§ Sir H. Lucas-Tooth
asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the existing rule stopping the allowances to the family of a soldier on the eighth day after his becoming absent without leave often causes hardship to innocent people, particularly in the case of a soldier overseas when the notification of absence is due to accident, travelling delays or clerical error; that the allowances are stopped before any court of inquiry has pronounced the soldier a deserter; and whether he will amend the rule to the effect that no soldier shall be treated as a deserter until a court of inquiry shall have had an opportunity of considering the evidence.967W
§ Mr. Lawson
With regard to the first part of the hon. Member's Question, I am aware of the existing rule about stopping the allowances to the family of a soldier on the eighth day after his becoming absent without leave. This rule may in certain isolated cases cause temporary hardship to dependants, but in cases where the absence is not due to the fault of the soldier the arrears of allowances which have been stopped are at once paid to the dependant. Very little delay, in fact, occurs. With regard to the second part of the Question, a man cannot be declared a deserter until a Court of Inquiry has been held.