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Call-Up (Choice Of Service)

Volume 439: debated on Wednesday 9 July 1947

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asked the Minister of Defence what opportunities are given to conscripts to choose in which arm they wish to do their national service.

Every man is invited, when registering for national service, to say whether he would prefer to serve in the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army, or Royal Air Force, and so far as possible he is subsequently called up to the Service of his choice. After call-up a man is allowed to express a preference for a particular arm or branch of the Service to which he has been allocated. If he is found to be suitable, and there are vacancies, he would normally be allowed to enter it.

Can steps be taken so that young men who are in the Cadet Forces can be allocated to the branch of the Services to which they belong?

I cannot at this stage add to what I said to the House the other day. I have taken careful note of the expression of the views of the House and, particularly, of the point made by the right hon. Gentleman the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and we are bringing these views to the notice of all those who are concerned with people coming from the cadets. We do our best to meet the wishes of the House, but I do not wish to give a promise which would lead every cadet to feel that he had the definite undertaking of the Government, since the ultimate requirements of the Services have to be considered.

Is the Minister aware that owing to this uncertainty, the Air Cadets are falling off very much in numbers?

Can the Minister say whether we may now take it that the term "conscript" is the legitimate one to use for those called up for national service?

Will the Minister make provision so that those associated with the sea are given a chance of doing their service with the Royal Navy as they desire to do, and as the Minister of Labour undertook that they would be able to do in a reply to a Question of mine some time ago—an undertaking which it has been impossible to put into effect?

We will do our best within the scope of the answers I have already given on the subject. I think it is an excellent thing to have those from a seafaring industry brought into the sea services.