asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the accounts of other ranks who left Malaya on 17th February, 1948, were not received in this country by 23rd March for which reason no pay could be drawn by the men concerned; and whether he will take steps to ensure that such accounts are in future sent back by air mail to avoid unnecessary hardship.
I assume that the hon. Member is referring to soldiers who left Malaya on 17th February, 1949. I am aware that not all the accounts were received in the United Kingdom by 23rd March, but the procedure in force allows all soldiers to receive an advance of pay and ration allowance on arrival in the United Kingdom, sufficient to cover the first 14, 21 or 28 days' leave. Those who landed at Liverpool on 19th March, 1949, were given such advances. The accounts were in fact sent by air mail and with a few exceptions were received in the United Kingdom before a second payment was due. In the few cases reported where the accounts had not arrived before the date on which a second payment might be due, my right hon. Friend has called for an investigation into the causes of delay. Instructions to overseas paymasters require that immediately notification of embarkation for release or reversion to the home establishment is received from the soldiers' unit the account should be despatched by air mail.