Public Assistance (Armed Forces Dependants).

Oral Answers to Questions — Civil Defence. – in the House of Commons on 12th October 1939.

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Photo of Mr Walter Windsor Mr Walter Windsor , Kingston upon Hull Central

asked the Minister of Health whether it is proposed to reimburse local authorities for public assistance expenditure incurred because of the inadequacy of the dependants' allowances applying to men now serving with His Majesty's Forces?

Photo of Mr Walter Elliot Mr Walter Elliot , Glasgow Kelvingrove

Where, owing to exceptional circumstances, the normal rate of allowance to the dependants of men serving with His Majesty's Forces is not sufficient to obviate serious hardship, the Military Service (Special Allowances) Advisory Committee is empowered to recommend the grant of special financial assistance. Applications for this purpose should be made to the appropriate paying officer of the Service Department concerned. The question of outdoor relief arises only while the grant of such special assistance is under consideration. I have no power to reimburse public assistance authorities expenditure incurred for this purpose.

Photo of Mr Walter Windsor Mr Walter Windsor , Kingston upon Hull Central

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that some local authorities have spent considerable sums of money in order to ease destitution cases through the various Departments not meeting their obligations?

Photo of Mr Walter Elliot Mr Walter Elliot , Glasgow Kelvingrove

That question would be rather more appropriately addressed to the Departments concerned.

Photo of Sir Herbert Holdsworth Sir Herbert Holdsworth , Bradford South

Would not the better way of tackling this question be to give these allowances; and is the right hon. Gentleman aware that every Member has had case after case brought to his attention where application has been made to the authority of whom he speaks, and no satisfaction has been given?

Photo of Mr Benjamin Smith Mr Benjamin Smith , Bermondsey Rotherhithe

Is the Minister aware that when the application is made the type of letter received is, "I am advised by my commanding officer to approach you on this question," which is entirely contrary to the method suggested by the right hon. Gentleman?

Photo of Mr Walter Elliot Mr Walter Elliot , Glasgow Kelvingrove

I think the hon. Member is speaking of the Military Service Special Allowances Advisory Committee, and, of course, I am unable to answer questions on the subject of such a committee.

Mr. J. J. Davidson:

Will the Minister ask local authorities for opinions and statements of expenditure with regard to this question so that he can consider it?

Photo of Mr Walter Elliot Mr Walter Elliot , Glasgow Kelvingrove

I have not the power to reimburse authorities for the expenditure incurred.

Photo of Mr William Dobbie Mr William Dobbie , Rotherham

asked the Minister of Health the number of cases of dependants of members of His Majesty's Forces who were in receipt of public assistance committee relief at the week ended 7th October, or the date nearest to that time, "and, in view of the inadequate allowances paid to such dependants, will the Government relieve the local governing bodies of this responsibility by increasing the allowances to dependants to such a scale as will prevent the need for such applications?

Photo of Mr Walter Elliot Mr Walter Elliot , Glasgow Kelvingrove

With regard to the first part of the question, I regret that the information desired by the hon. Member is not available. With regard to the second part, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I have given to-day to the hon. Member of Kingston-upon-Hull, Central (Mr. Windsor).

Photo of Mr William Dobbie Mr William Dobbie , Rotherham

In view of the fact that it is well known that the allowances for soldiers' dependants are not at all adequate to meet the needs of the people, will the Minister give effect to the last part of the question?