Released Men's Accounts (Debts)

Oral Answers to Questions — British Army – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th February 1948.

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Photo of Sir Harold Sutcliffe Sir Harold Sutcliffe , Royton 12:00 am, 17th February 1948

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that men are being released from the Forces without being informed until afterwards that they are in debt; and, in view of the fact that requests for details are not answered for months in some cases, he will make some investigations.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

Where a debit balance on a soldier's account does not become apparent until shortly before he is released, it is not always possible to notify his commanding officer in time to adjust pay issues before the soldier leaves the Army. The soldier's pay book, which contains a record of his rate of pay and cash payments, provides him, however, with a guide to the approximate position of his account at any time. The preparation of a long statement of account takes considerable time and some delay is inevitable. Investigations will be made if details of cases of undue delay are notified.

Photo of Sir Harold Sutcliffe Sir Harold Sutcliffe , Royton

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that there are great delays in obtaining answers from paymasters' offices; and will he do his best to expedite these answers as a good deal of anxiety is caused?

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

Certainly I will do the best I can, but some delays are inevitable.

Photo of Mr Daniel Lipson Mr Daniel Lipson , Cheltenham

Is the Minister aware that repayment of these debts causes very great financial hardship; and will he consider wiping them all out when a man leaves the Service?

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

It is quite impossible to agree to that.

Photo of Sir William Darling Sir William Darling , Edinburgh South

Will the Minister consider the application of the Pay-As-You-Earn system, which civilians are able to carry out with great success, and which carries with it no debts?

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

That is a question which should be addressed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Photo of Mr John Hynd Mr John Hynd , Sheffield, Attercliffe

Will the Minister consider the difficulties caused in a number of cases when men come out of the Army without any clear knowledge of how they stand; and will he examine closely the accounting methods in the Army and endeavour to establish some form of accounting which will assure serving men precisely how they stand from period to period?

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

If my hon. Friend has any specific instances in which exceptional delays have occurred, I shall be only too glad to hear of them and to inquire into them.