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Decorations And Medals

Volume 466: debated on Tuesday 28 June 1949

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44.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will arrange that medals for gallantry, especially those awarded to foreign nationals, shall not be sent to the recipients by post but be presented at some suitable function.

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to an announcement which appeared in the Press on 18th December, 1945, on the subject of the presentation of decorations and medal, of which I am sending him a copy. With regard to foreign nationals every effort is made to ensure that the presentation of awards is carried out with appropriate ceremony.

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that in the Communist dominated countries of Eastern Europe one can do nothing worse than make a public presentation to anyone who backed the British during the war?

45.

asked the Prime Minister why the medals awarded to ex-Service men and women do not bear the name of the recipient and, as this has caused great disappointment, if he will recall them and make good the omission.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Streatham (Sir D. Robertson) on 23rd March, 1948. The reply to the second part of the Question is in the negative.

Why was it not practicable this time to follow the precedent of the 1914 war, when medals bore the name and number of the recipient, and as the medal is a personal matter will not the Prime Minister reconsider his attitude?

If the hon. Gentleman will study the previous reply which I gave he will find a very full answer. I am not aware of any great feeling on this matter; all the evidence is to the contrary. It has been pointed out that it is possible for a very small sum to have the name put on the medal, but if a demand had been made for the names to be put on all the medals it would have meant a long delay, which would have caused a great deal more dissatisfaction than the omission of the names.

After the previous war a large number of ex-Service men had to pawn their medals. Will not this idea facilitate it?

Would the right hon. Gentleman consider making a small financial grant to people who have medals engraved with their names, as that cannot be done by Government Departments?

Is the Prime Minister aware that a comrade of mine had three medals sent to him last week. Would I be in order in telling him to throw them in Montgomery's teeth?

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. Is it in Order for the hon. Member to insult a senior officer of the British Army who is representing this country in an international organisation?

It is one of those offensive remarks to which I think we need pay no attention.

Further to that point of Order. If Lord Montgomery tells British lads in the Army that their job is to fight me—

Will the Prime Minister bear in mind that since he gave that answer in March the House has been informed that only 2 million out of 5 million who are eligible have claimed their medals? Will he consider whether or not the reason for that is the fact that the medals are not engraved?

That is not my information. My information is that complaints on this score are very few and that far more people would be glad to have a medal now than wait for the long time which will be necessary if all the medals are to be returned and stamped. I think that the hon. and gallant Member is wrong in this matter.

Is it not the case that the great majority of those who took part in the last war, some of whom took part in the previous war, do not want their medals simply because they want to forget all about wars?