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Personal Case

Volume 496: debated on Wednesday 20 February 1952

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asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air why 2537878 A.C.2 Stanley Bewick, Royal Air Force, Credenhill, Hereford, with only eight weeks' National Service, and only five weeks' actual training, one of the youngest with the least training was selected against his own personal wishes when interrogated, and was given embarkation leave and informed he was to be posted to the Middle East.

This airman is over 18 years and 3 months of age and has completed more than 12 weeks' service. As the hon. Member has already been informed by my noble Friend, he is therefore eligible for posting to the Middle East in accordance with the rules announced in this House in December, 1950.

Is the Minister aware that the parents of this boy are very much disturbed about what has happened? Is he not aware that, when we permit these boys to be conscripted for two years, we expect that they will receive a fair crack of the whip, and that, when men are selected to go out to the Middle East, the parents of these boys expect that those with the longest service and training will be taken?

Will the Minister say what is the basis on which the selection is made, because my information indicates that the methods of selection are unsatisfactory and do not take due consideration of all the factors concerning each individual?

I am aware that parents are naturally very often unhappy when their sons are posted abroad. On the other hand, men join the Royal Air Force or are called up to it in order to serve their Queen and country, and the exigencies of the Services must have first call. This man was eligible to go, and a great many other men of the same age have gone and are going. There were no compassionate grounds for taking him off the draft.

Is it not the fact that in the same district there are many other men who are older and have had more training than this particular boy?

Obviously, we cannot arrange that all the young men should stay at home and all the older men should be sent abroad, because in that case we would not get personnel sorted out in the right order and categories.