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Indian Army Ex-Service Men (Motor Cars)

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 10 May 1949

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71.

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations why it is necessary to obtain the consent of the Government of India for the supply of a motor car to a disabled British ex-Service man, whose disabilities are such as to qualify him for the supply of a free motor car under the scheme now in force.

I assume that the hon. and learned Member is referring to a British ex-Service man who had served in the Indian Armed Forces. The pensions and other benefits of disabled ex-Service men of those forces are the responsibility of the Government of India, on whom the cost would fall. It is therefore necessary to obtain the consent of that Government to the provision of motor cars for such ex-Service men.

Am I to understand that a British ex-Service man 100 per cent. disabled, whose physical condition would have entitled him to a car under the scheme, is debarred from getting it for an indefinite period if he joined, or was transferred to, the Indian Army during the war? Cannot a car be issued to such people now and the question of cost be gone into later?

There are very wide implications in this matter. The basic fact is that decisions for men who were in the Indian Forces have to be made by the Indian Government, whereas for those who are in our own Forces we can decide for ourselves. We always recognised the difficulties that might arise in questions like this. I am in communication with the Indian Government on the matter.

How many British ex-Service men are affected, and how long will they have to wait before they are issued with cars? Will the right hon. Gentleman consider making an issue now, and taking up the question of cost afterwards?

I will consider anything, but I cannot answer that question myself. I should have to consult the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I do not think that the number who need cars can be very large, because this is the first case I have ever heard of.

If that is so, it should be easy to provide cars for the few people affected.

I cannot establish a new principle without agreement with the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Are not the Government of this country morally responsible for the emoluments that should be given to all their servants, whether employed by this Government or by the Government of India?

The main principle of the arrangements made has frequently been explained to the House and been approved by Parliament.