Yes, they have authority to vary it from time to time. The Army Order did not alter the position,
even under the Pay Warrant which was prevailing in 1942, at the time when my hon. Friend's constituent was taken into captivity. Perhaps the House will permit me to read the passage in that Order which explains that it does not vary the Royal Warrant for Pay. I think the House will see that this Army Order shows clearly that this particular lance-corporal, and indeed all others and not only those in captivity, are affected in a similar manner, because they become non-effective, and are prevented from fulfilling the essential condition laid down in the Royal Warrant, namely that they must hold acting unpaid rank for 21 days before they can be confirmed into temporary paid rank. The Order reads:
An officer or soldier holding temporary or acting rank"—
and acting rank was the one held by this lance-corporal—
at the time of his captivity by the enemy, or he becomes missing, shall continue to hold that rank"—
that is where the hon. Member has perhaps misunderstood the situation—
shall continue to hold that rank so long as he is a prisoner of war or missing.
This lance-corporal held that rank all the time that he was a prisoner of war. The Order further states:
No part of the period during which an officer or soldier is a prisoner of war or missing shall count towards any period of service necessary to qualify for the pay of an acting rank, for conversion of acting rank into temporary rank, or for the conversion of either into war substantive rank.
It is clear from the passage I have read that an individual can hold his rank. The purpose of this provision was to freeze the pay of a prisoner of war at the time he was captured. This man's rank was not that of lance-corporal, but that of private with appointment to lance-corporal. Therefore what happened was that his pay was frozen at the rate which he was receiving when captured, but his rank was held during the whole of the period of captivity.