactorily to educate their children at the capitals in which they are stationed, but this rarely happens in the case of the Service officer. It must be borne in mind that it is not only a question of finance but also of the actual availability of boarding vacancies in State-aided schools. Some local authorities
have more to offer than others, and I suggest that the only way to get over this difficulty would be for the Ministry of Education to control centrally the placing of Service children. I have had all kinds of letters about these matters, and if your Lordships will bear with me for a moment I propose to read extracts from one or two. This is a letter from the wife of an officer in the Army. She says of the educational grant:
This last grant pathetic. How many school fees are low enough for £75 to cover even one term? What about uniforms, books and extras like laundry, lectures, outings, and so on? And when we are overseas, what of the holidays?
§ There is yet another cause for grave dissatisfaction in the Services commonly known as "disturbance." In these days more frequent postings occur which entail heavy costs for moving and, of course, the expense of temporary accommodation of the family. The disturbance allowance seldom, if ever, covers the additional cost for the unfortunate officer who has to make a move. Only the basic cost of a move is recovered by an officer he is expected to pay all other expenses, such as providing for a period in a hotel or lodging from the time of leaving his quarters until he embarks. This hotel period may have to be extended, because an officer frequently sails without his family as he has to find them accommodation in the place to which he is going. In the meantime his family has to stay in a hotel in England.
§ I have now dealt with some of the main grievances in the Armed Services, and they make a very sorry tale. The fact is that the nation must have an entirely new attitude towards Service officers, now that commissions arc open to all. I wonder how long a great industrial or merchant undertaking would prosper if its executives received the same treatment as Service officers, and how many first-class executives it would retain if the differentials between the junior and senior grades were as low as in the Services. The question of differentials is a very important one, and I hope that one or two of the noble Lords who are to follow me will deal with this matter.
§ I should be really sorry for the noble Lord who is to reply for Her Majesty's Government if he had to defend the present pay and conditions of officers in the Armed Services, but it is now apparent, 531 I think, from the recent speech of the Prime Minister, that improvements are going to be made. But let me make this quite clear: there is evidence that a number of the best types of officers are waiting to see what improvements are announced before deciding whether to continue in the Services or to leave them and take up civilian employment. One other point. Just think of the young married officer who, perhaps, is now serving in Cyprus, and having a very difficult time because he is continually looking over his shoulder at his bank overdraft and wondering about the position of his family at home. Believe me, these overdrafts are very prevalent, and, in the main, they are not due to any fault on the part of the officers concerned.
It must not be forgotten that officers' wives have a very important role to play and a great deal of the welfare service is carried out by them. We are certainly not yet a matriarchal society, but the hand that rocks the cradle has a great deal to do with an officer's career, for better or for worse, and wives are certainly bearing the brunt of inadequate pay and allowances. The whole structure of the officer corps in the three Services may be endangered by a niggardly approach to their conditions of service. I am sure we all very much welcome and appreciate the words of the Prime Minister in his recent speech at Bradford when he said:
I have always believed that in this business half measures will achieve nothing. Let no-one think that increased pay for the Services is extravagant. It is no such thing.
I feel sure that the welfare of the officers of the Services is very much in the mind of the Prime Minister and is in safe keeping, and we shall look forward to the proposals which I understand are to be made in the near future. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.14 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
My Lords, I am sure there will be agreement on all sides that we owe a debt of gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Teynham, for bringing forward this subject for debate in your Lordships' House to-day. It is not a Party matter at all. All of us realise, as Lord Teynham has said, that a completely new outlook, a new attitude, is needed on the part of the country towards the Armed Services. I should 532 like to think that there was evidence of that new attitude, because we know that the present situation is bad. It is unsatisfactory for the Services, and it contains a very serious threat to their future efficiency and well-being, because the career of a Regular officer now is not sufficiently attractive to bring forward young men in sufficient numbers to apply for commissions. Among National Service personnel, competition for commissions is very keen indeed, and only the best are selected. But when it comes to applications for Regular commissions the story is very different. There is not the competition that there ought to be if the Services are to get young men of the quality that they need. One need look only ten or fifteen years ahead to see the possible effect that that might have on the efficiency of the three Services.
There is another point, too—a rather specialist point. I will only briefly mention it because it applies to officers in the specialist corps who have scientific or engineering qualifications. I am told that the loss of officers in middle ranks in these corps is causing serious disquiet. It is due to the incomparably better conditions and higher pay that they can get in industry. One hears stories of majors and captains in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers getting offers of £2,000 or £4,000 a year in industrial firms, with the settled life that a civilian career means, as against the continual change and upheaval of Service life.
No doubt the noble Lord who is to reply for Her Majesty's Government will say that officers at the present day can live on their pay, and that private means are not required. Whatever the official view on that matter may be, in practice it is just not true that private means are not required, because allowances—I refer to such allowances as disturbance allowance for moves, allowances for education and so on—are insufficient to cover the expenses that they are designed to cover. The consequence is that there are a number of unofficial expenses which on the official level do not exist but which, in fact, are a very serious problem for the serving officer. Take such a matter as dress. Certain dress is laid down as regulation for the Services, but in many cases Regular officers are required to buy other forms of uniform, possibly obsolete forms of uniform that are not now recognised and are not supposed to be bought, 533 but the Regular officer has to buy them. Then there is the standard of plain clothes which he has to maintain; there is the standard of entertainment expected of him, both in hip mess and in his home; and there are the standards of recreation. We run into this question of standards all the time, and that is where the change of outlook is needed.
If the Government seriously mean to make service as officers in the Regular Forces possible fur everyone without any private means at all, they have to do one of two things. They have either to raise the total emoluments to a level which will cover not oily all obligatory and official expenses but unofficial ones also, or, if they are not prepared to do that—which means, of course, recognising large numbers of unofficial customs—then they must eliminate the unofficial expenses; and to do that means conducting what would be almost a revolution it the outlook of the Services as to the standards required of serving officers. The noble Lord, Lord Teynham, spoke of the 1914 standards. Certainly it is all too frequent, I believe, in the Army, even at the present day, that the standards expected of a Regular officer are those that a Regular officer considered himself entitled to in 1914. Here I should like to remind your Lordships of something said two years ago by the noble and gallant Field Marshal, Lord Alexander of Tunis, who was the last Minister of Defence but two. He said this [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 185, col. 679]:I do not think that the officers of Her Majesty's Forces will cease to be respected because their standard of living is no longer so greatly superior to that of their subordinates. I feel sure that they will continue to inspire the confidence, the respect and the affection of their men as they have always done, but it is my experience that this will be due to their professional competence, enthusiasm and powers of leadership and command rather than through a higher standard of living, with greater facilities for social amenities and pleasures.If Her Majesty's Government still accept that view of the standard of living of officers in the Services, they have a great deal to do to impart those ideas to senior commanders down through the chair of command to the units.
Even if unofficial expenses are eliminated, there will still be the essentials which are not covered by the allowances which are supposed to cover them. There is the question of disturbance. The noble 534 Lord, Lord Carrington, may say that he hopes that moves will be less frequent in future; that the Army may be less stretched, less committed, and that this obligation on officers will be of less importance. But it will never be eliminated: there will always be frequent unexpected moves, not only from home to overseas but also between different stations in this country. I have heard of an officer of nineteen years' service whose wife has had to move house forty-two times; and moves of more than once a year in the course of an officer's service are the rule rather than the exception. Yet the Army give a disturbance allowance of £20, sometimes, I believe, though very rarely, increased to £40, and hedged about by-so many restrictions and regulations that many officers do not qualify at all. Frequent moves cannot be eliminated in a Regular Army whose commitments cover the whole world.
Then there is the question of education. I cannot understand on what basis a sum of £75 was fixed as a proper allowance to cover boarding education for a child of a serving officer. We should like to hear from the noble Lord who is to reply how that figure is justified. Certainly it has very little effect in alleviating the burden of boarding education, and there is no doubt that officers' children have to be boarded during much of an officer's service while he is moving about. I am told of a promising enterprise in Germany, of two boarding schools for the children of all ranks, which I believe are extremely good and successful, although they are at present too small: officers are lucky if they can get their children into either of these schools. In the old days, between the wars, any officer who had no private means knew perfectly well, and reconciled himself to the fact, that when he served abroad he would probably be separated from his wife and children for years at a time. Nowadays, with air travel making distant parts of the world appear so near. I do not think we can expect that of our officers, and they must have the means by which children can be educated in school when officers and their wives are abroad. And that costs money. The same applies equally to children of other ranks. Proper educational opportunities for growing children of serving officers and men must mean boarding education, preferably in this country.
535 Her Majesty's Government must choose one of two alternatives; they cannot allow the situation to go on as it is. They must assist officers of the Services to carry on and induce them to stay on and make their full careers in the Services. But I think there is one corollary to any increase of emoluments and improvement of conditions—that is, that the Army must be recognised to be a full-time occupation. In the old days an officer's pay was what he considered to be a half-day's pay, and he reckoned that all he would be expected to do was a half-day's work. Those days are past, but the questions of leave and recreation still bulk largely in the Services. I think that sixty-one days is the basic period of leave, but many young officers would think they were ill-used and unlucky if they did not get a good deal more than sixty-one days' leave in a year, not counting days taken for the various recreations which, in the view of the Army, are conducive to efficiency in the field. I think that the Army ought to be so organised that officers cannot be spared from their posts for those long periods at a time. I think that, if they give concessions and ameliorate conditions, the Government can insist on much more arduous periods of duty from officers. I am sure that many noble Lords will have much more valuable contributions to make. I should like to support the noble Lord, Lord Teynham, in his Motion.
§ 3.30 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT TEMPLEWOOD
My Lords, I do not rise to repeat the detailed case so well made by the noble Lord, Lord Teynham. I agree with every one of his points and I feel that most of your Lordships will, too; I accept them, and I am grateful to him for bringing forward this question once again. I rise to raise rather a different issue, entirely relevant to his case, but giving it a somewhat broader background. It seems to me that this is not the usual dispute between the Service Departments and the Treasury. I know well from experience how at this time of the year in the past each Service Department would start its own campaign with the Treasury officials, and so it would go on week after Week with this kind of piecemeal approach. I suggest to your Lordships that the issue to-day is a much wider one. It is really this: how can we 536 obtain in a Welfare State, with no unemployment and a constantly rising social standard, enough officers and men, and I would add police, as well, for the Security and the Defence Services?
This is a new problem that has arisen since the war. None of the old incentives or other reasons that in the past drove men into taking commissions or joining the ranks any longer exists. We must face that fact that this is a new world and we must approach these questions of Service pay and conditions on that basis. Hitherto it has seemed to me that we have tried to deal with it with little doles that have been insufficient and have had no real effect, and the only result has been to waste a great deal of public money. Your Lordships will remember how year after year some of us have raised certain of these questions. I think particularly of the questions connected with the Air Force, not because they do not concern all three Services, but because it so happens that I have had a longer connection with that Service: the demand, for instance, that pilots should be assisted in insuring their lives; the demand also that better educational facilities should be given to officers and men. Year after year some of us have raised these questions and at the end of it some small palliative has been offered. I suggest to your Lordships that that is an inefficient and extravagant way of dealing with this big problem of how we are to get the officers and men for these essential Services.
I look at the position of the Air Force to-day—and no doubt speakers for the other three Services will have a similar story to tell—and I find that the entries into the training college of Cranwell, which, in my view, is th., key institution of the whole of the An Force, are most unsatisfactory and, on the whole, tend to fall rather than to rise. I find, again, that the plan that was introduced a year or so ago for the direct entry of young men upon the basis of eight or twelve years is not going well, so far as one can judge at present. I find also—and this is even more serious, and it affects all three Services equally—that the Service families, upon whom the traditions of the Services have rested so much in the past, are fading out. I have had in my own experience several cases of fathers and mothers who have always looked to 537 one of the three Services for careers for their sons but who now say it is not good enough and they cannot advise their sons to go into the Services. Your Lordships know better than anybody how much tradition counts in the Services and how vitally important it is to keep this unbroken tradition of the Service families. I will not develop that part of my argument any further, because it seems to me that it is unanswerable that without a future much better assured than it is at present we shall lose this great asset to the Services upon which we depend for our national existence.
By all means improve the pay upon the lines suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Teynham, and also the educational facilities. It seems to me indefensible that while the Civil Departments in Whitehall are paying large grants to their officials for the education of their families when they are serving abroad, the Service Departments should be told to be content with this £75, which I understand (the noble Lord who is to reply will correct me if I am wrong is subject to income tax, whereas the civil grants are double and are free of tax. What justification can there be for this differentiation?
I have only one regret as to the Motion of the noble Lord, and that is that it does not cover the men as well as officers. But much of what I have said so far covers both officers and men. I want the noble Lord who is to reply to realise that, at any rate here in this House, we do look upon this question most seriously; and we ask him and the Minister of Defence to face the big question that I have seated at the beginning of my speech and to bring the conditions in the Services more into relation with the conditions in trade and industry. I do not suggest that they should be identical, but I do suggest that the gap between them should he shortened. I think this debate will show the Government—and when I say "the Government" I include all the Governments since the war—that this policy of doles during recent years is both inefficient and extravagant.
I am delighted that we have now got in the Minister of Defence a man who probably knows labour conditions as well as anyone in the country and a man who in every post he has held can claim a series of remarkable successes. Here is 538 a great opportunity for him to bring his knowledge of labour conditions to the conditions of the Services; and let him realise that manpower in the Services may be even more important than the machines. Let the Prime Minister keep to the statement that I was glad to see he made the other day: that it is the considered policy of the Government to build up the Regular Forces to such a point that we can dispense with National Service.
I have always thought that in peace time this country finds it particularly difficult to carry the great burden of National Service. I am not referring to the conditions when the young men are in the Services, so much as the break that it makes in their lives. I am sure that break is having a bad effect upon the country generally at the present time. But, be that as it may, here is the opportunity. The Prime Minister has specifically stated that his object is to create a Regular Army, Navy and Air Force sufficiently strong to dispense with National Service men—that is the basis of his policy for the next three or four years. Secondly, we have a Minister of Labour who really understands employment conditions. Let him give his mind to it, and when the Government produce their White Paper, as I understand they will in the next two or three weeks, let them take account of the debate in this House to-day; and, above all, let them throw aside for ever this policy of too little and too late and face the problem upon a broad scale.
§ 3.41 p.m.
§ LORD BEVERIDGE
My Lords, in following the noble Viscount who has just sat down, I am delighted to follow him also in widening somewhat the scope of this debate. Anyone who has listened to the speeches we have already heard can have no doubt that Service officers represent a clear case of a body of men and women vital to the State who are suffering from inflation—the loss in the value of money—in their pay, their pension and their allowances, and also, of course, in their personal savings. All these things today are of less value than they should he through this fall in the value of money. I hope that those who speak for, or are interested in, these officers will not feel that I am showing any lack of sympathy with their immediate personal human 539 problems if I treat those problems as an illustration of the much wider problem of inflation, of how it is affecting the lives of all, and of how the Government, in acting in regard to the Services, may so act as not to weaken their general attack upon inflation.
We all know that exactly a week ago the Prime Minister, speaking at Bradford, featured as one of the main objects of the Government the battle against inflation. He said, "The battle against inflation is on," and he repeated that statement several times. He went on to admit that it would be painful. He did not tell us in the least what measures he proposed to use—though perhaps that was natural, because he was not speaking to Parliament but outside Parliament; and specific measures might easily wait until he was speaking in Parliament. But he did not stop by telling us that the battle against inflation was on. He went on to something which is really little different from saying: "We, as our contribution to the battle against inflation, will do a little inflation on our own account"—because inflation merely means giving more money for the same service—"We will do a little inflation by raising the pay of all the Service officers and men. We will do that immediately. We will do it by our own decision as an employer." Is not that raising of pay for the same service exactly what every employer and every trade union are doing when they raise wages and set inflation going? The Prime Minister was clear that it was not extravagant to pay the Services properly, but in so far as they are to get more money for doing the same thing as before it is bound to diminish the value of money and to add to the general motion in favour of higher prices and a lower value of money.
The Government have announced their intention of doing this, I think, next month; but, curiously enough, there was another department of the Government, the nationalised railways, which was much quicker off the mark. After having been told on Wednesday by the Prime Minister that the battle against inflation was on, the Transport Commission proceeded to give away £25 million a year to the railwaymen for exactly the same work as before. Here is a nationalised industry, already in the red to the extent of £30 million a year, proceeding to add 540 another £25 million to its deficit. Of course, that means higher costs, and ultimately higher fares and higher prices. I do not know whether the Prime Minister, when he said on Wednesday that the battle against inflation was on, knew of this magnificent example of inflation which was to be announced the day following. If he did not know, he certainly ought to have known, and I should be interested to know what thoughts he had on the subject and how he avoided referring to it in his speech.
Without refusing to remedy their troubles, cannot we treat this problem of the Service officers not as a reason for not "getting down to brass tacks" on this problem of inflation? What makes these recurrent increases of pay necessary? The Prime Minister, in his speech at Bradford, emphasised two great evils threatening society to-day—the danger of war and the danger of inflation. I wish that he had gone further and realised the community of origins between these two great evils. Each of them springs from a continuance, in an entirely changed world, of out-of-date ways of thought and action. The danger, too, springs from persistence of unlimited national sovereignty, including war and preparation for war by competitive armaments, although the weapons which nations now possess have made war something wholly different from that in the past. In the same way, the danger to the value of money—that is to say, the danger of the destruction of the value of money by inflation—springs from continuance in the industrial field of the claim to industrial sovereignty; the right, under conditions of full employment (those are the new conditions of to-day), of every industry, both on the employers' side and on the trade union side, to settle its own wages without regard to the effects upon the community as a whole.
That is the new problem. Under unemployment there was something to check demands for wages. Under full employment there is no such check, if we continue to deal with wages industry by industry. I do not for a moment, of course, think that we should go back to unemployment. Unemployment is a form of slavery from which we should all be glad to be free. None the less, it is true (as I wrote some twelve years ago in a book called Full Employment) that if we 541 have full employment there is nothing in our present machinery, no inherent mechanism, which can with certainty prevent competitive sectional bargaining for wages from setting up a vicious spiral of rising prices under full employment. Is that not exactly what has happened ever since and what is happening to-day—this "competitive sectional bargaining for wages setting up a vicious spiral of rising prices under full employment"?
How can we deal with the problem?—not by going back to unemployment. Surely we can deal with it only by moving somehow to a state of affairs in which each industry is not absolute master in its own field but in which something like a wage policy is adopted for the country as a whole. I am not going to deal with ail the difficulties in the way of a move in that direction, but I make a plea to-day that the Government should not, because of their sympathy with these Service officers and men, in order to remedy their immediate troubles, destroy, by that example, their appeal to everybody else to be reasonable in wage policies, to be reasonable in putting up prices and to be reasonable in this matter of industrial bargaining. That is what they will do if, acting not in consultation with the whole of industry but simply as one employer among others, they say: "Well, we find we have not been paying quite enough t we are now going to pay more for exactly the same thing as before"—in other words, that, in order to fight inflation and at the same time be just to the men in the Services, they will give another close of inflation to the community as a whole. Yet that is actually what the Government's policy appears to be to-day.
Against that, I would say just this: in dealing with this problem of the Forces, the Government can either set an example against inflation or they can set an example for it. If, like the Transport Commission and every other employer, they proceed to make some bargain for the Services without regard to any wider question, then they will weaken their fight against inflation as a whole. If, however, in regard to the Services, they were to decline to take unilateral action as an employer but did something which could be approved by an impartial inquiry investigating all the facts to produce, as it could probably produce, an unimpeachable case for what was proposed, then he Government, by not 542 having acted as an employer themselves but by having shown the way to get a general consideration of wage problems, could strengthen their case against inflation in general.
This is the plea that I would make to the Government, a plea on method, rather than on what they do in regard to the Services. Everybody who looks even at the barest facts of the Fighting Services will agree that they cannot be left as they are. I, too, agree with that. Without far more knowledge, and without a considered comparison of what anything proposed for the Fighting Services might lead to in demand elsewhere, I do not want to go ahead with a decision in respect of the Fighting Services. Under conditions of full employment. I deprecate, and we should all deprecate, unilateral action by the Government, as an employer, for settling wages as much as I deprecate action by anyone else, I should prefer an impartial inquiry covering all the ground suggested by the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood. Naturally, I should prefer an impartial inquiry only on three conditions. The first is that it could act quickly—and there is no reason whatever why an impartial inquiry should not act quickly. I myself have sat on a Royal Commission which produced in six months a Report on a much bigger problem than that of the Services' pay. I think this could clearly be done in three months. The second condition is that the results of the inquiry, when they come, should be back-dated. I he third is that the inquiry should look at the broader problems, and not simply at the Services alone. Let them produce an unimpeachable case for comparing what is proposed for the Services, men as well as officers, with what is being done or proposed for all the other people in the country as part of a contribution to a wages policy.
There are two reasons for suggesting proceeding by inquiry rather than by Government action, inspired probably by a Treasury official. All of us who know the past of the Services—in fact, it was illustrated in a recent debate in this House—know how, in many ways, the official Treasury view has not always been just to the Services themselves. We had this remarkable treatment of the pensions which were cut down whenever it was convenient to the Treasury to cut them 543 down, and which, when prices began to rise, were stabilised, to the disadvantage of the Services themselves. I believe that an impartial inquiry might be even better for the Services than any Government action or action by any Treasury official. But what is much more important is that if the Government, in what they do about the Services, set an example of attacking inflation, they will help to end sectionalism in competitive wage and price raising by acting only after consideration of the general issue. I hope that the Government can now set an example to all of accepting a national policy for wages and prices under full employment in place of competitive inflation. I beg the Government to consider whether they cannot set that good example, instead of the bad example which is indicated in the Prime Minister's speech.
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords, the greater part of the speech to which we have just listened is, I think, a good example of how wide and elastic are the Rules of Order—or the absence of Rules of Order—in this House. But, so far as the speech was relevant at all, I must say that I thought it was far less understanding, certainly less relevant and much less helpful than the speech which we heard from the noble Earl who spoke from the Front Opposition Bench.
I am certainly not going to turn this into a debate about inflation. I hope to goodness that nobody is going to support the idea of a further Inquiry into a subject about which all the facts are absolutely well known to-day; that is really the refuge of the destitute. But the noble Lord asks: why pay people more for doing the same work? In the first place, let me say that to-day the Army, the Navy and the Air Force are doing a great deal more work, and more difficult work, than they used to do. Apart from that, so far as concerns this talk about inflation, the simple fact is that to-day you are not getting either officers or men into the essential Services because you are not paying enough to bring them in. And there is another simple elementary fact of economics, if I may venture humbly to submit it to the noble Lord. It is that if in a business you find you cannot induce people to come and work for you unless you pay them more, then you have 544 to do one of two things: either you shut the business down, or you pay a proper and decent living wage to the people in it. I do not know which alternative the noble Lord wants. I suppose that while the business was going bankrupt or the Forces were dissolving, the noble Lord would have another Inquiry!
I am going to intervene in this debate for only a few moments. I do so only because I feel that it is at once so timely and so important that I should not like not to give my support, and a reason or two for my support, as an old Service Minister. I do not need to say anything about the importance of this matter; that is in all your Lordships' minds. The debate is singularly timely because, as we understand, the Government are now considering, and will shortly present us with, what are to be their new conditions of service. As my noble friend Lord Templewood said, the Prime Minister has laid it down quite clearly that the objective which the Government seek is a long-service, voluntary Army. I imagine that the same applies to the Navy, which has always been largely long-service. I presume the Air Force is to be the same. As he has truly said, if we are to get that, then we have to improve conditions. Of course, improved conditions must apply to officers as well as to other ranks; that is merely equitable, just and logical. Surely, a highly trained Army, mobile, versatile, and varied, must be well led. This applies equally to the other two Services. In all three Services we need the best.
I agree with what has been said by several speakers, that the days have gone by when young men could be expected to join the Services and to live largely on their own money. It is quite impossible for them to do that to-day. I am sure it is true that the old tradition still remains, and that families who for generation after generation have gone into one of the Services still want to do it; but it is not possible. The desire is there; and that is an intangible asset of enormous value in the spirit of a Service or of a regiment. I am sure we shall get value for money over and over again if we make it worth while, and make it possible for these men to go where their hearts would have them go.
My Lords, I hope that in all this we are pressing at an open door. But I will 545 say this: the least we can do is, to treat the officers of the Fighting Services—I call them "Fighting Services" because to-day more often than not they are on active service—at least as well as we treat the Civil Service. I am not saying anything against the Civil Service. They have served me for thirty or forty years and I have the highest regard for them. They have all had deserved increases in pay. Do not forget, however, that when the pay of the civil servant goes up, his ultimate pension goes up too. I think the Royal Commission—I am not sure whether Lord Beveridge was a member—has just recommended considerable further increases in the emoluments of civil servants.
§ LORD BEVERIDGE
I am afraid I was not a member of that Commission. I have no doubt that it acted more wisely because I was not.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
I am sorry. No doubt there would have been a more erudite Report if he had been a member of the Commission.
But, my Lords, in the Fighting Services, the Defence Services, the claim of the public service is at least as good. In the Defence Services there is a special claim which the Civil Service has not got. I am not referring to the risks which the men in the Fighting Services take—they take them in their stride. But officers in these Services have obligations; they run into changes and chances which I think deserve special consideration. They are always being moved about. The noble Earl, Lord Lucan, gave the extraordinary example of, I think an officer of nineteen years' service who had moved his house forty times in that period. To-day, they are moved much more abroad than they were in the old days. What is more, in the old days an officer could count on where he was going and for how long he was going to be there—one battalion was at home and another battalion was in India. An officer knew—he could practically look at it like a chart—where he was going to be and for how long. Now he never knows where he is going to be or for how long, and he may he shifted about here and there. For him and for his family that means additional expense.
Though I fully endorse what was said by others, I say nothing about the prob- 546 lem of education. That matters probably more to these officers than almost anything else. The young officer coming in for the first year or two as an unmarried officer can probably do pretty well; but then, that is not what he and, above all, what his family are looking for. What has to be looked to is the time when he is married and is going to bring up a family. Then, I think, conditions are really impossible.
Let me just add this final consideration in the comparison with the Civil Service. Again the fighting officer has far less security—I am not talking about physical risks. The civil servant, once he is established, is absolutely secure unless he behaves in a most outrageous manner. Sometimes, apparently, he can go a pretty good way without incurring the supreme penalty. But he is absolutely secure till 55 or 60 years of age, and, what is more, he is all the time piling up an increasing pension for the time when he reaches that age—so much for each year; and with each increase in salary, so much more. The fighting officer has no security in the least like that. He may very easily be retired or "axed" just at the age in middle life when it is hardest for him to get a job in civil life and when his pension compares very unfavourably with what the civil servant will get when he reaches the age of fifty-five or sixty. I would sum up by saving that I hope Her Majesty's Government will accept this. I am quite sure that justice, efficiency and security—and our security quite as much as the security of these officers—demands that they should have a square deal and a new deal, and I sincerely hope they will get it.
§ 4.11 p.m.
§ LORD JEFFREYS
My Lords, like other noble Lords I wish to say, first, how indebted we are to my noble friend Lord Teynham, for calling attention to this matter of the pay and conditions of service of officers in the Armed Forces, not only because some of those conditions are certainly unsatisfactory but also because, as one result of officers' dissatisfaction, as was pointed out by my noble friend Lord Swinton, the number of candidates for commissions has begun to fall short, both in quantity and quality, of what is desirable. It is earnestly to be hoped that Her 547 Majesty's Government will improve these conditions to the utmost possible extent. hope that the improvement will be based on the fall in the value of our money, on the great increase in the cost of living, on the standard of living expected of officers (for a high standard of living is expected of them), on the conditions under which they have to work and live; and, last but not least, on the fact that if a good article is wanted it is necessary to pay the market price for it. That, most emphatically, has not been done in what has been paid to officers for a very considerable time past.
It is to be hoped, too, that the constant moves to which officers are subjected, and which were referred to by my noble friend Lord Teynham, will be borne in mind when improvements in pay and allowances are being considered. These moves especially affect married officers who, unlike civil servants and members of the civil professions, can never count on a settled home; and to them every move means extra expense. When these officers move they often have to leave their families behind, at any rate to begin with. The noble Earl, Lord Lucan, referred to the disturbance allowance, also mentioned by my noble friend Lord Teynham. It is utterly inadequate and, as was mentioned, is so hedged about with restrictions that often it cannot be obtained at all. It fails to cover the time, trouble and money spent in moving and in getting a house into proper shape, let alone wear and tear of possessions through packing and unpacking, due to the move; and it is not impossible that they will again be moved before they have properly settled in.
Let there be no doubt on the point to which my noble friend Lord Swinton referred: that most officers do like the life and traditions of the Services; they are happy in the Services, despite their very numerous moves. But let there be no doubt, either, that in these days very few officers have private means. Very few officers can live on their private means, as many used to do; and, if they have private means, they are so heavily taxed, and their expenses are so high, that they have nothing left to spend for the benefit of their corps or ship, as used to be done in the past.
548 Moreover, if they are married and have families their difficulties and those of their wives are immensely increased. I know of cases like those mentioned by a previous speaker in your Lordships' House, where very good officers, with excellent prospects, have left the Services because they could no longer face being separated from wives and families for years at a time. I know, too, that many married officers find it increasingly difficult to live within their means while providing for both the maintenance and education of their families and the maintenance of the standard of living expected of them. For there is a standard of living for an officer. He is a commander and a leader, and he must at all times appear to he such; he must maintain the standards and appearance of his rank. Unlike the civilian, he cannot, if he finds himself hard up, as he very often does, reduce his standard of living to suit his income and family expenses. Nor, unlike a civilian in such circumstances, can he demand and get extra pay. Then, too, the wife of an officer is expected to interest herself in the welfare of the married families of her husband's ship, unit or station. How can she do that and look after her own house and family, probably with no domestic help and very little, if any, spare cash? Perhaps, too, she may think of the possibility of having to live as a widow on a totally inadequate widow's pension.
For all these reasons I hope that the increase in pay and allowances given to the more senior officers—those who need it most and who have most responsibility, will be really substantial and will be competitive with what they might expect to get in civil life. I hope, too, that, as at present, the marriage allowance will not be given to very young officers—those under twenty-five—for in my humble opinion it is undesirable, both in their own interests and those of the Service, that they should marry so young. I hope that any increases in marriage allowance will be given to the older officers, those who have settled down and who need it far more. I understand that the wage of many working men nowadays averages £11 a week. That amounts to £572 a year, and I would point out to your Lordships that it is more than the pay of a captain with under six years' service in that rank. Such a captain gets £529 a year. I suggest that that is all 549 wrong and that such officers should get substantial increases in pay.
I come now to the question of allowances. These are not paid in the ordinary sense and, speaking generally, they are given to enable an officer to provide himself with what ought properly to he given to him by the Government—at any rate, if he is a single officer. First of the principal allowances is the ration allowance, which for an officer not drawing rations is £85 3s. a year. That is the estimated wholesale cost to the Government of certain essential rations; and it is the only allowance which is not subject to taxation. I suggest that it might be raised from the wholesale to, at any rate, the retail value of the rations with which an officer has to provide himself and for which he has to pay.
Then there is lodging allowance, which ranges from £1 a day or £365 a year, less income tax, in the case of a general, to 11s. a day or £200 15s. a year in the case of a major or officer of lower rank—again less income tax. And there is London allowance, if a married officer is doing duty in London and is not given quarters, the rates in the case of a lieutenant-colonel are £118 12s. 6d. a year, less income tax, and in the case of a major or officer of lower rank £100 7s. 6d., less income tax. Then there is marriage allowance. A married lieutenant-colonel gets£383 5s., a major or captain £337 12s. 6d., a subaltern £227 12s. 6d. In each case those amounts are less income tax. Then comes entertainment allowance which in the case of a unit C.O. is the princely sum of £91 5s. a year, less tax.
Surely allowances, with the possible exception of marriage allowance (I agree that that can be considered as income), should be tax free—as they used to be. It is only comparatively recently that the Treasury insisted, and insisted successfully, on making Allowances subject to tax. Surely they should be tax free. They are given to enable an officer to provide himself with what he must have and what the Government ought to give him if single; and to make a deduction of income tax from them often renders such allowances inadequate. Take, for instance (I think it is the same in every case, but I quota this as a typical instance), the case of a major or officer of lower rank who gets £200 15s. for lodging allowance to provide himself and 550 probably his family with quarters. On £200 5s., it is just perhaps a possibility; but if you get that sum of £200 15s., less income tax of 8s. 6d. in the £, it is a very different proposition and on the sum which remains it is not possible to get decent lodging for any officer anywhere.
But the allowance to which I would draw particular attention is the educational allowance for each child between 11 and 19 years of age. This educational allowance is £75 per annum for each child at a boarding school and £26 per annum for one at a day school, less income tax if the parent is in this country. What generosity! These generous amounts are less income tax if the officer is at home. Incidentally, a boarding school education is absolutely essential, not only for the children of officers abroad but also for those at home, because educational authorities are unwilling to be responsible for a floating population or to give places which must be temporary in already overcrowded schools. A diplomat, if abroad, gets from the Foreign Office £150 a year, tax free, for education of a child. I do not know whether we are to understand that the whole standard of the Foreign Office is higher than that for officers of the Armed Forces. I would say it certainly did not look like it, judging by the notorious case which has been before the public very recently.
But the comparison which I wish to make in particular is, with the cost to the public of a boy at an approved school—that is to say, a bad boy sent by order of a court to what used to be called a reformatory, but that word is not allowed now; it is a deleterious word, and the establishment is called an "approved school." In the case of such a boy in my county—I believe the figure is higher in some counties—the cost is £382 a year, or nearly as much as the cost of a boy at Eton or some other big public school. So it comes to this: to keep a bad boy at an approved school costs the public £382 per annum. But £75, less income tax, is thought quite sufficient for an officer's boy. Surely this amount should be substantially raised and should be free of income tax. Finally, I would say as regards pay and conditions that if officers are to be encouraged to remain in the Service and to give of their best, and if their sons are to be encouraged to follow them into the Service, they must be able lo count on equality of financial status with 551 their counterparts in civil life, and, in view of their many handicaps, have some financial advantages. One small advantage might be one which was also mentioned by Lord Teynham—the taking off of purchase tax from the cost of uniforms.
I venture to turn to one of the conditions of an officer's service about which I have in the past addressed your Lordships more than once—the matter of retired pay. I would remind your Lordships that the action (or inaction) of successive Governments in regard to this matter has had a very adverse effect indeed upon the supply of officers. Old officers—again this has been mentioned by other noble Lords—who retired under the Code of 1919 and who feel that the Government have broken faith with them tell young men that, remembering how they themselves have been treated, they cannot advise them to enter the Service and risk similar treatment. That has been the case not only as regards pay in the Service but particularly as regards allowances.
I would here explain that an officer's retired pay is governed by a Royal Warrant or Instrument signed in the name of the Sovereign by a Secretary of State or First Lord of the Admiralty, and the Code under which an officer retires is that laid down in the last-issued Royal Warrant or corresponding Instrument before his retirement. Until 1919 such Warrants were unalterable, either upwards or downwards, and there are still a few old men—very old men—who retired prior to 1914 and who are still drawing the exiguous rates in force before World War I. But in 1919 a new Code was introduced under the Royal Warrant, et cetera, of that year, and this Code provided that rates of retired pay were to vary upwards or downwards according to the rise or fall in the cost of living. The words of the Royal Warrant Code which applied to the Army were as follows:The rates of officers' pay, half pay, service retired pay and gratuities shall be subject to revision after five years from 1st July. 1919, either upwards or downwards, to an extent not exceeding 20 per cent. After 1st July, 1924, a further revision may take place every three years.I have read that in full because that is, I think, a wise and foreseeing provision, and it was introduced by a Secretary of State who was at that time Secretary of 552 State both for War and for Air, namely, Mr. Winston Churchill, as he then was. He was far ahead of other people and far ahead of the Treasury, who have never ceased to whittle down what he did.
Now after the first war, from 1922 onwards, the cost of living fell steadily for some years. In 1933 the rates of retired pay had been reduced by 11 per cent. below the basic rates of 1919. Then the cost of living showed signs of rising, and the Treasury, which had never liked the provision for variation of rates, caused the rates to be stabilised at 9½ per cent. below the basic rates of 1919. This stabilisation was purely unilateral and it was much resented by the officers concerned. When it was asked that the Warrant should be complied with and the rates raised in accordance with the rise of the cost of living, the Treasury said it was impossible to make retrospective changes in the rates of a Warrant, though they had themselves made retrospective changes extending over sixteen years, as long as those were downwards.
Actually, in 1954, the Government did nearly restore the 9½ per cent. by which the rates had been reduced—I say "nearly because what was given was 10 per cent, on the net reduced rates. If I may do a small calculation for your Lordships, it is as follows: 100 less 91 per cent. equals 90½; 90½ plus 10 per cent. is 99½—that is to say, officers receive one half of one per cent. short of what they ought to receive if the full amount were restored. I do not say that the half of one per cent. is a matter of great importance, but I do say that it is typical that the Treasury did not restore the whole. Whether that was because the Treasury dislike the idea of restoration and wish 10 per cent. to be regarded as a gift, I do not know; but I do know that though the rates were reduced so long as the cost of living fell, there was no question of any increase when the cost of living came to rise—an increase which the Code authorises up to 20 per cent.—in spite of the fact that the cost of living has risen enormously, far more than 20 per cent.
I repeat that officers consider this to amount to a breach of faith. I know that that expression is resented by the Treasury, but the case has been submitted to a learned Q.C., who advises that there has undoubtedly been a breach of 553 contract and that if any civil company or corporation had acted in such a way, and an action had been brought against them by their employees, they would not have ventured to defend the case, which would be absolutely certain to go against them. Incidentally, I wonder how many employees of any description are now getting less, though it he only ½ per cent. less, than the rate; of 1919, as are these old officers. But I have an even stronger support for my view of this matter. The late Lord Simon, who was not only a great lawyer but also a former Lord Chancellor, told the that he considered that the Government had broken their contract. Speaking in a debate on the subject in your Lordships' House on December 15, 1953, he said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 185. col. 104];The issue is whether, in the government of this country, we arc going to observe public faith.That was Lord Simon. He went on to show how the Government policy would work in a private establishment and how impossible it would be. He concluded by quoting, in exposition of his case, a couplet which I will not venture to quote.
§ LORD JEFFREYS
The noble Lord says, "Why not?" If your Lordships will not take it as being my quotation, I will quote it:Thou shalt not steal—an empty featWhen this so lucrative to cheat.That was Lord Simon's opinion; I am not saying that. The Treasury's action in this matter has done an immense amount of harm. It has caused officers to feel that the pledged word of the Government cannot be relied on, arid it has been not a little responsible for the present shortage—and there is a shortage—of suitable candidates for commissions. Whatever action the Government take on the general question of officers' pay and conditions—and I hope very much that that action will be realistic and generous, as it will have to be if it is going to be effective—I trust that this crying scandal of the 1919 Retired Pay Code will be rectified. I beg to support strongly the Motion of my noble friend Lord Teynham.
§ 4.35 p.m.
My Lords, I should like to add my thanks to those of my noble friend Lord Jeffreys to the noble Lord, Lord Teynharn, for bringing this subject forward and for the admirable way in which he has presented it to your Lordships. I should also like to say how pleased I was to hear the admirable and well-balanced speech of my noble friend Lord Lucan. Nobody is better qualified to speak on this subject than he is. At this stage it is difficult to talk on the subject without repeating one or more of the things that have been said by noble Lords who have preceded me and if I do so, I hope your Lordships will bear with me. As I have definitely prepared what I intend to say, I am going to proceed to say it.
I think it is reasonable to assume that there is a general recognition of the inadequacy of present pay and conditions of officers in the Armed Services in comparison with current conditions in civil employment. In that case, it follows that the young man of to-day who has to decide on a career is unlikely to choose the Armed Services. This would seem to be borne out by the failure of the Services to obtain the numbers they require, or even to retain the officers, warrant officers and non-commissioned officers who have gained short-service experience. More-over, in my opinion there is a real risk of our losing the younger officers, who might well have brilliant careers ahead of them but who cannot afford to remain in a Service which puts them in the position of a poor relation to their friends in commerce and industry.
I am more than hopeful that Her Majesty's Government fully appreciate and recognise this situation, and I feel confirmed in that hope by the Prime Minister's statement at Bradford (which has already been mentioned this afternoon) that half measures will achieve nothing, and by the statement of the Minister of Defence in a debate in another place on November 2, 1955, when, in reference to the building up of the Regular element in the Services, he said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 545, No. 45, col. 1034]:…we want the Regular element to be as large as possible. The Service Ministers and I would willingly do without conscription tomorrow if we could pt the necessary number of Regulars.555 A few lines further on, he said:…but it has to be remembered that to attract men to the Armed Forces at a time of full employment we must be able to offer rewards and conditions which compare fairly with those in civil life, and which take account of the uncertainties and discomforts of Service life.That, to my mind, is the essence of the whole problem:conditions which compare fairly with those in civil life.I read into those statements a decision by Her Majesty's Government to tackle the problem realistically, and I sincerely hope that I am correct. With our numerous and far-flung obligations, from the Far East to N.A.T.O., it is probably true to say that never in our history was it more essential that our Fighting Services in so-called peace time should be better trained, more efficient and of higher quality than they are to-day. It is therefore of paramount importance that serving officers should be content and proud to follow the career they have chosen, and that officers of the future can join the Forces in the knowledge that they will be adopting a career which will give them a worthy position socially and financially, both during their Service and, what is equally important, when they reach the age of retirement. I most sincerely hope that Her Majesty's Government will pay sufficient attention to the Services' pension problems which are of equal importance to those of pay and other conditions.
Unfortunately, we are living in an era when the value of money has consistently depreciated over a period of years, while taxation has remained at such penal levels that it bedevils the figures of salaries and wages. The rate of inflation has outrun the codes of pay which in themselves were created to keep pace with the increase in the cost of living. I think we must recognise that while industry and commerce, with their facility for collective bargaining through the trade unions, are forced to keep pace with the changes in values, the Armed Services are denied that facility and consequently find themselves left behind in the struggle for existence.
I recognise that whatever claims are made to-day for Service officers must not be exaggerated. This country is suffering from a malaise—one might almost say a 556 cancer—of continuous demands for wage increases, demands which can but add to the inflationary spiral and render us less competitive in world markets, from which, after all, our life-blood flows. The importance of economic stability cannot be over-stressed. Nevertheless, when conditions in an industry or a Service become as far out of line with the rest of the national economy as those of the Armed Services have become, something drastic must be done. If we are to maintain, and indeed increase, the numbers of our Regular officers, the least that can be expected is that their conditions of service should be every bit as good as those enjoyed by their opposite numbers in civil life. We must not forget that, even in peace time, whether they like it or not, those in the Armed Forces are expected to take risks, in Korea, in Malaya, in Cyprus or in Kenya: it is just part of their job.
I have endeavoured to make a study of the salary figures of those employed in commerce compared to the emoluments received by officers of the same age and roughly equivalent positions in the Armed Services in the years 1938 and 1955. It is without doubt an extremely difficult comparison to make, largely due to the changes which took place in 1946, when tax-free benefits enjoyed by the Services were consolidated into their pay. On the assumption, however, that any tax-free allowances enjoyed by an officer to-day are to meet extraordinary expenses arising from the peculiarities of his employment, I believe the fairest comparison to be between the basic pay of an officer and the basic salary of his opposite number in the commercial world.
Broadly speaking, the basic salaries (and this is without any of the "frills," or one might almost say "perks," that accrue in commerce) of bank, insurance and commercial employees roughly equivalent to the ranks of an Army captain up to a lieutenant-colonel have increased at the very least by 100 per cent. between the years 1938 and 1955. During that period the basic pay of an Army officer has increased, in the case of a captain—on his appointment, that is—by 75 per cent.; in that of a major by 65 per cent. and in that of a lieutenant-colonel by about 40 per cent. Therefore, the only conclusion one can reach is that the comparative position of the Army 557 officer has deteriorated considerably. At the same time, the cost of living index (and here I quote the Cambridge Economic Service) has risen from the figure of 100, in 1938, to 250 in 1955, while the basic pension of a major retiring to-day has risen by only 23 per cent. and that of a lieutenant-colonel by 24 per cent. On those figures the case for a readjustment of both pay and pensions is overwhelming, especially, perhaps, the case for pensions.
As important, however, as the questions of pay and pensions are perhaps the grievances and sense of frustration under which officers are suffering to-day. There are so many pinpricks which could so easily be eliminated if the regulations were interpreted with a little more human understanding and generosity. The regulations were presumably intended, in origin, to ease the difficulties. To-day they are so administered that they frequently lead to unfair treatment and to a sense of grievance. In fact, the old saying that "The Army looks after its own" has been replaced by the saying that "The Army will only give you your rights if you fight for them continuously."
It is my belief that that sense of insecurity in the Armed Services which unquestionably exists to-day is bred largely by the feeling of financial stringency among the married officers, exaggerated by the feeling that the dice are loaded against them and that they cannot obtain their rights. The fact that the wives of officers of the Armed Forces have taken the unprecedented step of organising themselves to ventilate their grievances is proof that the situation cannot be ignored. I have dim recollections, from the days of my youth, of a famous lady, Mrs. Pankhurst, arid her activities in favour of women's suffrage, and it strikes me that tie lesson to be learned from them is that when the ladies are on the warpath you had better look out, because they are a determined sex. The officer's wife, as one noble Lord has already said, is a voluntary welfare worker, a most important spoke in the wheel of Service life, who makes a very real contribution towards the happiness and welfare of the Services. If these women are in a constant state of financial worry they cannot be expected cheerfully to make this contribution towards their husbands' careers. I am convinced that 558 it is of the utmost importance that these grievances be examined sympathetically and with full intent to redress wrongs, where they exist.
I do not wish to weary your Lordships with a whole list of complaints, but I feel that there are certain things which should be drawn to your attention—and here I ask for the indulgence of your Lordships if I repeat things that have already been mentioned. First, there are the restrictive rules which govern the important concession permitting one free visit by children to their parents during a tour of duty in overseas stations. Why not simply allow one visit during an overseas tour without restrictions? Then I would refer to the disadvantages suffered by the officer who buys his own home, or rents a private home and lives in it, because there are not sufficient Government quarters available. If there are not enough Government quarters available, why should the officer be penalised for finding his own accommodation? Then there are the petty restrictions applicable to disturbance allowance. Surely any unavoidable expenditure, provided that it is reasonable, which a married officer has to incur because of a duty which he has to perform should be repaid to him in full, and the allowance regulations framed to make this possible. In the pamphlet—a most enlightening one—Posts in the Civil Service for University Graduates, on page 61 we find that if a member of the Foreign or Civil Service is moved from one place to another, his travelling and removal expenses are paid for in full. So would they be in any reputable commercial undertaking. It is the frequency of the moves in the Services which is largely responsible for the financial anxiety from which most married officers are suffering to-day. Moves are costly in themselves, costly in clothes for different climates, costly in children's education and costly in holiday problems.
I am the third person, I think, to refer to what is a monstrous comparison, and that is the child's education allowance, which in the Foreign Service is at the rate of £150 per annum and in the Armed Services £75 per annum. Is it not adding insult to injury to evaluate the officer's child at half the educational price of the child of a servant of the Foreign Office? I believe this to be a real grievance which should be thoroughly examined and set right if it is possible to do so.
559 I have discussed these problems ad nauseam with friends who are still serving officers and who are men who would be considered well balanced in any walk of life, and I am alarmed by the unanimity of their opinion. They are convinced that there is a general feeling throughout the Services that the future is so dim that they must look elsewhere if they are to provide for their children and for their own old age. Numbers of really intelligent young officers, who are literally assured of a successful career, are in the mood that they had better get out now and turn to civilian occupations before they are too late and too old to adapt themselves to civilian life. Many are sitting on the fence awaiting the announcement of the new pay and conditions. The trouble is that you can lose the cream and be left with the skimmed milk.
We are already in the military age of nuclear power, and within ten years we shall be in the missile age. The standard of skill that will be required, both for officers and other ranks, cannot possibly he reached in two years of National Service, with the inevitable result that the burden must in the long run be carried by the professionals. What does that mean? It means that our Regular Forces in all three Services not only have to be kept up at to-day's strength, but in the long run will have to be increased. We cannot, therefore, afford to lose officers to-day who will be vital to us in the future. In the new Code shortly to be published. Her Majesty's Government have the opportunity to redress the wrongs and grievances and to give the Services the encouragement they deserve. I feel confident that they will tackle the problem broadmindedly, fairly and sympathetically, but I do make a special plea that an entirely new approach will be made to the system of awarding both Service retired pay and ordinary widows' pensions, without which any new deal would be incomplete.
§ 4.55 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT PORTAL OF HUNGER-FORD
My Lords, I suppose that, as an officer on half pay but still technically on the Active List, I ought to begin by declaring a possible pecuniary interest, though probably a regrettably small one, in the subject of this debate, but I trust that this will not be held to disqualify 560 me from supporting, in respect of officers on full pay in all three Services, what has been said about the need for a really generous improvement in their pay and conditions. I am sure that the Fighting Services and all who have their interests at heart will be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Teynham, who has put down this Motion and to those who have spoken in support of it.
Like the noble Lord. Lord Kindersley, I have prepared what I am going to say to your Lordships, but nevertheless I should like to endorse what Lord Kindersley has said. He kindly told me what he was going to say, and no one could be better qualified than he to speak on this subject. As Chairman of the Officers' Association he knows how widespread financial hardship is among serving officers, and as a great figure in commerce and industry he knows the conditions with which the Government, as an employer, have to compete. He certainly deserves the gratitude of the Services for having put so strongly, clearly and fairly the case for improving the officers' conditions of service. We have been reminded by many noble Lords to-day of the undoubted fact that many good officers, and particularly those with initiative, are leaving the Services in search of better conditions and prospects in civil life. That is obviously extremely serious and damaging, but I think we should at least be equally disturbed by the plight of the thousands of officers who are sticking to their jobs in the Forces in the hope that improved conditions, so long overdue, will eventually be given to them.
Like other noble Lords, I am convinced from the information which reaches me from many sources that a large number of these officers are doing their work day by day in the shadow of perpetual anxiety and worry over money. These officers, and all who sympathise with them, will have read with profound relief what the Prime Minister said at Bradford about "no half measures." But even though one thankfully accepts this assurance, as I do, I think it is still permissible to try to drive home the reasons for the present hardship and the amount of leeway that has to be made up if the serving officer is to be relieved of his present worries about money and, more important still, if future conditions and prospects are to attract enough young 561 men of the right type into the Fighting Services.
The three main causes of financial hardship are well known to everyone in the Services, anti they have all been mentioned this afternoon. First, the average officer of to-day, unlike his pre-war counterpart, has no private means. Nowadays, very few fathers who have given their sons a first-class education have anything left to give them afterwards, and far fewer sons are in the happy position that many of us as young officers were in between the wars, of having our parents' home or the home of our parents-in-law always available where we could "park" our families. I think the difference between then and now is very well known, and I am sure it is conceded everywhere that an officer should he paid enough to enable him, if he avoids all extravagance, to live reasonably well, to bring up his family properly and to take a full share in the life of the community, on and off his station, without having any private means at all.
But the hard fact is that family budgets—a number of which I have seen—based on Service pay alone and without the slightest sign of any extravagance, always seem to be well in the red. Some of these budgets really make one feel quite ashamed: food at about 3s. a head a day for an officer's family; drink for an officer and his wife 10s. a month; holidays for a family of five for the whole year £40; clothes £5 a year for the family. I have seen all those figures in the budgets, and a deficit in spite of these severe economies—and, of course, nothing whatever in hand for emergencies such as severe illness in the family.
The second main cause of hardship is the frequency of movement which is inseparable from Service life, however much the Service Departments try—and I know they do try—to minimise it. This is what really defeats any attempt to compare the income of an officer with that of someone of the same age and responsibility in civil life. On the face of it, it does not look so bad: all transportation costs are paid and, under certain conditions, as we have heard, there is £20 or even £40 allowance for disturbance. But, as everyone in the Service knows, though few outside have realised it, there is always this host of incidental expenses which add up to far more than this allowance: for instance, housing the family 562 for days, weeks or even months in the interval between their leaving the old station and settling in the new one; the cost of the new clothes necessary for a different climate; the loss on the sale of necessary equipment bought for the old accommodation. And, as has already been pointed out, many moves have to be made for which no disturbance allowance is payable under the present regulations. As to the possible frequency of moves, I cannot cap the forty-two moves in nineteen years which have been mentioned, but one of my best friends in the R.A.F. tells me that he has moved his home seventeen times in seventeen years.
The third main factor in the situation is the cost of education. This is closely connected with the hardship caused by movement and is greatly aggravated by it. Any officer worth his salt who has children will want to ensure, before everything else, that they get a proper education—that is to say an education which is not only adequate in quality but is also reasonably continuous. This really means either a hoarding school, with the tremendous cost of present-clay fees and the expenses of holidays, especially if the parents are abroad; or, alternatively, it means keeping up a second establishment where the wife can live continuously so that the children can attend the same day school throughout their childhood, in spite of the fact that their father may have to move two or three times during that period. Both of these alternatives are terribly expensive, and the second one (that is, the separate home for the mother with the father a week-end visitor) involves sacrifices and dangers which no officer ought to be forced to accept.
It may be argued that a boarding school education for his children is a luxury that an officer without private means ought not to aspire to, but I hope that few of your Lordships take that view. Personally, I think it is absolutely essential that a considerable proportion of the officers in the Fighting Services should themselves have enjoyed the great advantage and privilege of a public school education and should wish to give the same thing to their children. No one, I am sure, thinks it would be right or practicable that the public school should be, as it once was, almost the only source of officers, but I believe that it will be a very bad day for the Services when only an insignificant minority have the public 563 school background. Unless conditions are greatly improved, that is what we are certainly heading for, and we shall be well on the way also to losing what has always been a great asset to the country, namely, the family tradition of service in the Armed Forces. For if an officer and his wife have battled for years against constant financial hardship and worry in order to send their boys to his old school, can anyone blame the father if he resolves that the last profession he would put them into would be one of the Fighting Services?
I have skimmed, rather briefly, over the main reasons why the average officer finds his pay inadequate; and, behind it all, as the noble Lord. Lord Kindersley, has said, is inflation and the fact that pay has not anything like kept pace with the fall in the value of money. I do not want to plague your Lordships with a lot of figures, but I have here a comparison of the real value of the emoluments of the officer in 1938 with that of his exact counterpart in rank and family circumstances in 1955. I think this puts the position in a nutshell. In each instance the officer is married, with two children, is on the top rate of pay for his rank and is not living in quarters. In 1938, the net real value of a flight lieutenant's pay was £694 a year. In 1955, he got the equivalent of 581 1938 pounds; that is to say, £113 a year less. The 1938 squadron leader got £835. In 1955, he got the equivalent of 680 1938 pounds, a loss of £155. In the case of the wing commander, the adverse difference is £269 a year, and in the case of an air commodore it rises to no less than £466 a year. I must emphasise that these differences are expressed in 1938 pounds; in pounds of to-day's value the adverse differences would range from £225 a year for the flight lieutenant up to about £925 for the air commodore. I can assure your Lordships that in 1938 we were not overpaid.
I have no doubt that these figures can be argued about to the extent of a few pounds either way, but they have been prepared for me with great care and I do not think that the difference in an officer's purchasing power between 1938 and 1955 will be seriously disputed. On the top of these substantial reductions in real remuneration comes, as I have already said and as many others have 564 said, too, the difference in average private means, which no one can assess but which I am sure no one will deny. Can we be surprised if the right officers are difficult to get?
What is necessary to put things right? First, a substantial increase in basic pay and allowances, so as to give an officer at least the real purchasing power that his counterpart enjoyed before the war; secondly, authority for public funds to bear the entire expense actually and reasonably incurred as the result of an officer's posting; and, thirdly, a really generous improvement in education allowances. It is rather hard luck on all concerned that the recognition of the inadequacy of officers' pay comes at a time when there is a very heavy bombardment going on for the purpose of bringing down Government expenditure.
Everyone must admit the need for economy at the present time, but there is one general point of great importance about which I think I ought to say a word in relation to economy in the Armed Services. One form of economy is to slow down a little the rate of provision of the most modern equipment. This is, admittedly, had for efficiency and morale; but, provided research and development and the proper testing of prototypes go on at full pressure, you can, if necessary, economise somewhat on new equipment and yet restore the position in the space of relatively few years, when more money becomes available. I do not want to press this idea on the authorities—heaven forbid!—but I do say that this sort of economy on equipment is far less permanently damaging than undue economy over men.
The noble Earl, Lord Lucan, made this point, with which I entirely agree: that with men the case is utterly different from that of equipment. If you starve the Service of the right men, and particularly of the right officers, for a period of years, the resulting lack of quality will be felt increasingly as time goes on and will be at its worst when, in fifteen, twenty or twenty-five years' time, you are short of first-class men to fill the key positions in command and staff right through the Service; and, by the same token, when an improvement is at last made which attracts the right type of officer candidate, 565 we must remember that a whole generation must pass before these officers come to the top and exert their full influence.
My Lords, it is bad enough that we are losing good officers to-day; it is even worse that those who remain should be handicapped by constant anxiety and worry over money. It would be worst of all if the promised improvements proved in fact to be insufficient to attract the best type of young man into the Armed Forces. Whatever else a Service can do without, it cannot do without the right men, and if we do not pay for them we cannot expect to get them.
§ 5.11 p.m.
My Lords, it is evident from the debate this afternoon that we are all mach heartened by the Prime Minister's speech at Bradford, when he indicated that the Government intended to remedy matters and that there would be no half measures. Nevertheless, I cannot help thinking that this debate may be useful I to the Government if it shows where the shoe pinches, in more places than one.
It has been said, I think several times, that pay and allowances in the Services compare badly with those offered by other professions and industries. I would again stress that the constant, if unavoidable, moves involve expense that ought to be borne wholly by the Government. It is true that certain allowances are authorised, but they are en a totally inadequate scale. The fact is that officers without private means—and they are in the great majority—invariably incur debts over moves. The local allowances are pretty complicated, and the complete section of Allowance Regulations covers no fewer than thirteen pages of close print. The actual rates for various countries are not shown. All that is said is that these will be promulgated by the War Office from time to time. Most Regular Forces engaged overseas are having a difficult task. Surely officers should have clear and reasonable documents, explaining exactly the emoluments that they can expect for themselves or their families, whatever the circumstances.
Quite obviously, there must be different types of rates, but the definition is as awkward as it can be. There must be a difference between the married and the single officers, and between those provided with Government accommodation 566 and those finding their own. When one comes to the married categories the definition is expressed as "married, accompanied and accommodated or unaccommodated," as "married, unaccompanied and unaccommodated or accommodated." But when one comes to the married, unaccompanied, unaccommodated rate, the following is a typical passage from one of the Army Rules:The unaccommodated rate will be issued to an officer or other rank whose family is residing with him in accommodation not owned or hired by the public and who is not entitled to a married accompanied rate of local overseas allowance or to lodging allowance, provided that he would have been entitled to the latter if his family had not been living with him or that he otherwise satisfies the conditions of eligibility.My Lords, pages and pages of that sort of stuff are rather bewildering to officers who at the Royal Military Academy have never been taught to decipher regulations drawn up by well-meaning individuals whose training seems to have been in prolixity, obscurity and fog. The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Jeffreys, will be pleased to know that the case of the young married officer is quite simple, because he is entitled to no accommodation at all; he must fend for himself. It is true that in the days of some of us elderly ones, who joined the Service best part of half a century ago, matrimony for subalterns was unofficially but effectively banned. When I was serving in the regiment in which I was brought, up, two subalterns broke the rule and they were forthwith removed; they were told that their services were dispensed with. There was no difficulty about replacing them then, when candidates for commissions far exceeded the vacancies. To-day, in civilian life and in the Army, men marry young—no doubt to the horror of the noble Lord, Lord Jeffreys. But in view of the casualties suffered in two great wars, to say nothing of the continual slaughter on the highways, this may not be a bad thing if our population is to be maintained.
But if the married state is permitted to young officers, why in the name of goodness should they not have at least equal treatment with young sergeants? It used to take a private soldier about ten years to reach that rank. To-day, there are sergeants of 21 years of age, who are at once eligible for the accommodation, and so on, that married noncommissioned officers are entitled to. Not so the young married officer; he 567 must wait until he is 25. Why should there be this difference between those who wear stars on their shoulders and those who wear chevrons on their arms? Surely the Government might consider removing this anomaly—though in a way in favour of the young officer, and not to the detriment of the young sergeant.
When officers' wives and families cannot be taken abroad, the separation allowance is totally inadequate and causes severe hardship. I know of the case of a wife of a captain in Korea who receives the princely sum of two shillings a day. If a family is left behind in Government quarters they may remain there until the quarters are needed; but when the family have to quit an allowance of £21 a month is available for rent. Officers' wives are not eligible for council houses. It need scarcely be stressed that suitable and available houses at that rent are mighty hard to find. Disturbance allowances, for moves on duty, have been mentioned to-day. It has been said by one or two speakers that they are hedged around. I venture to say that they are most elusive. I can tell your Lordships of a senior officer, blessed with a wife and four children, who, returning from duty in Africa, was refused disturbance allowance because he took well-earned leave before taking up his new appointment. That is nothing new for him, because in twenty years this allowance has always been put out of his reach by one quibble or another. Officers leaving the Staff College are treated in exactly the same way: they receive no disturbance allowance if there is any interval between leaving and taking up their appointment. I suggest that these petty meannesses cause great bitterness.
The noble Earl, Lord Lucan, mentioned the specialist corps. Perhaps I may be allowed to add a little more about R.E.M.E. In view of the mechanisation of the Army, the importance of this Corps can scarcely be exaggerated. Those of us who saw its members at work in the last war can regard them only with enormous admiration. It is a fact that membership of either the Institute of Mechanical Engineers or the Institute of Electrical Engineers is a sine qua non for a Regular commission in the Corps, and a great many officers have the degree of Bachelor of Science. There are three scales of Army pay: normal Army pay, normal 568 Army pay plus Corps pay, and specialist pay. Normal Army pay is scarcely suitable for a Corps in which the officers are fully qualified professional engineers. Corps pay is only a few shillings a day, and dries up when an officer reaches the exalted rank of lieutenant-colonel. If the officers of R.E.M.E. are not specialists, what in the world are they? Of course, the provision of specialist pay is the right answer. But under existing regulations this can be granted only at the expense of combatant status. If they sacrifice combatant status they are not eligible for the Staff College or for Staff employment; and a senior officer in R.E.M.E. in a garrison might well find himself, because he is not allowed to command, serving under a combatant officer junior to himself. The noble Earl, Lord Lucan, mentioned that the exodus of officers from that Corps is alarming. He indicated the value of officers by the highly paid and responsible appointments that they receive on entering civilian life. I would point out to him that the pay that some of them are getting is far higher than he indicated to your Lordships.
Not being members of a trade union, Army officers are debarred from ventilating their grievances. Officers' wives, no less than the ladies of Smithfield, have every right to make their troubles known; and they are exercising that right now. This is not the first time that they have made themselves heard. Years ago, wives of officers in the Indian Army did that very thing and shocked the Commander-in-Chief, Lord Kitchener. Being a bachelor, and knowing nothing whatsoever of married life, he issued a stern rebuke to officers for failing to keep their wives in a proper state of discipline. That had no effect, and we had no doubt that their agitation, which had an unanswerable case, led to an overhaul of pay for all ranks in the Indian Army. To the best of my recollection, allowances hardly existed. Officers moving on duty received their bare railway fare but nothing for their family. I had seven moves in eighteen months. Mounted officers got a horse allowance, which was adequate provided that the poor animal was kept on a very light diet. As an indigent subaltern living on his pay, I felt extremely grateful to the ladies when my pay jumped up by 50 rupees a month, which enabled me to live without getting into debt. I hope 569 that officers' wives to-day will be as successful in turning beams of light into dark places.
It has truly been said that Service families are in the front line of the cold war—if service in Malaya, Cyprus, Kenya and Korea can come under that heading. Other communities in this country are living in peace-time conditions. I humbly suggest to Her Majesty's Government that they might do a lot to relieve officers and their wives from constant anxiety. The unequal struggle to make ends meet is in the last degree discouraging. The noble Earl who was introduced into your Lordships' House to-day, and whom we were so glad to welcome, spoke two days ago about another section of the community troubled with the difficulty of maintaining themselves on what a grateful country allows them for their services. He described them as "dying on their feet." I devoutly hope that they will not die, either on or off their feet. But if, unfortunately, they must expire, I very much hope that before doing so they will use the powers they undoubtedly have to prevent Army officers, whose difficulties are no less, from following suit.
We know, of course, that we cannot have a big Army on the Continental scale; and since it must be an Army of much smaller size it must be highly efficient and contented. No such Army exists to-day, for lack of sufficient fully trained and experienced officers and N.C.Os. When Her Majesty's Government have dealt effectively with pay, allowances and accommodation, with no half-measures or niggling, the exodus will be arrested, and we might even see the abandonment of National Service, as the Prime Minister indicated. That might result in a reduction of expense to the country; but first things must come first. I apologise for occupying so much of your Lordships' time at this late hour. I have touched on only a few of the problems that merit the consideration of Her Majesty's Government. Doubtless other noble Lords will fill in the gaps.
§ 5.24 p.m.
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
My Lords, I fully realise that I shall be touching on many points already mentioned by noble Lords who have spoken before me. In view of the late hour I will do so, therefore, only if I feel the point furthers my 570 arguments. I, too, welcomed the statement of the Prime Minister that no half measures are to be thought of in dealing with the future pay and allowances of the Services. I only hope that the Government's idea of no half measures for these pay and allowances bears some relationship to what the Services hope, expect and should have. I welcome, too, the fact that the Government, from now on, are intending to build up Regular Forces with the eventual idea of abolishing National Service. This is a step very much in the right direction and one which would be welcomed not only by the Services but by the country as a whole. I should like to pay a tribute to the fine work which National Servicemen are doing in this country and all over the world; but it is obvious that contented Regular Forces will be much more efficient and give the country much better value for money than men who are pressed into service against their will, quite apart from the waste in regular manpower needed to train National Servicemen and the loss of manpower to industry; furthermore, the cost will be considerably less.
But if the Armed Forces are to attract the right men, the pay and general conditions of service of the Regular Forces of the future will have to be very different from those prevailing at the moment. Before the last war a large percentage of recruits into the Army and Navy—both officers and other ranks—were from Service families. This is no longer true, since sons see only too well the almost appalling conditions which their Service parents have to endure. Also, conditions and opportunities offered by industry, partly due to full employment, not only are very much better but also make a reasonable attempt to keep in step with the cost of living.
Our debate to-day is confined to conditions of service of officers. I am sorry that that is so; nevertheless, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Teynham, for having given us this opportunity to say, on behalf of the Services, what they cannot say on their own behalf. The Service Regular, whether officer. N.C.O. or man, is, or should be, a dedicated person, dedicated to the service of his country, on call twenty-four hours of the day and ready to go anywhere in the world at a moment's notice. As far as is humanly possible, he must not and 571 should not be distracted by worries outside of his duty. He should not be distracted by worry about what is to happen to his family as a result of any move. He must know that they will be looked after and that he will not be subject to any extra expense as a result of moves beyond his control and for which he cannot possibly budget in advance. He must be content in his mind that if he is killed on active service his widow and children will be properly looked after and his children educated. This is the least that a grateful country can do to repay a man who has dedicated his life to keep it safe and free.
Basic pay and allowances must be at such a level as to give an officer, throughout his career, a standard of living on a level with a man in an equivalent position in industry, but must also compensate him and his family for the fact that he cannot make a home while serving. The Government must remember that Service families, as the noble Lord, Lord Middleton, has said, are in the front line of the cold war and suffer separation and discomfort which no civilian has to suffer. In this connection I understand that separation allowance is not granted to officers stationed in Korea. Surely a family who are separated, wherever they may be, must incur greater expense than if they were living together. Therefore the refusal of this allowance does not seem logical.
Unlike his civilian counterpart, an officer cannot look ahead or plan his budget accordingly. Every move is not only an upheaval but also an expense which he cannot possibly foresee. He has to keep up a reasonable outward appearance, whatever his financial position. He has to do a reasonable amount of entertaining, whether he wants to or not, for which, unlike his civilian counterpart, he cannot claim income-tax remission. Admittedly a commanding officer gets an entertainment allowance, but this does not apply to the ordinary officer; and, in any case, it never covers half, or even a fraction, of a commanding officer's expenses. His wife, if she is to pull her weight properly, must attend to welfare work and attend committees. If she is to do this she must have home help or sitters-in. If an officer is stationed on an isolated airfield (and most airfields are more or less isolated) he must have some 572 kind of car, unless he is to live the life of a hermit. All this is expense which a civilian does not incur unless he wishes to do so.
Many people seem to think that married families are provided with a rent-free house, free fuel and free lighting. I am told that even the former Chancellor of the Exchequer was under this impression not long ago. This is not so, as your Lordships will know. An officer has to pay rent and to pay for fuel and light. Further, some of the older married quarters are very expensive to heat. Different houses, particularly hirings, have different heating systems, and it may be necessary for an officer to buy an electric or other stove for one house which will be of no use in the next. All this is unnecessary expense which he can ill afford. More married quarters is one solution, but in the meantime why should officers have to put their hands into their own pockets owing to lack of married quarters? This should be made up to them in their expenses. They should be compensated for the extra expense incurred by the lack of a married quarter. Another expense to which an officer is put more frequently than a civilian—and this has already been mentioned in the debate—is for clothing. Every time an officer goes overseas or returns home he more often than not has to buy clothing for himself and his family suitable to the climate. It probably moans a complete change of clothing for himself and his family.
On the question of disturbance allowance, I say that the liability of an officer to be posted at a moment's notice and at undetermined intervals is the greatest difference between the life of a civilian and an officer. If the officer suffered no expense as the result of any move, he would still be at a disadvantage as compared with the civilian, by virtue of his nomadic life. Not only is an officer put to expense every time he moves, but the more frequently he moves the less compensation he receives. He receives an allowance of only £20 (in certain circumstances, when it is from one private dwelling to another, £40) to cover any incidental expenses, but he does not receive even this paltry sum if he is going to move or is moved again within six months.
Admittedly, the basic costs of transportation are borne by the Government, but 573 the move may well entail days or weeks in an hotel or furnished accommodation, to say nothing of the further upheaval if the posting is altered or cancelled at the last moment. And I am sure your Lordships know only too well what this can total up to in a short space of time. Surely it is only fair that all expenses of a move should be borne by the Government. An officer may have two or three moves in the course of as many years. Why should the expenses of these moves, which are forced on him, come out of his already meagre pay, on top of all the upheaval and disruption which he and his family have to undergo? Furthermore, if leave of more than a certain length coincides with a posting home, the disturbance allowance is inadmissible. Why? The officer is still incurring extra expense due to the move.
Now, my Lords, I will turn to the subject of school—which has already been mentioned by various noble Lords, but I have no doubt that I can produce some points which have not yet been mentioned. The officer is the type of person who will normally expect to send his children to a boarding school, and in any event circumstances will probably force him to do so when he is posted abroad. If he knows that by joining a Service he will not be able to pay for this schooling—bearing in mind that as a result of inheritance and other taxes very few officers or potential officers to-day have private means—the Services must lose more and more potential officer material to industry. One has only to look at Cranwell and Sandhurst to see that this is happening already. Where before the war they were both oversubscribed, the boot is now very much on tie other foot.
I would now like to draw your Lordships' attention to a Written Answer which appeared in Hansard on December 14, 1955. A Question was asked of the Under-Secretary of state for Air regarding the number of entries at Cranwell in the years 1952, 1953 and 1954, and how many of them were sons of Royal Air Force officers and ex-officers. The answer was [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 547 (No. 75), col. 189]:In 1952, there were 144 entrants to the Royal Air Force College, Cranwell, of whom 26 were the sons of Royal Air Force officers or ex-officers. For 1953 the figures were 87 and 11, and for 1954, 89 and 13.That clearly shows that officers are not sending their sons into the Services.
574 A few years ago I was Vice-Chairman of three Selection Boards for entries to the R.A.F. Apprentices' School at Halton. In the examination order of merit it was very rare for a Service family's son to be even half-way up the list—not because they did not have brains, but because, instead of being able to have a continuous education in one, or at the most two, schools, the average was round about fifteen; and in one case that I remember a boy had been to thirty-two different schools. How can Service children pass the eleven-plus exam. in these circumstances? Civilian firms of any repute accept responsibility for at least one annual visit by children to their parents if overseas; whereas similar facilities in the Services not only are restricted to certain stations, which is up to a point understandable, but also cannot be claimed during the first year or within nine months of the end of a tour—also to a certain extent understandable. So that, in practice, parents normally have only one passage paid for an overseas tour. Surely the Services can do better than that. What is to happen if the officer has to go abroad and his children are to get a decent: education? Is the wife to remain in England to look after them, thus disrupting still further married life? Not all families have convenient "in-laws" or grandparents to whom their children can go. Could the Services not establish holiday homes for them? Otherwise the wives will have to stay at home. That is a point which I hope that the Government will take up.
The next point I want to mention is pensions. These have already been mentioned. I only hope that pensions will be raised and that they will enable ex-officers and their wives to have a reasonable standard of living until they both die. In this connection I have no doubt that your Lordships will have read recently of the plight of many holders of the Victoria Cross. One point I should like to emphasise is that of pensions for families of air crews killed on flying duty in peace time. The pension for a Service widow with children to bring up is pitiful, particularly if the officer is fairly junior, which would be normal for a pilot. The standard of living of his family drops to an ungrateful level. And although the R.A.F. Benevolent Fund does its best, the widow and children of an officer killed on active service should not have to live on 575 charity but should be looked after by a grateful country. Flying pay does not even cover the extra premium—which is charged, quite naturally—for insuring the life of those employed in flying duties, though I understand that the Air Ministry are now helping in this respect. Nevertheless, the greater risks which a member of an air crew undergoes (and consequently his family's greater risk of being bereft of its breadwinner) should be reflected in the pay of air crew and in the pension of their dependants.
The marriage allowance for young officers was mentioned earlier in the debate. I personally deplore that the age was lowered to the age at which it is now. I consider that marriage allowance is now given at too young an age. I hope that the Government will consider altering this lower age limit to what it was pre-war. It cannot be good for the Services to have a much larger proportion of young married officers.
I understand that the aircrew manning position is such that a large percentage of appointments normally staffed by general duties officers are not so manned, as otherwise these squadrons would be dangerously short of air crews; also that officers are being kept on flying duties at an age beyond what should be normal for this reason. The youth of this country has not lost its spirit of adventure; it is just that the game is not, under present conditions, worth the candle. Before the war leave for officers was up to a maximum of 61 days in the year. This period was reduced to 48 days. This may seem a lot, but one must remember that officers are on duty twenty-four hours a day for seven days of the week. Furthermore, they may be living away from their families—particularly junior officers.
When a war does come—and I, for one, sincerely hope that it will not—it is essential that officers should be fresh and not tired out as at present. Officers working at the Air Ministry, in particular, and presumably also at the War Office and the Admiralty, and on Headquarters Staffs, work far too long hours, and if war came the efficiency of these officers would be affected. I hope that the Government will take this into consideration and will not only restore the old leave grant of 61 days but also see that officers are paid enough for them to have a decent leave.
576 Now I come to a most important point. The Services would like an assurance from the Government that the Treasury will not be allowed partly to nullify the proposed increases in pay and allowances by introducing corresponding increases in, for instance, charges for married quarters, cutting travel concessions, et cetera; also that the N.A.A.F.I. will not be allowed to increase their prices purely on the strength of these pay increases. This they did in the Canal Zone when the increases in allowances were granted there, thus mostly nullifying their effect. Furthermore allowances, if they are going to be taxed, must, after deduction of tax, cover the expense for which they have been granted, otherwise the position is absurd. Taxing allowances was a purely political decision anyhow.
If I may move away from pay for a moment, I should like to make the point that the Services must try to keep faith with their own; otherwise they will lose more and more officers. In 1947, the Air Ministry published new scales of retiring ages, which were ages younger than those previously existing. Officers were given the option to remain on the old scale, if they had been commissioned before 1939 and if they retired at the rank which they held in 1947. This option is now being ignored by the Air Ministry, presumably on Treasury instructions, and officers are being retired at the earlier age whether they opted or not. Some of these officers took on schooling and other commitments in the knowledge that, unless they "blotted their copybooks," they would normally be on full pay until the later age. If any of these officers have sons, are they likely to encourage them to go into the Services?
Finally, I read in a reputable newspaper that allowances were not going to be increased, only pay. Surely this is the wrong way to do it. Officers' expenses vary greatly according to circumstances—where they are stationed and how frequently they are moved. Officers do not ask to live in luxury. They ask only that they shall be able to carry out their duties without living in a constant state of anxiety about the welfare of their families, especially when they are moved about, particularly overseas; that the costs of such moves will be borne by the country; that their children can be properly educated and, if the 577 parents are abroad, looked after during the holidays; and that, finally, they can retire in circumstances that will give them a reasonable standard of living. I apologise to your Lordships for having gone over the points again. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Teynham, for having brought up and allowed us to discuss this subject.
§ 5.42 p.m.
§ LORD FREYBERG
My Lords, I rise to support the Motion standing in the name of my noble friend Lord Teynham. In common with all other speakers, I was glad to see Prime Minister's announcement at Bradford on January 18, that half-measures would achieve nothing. It is only a fair statement of fact that increased pay for the Services is not an extravagance; it is a necessity. The interpretation of this phrase will be shown to us, probably, when the White Paper is published during next month. However, I feel, as most people do, that the present position of the Services must be a serious one which requires prompt and sympathetic consideration.
The situation which has arisen is not new: it existed in the Army in the period between the two world wars. Though, from time to time, efforts were made to put grievances right, more often than not it was the old story of giving too little too late. We know that Service personnel are prevented by regulations from publicly putting forward their case, and no Regular officer or man is allowed to state his grievances in a General Election. That is quite right. But although regulations prevent serving officers from presenting their case for fair treatment, the regulations cannot place wives of serving officers under a similar ban, and I am glad to see that officers' wives have taken an active part in this campaign. A deputation of wives of senior ranking officers attended your Lordships' House early last month and told us about the undoubted hardships and injustices under which serving officers' wives and families are now living and working. The problems of planning Army life for all ranks, particularly those not on the strength of a unit, need simplifying. In ray opinion, we must try to get away from the system in which some Service personnel are housed and fed free of cost to themselves while others are required to make up from pay and allowances, 578 which are insufficient, the difference between the net allowance after payment of tax and the cost of providing accommodation and food.
I was interested in the remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Middleton, who has made a careful study of pay and allowances regulations, and it seems to me that there is something radically wrong with a system that confuses everybody. For instance, a man receives pay, ration allowance, marriage allowance, lodging allowance, London allowance (where entitled), disturbance allowance for removal expenses, and local and overseas allowances. To make the matter even more difficult to follow, some allowances are subject to income tax and some individuals are exempt, while others pay income tax at the standard rate. It is all very confusing and nobody really knows where he stands financially. There is a school of thought that believes it would be far better to give everybody not on the strength of a unit an adequate salary, to include everything, and leave him to fend for himself, as do civil servants and those in industry. I do not place in that category the disturbance allowance. I hope that these problems and many others raised in this debate will be considered by the noble Lord who is to answer for the Government.
I want to confine my further remarks to three questions: first, the urgent need for periodical review of the rates of pay of Service personnel and the need to make the increases retrospective; secondly, the need to equate Service pay with corresponding payments it industry and commerce; and thirdly, the treatment of retired officers and men. Dealing with the first point, the rates of pay should be reviewed more frequently and increases implemented more speedily. The present method is slow and cumbersome, and in the past revisions have given only temporary relief. Increases are sometimes given a year later and are quickly overtaken by the rise of the cost of living. This situation has been recognised in the Civil Service by ante-dating the increases, but no such benefit has been given to the Services. Dealing with the second point, it is understood that Service pay is equated to correspondng cases in commerce. An equation of the basic rates is most unfair, since nearly all personnel employed outside the Services earn more 579 than their basic pay, by the addition of overtime and bonuses, in cash and kind, and there is no system of overtime in the Services. Anybody of my age group who has taken part in two world wars has nothing but the greatest admiration for the people in commerce. We have seen them come out and take their part in these wars. I believe that they would be the first to recognise the need to equate pay and allowances on a proper basis.
As to the last point, retirement pay for the Services, I believe your Lordships will never be allowed to forget the hardship that the Treasury have caused to the officers who retired under the 1919 Code. I think we can rest on the fact that my noble friend Lord Jeffreys and the group of retired officers in your Lordships' House who attend to this matter will keep at it. But there is a case of injustice in our present code. A major, or officer of equivalent rank, qualifies for a maximum retired pay of £500 per annum after twenty-two years' service. It is generally recognised that an officer should serve beyond the age of 45 if suitable employment can be found. Assuming that he does, he cannot draw on his retired pay during further service nor earn any further increases to retired pay or grant as a reward for his additional service. Retired pay should be assessed for service and for rank alone. A move should be made for increases for further service, as is done in the case of other ranks.
I was interested in the hopes expressed by Lord Portal of Hungerford. Interpreting the statement made by the Prime Minister at Bradford, I should say that his hopes were that, first, we should have a generous increase in the basic rates of pay and allowances; secondly, posting expenses, and thirdly, an adequate educational allowance. In my opinion, it depends greatly on who interprets the expressions of opinion. If it is left to that Department that we all know so well, we may be disappointed. Half-measures will achieve nothing. We all remember what happened between the wars, in 1935, when the Government decided to cut by 28.8 per cent. the pay and allowances of the old soldiers enlisted at 3s. 6d. a day, at the time when they were cutting the police by 10 per cent. and the teachers by 10 per cent.: two days after the order was promulgated there was the incident at 580 Invergordon; and the Government dropped it straight away—they got their answer. I feel that the Government are getting their answer now. The Army is giving its answer with its feet: it is marching out, thousands at a time; and I am told on authority that something has got to be done, and done quickly. I hope that the Government will take note of the points raised in your Lordships' House. I beg to support the Motion.
§ 5.51 p.m.
§ LORD DERWENT
My Lords, I hope the noble Lord who has just spoken will forgive me if I do not follow the same line that he has adopted, but I want to deal with only one aspect of this matter which has been raised by my noble friend Lord Teynham. I refer to the question of educational allowance for what I may briefly term Service children and, in particular, the statement made on November 2 in another place by the then Minister of Defence, because in this matter it is the only thing that shows us, to some extent, what is in the Government's mind.
The first important thing in that statement was that in dealing, with Service children the Government have realised, I believe for the first time, that one of the most important things in education is continuity; and at long last they have said that they are prepared to begin to help. Nevertheless, that statement was greeted with somewhat mixed feelings by officers, warrant officers and non-commissioned officers who have children of school age. Perhaps I may quote the words of one of them, a friend of mine, who said: "We know that the Government are hard up, and at first sight it really did look as if they were going to do what they could to help us. But, of course, that is not so; there are the usual Treasury 'wangles'." Those are his words, and that is the natural attitude of many of these officers and non-commissioned officers. And if that remains their attitude they will be leaving the Services.
I will try to explain to your Lordships to what particularly they are referring, but first may I be bold enough to try to suggest to certain noble Lords what this figure of £75 per annum is, and how it was arrived at. I venture to say that the mind of the Government works in 581 much the same way as mine did when (your Lordships will not remember it), on the last Army Estimates, I spoke on this subject and suggested that some education allowance must be given, and that the least that should be considered as a beginning was £75 a year for each child at a boarding school. I will tell your Lordships how that figure was arrived at. There was no yardstick to compare it with, except the Foreign Service; and members of the Foreign Service, as your Lordships have heard, get £150 a year if they are Grade A officers or £100 a year if they are Grade B officers. That allowance is free of tax, but is paid only while they are abroad. When they come home, as I understand it—it seems most unfair, because the fees remain the same—they get no allowance for education. What they do about their children at boarding school I do not know. But when suggested this figure I realised at there was one difference between the Foreign Service and the Armed Forces—namely, that when members of the Foreign Service are posted home from a tour of duty abroad they always come to London; and I suppose the argument is that there is some reasonable chance of establishing a permanent home in or near London when they are at home. So, comparing the Armed Forces with the Foreign Service, I suggest that the allowance should start at £75 a year, payable wherever the parent is stationed, at home or abroad. Clearly, nothing less would be any goad. Of course, Governments always offer the least that they can, and perhaps one should not complain on that account.
Here we come to the first of what my noble friend called the "Treasury swindles," because it is clearly a matter in which the Treasury have interfered. The payment of £75 I submit, is the least that can be decently offered, if anything is to be offered, towards boarding school fees. Officers come home and they at once have to pay tax on this new £75 a year for each child at boarding school. If £75 a year is, in the opinion of the Government (though not in mine) just adequate, how can £45 or £50 a year, which is what they get when they are at home, be adequate? So that, clearly, on one hand these men are being offered £75 a year to help them, and on the other 582 the Treasury are saying: "Sometimes; the rest of the time we will take it away through the back door." What is an officer to do when he is at home for two or three years? Is he to take his child away from boarding school and put it at a day school when he is stationed at home, because he cannot afford the boarding school, and then in two or three years' time, when he is posted abroad again, try to find another vacancy at a boarding school?—which will be impossible. That is not honest treatment. To offer something with conditions of that sort attached would not be considered common honesty in the commercial world.
We then come to the next what my noble friend called "swindle." In order to get continuity of education, the Government have now said that if the parents of a child that goes to a day school go abroad, and the child is lodged with relatives or guardians—which, of course, in most cases is usually "Granny"—an allowance of £25 a year, something just under 10s. a week, will be paid to help with the keep of that child. I am not arguing whether that is an adequate offer, but clearly it is the smallest offer that could in common decency be made. I admit that it is quite proper that the money the parents would pay if they had the children with them should be handed by the parents to the "Grannies," and that the £25 is additional allowance. The same thing occurs as happens with the boarding allowance. Father, perhaps, is posted to (shall I say?) Singapore; and mother goes, too. The child is sent to "Granny" in Devon, where there is a nice day school, and 10s. a week is paid to "Granny." Father comes home and is posted to Inverness; and mother goes there, too. But as this continuity of education is to be encouraged, the child stays on with "Granny" in Devon, at least during the school term. "Granny," however, is no longer going to get the 10s. a week. She will be taxed on it, and all she will get is 6s. Is that common decency? It is really a most reprehensible offer to make to anyone.
There is one further matter in the statement made by the then Minister of Defence that I would bring to your Lordships' notice, which is a most obnoxious 583 phrase. The sentence is this [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 545 (No. 45), col. 1034]:Putting it shortly, officers and other ranks serving overseas and those serving at home who are subject to frequent postings will receive an allowance …and so on. Who are the Service people who are not subject to frequent postings? I have racked my brains and, at any rate as regards the Army, I have found two commissioned officers who if they are, as they usually are, of a certain age, might come into this category. One is the Quartermaster at the Staff College, and the other is the Quartermaster at the Royal Military Academy—they are usually fairly elderly and more or less static. But who are the other people who are not subject to frequent postings? It is exactly as my noble friend Lord Middleton said: we have a new regulation and nobody will know whether he can claim these allowances or not. What does "frequent postings" mean—every year, every two years, every three years, or not likely to be posted throughout a child's education? What does it mean? I ask Her Majesty's Government not to put that sort of regulation into a financial matter by which everyone is going to be misled and from which, if there is any doubt in the matter, the officer will certainly not benefit.
I have nearly finished, but may I ask my noble friend Lord Carrington one question about a matter which appears to be somewhat uncertain? From the statement made by the former Minister of Defence, to which I have referred, it would appear that if a child goes to a boarding school the parent will receive £75 per annum towards the cost of education at that boarding school. The question I want to ask my noble friend is this: if the boarding school is not in this country, is the allowance still paid, or is it not? I wish to draw his attention to the fact that there is an excellent school in Penang, run by the Incorporated Society of Planters, to which already certain officers have sent their children. If I understand correctly certain War Office correspondence which has been shown me, the parents of those children will not be entitled to the allowance which the former Minister of Defence promised, for children at boarding school. If my 584 noble friend can give me that answer today, I would be grateful, but in any case perhaps he will look into the matter. Finally, may I ask Her Majesty's Government this question? When, as a matter of Government policy, officers—or, indeed, anyone else—have been promised certain allowances for certain specific purposes, will Her Majesty's Government make sure that no Department, whether the Treasury, the War Office or any other, prevents Government policy from being carried out in full by some somewhat dishonest "jiggery-pokery?"
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ LORD FORBES
My Lords, there are two great and ancient institutions in this country, the Crown and those who serve the Crown. I maintain that the Armed Forces, forming part of those who serve the Crown, are in grave danger of losing status and efficiency unless something is done immediately to improve the pay and conditions of the officers. The status of the Armed Forces of the Crown must never be allowed to decline one iota. In fact, we must always be striving to raise it so that the Armed Forces can continue to carry out their arduous and exacting duties throughout the world with the confidence and backing of this country. We must not forget that we, as a nation, rely on quality in our Armed Forces and not on quantity. We must also not forget that conditions have changed greatly since the last war. The cold war, or, perhaps we should call it, the warm war, is with us, and this accentuates more than ever before the need for really efficient and contented officers.
There are two fundamental facts which Her Majesty's Government must grasp. One of them, which has been mentioned many times already to-day, is that very few officers to-day have private means; and the second is that commissions are now open to all. This means that the Regular officer's life must be a career. In civilian life, one can take a career as being the chances of making a livelihood up to about sixty years of age. Now of course this is not possible in the Armed Forces, because only a few officers can attain the higher ranks which would enable them to go on serving up to that age. Taking the Army as an example, we find that only just over 50 per cent. of the Regular officers who join the Army ever become lieutenant-colonels, and the 585 chances of promotion above the rank of lieutenant-colonel decline rapidly, with the result that only a few officers become generals. This means that a large number of officers are forced to leave the Services at the age of about forty-five, when promotion on a time basis ceases and when promotion by selection begins. This early pruning is, of course, peculiar to the Armed Forces. It must be accepted; it cannot be altered. However, we must realise that the officer who, by his own ability, serves on and becomes a lieutenant-colonel, has made a reasonable success of his career. If he does not attain the higher ranks, it is probably due to the fact that the road to the higher ranks narrows very considerably, and all cannot tread the same road together; therefore some have to fall out.
This brings one to the fundamental fact that the Armed Forces cannot be a full career for all, although some, by their exceptional merit, do obtain it. I therefore maintain that it is up to Her Majesty's Government either to find alternative employment for these officers who are forced to leave early (and I agree that this will be a difficult problem) or they must provide adequate retired pay to compensate these officers for having their careers cut short. After all, the officer who gives the first and the best twenty to twenty-five years of his adult life to the service of the country deserves some recognition, especially when one considers that he is being forced to lease the Services probably at the age of about forty-five, a most awkward age, when he is probably too old to begin learning a new profession and, at the same time, too young to retire.
Unfortunately, the career prospects in the Armed Forces have not improved much during the last fifty years, whereas in industry the career prospects have improved enormously. To verify this, all we need do is to ask the married officer serving to-day whether he is going to send his son or sons into the Armed Forces. I am afraid that often we get the answer "No" or "I doubt it". It would be a tremendous pity if this family tradition in the Armed Forces should ever break down just because serving officers became disgruntled and adversely influenced their sons, because this would also affect recruiting, since recruiting for the Regular Forces is done very largely through Service families. It is true to say that the officer's shoe, especially 586 the married officer's shoe, pinches financially throughout his service. This fact has already been ably expounded by other noble Lords so I will not go into it further. However, I should like to say that the most important point of all is that the officer, when he joins, should know that Her Majesty's Government will give him a really comfortable pair of shoes to wear when he is forced to retire.
I should like now to say a few words about retired pay. The first thing we must get quite clear is that retired pay to most officers is really a sort of retaining fee, because the Regular officer on retirement is immediately transferred to the Regular Army Reserve of Officers, from which he is liable to be recalled at very short notice. Not only should consideration be given to improving the existing rates of retired pay, but also existing rates of retired pay must be made available to all retired officers, irrespective of their dates of retirement, so that the same rates of retired pay would be available for similar service to the country.
This would not only remove a gross injustice done to many officers who retired under earlier codes of pay but would also simplify the administration of retired pay. It is up to the Government of the day to ensure that retired pay or pension is always worth what it was intended to be worth when it was laid down. The present position about retired pay is that it is based on length of service, pay and rank on retirement. This cannot be right and must lead to anomalies, especially when the cost of living is altering and when the pound is no longer pegged to the gold standard. I submit that retired pay should be linked for adjustment to basic Service pay; when it is necessary to raise basic Service pay, the same reason will also justify a rise in retired pay.
Governments in the past have always been loth to raise retired pay, so I would take the liberty of suggesting another scheme in the hope that it may be more palatable to Her Majesty's Government. I would suggest that, besides the existing retired pay, there should also be a contributory pension scheme: that is, the Government and the officer would both make contributions towards this pension. In the end, the officer would benefit not only by his own contributions but also 587 by the contributions from the Government. This scheme is already well known to those engaged in industry, where an urgent need was found for attracting personnel into the industry and retaining them. If this scheme appeals to the good employer in industry, surely Her Majesty's Government should also join the ranks of good employers. The very idea of both employer and employee contributing towards the same scheme has much to be commended.
The main points of a contributory pension scheme, as your Lordships may know, are, first of all, that whatever contributions the officer makes he can never lose, unless, of course, he is dismissed from the Service. He can also make contributions to suit his own purse: the larger the contributions he makes, the larger will be his reward when he receives his pension. If the officer dies before pensionable age, his widow or children will receive all the contributions made by the officer and also the contributions made by the Government. If the officer stays on until pensionable age, he will receive full insurance benefit from his own contributions and also from the contributions of the Government.
There is yet another advantage, because, under the present regulations, the officer could claim tax relief on the contributions that he makes. I would go further and say also that this contributory pension should be interchangeable from one profession to another, so that the officer, on leaving the Service, could take his pension with him to another profession, and so his pension would always be mounting up. This would not only be of great advantage to the officer but would also be a safeguard to the country, because the country would know that no officer would merely mark time waiting for his pension to become payable. The officer would always be marching down the road, knowing that his pension was there waiting for him—unless, of course, he happened to march into one of Her Majesty's prisons. This scheme would give the officer that security for the future for which he looks on joining the Armed Forces.
There may be some officers who do not want to retire. Those should, wherever possible, be rehabilitated, with assistance from the Government. We 588 must not forget that it is totally foreign for officers to go touting round seeking employment; this just is not done in the Armed Forces. Also, we must remember that the officer who leaves the Armed Forces without any influential contacts in other spheres of life does so at a great disadvantage. However, there is a big field opening up for the retired officer, because there are many firms to-day who employ almost entirely technical or scientific staffs. This means that they have not anyone with the right qualifications for looking after the personnel side. Surely this is where the retired officer, with his tremendous knowledge of handling personnel, could step into the breach better than anyone else could.
Various points have been raised concerning officers' children. I would say only this: I think that, as regards the education of an officer's child, the school is not everything. We must not forget that a great part of a child's education comes from the time spent IN the home. It is the example of the parents in the home which counts for so much. Therefore it is of paramount importance that children should be with their parents whenever possible during the holidays. I realise that it is not possible for children to join officers at every station. This fact is accepted in the right spirit by Service families. It is, however, utterly wrong that children should not be able to join their fathers during the holidays because of expensive travel. This not only would be bad for the child but would also place the wife in an awkward position; either she stays with her husband and the children are left with relatives, which must be bad, or the wife stays with the children and cannot join her husband. There are already far too many broken homes through divorce. It would be utterly shameful for any Government to participate in a scheme that might lead to further broken homes. I therefore recommend that the Government should ensure that officers' children get at least two free trooping trips a year. I know that there are present regulations whereby some children get free trooping, but this concession cannot be used during the first year of a posting and cannot be used during the last nine months of a posting, so the concession is not a great one.
My Lords, we must remember that the manpower picture in the Services never 589 stands still. Alterations and fluctuations made to-day will affect the Services for many years to come. Those responsible for planning manpower must try to ensure that not only the needs of to-day are met but also, so far as possible, the needs of the future. We must also remember that if an officer is to lead men in troubled places it is essential that he himself should be free from all family and financial difficulties. I should like to urge Her Majesty's Government to be generous towards officers, so that they can afford to take part in sports and games, as I consider that this, more than any training manual, will teach officers more about leadership. I do not know about nuclear warfare, but I think I can safely say that should a nuclear war develop, more than ever before will leadership be the greatest asset that an officer can possess.
If an officer is kept too tied financially there is a danger that he will become what is known as a "bookworm," because he will always be striving to improve his knowledge in the hopes of getting further up the ladder towards higher pay. This dangerous seed is already in the ground, because Governments have failed oo realise that conditions have changed so enormously during the last few years. This seed must never be allowed to germinate. I hope that the Government have plans on a scale so far undreamed of for putting all these matters right. There are a number of really good officers just sitting on the fence, waiting to hear what improvements in their pay and conditions the Government propose to make. If the Government take adequate steps these officers will fall back contented into their Service life; if not, Her Majesty's Government must face the consequence of a large number of good officers leaving the Armed Forces, and of the status of the Armed Forces of the Crown falling. My Lords, I may have uttered some grave warnings; I only hope that my warnings will prove to be unfounded. As things stand to-day, I do not think I have overstated the case in the least.
§ 6.25 p.m.
My Lords, I could not help feeling throughout your Lordships' debate so far that, had it not been for the extent of the sacrifice and the service that generations of officers have given, we should not be debating this 590 excellent Motion which the noble Lord, Lord Teynham, has put before us. I also feel that, were it not for the service and sacrifice of officers in such unpleasant places as Malaya, and in similar conditions throughout the world, the fruits of those measures about which the noble and learned Lord opposite spoke might be still further away.
There is one point that I should like to bring before your Lordships and to the notice of the noble Lord who is to reply. I think that he may be able in the near future to give a favourable reply to this matter, because it does not involve pay or any further expenditure of cash—in fact, rather an economy. I am quite certain that in the age group of officers from, say, 28 to 35, many are leaving the three Services because, at some stage in the near future, they will have to submit themselves to the Staff College examination. In these times of full employment, of which we have heard so much, there are few officers who will submit themselves, or feel able to submit themselves, to the intense self-discipline and study which training at the Staff College and the Staff College examination involve. In but a few years the officers who have seen service in the last war and had regimental or unit service will be very rare birds indeed.
I am not suggesting that the Services should have inferior officers because they have not been able to pass Staff College; but, as your Lordships know, there are many officers who have been able to carry the heat and the brunt of the day and yet make no pretence of being able to undergo the rigorous training that the Staff College involves. Because these general duty officers are leaving the Service, regiments will in a short time be deprived of their training experience with young men, especially National Service men, and with dangerous implements and machines. I believe that if the noble Lord who is to reply could confer with his colleagues it might be possible for the Staff College examination and Staff College training not to be required to such a great extent as it is at the present time" especially in the Army, for officers of that age group.
Furthermore, when an officer reaches the age of twenty-eight, although he may be an expert on training not very clever young men at throwing Mills grenades 591 and other dangerous implements (we have seen a report of a recent accident), as a regimental officer he is not specially trained for the requirements of industry and commerce. That is not so with other ranks. A senior sergeant aged twenty-eight, or an other rank who has not been promoted but who has a clean sheet for ten or twelve years, is a valuable person and is bound to have a skilled trade at his elbow should he decide to come out of the Forces. Any employer would take on a good N.C.O. or a warrant officer at that age; he is just the sort of man required by industry. I think it should also be remembered—this has not been pointed out to your Lordships—that to a large extent the training of such N.C.Os., senior and junior men, throughout their course, chequered career or not in the Army, has been carried out by officers, whom we are trying, by means of this debate, to keep in the Service.
We have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Kindersley, that a new association of officers' wives has been formed. I do not know whether such an association has the blessing of officers or those in high places, but there is no doubt that every point put forward by this association of officers' wives has been covered throughout by the noble and gallant Lords who have spoken in the debate to-day. I may not be a very suitable person to carry forward the case of officers' wives, but as a very junior subaltern I know that a senior officer's wife is a very different sort of person from any other person's wife. It is also quite certain that when a girl becomes engaged to a young officer (and this is Leap Year, my Lords) she is anybody's potential wife. If that girl is not impressed by the measures which the noble and gallant Lord may be putting before your Lordships in the very near future, then I fancy that her decision as to whether or not that young officer shall stay on in his unit will weigh very heavily indeed. Then there will be another crop of officers leaving the Service, officers whose experience is vital in the difficult and dangerous task of training young National Servicemen.
There is only one further point that I wish to put before your Lordships in support of words put forward by the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, with regard to equality between Service officers and 592 their counterparts in the Civil Service. Not only is the most junior officer liable at any time to be reprimanded by his immediate senior, but, through lack of judgment, perhaps through his own fault, and perhaps not, he can commit an offence so grave that he may be court-martialled with most glaring publicity, and the possibility of being cashiered and dismissed the Service. Worse still, he is liable to be the direct cause of death or injury to other young men who are forced into doing National Service under his command. That is a very big responsibility to ask any young man to undertake. As a National Service officer he has to do such training; whether he likes it or not, he must show young National Service men how grenades should and should not be thrown. Unless something can be done about his conditions and, above all, about his pay and the conditions of his family, about which so much has been said with such eloquence this afternoon in your Lordships' House, I very much doubt whether the future generation of young officers will voluntarily decide that they can carry on in such a profession.
§ 6.34 p.m.
My Lords, I hope I shall not trespass against an ancient and honourable custom of your House by repeating any arguments made by noble Lords before me. I wish to say merely that I endorse and agree with them all. Particular emphasis has rightly been laid upon the allowances to officers, and particularly to married officers with families. Exception has been taken to the fact that these are subject to tax; but we must recollect that the authorities naturally wish to subject these allowances to tax, because an officer may be liable to surtax, and no man in any other profession is able to arrange for the education of his children until he has made an allowance for paying income tax and surtax. He pays it out of his net income. I take slight exception, however, to the way in which it was stated in your House, because if you ask a man who has a boy at school what are the fees he has to pay, he does not say the cost is £740 a year less tax; he says it is £400 or whatever the sum may be. It has been mentioned in your Lordships' House that the additional allowance is £75 subject to tax. I submit that it would be much more logical to say that it is £42 7s. 6d. It is the same with all other allowances.
593 I have no doubt that it is very clearly expressed in the Royal Warrant which allowances are subject to tax and which are not; but on the great day when a new Royal Warrant is made and issued to the public I hope that Her Majesty's Government will be quite frank and candid on this matter and will express clearly, in accounts of the new deal published in the papers, which allowances are subject to tax, so that people can take pencil and paper and see what is the real allowance. The real truth seems to me to be that the whole allowances will be continued but made subject to tax, instead of allowances being first calculated on what a man must pay and then grossed. If they are subject to tax, that is what should be done.
I have one other point to make on much the same line. I shall not follow the noble Lord, Lord Jeffreys, into a discussion of the 1919 Royal Warrant, but on the last occasion on which we debated that Warrant a point arose which is of some importance. I happened to speak then and quoted letters from naval officers, principally about the year 1935 when the new terms were issued, saying that they had made a bargain, and that they did not wish to vary the bargain even though the new conditions would give them a momentary increase of income; and that they preferred to adhere to the old terms of the Royal Warrant. No attention was paid to that, and their pensions were converted. The noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, answering that debate in an extremely able speech which I reread this morning, pointed out that the Royal Warrant in question contained a clause which enabled the Government to alter it up or down at any time or, at any rate, at stated intervals. My memory fails me as to the details.
§ LORD JEFFREYS
My Lords, if the noble Lord, Lord Saltoun, will read the Warrant he will see that the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, was referring only to the Air Force, in which there were then very few people. There was special provision in the Warrants for both the Army and Navy which said that no officer was to suffer in any way in respect of that matter.
My Lords, I am much obliged to my noble friend, but the point I wish to make is that, whatever may be the terms of the new Royal 594 Warrant, anything that detracts from the offer made should be given exactly the same publicity as the favourable side of the new Warrant. People will then be able to consider the history of the past and to shape their course accordingly.
§ 6.40 p.m.
LORD STRATHEDEN AND CAMPBELL
My Lords, at this stage of the debate every point of this important problem has been covered and covered again, and I do not propose to weary your Lordships by recapitulating the arguments that have been brought forward. I do, however, want to underline two aspects of the problem which I stressed when I raised this subject in your Lordships' House nearly two years ago, and which affect the conditions of the married officer and the education of his children. The points about the education allowance have been covered many times, and most eloquently by my noble friend Lord Derwent, though I was sorry (if I understood him rightly) that he suggested the figure of £75. I would merely say that it is a pitifully small figure that is granted. The other point I should like to underline is that of hedging round allowances with restrictions. One of the many things that make an officer extremely angry is when he has to worry and fuss about whether he can get an allowance, and then, when he thinks he can, learns that he is not entitled to it because of some small quibble. Surely it was right, as was stated by the noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Portal of Hungerford, that disturbance and removal allowances should, without question, be granted, to cover the necessary expenses every time a move has to be made on the posting of an officer. I hope that when Her Majesty's Government work out these new rates—a task which I believe is being carried out now—they will be framed is an imaginative way and in such a way that they will cover the real expenses and be a real help in solving the many difficulties of Service families.
§ 6.42 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT BRIDGEMAN
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Stratheden and Campbell has just reminded us that two years ago, almost to a week, we were debating this very same subject, and, by and large, this debate, has shown us that we are in about the same place as we were when we left off after the reply 595 which was given by the then Minister of Defence, Lord Alexander of Tunis. For my part I should have very much liked to read out again the few remarks I addressed to your Lordships on February 3, 1954, because I find it hard to say anything different or indeed to improve on it. But I am mindful of the advice given by my noble friend Lord Saltoun, and I can assure Lord Carrington that I am going to do no such thing. But I am going to try to take up some of the salient points made in this debate—a debate in which we have had a mass of detail and in which I think a number of really important points have stood out clearly.
This has been a very important debate and I think it has been a most useful one in every respect, except that possibly, despite what my noble friend Lord Swinton said, this is rather a difficult time for a debate of this sort because of the fact that the Estimates are now settled. Whatever has been decided for 1956 has been decided, and it seems to me that my noble friends in front are not in a position to make any announcement. So no one will blame my noble friend Lord Carrington if in a few moments—and it is going to be a few moments—he does not find himself in a position to say very much. But our views have gone on record, and it is rather interesting to note that of the sixteen or seventeen speakers twelve of them have been regular supporters of Her Majesty's Government. On top of that, the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, when he was speaking from the Benches opposite said—or so I understood him to say—that he supported the Motion. I was not quite clear what was intended, because this is a Motion for Papers. But from the sense of his speech it was clear to me that he felt that a number of points made to-day demanded urgent attention. So we have gone on record this afternoon, and in a few days we shall know what the answer is. Then we shall return to this matter sooner or later, and either we shall return to give thanks or we shall return to the charge, or, as I think more likely, we shall be doing a bit of both.
The last time I spoke on this matter, in 1954, I said that I thought it was particularly incumbent upon Her Majesty's Government to take special care in their treatment of those classes of people who 596 did not have unions to speak for them in the same way as those classes of people who have their unions. Therefore I was delighted to read in the report of the speech made by the Prime Minister at Bradford that he referred to that very point. I think that that is an extremely good augury for the future. None the less, this view seems to be growing in the Services: that unions are not a bad thing. As most of us know by now, this debate was started by an association of officers wives. Already we have such things as the Officers' Pensions Society and the Association of Retired Naval Officers. And I am bound to say that, however much we should like, in the Services, to do without bodies of that sort to act as pressure groups, successive Governments have no-one but themselves to blame if the people concerned find it necessary to take action through channels of this sort.
The background of this debate, I think, is that those concerned—people in the Services—have been treated not merely stingily but unfairly. Furthermore, we have now come within measurable distance of breaking point. By "breaking point," I mean a point where those we want to keep in the Services will not stay and those we want to go into the Services will not go in. Let us look at this, for a moment, and try to pick out the important points in the wealth of detail which we have had in this debate. The essential point, I think, is that real earnings are far less than pay, largely because the allowances given never cover the expenses they are supposed to cover. This was a point made by the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, and by another noble Lord who spoke later and who said that pay was being absorbed by such things. I believe this particular point, that allowances do not cover what they are supposed to cover, is at the root of most of the trouble which is felt now, because every time one gets on to subjects such as these constant moves, entertainment allowances in stations abroad, and so forth, this sort of thing comes up.
I realise that it is not popular in this House to attempt to reach the Treasury officials who advise Ministers; but for years Ministers have received thoroughly bad advice on this subject. It is advice which bears no relation to the real costs, and the time has come, I feel, when we, on these Benches, must beg Ministers to probe far more deeply into the advice they get and to insist on proof that the 597 financial recommendations put up by the Treasury really will hold water and correspond with the facts of the case. The noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, who has now left the Chamber, dealt with the question of inflation. What he did not say was that we are concerned in this debate not only with the matter of pay but also with the matter of allowances. The arguments which he used about pay may or may not have been right in theory, but he seemed entirely to have overlooked the point that emoluments also arise out of allowances. Even on his theoretical presentation of the case, when the cost of services rises there is no reason why allowances which are meant to cover the cost of those services should not rise also. I think that disposes of the inflation argument of the noble Lord in regard to allowances.
Now I come to a point which was raised by many speakers, particularly by the noble Lords, Lord Teynham, Lord Derwent and Lord Stratheden and Campbell. I put it like this. In recent years those who have lived in a fixed place in the United Kingdom have received a number of ever-growing benefits from the Welfare State, and it is right that they should receive those benefits. They have been received particularly in matters of education, and to a lesser extent in health. The record of health treatment in the Services has always been better than that of education. The same applies to housing. Now we find that Service families are not being kept in step with the benefits which other people receive from the Welfare State. That is the gist of the criticism. And as pay, taxation and the cost of living are all calculated on the basis that those benefits are being received, the effect on those who do not receive them is correspondingly worse.
Another point made by several noble Lords, including the noble Lords, Lord Teynham, Lord Templewood and Lord Forbes, is that the cushion of private means has now disappeared. Fewer of the old type of officer, on whom the tradition of the Services depends so much, can afford to go into the Services, and the fewer who do go have not the cushion of private means that their ancestors had. But we are not depending entirely on that type of officer; we are looking to a type of officer of the right character, whatever his origins, and people of that sort will have little or no private means. So, when some sudden crisis comes along—double 598 moves or illness in the family, or whatever it may be—there is no cushion of private means, as there used to be in the past, to tide over until family affairs settle down. We do not hear much about this aspect, but every now and again it comes to the surface in the papers when some wretched creature has to stand his trial for misappropriation of funds or something of that sort. Those who can read between the lines know what a ghastly story probably lies behind the whole thing.
The impact of taxation on pay and on allowances has resulted in a levelling down and not a levelling up. In the course of the debate reference has been made to the fact that the differences between the standard of living of the skilled artisan, the Service man and a professional man have narrowed. That may well be. We are not concerned with snobbery but with standards, and the point that many noble Lords have made and which I wish to make again is that, although that may well be right, the handling of Service officers' affairs by successive Governments and by the Treasury the whole time has not merely reduced the standard of living as compared with that of the skilled artisan; it has reduced the standard of living of Service families in comparison with that of the professional classes, of bank officials and of the other people mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Kindersley. If I am right in saying that that has happened—and I think figures will prove it—that is utterly wrong. We shall go on still longer in this way unless a real change is made by the Government in the handling of this problem.
As many noble Lords said, present pay and allowances are not serving their purpose. We are failing to keep Service emoluments in step with emoluments of those in the corresponding social scale, and so we are debasing the coinage of the Services in this new world to which the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, referred, just at a time when, as another noble Lord said, we have to see that the best technicians are in the Services to deal with the problems of the nuclear age and are able to get rewards which compare with the rewards which similar technicians would get, at least in Government establishments dealing with these problems, if not outside in civilian life. I 599 have done my best to sum up the detailed arguments which have been brought forward in this debate. I hope that the debate, now concluding so far as the Back Benchers are concerned, will serve to show noble Lords in front of me two things: first, that an urgent case has been put up for a completely new approach to this problem; and secondly, that if this problem is approached in a new way, the strongest support will be available to them from the Benches behind them.
§ 6.57 p.m.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, I hope that I shall be forgiven if I intervene for a few moments. I feel that perhaps something more should be said from this side of the House after the long array of speeches from the other side. I have listened to most of them, and I think I may say that we are in general agreement with what has been said; and it is unnecessary for me to repeat the points made. I believe that a case has been made on two grounds; first, that pay is inadequate, and, secondly, that in order to make the Services attractive to-day we have to provide serving officers with some scope at the end of their service. I want to stress the second point, which has been referred to by other speakers. I think the Services are losing a large number of men prematurely simply because they feel that, if they stay to the end of their normal period of service, their opportunities of useful employment will be largely diminished. Many of them fear that they may well have to live on the meagre pensions which they get. In my view, it is not sufficient to increase pay; the Government ought to give serious consideration also to the question of ensuring employment for serving officers at the end of their term. That might well be the most important contribution the Government could make to the improvement of conditions.
I should also like to stress what my noble friend Lord Lucan said: that often the intangible things are an important factor in the cost of Service life. It is not sufficient merely to calculate the actual cost of living on a minimum basis. We have to take into account the traditions which every serving officer is expected to maintain, just as it is no good sending a boy to an expensive school unless one enables him to take a full part 600 in the life of the school. This debate has been based on the conditions and pay of serving officers, but almost every word that has been said about officers applies also to the men. I do not criticise the noble Lord, Lord Teynham, for confining his Motion to serving officers—I recognise that there are special considerations which apply to them—but I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, will be under no illusions but that we on this side of the House take the view that all that has been said applies to a large extent to the men as well, and that any improvement in pay and conditions must apply to them as well as to the serving officers.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, the number of your Lordships who have taken part in this debate, and the speeches that have been made, demonstrate the importance of the subject which we have discussed this evening. I do not think that any officer in the Services has any cause to complain of the advocacy advanced on his behalf during the debate, with the possible exception of the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge. Even if the noble Lord were here, I do not think it would be necessary for me to answer him, because he was suitably dealt with both by my noble friend Lord Swinton (who I know has had to go to another meeting) and by my noble friend Lord Bridgeman. The Government, as well as those of your Lordships who have spoken, realise fully the importance of attracting, by good pay and the best condition possible, the right type of officers. Indeed, long before my noble friend Lord Teynham had put his Motion on the Order Paper the Government were considering, discussing and formulating their plans for an increase in pay for the Services.
My noble friend knows, since I have told him so, that the Government are not in a position this afternoon to disclose what the pay increases are to be, and of course that puts me personally in rather an embarrassing position, since it leaves me with very little to say. I do not propose therefore to take up much of your Lordships' time this evening on the question of pay. I am sure the House will agree with me that if one has little to say, one had better not take too long to say it. All I can do is to assure the House that all the arguments which have been put forward this afternoon on the subject of 601 pay—and there have been many—have already been most carefully studied during the review to which I have referred. I do not think I can do better than draw the attention of the House once again to the words of the Prime Minister in his speech at Bradford last week.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
It will be next month. I should not like to be more precise than that.
My noble friend Lord Templewood referred to the Prime Minister's statement in that same speech that the objective of the Government was eventually to abolish National Service. These pay increases will represent a real attempt to solve the serious recruiting difficulties which now face the Services and to bring about the largest possible increase, not only in numbers of recruits but also in the length of time for which men, once recruited, stay in the Forces. If we can succeed in these aims, as we hope to do, then, clearly, considerable savings in manpower will follow, not only in training and other overheads but from the gain in experience and skill represented by long-service as opposed to short-service men.
It is not possible however, at this stage to say how big these savings would be. This would depend upon several factors—for example, on the success we have in attracting Regular recruits for long as opposed to short engagements, as well as on the effectiveness of a number of other schemes for economising in Service manpower which are now being considered. Nor is it possible at this stage to forecast what our commitments will be three or four years hence, since they must depend on the international situation at the time. All I can say, therefore, is that if, as we hope, the new pay code brings in many more recruits for much longer periods than at present, and if our commitments allow, then the abolition of National Service, which is definitely our long-term objective, could become a realisable plan.
About pensions and retired pay which several noble Lords, including my noble friend Lord Jeffreys, have raised again to-day, I am in much the same position. The arguments are well known and have been given due weight, but I have no 602 announcement to make to-day, although, as was stated in answer to a Question in mother place yesterday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be making a statement shortly. In case the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, should feel like interrupting, when asked what "shortly" meant my right honourable friend said, "Very soon." I can, however, say a little more about the conditions of service for officers.
It is perfectly true to say that, as compared with before the last war, and even more before the First World War, officers in the Services are relatively much worse off, not so much in pay as in their conditions of service. In the first place, broadly speaking, at the present moment most of the Army is stationed in places not nearly so agreeable as the foreign stations of before the war. In many cases the opportunities for sport and games and recreation are far more restricted. As many noble Lords have mentioned, there is a good deal mere disturbance—that is to say, moving from place to place—than there used to be. We are all aware of this, and naturally it has been taken into account in the pay discussions. But I do not think that the balance as compared with before the war is wholly adverse. For instance, the mechanisation of the Army and the scientific advances made in the Navy and Air Forces, in aircraft, radar and so on have resulted in officers and other ranks receiving technical training and becoming proficient in the sort of work which will be useful to them when looking for jobs on retirement.
Certainly promotion and prospects of a career are a good deal better to-day than previously, and I could not agree with the noble Lord, Lord Forbes, that that is not so. I remember that in the 1930's one frequently came across subalterns with from sixteen to eighteen years' service. To-day the situation is vastly different. Those now in the Services must feel, as they carry out then duties in Cyprus, Kenya, Malaya, Aden, Jordan and many other parts of the world, that they are a vital part of our national policy and are truly serving the interests of the nation in the career which they have chosen.
We shall all agree, however, that it is the duty of any Government to see that there is a proper career structure in the Services for officers as well as other 603 ranks. For some time past the Admiralty have been making a comprehensive review of the officer structure and training in the Royal Navy, and I should like to give the broad outlines of the scheme—because it has already been given in another place this afternoon—details of which are available in the Library if noble Lords are interested. The chief change concerns the permanent officers of the present separate general lists in the Executive, Engineering, Supply and Secretariat and Electrical Branches. On 1st January, 1957, these officers will be combined into a single General List. This new List will be a tangible mark of the unity of purpose and equality of status among the officers in it.
The creation of the single General List will have several other important consequences, some immediately, others in the long run. Starting in May, 1957, cadets, other than those entered as electrical specialists whose training requirements differ, will simply join as naval officers. They will not be entered for a particular branch. After three terms at Dartmouth they will be allocated to a specialisation, according to Service requirements, aptitude and individual preferences. The new General List officers will train together until the end of their first period in the Fleet. Up to the middle ranks, they will be employed mostly in their own specialisations, but there will be some interchange of appointments. Eventually, promotions to the rank of captain and above will be pooled. All officers of the General List will have equal powers of command. except that the command of seagoing ships and aircraft must necessarily be reserved to those officers with the proper experience. Above the rank of lieutenant commander ships will be commanded by Post-List officers.
Officers in the General List will have a longer and better career, as well as a more varied one. The Board of Admiralty aim to regulate the cadet entry so that, in the long term, three out of four lieutenant commanders can look for promotion to commander, though there can be no guarantee. The minimum age of compulsory retirement for General List officers will eventually be raised to fifty. As regards promotion from the lower deck, the Upper Yardmen scheme will continue. Fuller use will, however, be 604 made of ratings promoted to commissioned rank after substantial service. With the reduced cadet entry, the officers on what is now called the Branch List will be increasingly important. It will be renamed the Special Duties List and the titles of ranks will be changed. The Special Duties List will contain a proportion of commanders' posts. To meet any remaining deficiency of junior officers caused by the reduced cadet entry it is intended to introduce a Supplementary List for limited duties, initially for aircrew. These officers will be engaged for twelve years, with the option of withdrawal after eight. Some will be selected for a pensionable career.
The new scheme represents a long-term reform and will make little difference to the more senior officers at present serving. It will, however, offer improved prospects to young men now joining the Navy. The Board of Admiralty believe that it will be supported by the Service as laying the foundation of an officer structure in keeping with the needs of the times and the large technical developments yet to come. This scheme will, I think, commend itself to the House because one of the main concerns, as shown in the debate, has been with the length of career to which the average officer can look forward.
With regard to the Army, before the debate this afternoon I asked the War Office for some figures on expectations of promotion and the various ages at which that promotion occurs. I think they are interesting. I should emphasise that they are only a guide, drawn from the experience of the War Office over the last few years, and cannot be a firm forecast for the future. Of 100 subalterns commissioned at the age of 20½, all of them should become majors at the age of 33½ or thereabouts. About 60 per cent. of those should become lieutenant-colonels at from 42 to 45 years of age. Of those lieutenant-colonels 54 per cent. should become colonels and brigadiers at 45 to 48; 15 per cent. should become major-generals from 48 to 52; 3.3 per cent. should become lieutenant-generals, and 1.6 per cent. should reach the rank of general. There is provision in the Army to allow majors who are not promoted to continue, if they so desire, and, if there are vacancies, to serve in that rank until the age of fifty-five; and there are schemes in all Service Departments for offering 605 suitable officers of the rank of lieutenant-colonel and above employment in military posts as civilians. It is, of course, not always easy to resettle officers into suitable civilian employment, and this is recognised in the rates of retired pay given in some cases after only twenty years' service.
My noble friend Lord Forbes has suggested that there should be openings for retired officers in man management with firms whose staffs are mainly technical and scientific. I think that is a useful suggestion, for it would give employment to Regular officers who have much experience in this sort of work, but in many cases have no specialist, technical or professional qualifications. As a matter of fact, this has already been considered by the Committee on the Relationship between Employment in the Service and Civilian Life, under the chairmanship of Sir Godfrey Ince, late Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labour, which has done such good work in the resettlement of ex-Regulars in civil employment. Arrangements were made in 1951, in connection with the Business Training Scheme of the Ministry of Labour, for the training of ex- Regulars for posts in man management. Admittedly, the number of posts of this kind into which ex-Regulars could be placed are rather restricted; but, within the limited field of employment, the opportunity of training the ex-Regular officer for this kind of post is already available.
As regards the Royal Air Force, the majority of pilots and navigators enter the General Duties Branch of the Royal Air Force via a direct commission. This is a comparatively new form of commission, which has no counterpart in any of the ground branches of the Royal Air Force. A pilot or navigator taking a direct commission can elect to take up a pensionable appointment from the start; that is to say, he can look forward to a career in the Royal Air Force until the normal retiring age and possibly longer, at the end of which he would get the usual terminal grant and the retired pay of a General List permanent officer. Alternatively, he can take an appointment for twelve years on the Active List followed by four years on the Reserve, with the option of going on to the Reserve after the end of eight years or transferring to a pensionable direct commission at any time. So much for the 606 three Services and the prospects for a career.
Several noble Lords during the course of this debate have mentioned the present £75 grant for officers whose children are being educated at boarding schools. Questions have already been asked in another place as to the reasons for fixing the size of this grant at a different figure from that of other grants made in somewhat similar circumstances to other Crown servants. I should first of all say that these grants are by no means "standard" rates, but vary according to the branch of the public service to which the officer belongs. For example, as has already been mentioned, there are two rates in force for different categories of Foreign Service officers, and another rate for officers of the Home Civil Service when serving abroad, and nothing when they are serving at home. All that can be said is that the different terms and conditions of service of the various categories of officers are borne in mind in fixing the rates, and it must always be a matter of judgment what each rate should be. I am sorry that my noble friend Lord Derwent, whose advice I understand the Government took about what the figure should be, is now complaining that we followed it. So far as the Forces are concerned, it must be remembered that there is an element included in the rates of pay which is designed to compensate for the disturbance, family separation and difficult conditions of Service life, and that this is one of the factors which has to be taken into account in fixing the rate.
As regards the liability to taxation of the education grant, I am told that it would require legislation to exempt from income tax any grant of this kind which is paid to a Service parent while he is serving in the United Kingdom, and that it would be contrary to Government policy to single out grants of this kind for a statutory exemption in a Finance Bill. My noble friend Lord Dement asked me a question about whether the grant is payable to an officer who had a child in a boarding school abroad. I have here the relevant Army Council Instruction. Clause 7 (b) of that Instruction says:Boarding pupils must normally be at a boarding school in the United Kingdom. Where the school is overseas, application for allowances will be the subject of special consideration by the War Office.607 If my noble friend will send me any of the correspondence he has about the subject I will gladly look into the matter and see whether anything can be done to help him in this way.
I realise that I have not answered a great many of the points and questions that have been put to me—it is difficult to do so in the circumstances—but if there are any which I can answer I will most certainly write to noble Lords after the debate. Of course, the Government accept the spirit and the manner in which my noble friend Lord Teynham has spoken. But I would much rather not accept his Motion, which would mean presenting the House and himself with a large quantity of paper which, I suspect, would be of very little value. It is the intention of the Government to produce to Parliament a little later on a much smaller and neater Paper, and I hope the noble Lord will, with that in mind, withdraw his Motion.
I realise only too well how inadequate my reply has been to this most interesting debate. We have listened to speeches full of constructive suggestions from many of your Lordships, such as the noble and gallant Viscount, Marshal of the Royal Air Force Lord Portal of Hungerford, the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Freyberg, and many others who have had years of first-hand knowledge of this subject. Whatever else the debate may have done, the House has certainly put on record in an unmistakable fashion its opinion of pay and conditions for officers. I hope it will not be thought that because, in effect, all I have said is "Wait and see," Her Majesty's Government are not very much aware of the problems which have been raised to-day and have not taken the arguments of noble Lords into account in framing their proposals. I hope and believe that, when your Lordships have waited and have seen, you will be neither disappointed nor dissatisfied.
§ 7.20 p.m.
My Lords, I think that all of your Lordships will agree that we have had a useful debate on this most important subject. I do not want to 608 be too hard on the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, who unfortunately is not in the House at the present time, but although he said he was going to support my Motion I think his support went a little wide of the mark. The short answer to his point about an inquiry into Service pay and conditions is that we know already—it is known in all quarters—what are the difficulties as regards pay in the Services. I think that a new inquiry would be quite useless and a waste of time.
In one or two quarters I think it was said that the Motion had not been drawn sufficiently broadly to include other ranks and ratings. I purposely put down the Motion for officers only because I felt that we in this House had not had a debate on that aspect for a long time. We have debated men's conditions quite frequently, except as regards pensions, but we have not debated officers' conditions for some time. I was interested to hear from the noble Lord who replied for the Government about the new General List for the Royal Navy. In some ways, it seems like putting the clock back, because I think that many years ago under Lord Selborne, when he was First Lord of the Admiralty, officers were trained under General List conditions but the scheme was abolished after eighteen months. I should like to reserve my views on the General List until we have heard more about it. I was also interested to hear about the resettlement of officers. I am sure we are grateful to the noble Lord for giving us so much information on that point.
As regards the education allowance and tax points, the answer is that, irrespective of the tax, there is insufficient money to educate these children. It has been said that this debate may be too late. It is never too late to do the right thing if the will is there. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will take this debate seriously and will study the various points of view that have been raised. In view of the remarks of the noble Lord who has just spoken, I propose to ask leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.