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Volume 416: debated on Thursday 12 April 1945

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asked the Secretary of State for War whether a soldier who is granted compassionate release is entitled to the family and children's allowances he would receive were he to be released with his normal age and service group.

No, Sir. Family allowances follow pay and the soldier granted indefinite release on compassionate grounds does not receive the 56 days' leave with pay which is granted to the soldier released in Class A.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in the case of those officers and other ranks in the Middle East or Far East who desire to make their permanent home in the British Dominions or Colonies, he will arrange for their demobilisation overseas and thus save time and transport.

The regulations already provide for release overseas. Application should be made to the commanding officer.

asked the Secre-of State for War the number of teachers who have been released under Class B, while serving as officers with the B.A.O.R., compared with those released while serving at home.

As I stated on 6th November, in reply to a Question by the hon. and gallant Member for Pudsey and Otley (Colonel Stoddart-Scott), our records do not show the numbers of Class B releases from each command. I regret therefore that the information asked for is not available.

asked the Secretary of State for War who is responsible for deciding that a man eligible for block release under Class B shall not be so released on grounds of military necessity; and what right of appeal exists against such a decision.

No man has an individual claim for block release in Class B. The War Office decide which soldiers of the required occupation shall be offered release to make up the numbers demanded. These releases are granted solely in the public interest and not at the instance of the individual. The question of appeal does not therefore arise.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that officers and men of the Radio Security Service feel a sense of grievance at not being released in accordance with their special terms of enlistment; and since some have been released because of representations from their Members of Parliament, will he see that justice is done to all these men without further delay.

Certain members of the Radio Security Service were specially enlisted under terms entitling them to discharge when their services were no longer required. The services of a large number are still required, but the men are being released as quickly as possible, as the duties of the Service contract, and due regard is paid to age and service. I am not aware of any injustice or grounds for complaint, but I am arranging that the position shall be fully explained to the men to remove any misunderstandings. Other members of the Radio Security Service are dealt with under normal release rules.

asked the Secretary of State. for War if he will state the numbers of officers and other ranks whose groups have been released and who are being held in India and Burma in connection with pending judicial proceedings; and what steps he is taking to accelerate these proceedings.

I am afraid it will take some time to collect this information. I have called for it, and will write to the hon. and gallant Member.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will authorise all personnel returning to their homes from demobilisation centres to retain their Army greatcoats during the winter months on the understanding that the value of these coats is not credited if they are not returned within a specified time.

I regret I am unable to" agree to this proposal. These men receive good quality raincoats, and are allowed to keep their warm underclothing and pullover. The greatcoats are needed by the Army.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will review the question of Class C compassionate release in all three services, so that in clear cases of hardship full release may be granted, thus rendering unnecessary repeated applications for extension of limited periods.

Release for an indefinite period is already granted when the circumstances justify it, and the applicant is prepared to accept. I see no reason, therefore, to alter the rules.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware of the inequitable arrangements with regard to the demobilisation of Commandos and that in some Commando brigades those who are in the R.M. are being demobilised if they are in Groups 28 and 29, whilst those drawn from the Army have not been demobilised even up to Group 23; and whether steps will be taken at an early date to equalise these releases and to remove the grievance of those in Commando brigades who were drawn from the Army and not from the R.M.

I am aware that soldiers from the Commandos are released under normal Army arrangements and Marines under Navy arrangements. This seems to me to be equitable. It would not be equitable to treat these particular soldiers more favourably than other Army personnel, as regards release.

asked the Secretary of State for War why he issues a warning to officers returning to civilian life not to take up livestock farming.

No such warning is issued. The notice to which I presume the hon. Member refers, calls attention to a leaflet issued by the Ministry of Labour and National Service advising officers and other ranks who revert to unemployment not to take up livestock farming without first consulting the county war agricultural executive committee for the area. This is particularly necessary owing to the difficulty there may be in obtaining feeding-stuffs which are strictly rationed.

asked the Secretary of State for War what steps he has taken to acquaint men serving in the A.E.C. who are posted overseas of their precise position as regards Class B release.

Arrangements have been made by which all officers and other ranks of the Army Educational Corps who leave the Education Corps Depot for overseas are informed that the fact that an individual is serving overseas in no way affects the decision as to whether an offer of Class B release is made to him. A circular is also shortly to be issued throughout the Corps explaining the position of the A.E.C. with regard to releases.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that under present military establishments and commitments in East Africa Command at least one-half of the staffs of medical services in that command are surplus to requirements; and, in view of the shortage of civilian medical practitioners and staffs in this country, will he arrange for the early repatriation and release of those now so redundant.

The position is not as stated by the hon. and gallant Member. In addition to the British troops, there is a very large number of Colonial troops for whom medical attention has to be provided by the R.A.M.C. Certain reductions were recently ordered, and all medical officers in Group 24 or earlier are being returned for release this month, but it would be quite impossible to reduce by anything approaching 50 per cent.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been called to the D.O.S. Instruction, No. 135, issued by H.Q., B.A.O.R., on 2nd November, 1945, which purports to direct that officers of Group 20 shall not be released until replacements are received from the United Kingdom; and whether he will have this order cancelled as unauthorised in view of the fact that the release date of Group 20 is already past and no general deferment of officers therein has been authorised.

I have been unable to verify the actual terms of the instruction in the time available. But owing to the shortage of officers in the Command, R.A.O.C. officers in Group 20 were retained pending replacements. These are now available owing to the general deferment scheme and I understand that the delayed officers will arrive in the United Kingdom by 9th December at the latest.

asked the Secretary of State for War if it is his policy to refuse the release of proprietors of one-man businesses whose businesses had to be closed down on their call-up; and why has release been refused to 14937047 Sergeant S. H. Ross, Stoner's Military Hospital, near Newton Abbot, Devon, whose business as a chemist and optician at 723, Old Kent Road, S.E.15, had to be closed down on his call-up in spite of his application made as advised by his Department, and whose stock of drugs, etc., is rapidly deteriorating.

asked the Secretary of State for War why the release of warrant officers and N.C.O.s of 794 Workshop and Park Company, R.E., C.M.F., has been deferred for three months where they are in the following categories, engineer clerks, military machinists, assistant foremen of works and other personnel on the temporary establishment for engineer services; and if he will arrange for these men to be released according to their normal age and service qualification.

Certain individuals in this unit have been deferred as operationally essential under paragraph 320, Release Regulations. They will not be retained longer than is necessary; the period of three months was an estimate, given to the men in their own interests, but I am looking into the case.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that difficulty has been experienced by soldiers in Colombo, Burma, and the Far East in obtaining the necessary application forms for special entrance facilities granted to His Majesty's Forces on demobilisation, relating to various branches of the Civil Service; and what steps are being taken to ensure that these forms are readily available to those who require them.

:I am not aware of any difficulties, but I am making inquiries and will inform my hon. and gallant Friend of the result. Bulk supplies of the forms and literature were sent to G.H.Q., India, by air on 12th May last, for distri- bution in India and S.E.A.C. Further supplies of some items have since been sent on request.