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Dependants' Allowance

Volume 416: debated on Thursday 12 April 1945

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37 and 38.

asked the Secretary of State for War (I) what provision he proposes to make for Mrs. Ellerby, wife or widow of D. G. Ellerby, 1799225, who disappeared in February, since when Mrs. Ellerby has received no allowance;

(2) if he will make financial provision for the wives of soldiers who have deserted or been sent to prison.

I fully sympathise with the families in these cases, but I have no power to undertake responsibility for their maintenance. The family allowance continues for seven days in the case of absence without leave, and is issuable again when the soldier returns to the Colours. The allowance continues throughout periods of imprisonment or detention, unless the soldier is committed to penal servitude and sent to a civil prison, in which case he is transferred to the Reserve at the end of two months and the allowance automatically ceases for that reason.

There is nothing I can do in the case of Private Ellerby. The soldier absented himself without leave in this country in February last, and, following a court of inquiry, was declared a deserter.

Is the Minister aware that Private Ellerby was killed in an air raid in London a year ago? Could the Minister not devise some different method of punishment by which hardship is not borne by the second generation?

I am sorry if the man's wife may be suffering under an error in this matter, but I am bound to tell the hon. Gentleman that this man absented himself without leave on three occasions within the six months previous to this occasion.

Is not the Minister aware that there are genuine cases where people have disappeared? Why do the War Office always take the worst possible view of it?