asked the Minister of Pensions whether a new regulation has been issued in the case of wives not legally separated but living apart from their husbands, that pension allowances are not now payable unless a maintenance order or deed of separation has been obtained; whether he is aware that the only remedy is an action for aliment against the husband, involving outlay which in many cases the wife cannot afford; and whether, in view of the hardship that this involves in the present withdrawal of allowance, he will give instructions that such allowances shall be continued where the circumstances have been investigated by the local war pensions committee and where the allowances have hitherto been paid?
The purpose of the grant of an allowance for a wife is to enable the pensioner to support her in his own home. If she is separated from him and has no legal claim upon him for maintenance, no allowance would be payable. I have, however, discretionary power to grant an allowance where it is clear that the husband is liable for the wife's maintenance under a maintenance order or deed of separation. I regret I am unable to make payment in any other circumstances.
Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is very hard that allowances should be withdrawn pending the obtaining of these maintenance orders and will he not give the local War Pensions Committee powers to continue the allowances until some arrangement is made?
Unfortunately, although cases of hardship may arise, I think my hon. Friend will agree that I cannot help matters. In cases of this kind I must have something definite, either a maintenance order or something to go upon. Perhaps my hon. Friend will discuss the matter with me.
Will the right hon. Gentleman describe the position in respect of a wife who is living apart from her husband, who does not know his address, and who is informed by the pension authorities that unless she sues him for maintenance they will stop her allowance?