HC Deb 20 June 1974 vol 875 cc226-7W
Mr. Molloy

asked the Prime Minister whether he will now discontinue recommendations for awards in the British Empire Order to recognise gallantry.

The Prime Minister

As the House knows, the two highest awards for civil gallantry are the George Cross and the George Medal. Acts of gallantry of slightly lower degree have hitherto been recognised by awards in the British Empire Order, the choice of the level of the award within that order depending not on the degree of gallantry but on the rank or level of responsibility of the individual concerned. People have tended to assume that the award of the OBE represented a higher degree of gallantry than the MBE or the BEM but that has not in fact been the case. At whatever level the British Empire Order has been used it has denoted the same degree of gallantry.

Considerations of rank and level of responsibility are not generally relevant to acts of gallantry, and it is confusing and anomalous that they should enter into decisions about awards for gallantry. These considerations led my predecessor to recommend the discontinuance of the use of the British Empire Order to recognise gallantry, and the institution of a new award for gallantry to take its place. I was glad to renew this recommendation when I took office.

The Queen has approved the institution for this purpose of a new award, to be known as The Queen's Gallantry Medal. It will rank after the George Cross and the George Medal, and before The Queen's Commendation for Brave Conduct. Holders well be entitled to use the letters OGM after their names.

No more recommendations will be made for awards in the British Empire Order for gallantry. The new medal will take the place of the British Empire Order wherever the order has hitherto been used for the recognition of gallantry. Existing holders of gallantry awards in the British Empire Order are not affected.

The terms and conditions of the new medal are set out in the Royal Warrant which is being laid before the House as a Command Paper.