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Armed Forces

Volume 438: debated on Wednesday 4 June 1947

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Colour Bar


asked the Minister of Defence what progress has now been made in the negotiations for the abolition of the colour bar in the Army and Royal Navy; in what respects the circumstances in these two services vary so greatly from those of the R.A.F. that the long delay in assimilating their practice to that of the R.A.F. has been necessary; and on what definition of the term "pure European descent" this discrimination is based.

Coloured candidates will in future be able to join the Royal Navy and the Army on the same conditions as the Royal Air Force.

Sentenced Personnel (Civil Prisons)


asked the-Minister of Defence how many British service personnel are imprisoned in civilian prisons in this country and abroad, and what arrangements there are for supervision of conditions in those prisons abroad

I will, with permission, circulate the answer in the OFFICIAL REPORT. I regret that some of the information required is not immediately available, but I am obtaining it and will write to my hon. Friend as soon as it is received.

As the men are imprisoned for offences against the military cede, would it not be better to keep them in military establishments?

It must not be assumed that they are all men convicted for offences against the military code.

Following is the reply:

Figures at latest available date.
Royal Army.Air Force.Royal Air force.

*This figure excludes those sentenced by civil courts, the number of whom is not available.

† This information is being obtained.

In Colonial territories United Kingdom Service personnel confined in civil prisons are, generally speaking, subject to the normal prison regulations which provide for periodical visits of inspection by the civil authorities. In India, the only Servicemen in civil prisons are those sentenced for certain major crimes; the conditions in these prisons are regularly inspected by the civil authorities and, from time to time, Servicemen serving sentences are recommended for transfer to this country to complete their sentences and are so transferred. I have no information at present on arrangements for inspecting prisons in other overseas countries, but I am informed that it is unlikely that any British Servicemen are in prison there.

Medical Examination And Documentation


asked the Minister of Defence what steps he is taking to bring the medical examination and documentation of all ranks of the British Forces, especially in regard to pulmonary and dental X-ray, into line with modern practice in the United States and late German Armed Forces.

I will, with permission, circulate details in the OFFICIAL REPORT. I can, however, assure the hon. Member that up-to-date methods are already used in all three Services.

Following are the details:

Medical examinations in the Naval Forces include miniature radiography of the chest when a person is entered, or as soon as practicable afterwards, and thenceforth periodically so far as staff and equipment allow. A "follow-up" system includes full-scale films and special observation treatment in hospital of cases of doubt; all drafting of persons concerned is stopped for such period. The number of dental X-ray machines has recently been considerably increased so that all essential X-ray examinations can now be carried out.

Over 90 per cent. of Army recruits are examined by mass radiography to detect primarily the presence of pulmonary tuberculosis. As soon as enough staff and equipment are available all recruits will be so examined. Facilities are available for dental X-ray for purposes of diagnosis and treatment. In the Royal Air Force all recruits have a chest X-ray as a matter of routine. Further chest X-rays, also dental X-rays, are arranged as required. The facilities will be developed further as and when skilled personnel become available.

In general, routine dental X-ray examination and documentation of all personnel is not regarded as justifiable, having regard to the present resources of the country. An inter-Service Committee on medical documentation has recently been appointed to consider the possibility of introducing a common system for the three Services, on the most up-to-date lines, bearing in mind war experience not only in this country, but also in Germany and the United States.