HC Deb 21 March 1918 vol 104 cc1205-7W

asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office how many soldiers returned to work on the land are living with their families in the houses they previously occupied, and whilst receiving usual agricultural wages are also drawing separation allowances, thus receiving double the income of men doing similar work; and whether this state of affairs is producing discontent among civilians and soldiers, besides being a great waste of public money?


The numbers of such men are not available. When men were first transferred to agriculture they were liable to be moved at short notice from one part of the country to another; now, however, that it is found possible to retain men in their own homes for considerable periods, fresh consideration is being given to the question of their pay and status.

Colonel ASHLEY

asked the Undersecretary of State for War whether he is aware that the late Colonel Arthur Montague Bowles, formerly commanding the 2nd Battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment, retired from the Service in 1896 in a state of impaired health; that his ill-health was due directly to overseas service in hot climates, including military duty in Ceylon, India, Gibraltar, Egypt, and the West Indies; that a year after retirement ho had a stroke of paralysis; that his health gradually declined and that he died on 28th January, 1917; that his widow has been offered a gratuity of £20, the Army Council holding that she was not entitled to a pension on the ground that the deceased officer's retirement was not shown by official documents recorded at the War Office, at the time of such retirement, to Have been occasioned by disability arising from wounds received in action or by ill-health caused by military service; that the widow, who is now fifty-five years of age, is suffering from ill-health and is in very straitened circumstances; and whether, in view of the deceased officer's military record and the moral claim to a pension, he will recommend the Army Council to issue a pension on compassionate grounds?


This case has already been very fully considered on various occasions. When Colonel Bowles applied to retire in 1896, no mention was made of ill-health. He did not marry till 1903 and the Regulation at that time was that the widow of an officer who married after retirement could get a pension only if the retirement was shown by official documents recorded at the War Office to have been occasioned by ill-health. I fear that I cannot admit that any moral claim to a widow's pension can be established by marrying an officer six years after retirement especially if he had had a stroke of paralysis in the interval; and under present Regulations no such pension can be granted whether the officer retired for ill-health or not


asked the Pensions Minister whether he is aware that, under the Royal Warrant for pensions for noncommissioned officers with over twenty-one years' service, a man with eleven years eleven months' rank service is only entitled to the same pension as a man with nine years' service; and whether he will favourably consider altering the scale according to each year of rank service instead of each period of three years?


This question has been fully considered, and I fear the suggestion of my right hon. Friend cannot be adopted.


asked the Pensions Minister if he will announce the decision of his Department with reference to increased pensions to soldiers' and sailors' dependants, and if any increase is to be paid to discharged soldiers and sailors?


I am not yet able to make any announcement on this subject.


asked the Secretary to the Treasury if he is aware that the increase in the Army pay to Civil servants holding temporary commissions has been deducted from the Civil pay allowances to their wives, with the result that, in some cases, payments formerly amounting to upwards of £1 a week have been reduced to Is. 6d., and in other cases payments have been stopped altogether; and, having regard to the cost of living which the new Army pay was intended to relieve, will the question of resuming deductions at the old rate of Army pay, instead of the new rate, be considered with a view to aiding the wives of Civil servants and Departmental subordinates whose small allowances have been withdrawn or reduced, and so securing that the assistance purporting to be given by the State through one channel may not be nullified?


The principle on which Civil servants who hold commissioned rank in His Majesty's forces are treated for purposes of Civil pay is that they continue to draw their Civil salary less Army pay, but receive Army allowances in addition. In accordance with this principle (under which Civil servants had already been placed in a favoured position as compared with others), the recent increases in officers' pay do not affect their total emoluments.

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