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Release Deferment (Leave)

Volume 415: debated on Tuesday 30 October 1945

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5.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the hold up in demobilisation of certain officers and other ranks, he wall give instructions to C.M.F. that leave under L.I.A.P. Scheme shall begiven immediately to officers and other ranks affected by the hold up and who have served overseas for three years but, because of their early demobilisation group, have not been allowed leave under that scheme.

68.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will give instructions that officers in release groups 21–24, serving in C.M.F., whose release is being delayed in accordance with the announcement of 16th October, should not now be considered ineligible for United Kingdom leave on the ground that the period before their expected date of release may be less than four clear months.

95.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will grant special short-term leave facilities to those officers overseas who are being retained beyond the normal time of demobilisation of their age groups, especially those in the M.E.F. who have not been home to this country for several years.

The purpose of deferring the release of officers in certain age-service groups, which I announced on 16th October, is the performance of duties for which their presence for a limited time in overseas theatres is essential. Though I regret that some hardship may have been caused in individual cases, I do not think it is possible for commanders overseas to make an exception in favour of these officers to the rule which excludes leave from overseas theatres to those who are to be released within the space of a few months. In cases of extreme hardship, it is open to the officers concerned to apply for compassionate reversion to the United Kingdom, or, if necessary, release under Class C. There has been no hold-up in the demobilisation of other ranks in C.M.F. except in a very few isolated cases.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, as a result of his answer, these officers will not only have been held back several months already from their normal leave, but will have an additional four or five months on top of that? Cannot he see that it is most unreasonable to keep these men, because of their nearness to demobilisation, away from their families for a very long time?

:It all depends on the number of the group. If it was group 21, there might be something in that, if three or four months were added to their time; but if you took groups 22 to 24, it would be a different matter. In this case there would be no virtue in sending a man home for his leave, when, by the time he returned, he would be due to come back to this country again.

The Question asked that they might be returned immediately. Cannot the right hon. Gentleman consider allowing these men. who have already lost their places in the leave rota, to come home immediately, in the place of other men who would come home under the normal leave scheme?

:I am afraid I cannot give any encouragement to that suggestion, because it would tend to wipe out the value of the deferment scheme, which I announced a week or fortnight ago. This allows the sharing of the deferment over the whole of every theatre.