Orders of the Day — Ex-Service Men (Badge).

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 19th March 1942.

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Photo of Mr Wilfrid Burke Mr Wilfrid Burke , Burnley

I should like to support very briefly the argument which has been put forward. The borderline between the issue and the non-issue of a badge is very nebulous. Let me give an illustration. Correspondence has been taking place for six months with the Ministry of Pensions as to whether or not a man's injury was aggravated as a result of his war service. Finally, the Ministry decided to come down in the man's favour, which means that he will be entitled to a badge. It has always been touch and go which side the Ministry would take, and the man would have lost his entitlement if the decision had gone the other way. Many of the men are disgruntled about this matter, and I can assure the Minister there is a good deal of dissatisfaction about it. These men, many of whom went through the last war and were called up in 1939, feel they are entitled to a badge. Many of these men, because they had suffered so much in the last war, were not able to keep the pace in this war—many of them were at Dunkirk—and had to be discharged. They feel very strongly on the matter. They had a good deal to suffer in this war because of the duties they did in the last war, and they feel that their entitlement to a badge is something to which the Government ought to pay consideration.

I will give a further case to the House. A good deal of concern was caused in my constituency because of the unfortunate incident connected with it, which gave it much publicity. The man in question fought in the last war, and was passed A.1 for this war. He went through Dunkirk and had a terrible time, coming home a nervous wreck. I took up his case with the Ministry of Pensions, but they declined to recognise their responsibility. The man committed suicide, and the case got a good deal of publicity. As a result, when I took up the case again, the claim of the man was recognised, and his widow will now be entitled to some memento. I very much doubt whether his claim would have been recognised had he died under ordinary circumstances. It is because of the anomalies which arise from the line which has been drawn by the Ministry, that I think they should go the whole hog, instead of making entitlement dependent upon a Government Department's decision, which is often thought to be wrong, and causes a great deal of hardship, and against which there is no right of appeal. That decision should not also decide the entitlement of a man to some permanent recognition of his service. I hope the Minister will give the matter very serious and sympathetic consideration.