Orders of the Day — British Prisoners of War (Pay)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th May 1947.

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Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw 12:00 am, 14th May 1947

My hon. Friend has tonight brought forward an individual case of one of his own constituents in order to illustrate a principle. Perhaps it may be more convenient if I explain what the principle of promotion has been during this last war. During the first world war, when promotion was not so indirect, it was found that quite frequently N.C.Os. and, indeed, officers, having taken the rank which they held, ought not to be deprived of it during the war, whatever happened. If they became casualties, if they were sick or if they were prisoners of war, but particularly if they became casualties or non-effectives, they held that rank, and thereby blocked promotion for many others who were doing the job. They would not be doing the job because they were non-effectives, and in war time there is a war establishment, which fixes the number of particular appointments or ranks that can be held.

In the last war the War Office devised a system whereby the man doing the job, or holding the appointment, received the pay and the rank of that appointment, but with lance appointments, which were made by the commanding officer and not by the records officer, it was decided that there should be a probationary period of 21 days during, which it could be seen whether the man was really fit to hold that particular appointment or rank. If the individual held that appointment—in this particular case the appointment of lance-corporal—for 21 days, he was then confirmed in that rank, and was paid for that rank from the date when he was first appointed lance-corporal. In the case of the constituent of my hon. Friend the man might not have held that appointment for 21 days, even if he had not been taken prisoner. He might have become a non-effective for various reasons such as sickness, and this would have prevented him from holding that particular job for the 21 days, after which his acting rank would have been converted into temporary rank. After that temporary rank, there was the war substantive rank, and this was a more permanent rank.