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Compassionate Leave

Volume 441: debated on Wednesday 30 July 1947

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what are the regulations which debar a man from getting compassionate leave to see a dying father when other relations are near home to give the parent attention; in particular, whether such regulations absolutely debar a son from getting the opportunity of compassionate leave merely because of the number of other members of the family who reside in the district; and if he will consider granting immediate compassionate leave to P/KX 797029 Stoker T. Brennan, Mess 23, H.M.S. "Theseus," to enable him to see his father who has had several strokes and is in a serious condition.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave on 22nd May last to the hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers). I understand that. Stoker Brennan is the youngest of 12 children and that the rest of the family are available to help and are, in fact, doing so. In the circumstances, I regret that he cannot be given compassionate leave.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that there are more things in life than mere attention when a father is dying, and that there are special reasons why a son in the Services should be allowed to go home on such occasions?

I do realise it, and I can assure my hon. Friend that I get no pleasure at all from making such a decision as this nor does my noble Friend, but we have to consider the fact that we are short of men and that we must strictly keep to our commitments.

Can my hon. Friend say when the Royal Navy will show the same compassion in these matters as is shown by other Services?

Surely, if the state of affairs is as stated in the Question and that this man is dying, it is possible for the Navy to arrange for a short period of compassionate leave for this rating.

There are a great many men in the Service who from time to time have relatives who are dying, but we have got to keep the same rules operating for one as for another, and we cannot send some men home and not do the same for others in similar circumstances.

Is not the Minister aware that the regulations now existing have been commented on by hon. Members in this House who have asked that those regulations should be made more elastic?

Will not the Minister allow humanity to cut red tape and in all such cases give leave when someone in the family is dying?

It has nothing to do with red tape, but rather with the fact that the Navy has got to continue. I will convey the views of the House to my noble Friend but I cannot hold out any assurance of any change.