And the decision as to who is to get the gratuity is also made by the Department of National Defence. I do not think national defence should have anything
to do with that particular matter. That is a veteran's problem and it should be dealt with by the Department of Veterans' Affairs. I remember when the Veterans' Grants Act was tabled in the house a question was asked of the minister in connection with the dependents of service personnel who had died or been killed overseas or during service, whether such grants would be paid to the next of kin. The minister replied that these would be paid if there had been an assignment of pay.
The first intimation I had that this was not being applied in that way was when I received a letter from a woman who had had two sons killed. In the case of one boy there had been an assignment of pay from 1939 to December, 1943, but his pay had been stopped just a few weeks before he was killed. Because the assignment was not in effect at the time of his death, then ipso jacto no gratuity was indicated. That was discussed backwards and forwards, and a change was made. The decision then was that unless they were wholly or partly dependent no gratuity was indicated. That decision was made in the house and the members left this house with the understanding that an assignment of pay to the next of kin, not necessarily specifying father or mother, was all that was necessary. .But then the Department of National Defence or some brigadier who is administering the regulations took it upon himself to change that. My conception of pension, legislation is that everything depends upon its administration. You can write the law as you like in this house, but if you appoint people to administer it who are not sympathetic and handle the regulations to suit themselves, they can make quite a mess of it, and I contend that that is what is taking place on this particular angle of gratuities.
The minister asked the hon. member for Vancouver South (Mr. Green), first, if he thought that the gratuity should go to the estate of a deceased soldier. I say, yes, it should. It belongs to him, and it should be part of his estate. The minister's next question was: Should the next of kin have to apply for the gratuity or should it go to them automatically? I say that it should go automatically.
Subtopic: PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY