Half-Pay, Retired Pay and Other Non- Effective Charges for Officers.

Army Estimates, 1931. – in the House of Commons on 10th March 1931.

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Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £3,987,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Expense of Rewards, Half-Pay, Retired Pay, Widows' Pensions, and other Non-effective Charges for Officers, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1932.

Photo of Mr Oswald Lewis Mr Oswald Lewis , Colchester

I desire to make an appeal to the Secretary of State for War with regard to the half-pay set out in Sub-heads B and C of Vote 13. If the Committee will look at the opposite page to that on which this Vote appears, that is to say, page 254, they will see a note at the foot of the page describing how this half-pay has been arrived at and commenting on the fact that it was reduced in consequence of the fall in the cost of living since 1st July, 1919. It has been suggested before that the basis of the cost of living figures, which are used for various purposes, is not just as regards various humble forms of labour. That is a question which obviously does not arise here, but however fair or unfair those cost of living figures may be for the purpose for which they were originally designed, that is as an estimate of the budget of an ordinary working-class home, they are utterly out of relation to the purpose for which they are here being used. If we had to consider what has to be paid for with the half pay of these officers, such items as education for their children, Income Tax, house repairs, insurance, domestic, health, dental and medical treatment—those are the principal items that it has to cover. They are not taken into consideration in arriving at the cost of living figures. I have seen it stated on good authority, and I have not seen it contradicted, that these are stationary at somewhere about 52 per cent, above the pre-War cost. They have not gone down in the last 18 months or two years. An injustice is being done to these officers. It is not a matter that the Secretary of State can decide at a moment's notice, but I ask him to consider very seriously whether some more reasonable method of arriving at the coats that this half pay has to cover can be designed than the present cost of living figures, which I think I have shown to the satisfaction of any reasonable person do not apply in this case.

Photo of Mr William Carter Mr William Carter , St Pancras South West

I find on page 256 reference is made to unemployed Field-Marshals, £1,656 a year. We find that Generals and Lieut.-Generals and soforth are put on retired pay from half pay, but Field-Marshals unemployed remain on the half-pay list and are not placed on the retired list at a prescribed age the same as other officers from Generals downwards. I should like to know why this is. I find that there were five unemployed in 1930 and five in 1931.

Photo of Mr Thomas Shaw Mr Thomas Shaw , Preston

With regard to the first question that was raised, I think that the hon. Member will realise that the principle goes through the whole of the Services and through the whole of the Civil Service as well, and that payment of bonus is now being made at 52 per cent. above the ordinary rates to cover the cost of living, and that this further drop is based on the principle that was adopted in fixing the bonus rate. It is impossible for me to promise to consider the matter favourably. I will consider any matter which is raised in this House, but I think that I should not be doing either the House or myself justice if I said I was going to promise to consider the matter favourably. The fact of the matter with regard to the Field-Marshals is that there is only a technical difference in terms; whether you use one term or the other, the payment will be the same.