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Battledress (National Service Men)

Volume 463: debated on Tuesday 12 April 1949

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5 and 6.

asked the Secretary of State for War (1) whether he will allow National 'Service men on demobilisation to retain their khaki battledress without payment;

(2) how many suits of battledress, dyed blue, have been sold to National Service men on demobilisation; and how many National Service men, who have not returned their khaki battledresses on demobilisation, have been debited with the cost.

I am anxious to reduce to a minimum the wearing of battledress by civilians. If National Service men were given a suit of battledress on demobilisation this would increase the indiscriminate wearing of it by civilians. In present circumstances, however, provision is made to allow a National Service man to go home on demobilisation in a suit of battledress if he so desires. This battledress is regarded as on loan and he is expected and encouraged to return it within 10 days. If he does this, he is not charged for it, but a charge is made for suits not returned, in order that there may be an incentive to return them. The general issue on repayment of battledress dyed blue has not begun. Up to 6th April, approximately 6,500 National Service men had failed to return their battledress within the stated period and been debited with the cost.

Is it not a fact that many of these people go home in their khaki battledress because they have no adequate civilian dress to wear? Would not my right hon. Friend's problem be obviated if he could prevail upon the Minister of Defence to give a £10 clothing allowance?

Would not the Secretary of State for War himself put on battledress and enter the fight for demob. suits for National Service men?