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Demobilisation Plans

Volume 393: debated on Tuesday 2 November 1943

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49.

asked the Minister without Portfolio whether he will give an undertaking that in any plan for demobilisation a substantial period of service in the Armed Forces overseas should be rewarded by a measure of priority?

50.

asked the Minister without Portfolio what progress has been made in settling the principles upon which the men and women in the Forces will be demobilised; and what steps will be taken to familiarise them with these principles in order to ensure co-operation and smooth working of the plan?

I would refer my hon. Friends to the reply that I gave on 23rd September last to Questions by my hon. Friends the Members for Stockport (Sir A. Gridley) and Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger). The general re-examination of the demobilisation plan, to which I then referred, is proceeding. On its completion decisions will be taken by the Government and communicated at the proper time to the House with a view to a discussion of the whole matter.

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware of the widespread interest in the country to know the general principles and priorities of demobilisation policy, and will he therefore apply to this problem those qualities of drive and energy with which he is so plentifully endowed?

I am well aware of the points the hon. Member has made and of the desirability of getting a decision, but, on the other hand, I think he will realise, too, that there is another consideration. A suitable time to discuss these matters must to some extent depend upon the progress of the war, and therefore there is the matter of time governing what shall be done.

Is the Minister aware that the men in the Forces are apprehensive on this matter, and is it not possible for the Government to distinguish as between a declaration on the principles concerned and the details? Could we have a statement on the principles affecting demobilisation at an early stage?

No, Sir. It is very difficult to separate the principle from the details. A discussion in this House would not be of any value unless there was a considerable measure of detail given.