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Overseas Service (Medical Categories)

Volume 467: debated on Tuesday 12 July 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for War which medical categories qualify soldiers for service at Hong Kong.

The fitness of soldiers for service overseas is assessed under the "Pulheems" system of medical classification which has replaced the former medical categories.

Would the right hon. Gentleman kindly answer the Question? Even under his new system, there must be some kind of description which can be given and may we have that description?

The description is all embodied in the term "Pulheems." It is rather complicated, but if the hon. Gentleman is anxious to have a full description and a complete definition of the words represented by the initials contained in the word "Pulheems," I will have it inserted in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Surely, all we want to know is how physically fit a man has to be before he goes to Hong Kong?

In order to ascertain whether a man is physically fit, he has to undergo several tests, all of which are contained in the medical classification embodied in the term "Pulheems."

Is it not true that the term "Pulheems" means that there are certain categories of the establishment? Are we to take it from the Minister that there are certain categories which mean that men can be sent to the Far East, and certain others which mean that they cannot? May we know which they are?

Perhaps, in order to satisfy the natural curiosity of hon. Members, I had better explain what the word "Pulheems" means. It starts, as is obvious, with P for physical capacity; U is for upper limbs; L for locomotion; H for hearing; EE for eyesight; M for mental capacity; and S for emotional stability. If a soldier passes this categorical test, he is sent to the Far East.

Would the problem not be solved by allowing only volunteers to go to Hong Kong?

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what comes out at the end of this? Is it a soldier, or what?

It is obvious what comes out at the end. There comes out at the end a person who emerges having satisfied the full medical requirements of the Army.

Will the Secretary of State ask his right hon. Friends voluntarily to undergo this test?

This is really not a matter for me to consider, though if hon. Members generally wish to undergo this test, I will see what I can do.