Supplementary Estimate. - Connaught Rangers (Pensions) Bill, 1936—Report Stage.

In this copy of the Bill as circulated there is an omission in Section 8, sub-section (7). It will be noticed that there is a blank at the top of page 7, and the words "section applies if" should be inserted there. It is a typographical omission.

I move amendment No. 1:—

In page 3, line 12, Section 3 (1), to delete the word "section" and substitute the word "Act".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 2:—

In page 3, Section 3 (3), to delete in lines 48 and 49 and in lines 54 and 55 the words "notional period of service" and substitute the words "period of notional service".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 3:—

In page 6, line 55, Section 8 (6), to delete the figure "4" and substitute the figure "5".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 4:—

In page 7, line 3, Section 8 (7), to delete the figure "4" and substitute the figure "5".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 5:—

In page 7, line 8, Section 9 (1), to delete the figures "1936" and substitute the figures "1937".

This is the only amendment that makes any change in the Bill itself. We are extending the period of application from December, 1936, to December, 1937.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 6:—

In page 9, Section 18 (2), to insert in lines 33, 43 and 44 before the word "service" the word "long".

Amendment agreed to.
Question proposed: "That the Bill, as amended, be received for final consideration."

On that question, Sir, would it not be possible for the Parliamentary Secretary or the Government to bring in further amendments to show in a clearer way the position of those who may become entitled to gratuities under the Bill? This Bill falls very far short of what one would expect in compensation by way of gratuity to the limited number of persons who will be entitled to receive gratuities under this Bill. We have for consideration here this evening another stage of another Bill providing pensions and, probably, gratuities. I refer to the Superannuation Bill, in the Schedule to which eight persons are going to get gratuities to the amount of £300. Now, if I have been supplied with correct information regarding the position of the ex-Connaught Rangers who will get gratuities under this Bill, their services and sacrifices would compare more than favourably with the persons who will receive gratuities under the Superannuation Bill. In Section 4 of this Bill——

We are taking the Bill altogether now and not in sections.

Am I not entitled, Sir, to survey the terms of the Bill in the hope that the Parliamentary Secretary, who is the only person who can——

The time for the inclusion of extra matter in the Bill has passed.

I am taking particular exception to the very limited provision which has been made under Section 4 of this Bill, and also to the failure of the Parliamentary Secretary, or whoever else is responsible for the way in which the section is inserted, to make adequate provision. It states here in Section 4 that the maximum is limited to £150.

We cannot take a section now apart from the Bill.

This Bill makes provision for the payment of gratuities, and the maximum gratuity is limited to £150. I presume, Sir, that I am entitled to deal with that when dealing with part of the Bill or the Bill as a whole. Will the Parliamentary Secretary give the House and those who are concerned in this matter some information as to the minimum gratuity which is likely to be paid to the persons who will be concerned under the terms either of that section or of the Bill? I am informed that the Connaught Rangers who mutinied, or those who will become entitled under this Bill to gratuities, were, at the time of their service in the British Army, in receipt of pay at the rate of 25/- a week, a weekly allowance of 15/- for rations, 9/- for dependants' allowances, 5/- for clothes, and an additional gratuity, after having a service of four years, amounting to about £50. I am reliably informed that some of these people would have received in all, during the period in which it is now proposed to pay them a maximum of £150, not less than £350 if they had served in the British Army for four years.

I also desire to inform the Parliamentary Secretary that privates belonging to British regiments who were interned in Germany during the European War received their full pay when they were released, and also received liberation gratuities, and in no case was the compensation of those who were imprisoned in Germany anything like the maximum contained in this Bill. I have a personal interest in a couple of the persons who are likely to receive compensation under the terms of this Bill. One is a man who was sentenced to penal servitude. His wife died a short time ago and left him with six orphans. Can the Parliamentary Secretary give us any information of what is likely to happen under this Bill and what is the amount of compensation that such a person will receive? We are giving a good deal of absolute discretion, under Section 4 of this Bill, to the Parliamentary Secretary to fix the minimum which will be paid, and he himself is asking for authority to fix this mean maximum which cannot compare with any other measure of the same kind for persons who suffered similar sacrifices and took similar risks. What is the persons who suffered similar sacrifices minimum gratuity which it is proposed to pay under the terms of this Bill; or is it proposed to pay the maximum to all those who have qualified for gratuities under Section 4? I hold that we are entitled to get more information from the Parliamentary Secretary on that point, and I particularly hope that he will give us some example of what is likely to happen.

I can only say——

Is the Parliamentary Secretary concluding?

I am just replying to what the Deputy has said, Sir. I can only say that we are treating the Connaught Rangers in this respect in a no less generous manner than we are treating the I.R.A. proper. We do not intend to exceed the pensions given in the cases of the I.R.A. in any way, because we believe that it is an equitable arrangement that the allowances made to the Connaught Rangers in respect of a pension would be as favourable as they would be had they continued in the service of the British Army. We are satisfied on that point, and we are satisfied also that the credentials of the number of people who will benefit under this Bill have been carefully examined. We have very carefully examined their credentials and we are satisfied that every genuine claimant will receive benefit under this Bill.

Is it not a fact that 27 of them will get nothing?

Not 27 mutineers. 27 genuine mutineers will receive pensions or gratuities. Every person who was a genuine participant in the mutiny in India will receive either a service pension or a gratuity. There is no question about that.

How many participated in the mutiny?

We know that there will be a large number of claims from persons who were arrested and interned as a result of the upheaval there, but who could not in any sense be regarded as being participants in the mutiny. It is not our intention to legislate for that type of person at all. The genuine participants in the mutiny will certainly benefit under this Act. As to the Deputy's query as to gratuities, there is no minimum gratuity. It amounts to £150 and the person who can prove his claim in that respect will benefit to that extent as a result of the section.

Is it a round figure of £150?

I believe it is. I cannot definitely say that every individual will get £150. It will be based on close examination by the board that will go into the question. I cannot give any definite information as to whether there will be a minimum amount or not. I am not advised in that respect.

Is there any distinction to be made between married and single men?

All these things will be taken into consideration.

That is just as bad as the wording of the section. What is the estimated cost of administering Section 4?

The estimated total cost is £4,064. I could not say what the estimated cost of administering Section 4 will be, but it will be roughly £2,000, or a little more than half the total figure I have mentioned. That would be the total cost for the first year. In the next year, it would probably go down to £1,194, which would be still further reducible by deaths as the years go on.

But the cost of Section 4 is cut out after the first year?

What is the total cost of administering it?

Roughly £2,870.

Question put and agreed to.