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Retained Men

Volume 486: debated on Wednesday 18 April 1951

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what steps have been taken to assist those ratings who are being retained beyond their Regular long service engagements by reducing the additional time for which they are being retained, and by assisting them to obtain civilian or Government employment.


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty how many men due for release after long service in the Royal Navy have now been retained for a further 18 months; to what extent he anticipates that it will be necessary for all these men to serve the full extra time; whether he has now investigated the possibility of safeguarding the position of such of these men as had already secured offers of employment in civilian life; and what provisions exist for appeals against retention on grounds of hardship.

Approximately 6,000 men have now been retained. I am unable to say that any reduction in the period of retention will be possible. Appeals for release are considered on their merits, but release can only be permitted in cases where there are exceptional compassionate circumstances. I will, with permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT information about the measures to assist the resettlement of retained men.

As this comparatively small section of the community is particularly hard hit, is the hon. Gentleman satisfied that the measures he is taking to ensure their employment when they return to civilian life will be effective?

I do not think that we can guarantee that for everybody. I should have thought that the chief advantage lies in the fact that we are likely to be in a period of full employment.

Can my hon. Friend say whether it would be possible to reduce the extra time by calling up more Royal Fleet reservists, who have, after all, always been aware of their obligation, whereas these men do feel that, although what the Government are doing is quite legal, it is a breach of contract?

It would be possible to shorten the period of service by doing that, but I am not at all sure that we should do justice to the Royal Fleet reservists if we did so.

Following is the information:

The facilities for finding employment for ex-Regulars are constantly being extended, and will be available to these men. For example, in Civil Service examinations, and certain London County Council examinations, ex-Regulars are allowed to deduct the actual period of Regular service in order to bring them within the age limits. Men who had already competed successfully in the special Civil Service examinations for the executive and clerical classes will have appointments held for them. In the police my right hon. Friend, the Home Secretary has informed the appointing authorities that, in suitable cases, he is prepared to approve the appointment of Regular Service men who would have been within the age limit but for their retention.


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he will give an undertaking that those men retained in the Royal Navy for 18 months after the expiry of their normal period of service will not have their period of service further extended.

I can give a firm assurance that no increase in the period of retention beyond 18 months is contemplated.

In view of that welcome assurance, can the Parliamentary Secretary say whether the Admiralty is taking action to raise the regular size of the Navy sufficiently in order to make sure that he will be able to fulfil the assurance?

My hon. Friend need be in no doubt that we shall increase the size of Vote A this year.