§ 2.8 p.m.
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether their attention has been drawn to a letter from General Anders, published in the Daily Telegraph of March 2, and, if so, whether they intend to introduce legislation to enable pensions to be paid to Regular sailors, soldiers and airmen of the Polish Forces under British command in World War II who have been resident in this country since 1945; thus coming into line with the treatment accorded to such persons in other countries, including the United States, France and Canada.]
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (LORD CARRINGTON)
My Lords, I have read the letter from General Anders with interest and sympathy. No members of the Polish forces who served under British command during the last war served for long enough to qualify for a pension under the conditions which applied to the United Kingdom Forces. It would be impossible to give Polish ex-Service men better treatment than British ex-Service men at the expense of the British 527 taxpayer. The Government therefore do not intend to introduce legislation on the lines which the noble Lord has suggested.
My Lords, while thanking the noble Lord for his reply I should like to ask him this question. Would he not think that the reason he has given is really almost a non sequitur? I have no intention of making a speech, but I should like to give warning that I will raise this matter again at an early date in order that it can be debated more fully. I am, in fact, asking whether as a nation we are now too heartless, too callous, too mean or too poor to pay pensions to the people whom I have mentioned.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, I do not think the noble Lord is right in saying that the Answer is a non sequitur; it seems to me perfectly logical. I would also point out that the Polish ex-Service men were paid war gratuities in exactly the same way as our own ex-Service men. They had disability pensions, and dependants of Polish ex-Service men who died as a result of service received pensions. I would also point out to the noble Lord that he is not right in the statement in his Question that the United States, France and Canada pay pensions. They do exactly the same as we do.
My Lords, I prefer not to pursue the matter now. If the noble Lord agrees, I will pursue it later.