asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty when the application for housing allowance was received by his Department in Singapore from the civil staff; what negotiations have taken place on the subject between the local staff unions and his Department; and what was the outcome.
A claim for the payment of housing allowance was received and considered in 1948. It was rejected, because the Admiralty does not accept any obligation to house its employees, and there was no evidence that similar allowances were paid by local employers in general. The union has continued since then to press the claim locally; but no reason has been seen to alter the view formed in 1948. The question is now being reconsidered in the light of a recently published report of the Singapore Government's Cost of Living Allowance Committee.
Is the Minister aware that there has been over 12 months delay in dealing with these claims by three Gov- ernment Departments; that the Secretary of State, in a reply to me yesterday, said that he has now decided that he would make these negotiations a matter of urgency; and will the Admiralty adopt the same policy as the Secretary of State for War?
These negotiations very often do take some time, but I would ask the hon. Member to understand that very often when a reply is given to them it is a negative one and most unsatisfactory.
Could the hon. Gentleman say if the allowance is subject to Income Tax, and if it is a compensatory allowance granted on similar lines to those of the Fire Service?
I am afraid the hon. and gallant Gentleman will have to put that question on the Order Paper.
Is the Minister aware that a protest demonstration went to the three Ministers concerned while the Ministers were in Singapore?
No, that is news to me.