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Army And Navy Reservists (Separation Allowances)

Volume 66: debated on Wednesday 26 August 1914

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I beg to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he is aware that in the case of the wives and families of Army Reservists a separation allowance is given, and if he can state if a separation allowance is or will be granted in the case of the wives and families of Naval Reservists, and if it be possible to grant similar allowances to the wives and families of all naval ratings?

I fully appreciate and sympathise with the spirit which has inspired this question. But I must point out that the conditions of service in the Army and the Navy are dissimilar, and a comparison of the benefits received cannot properly be made in respect of one item alone. In the Navy there is considerable opportunity for earning non-substantive pay—in point of fact, roughly one out of every two of the seamen is in receipt of such daily extra pay, varying from 2d. to 1s 7d. a day. I must point out, further, that in the Navy the proportion of higher ratings to the number of men engaged is considerably larger than in the Army.

Whilst there is no provision for legal deductions from the pay of the sailor for the maintenance of his wife and family, it is the fact that the very great majority of the men make regular monthly allotments. Before war was declared the number of allotments paid monthly to wives or other dependent relatives was 73,000. Since mobilisation, about 40,000 new allotments have been declared, largely by Reservists, and at the close of the month we shall send out something approaching 120,000 allotments. Further, a great many of the sailors favour the policy of forwarding remittances during the month, and remittances are now being sent out from the Admiralty—apart from those sent direct by the men by postal orders—at the rate of something like 500 a day, as compared with the usual rate of 200 a day. The information available up to the present shows that, in the very great majority of the cases, the wives of the seamen either are or will immediately be receiving assistance from their husbands.