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British Army

Volume 400: debated on Tuesday 13 June 1944

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Parliamentary Franchise (Register)


asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the preoccupation in recent weeks of officers and men in preparation for a second front, he will extend the time limit for the completion of A.F. B2626.

My hon. Friend will be glad to know that no time limit has been laid down for the completion of A.F. B. 2626.

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether in view of the fact that there must be great numbers of fighting men in Burma, Italy and Normandy, apart from those at home, he will consult with the Home Secretary to see whether some new machinery could be devised? Otherwise, these men will be disfranchised.

No, they should not be. Arrangements have been made to bring the requirements of the Act to their notice and attention, just as much as in the case of soldiers in this country.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a time limit was imposed in certain units by certain commanding officers, and has he made it clear that this was irregular?

Perhaps the hon. Member will give me some information. There is no time limit laid down in the law or by the Army Council.

But will the right hon. Gentleman make that clear to these particular units?

Wounded Officers (Temporary Rank)


asked the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been called to the fact that whereas a noncommissioned officer when wounded receives the pay of the war substantive rank confirmed by 60 or 90 days' service in a temporary rank an officer has to hold a temporary rank for go days before receiving war substantive rank in the next lower rank and, if wounded before the go days have been served, then only receives the pay and allowances applicable to two ranks lower; and whether, in view of this injustice, he will take whatever steps are necessary to accord to officers treatment corresponding to that enjoyed by noncommissioned officers.

I am aware that in these matters as in a great many others the rules which apply to officers are not the same as those which apply to non-commissioned officers. This question has been carefully considered on several occasions and it has now been decided that the following change should be made. Under the present rules a wounded officer retains his acting rank for three months, but this period does not count towards the period qualifying for temporary rank. In future it will count. As in all ranks up to and including Lieut.-Colonel acting rank is converted to temporary rank after three months, this change will mean that in practically all cases an officer will no longer drop two ranks in the circumstances described by my hon. and gallant Friend.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the changes will give very great satisfaction in the Army?

Dependants' Allowances


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he can make any statement with regard to increase in dependants' allowances.

I have nothing at present to add to the reply I gave my hon. Friend last Tuesday.

Last Tuesday my right hon. Friend said he had an announcement to make shortly. Could he give me a definiton of "shortly" and say when the announcement will actually be made?

Personnel, South East Asia (Term Of Duty)


asked the Secretary of State for War if he will consider reducing the period of the term of duty of Army personnel in the South-East Asia Command in view of the climatic and other conditions; and if he will consider instituting or expediting a system of exchanges.

The scheme whereby British troops are brought back to this country when they have been abroad for over five years applies to all commands, including South East Asia Command. Every man who returns under this scheme must be replaced. All available man-power has been concentrated on giving the maximum strength to our operations on the Continent but when shipping and man-power permit I hope to reduce the period. While troops are overseas steps are taken to ensure that they do not stay for excessive periods in the more unhealthy areas.

Can the Minister say why airmen can return and soldiers cannot? Do they not have the same difficulties in regard to shipping?

Yes, Sir, but the number of soldiers involved is, I believe, seven or eight times that of the corresponding number of airmen and, therefore, seven times as many ships are required.

Is the Minister aware that some soldiers are very doubtful whether the promise to bring them back in the stated time will be kept?

Will the Minister consider, particularly, the claims of married men, some of whom have been away since early in 1940?

I have made it clear that I am extremely anxious to consider the claims of both married and single men, but in the present situation of shipping and man-power my hands are completely tied.

When my right hon. Friend says that the soldier has no right to doubt, has he borne in mind the particular case I put forward for the attention of his Department, in which a soldier was sent behind the enemy lines in Burma, after his period had elapsed?

Private Soldier (Vaccination)


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that Private Butler, R.A.M.C., was forcibly vaccinated recently by the medical officer, Major Carson, and, in order that such operation could be enforced, four men were instructed to hold Private Butler down; and, as this action violates King's Regulations, what disciplinary action he intends to take with Major Carson.

Operations, France (Postal Arrangements)


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is now able to announce the arrangements for addressing of correspondence to troops taking part in the invasion of France.

Correspondence should continue to be addressed to the address in use immediately before the present operations started. Arrangements have been made to forward such correspondence to individuals who have left this country. This is merely a temporary arrangement, which will be made public.

Camps, Suffolk (Salvage Dumps)


asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware of the public protest of the Blyth Rural District Council, Suffolk, at the growing practice at military camps of depositing valuable equipment at salvage dumps and in refuse pits; that in this area such articles as machine-gun parts, mortar cartridges, periscopes and battle-dress have been found in dumps; that explosions have taken place; that similar protests have been made by magistrates at Weybread; and if, in view of the danger and waste and the discouragement to the salvage campaign, he will instruct commanding officers of military establishments that this practice must cease.

Will the Minister, as an old Treasury man, bear in mind the difficulty of running a "Salute the Soldier" campaign in a village when five machine guns in one day are thrown on to a refuse dump? Will he also bear in mind the difficulty of running salvage weeks when material is being dumped in this way?

Infantry Units (Transferred Officers)


asked the Secretary for War, if, in view of the considerable number of officers who are now being transferred compulsorily from the R.A.O.C. to the infantry, he will reconsider his decision not to allow them to retain the Corps pay to which their technical qualifications entitle them.

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply I gave my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Major C. S. Taylor) on 21st March.

Do not the circumstances, about which I asked a Question previously, in regard to transference from the R.A.O.C. make it desirable that the position should be reviewed?

No, Sir, the need for men in the infantry is very pressing, and I must take all possible steps open to me to do my best to meet that need.

Petrol Consumption


asked the Secretary of State for War if he has made inquiries in respect of the incident when a number of military vehicles attended on three separate occasions at a petrol station for the purpose of obtaining petrol; and if he has any further statement to make.

I am making further inquiries in an attempt to resolve the conflict of evidence which appears to exist. But as I am not sure that the unit in question is still in this country, the inquiries may not be entirely successful.

Having regard to the fact that the last inquiry was directed to a date other than that on which the incident took place, and that my right hon. Friend has now in his possession definite information from the proprietor of the garage, will he expedite the inquiry?

I said that I would expedite it as much as possible, but if the unit has left the country, I shall be in some difficulty.

Personnel (Income Tax Collection)


asked the Secretary of State for War the procedure adopted for the collection of Income Tax from Service personnel; and whether they are now being dealt with under the Pay-as-you-Earn scheme.

As regards the first part of the Question, I will, with permission, circulate a statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT. As regards the second part, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for West Leeds (Major Vyvyan Adams) by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 20th January.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the practice is to set off tax against allowances due, and that requests to have the assessment looked into by the Army authorities are not replied to?

Perhaps the hon. and gallant Member would put a Question down about that. I do not think that can by any means be a universal practice. The statement I am circulating says that the tax is deductible from pay due.

May I ask my right hon. Friend, in view of the fact that Income Tax is now being retained, whether it would not simplify matters, if my right hon. Friend issued a new scale of pay for officers and men free of Income Tax?

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether, in his opinion, the scheme is working satisfactorily or whether, when claims are made for rebate, officers and men have to wait a very long time before they get what is due to them?

Perhaps my hon. Friend will put a Question down, if she wants me to make inquiries into the number of complaints we receive, as I have not the information with me now, judging from my own post bag, however, I do not think there is anything seriously wrong with the system.

Following is the statement:

Army personnel in general continue to pay their tax on the basis of the earnings of the preceding year. The tax on Army emoluments is required to be deducted from the pay as and when it is paid and the Paymaster or Army Agent who issues the pay fixes the initial tax instalment at the beginning of the tax year by reference to last year's tax liability or to tax tables. These tables show the varying amounts of tax to be taken according to rate of pay and the personal and child reliefs to which the individual is entitled. It is necessary in certain cases where the tables are unsuitable to make provisional calculations of liability. The deduction so fixed continues until the officer or soldier renders his Income Tax return and the final assessment is made. The tax instalment is then adjusted. The collection is normally completed by March.

While the majority of commissioned officers of the Army pay tax on their pay, only a small proportion of other ranks do so. In their case the Regimental Paymaster or Army Agent notify the daily rate of deduction for Income Tax to the officer commanding the unit early in the year in order that cash payments to the soldier may be regulated accordingly. The microgram service is used for notification abroad.

Information on Income Tax matters likely to be of interest to the Army and copies of the tax tables employed in fixing the provisional deductions are published in Army Council Instructions from time to time.