HC Deb 21 November 1939 vol 353 cc1061-2W
Mr. Sorensen

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware of the long delay before soldiers' dependants receive their allowances and the anxiety and hardship this involves; and what action he has taken to expedite payments in the future?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

A certain time must necessarily elapse between an application for a dependant's allowance and the issue of the allowance, as the grounds of the claims are not stereotyped but are personal in every case. Further, the consent of the soldier to an allotment from his pay on behalf of the dependant must be obtained. Arrangements will shortly come into force which will enable claims to be made in future at the time a man reports for medical examination, or, in the case of voluntary recruits, at the time of attestation, so that the necessary investigations may be carried out as far as possible before the man actually joins for service or within a very short time after. It is hoped that this improvement in the procedure will bring an easement of the position of claimants. I would remind the hon. Member that where a dependant is in need pending the issue of an allowance, application should be made to the nearest local office of the Ministry of Labour for temporary help under the Government scheme for the prevention and relief of distress due to the war.

Mr. Tinker

asked the Secretary of State for War what is the position of a soldier who has a separation order against him for wife maintenance as to whether some part of his allowance can be given to meet the order?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

Where a court order exists against a soldier in respect of the maintenance of his wife, he is liable to compulsory stoppages of pay in respect of the order under the provisions of Section 145 of the Army Act. Where the amount made available for the wife's maintenance in this way falls appreciably short of the sum which the man was contributing under the order before joining the Colours, it can be supplemented by an award to the wife under the dependants' allowance scheme (if the requisite conditions are fulfilled) or by a grant of special financial assistance outside that scheme if recommended by the Military Service (Special Allowances) Advisory Committee.