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Police Officer (Wife's Allowance)

Volume 499: debated on Wednesday 30 April 1952

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why he refuses to take any action in the case of Lieutenant Birnie of the Malayan Police who is receiving pay at married rates but refuses to pay to his wife Mrs. A. C. Birnie, Hove, the married increment which he is receiving; why he has failed to take steps to bring home to this officer his obligation to provide adequate main-enance for his wife out of the resources available to him; upon what grounds he justifies this misapplication of public funds; and whether, if this officer continues to appropriate to himself money intended for his wife's support, payment of such increment will be stopped.

I have no jurisdiction in this matter and there has been no misapplication of public funds. Lieutenant Birnie has been paid strictly in accordance with the terms of his service as set out in his contract with the Government of the Federation of Malaya.

The question of his allotment to his wife was brought to Lieutenant Birnie's attention by the Malayan authorities but he said that he was not prepared to increase the allotment to which his wife is entitled under their voluntary separation agreement. Any variation in the amount is a matter for mutual agreement or for the courts.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this is not a solitary case? There are many similar instances in which his Department is being lamentably spineless. Will he take the necessary action to bring home to the officers responsible for the support of their wives that money provided for them out of public funds is intended for that purpose?

I am afraid I can do nothing in matters over which I have no jurisdiction.