asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether he will make a statement about the opportunities provided for release from the Royal Navy for those men who signed on for a Regular engagement in the early stages of the war because recruiting on a hostilities only engagement in the branch of their choice was not open in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines.
Yes, Sir. My noble Friend is now prepared to give very sympathetic consideration to applications for transfer from a continuous service engagement of 12 years to a special service engagement of seven years with the Fleet and five years in the Reserve, or its equivalent in the Royal Marines, in cases where the following conditions are satisfied. The man entered between 1st September, 1939, and the date on which recruiting on hostilities only engagements was opened for his branch and is serving on a 12 years' continuous service engagement because he was unable to enter the Navy by any other method; he has served at least seven years; is willing to enrol in the Royal Fleet Reserve to complete 12 years' man's service and there are compassionate circumstances. Men entered as seaman boys or communication boys, artificer apprentices, band boys and boy buglers, are excluded. The hon. and gallant Member will recognise that the necessary formalities to establish that an application satisfies these conditions will take some time and it is unlikely that the earliest releases under the scheme can be expected much before the end of the year.
Could the Minister say whether there are any other arrangements for the boys who, he said, were excluded?
Not at present.
Will not the men who take advantage of this transfer suffer some disadvantage at the present time?
No, Sir, they will be in exactly the same position as men who took advantage of this transfer early in 1946.