asked the Minister of Defence how many men have been recalled or retained in the Services after completion of their period of Regular service; and whether this practice is likely to be continued.
asked the Minister of Defence if he will make a statement on the period during which Reservists recently called back will be required to serve with the Colours, and on the period during which men whose engagements have expired will be compulsorily retained with the Colours.
Three hundred and fifty-six officers and 7,018 ratings and other ranks have been recalled to the Royal Navy and Army. No Reservists have been recalled to the Royal Air Force and it is not the present intention to recall any more to the Royal Navy or the Army. Up to the end of October, about 200 officers and 7,000 men had been retained in the Services who would otherwise have been discharged or placed on the Reserve. I am not yet ready to announce how long individual Reservists or men compulsorily retained will be required to serve or for how long the policy of retention will continue, but I hope to do so at an early date.
Would the Minister bear in mind that the uncertainty which faces these men imposes a great handicap on them in their attempts to enter for the first time, or to re-enter. civil employment?
Yes, Sir. We are fully aware of the difficulty, and I hope to make a statement shortly which will reassure the men.
Could the right hon. Gentle-may say how soon he will be able to make a statement? He must be conscious of the importance to these men and their families of this measure of uncertainty, and of the relationship of his proposed statement to the Reinstatement in Civil Employment Bill which we are discussing.
I am aware of all these matters, and I can assure the hon. Gentleman that there will be no unavoidable delay.
Does the Minister realise that the National Service man who voluntarily extended his service for three years is now indefinitely and involuntarily held, while other National Service men who did not so volunteer will be released at the end of their six months' service? That does not seem very fair.
Yes, Sir, but that is scarcely relevant to the Question.