asked the Secretary of State for War (1) if he is aware that the present method of compulsory retirement of officers under the Geddes Committee Report presses very hardly on officers who, as a result of ser- vice during the recent War, were partially disabled but who nevertheless would normally have been retained in the Army; that it presses particularly hardly on officers who, owing to their high efficiency, have not been recommended for discharge under the least desirable for retention clause; if he will consider the desirability of setting up a Select Committee to consider and report upon the most equitable system of compensation;
(2) if, as a result of the Geddes Committee Report, officers are being retired on half-pay for five years on the grounds that, although fit for the time being, they would probably not be able to stand the strain of active service; what compensation is it proposed to pay these officers for their compulsory retirement on grounds not previously anticipated by either of the contracting parties;
(3) if, as a result of the Geddes Committee Report, certain officers are being compulsorily retired, on the grounds that though efficient, they are least desirable for retention; and if it is proposed to pay them compensation on the same basis as is paid to officers compulsorily retired, on the grounds that, though efficient, they would probably not be able to stand the strain of active service?
First, for permanent medical unfitness for general service. This is a reversion to a normal rule of the Service, which had been temporarily in abeyance in the years following the War in view of the abnormal demand for trained officers. Those whose unfitness arises from service in the War are entitled to benefit under the Regulations of the Ministry of Pensions, but not to the special compensation terms approved for the second class.
Second, by selection of those officers who are least desirable for retention though not inefficient. These officers, who are leaving the Army solely on account of the reduction of establishment, receive the special terms.
These matters have already been fully considered and approved by His Majesty's Government, and I see no necessity for a Select Committee. If the hon. and gallant Member is still in doubt as to the operation of the rules in any particular case, perhaps he will give me more precise particulars of it.
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that many officers are being compulsorily retired on the medical ground that though they are fit for immediate service they would not stand active service? If that be so, would it not be possible for my hon. and gallant Friend to give an assurance that all officers fit for service compulsorily retired, should have the alternative of receiving the same compensation as is paid to officers retired on the least desirable for retention clause?
That is what I want my hon. and gallant Friend to give me more precise information about. When he does so, I will have, careful inquiry made and give a proper answer.
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman let officers know as soon as possible that they are to be retired, as many have received offers of employment which they have not accepted because they did not know?
asked the Secretary of State for War whether any provision is made whereby officers with less than ten years' service who may retire voluntarily at this period under the terms of Army Order 179–180 of 1922, can receive the proportion of their gratuity due after ten years' service under Army Order 325 of 1919, seeing that the compensation under the 1922 Orders is greater and to the advantage of those compulsorily retired?
asked the Secretary of State for War whether permission will be given to all officers in the Army, as has been given to officers in the Navy, to volunteer to leave the Service with compensation according to the terms published; and, if not, whether he will state the reason for this differentiation of treatment?
The terms published are compensation for officers whose careers in the Army are compulsorily terminated solely by reason of the reductions in the establishment of the Army. It is not intended to make them applicable to officers who voluntarily retire, for whom the ordinary conditions and terms remain open. I cannot speak as regards Naval conditions, but as regards the Army it is considered that its best interests will be served by selecting for retirement those whose retention is least essential.
Does the right hon. Gentleman not think it rather hard on the efficient officer who is willing to go that he should be treated less generously than the inefficient officer who is compulsorily retired?