asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that a number of men in the early 30 release groups, including some skilled and experienced in the building trades, are about to sail for Hong Kong in a company of the R.A.S.C., of whose identity he has been informed; that the units from which men were posted to form this company contain many men in much later release groups, who are to remain in Britain; and if, in view of the urgent need to conserve both shipping-space and housing man-power, he will cause the composition of this company to be revised.
The unit in question has already left for Hong Kong, and the men were correctly posted under the rules in force at the time. The general practice regarding the posting of soldiers to overseas theatres and how it avoids uneconomical travel, was explained on 16th October in answer to a Question by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Aston (Major Wyatt). The men who remain in the units from which this company was drawn are still available for overseas posting and may well be so posted if they are in the appropriate groups and are medically fit.
Before this unit, or other units like it, are posted to the Far East, is any attemptmade to sort out possible Class B releases—building trade workers and so on?
:I cannot say that there is. As a matter of fact Class B releases are usually sent in to the appropriate Department on application by the employers.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that has been specifically denied? I have had a private word with other hon. Members and I am given to understand that that is not so.
Is the Minister not aware that many hon. Members have put the same question, and have been told specifically, by many Departments, that employers may not apply? Would he make some statement to clear up this matter?
As a matter of fact this Question deals with the numbers of the groups that are required to go out. I made a statement on 16th October in which I pointed out that groups before Group 32 did not go out—that is, two groups later than the one mentioned by my hon. Friend. As to the other point, I would prefer to see the Question on the Order Paper.