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South African Veterans (Thanksgiving Service)

Volume 498: debated on Tuesday 1 April 1952

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asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will grant soldiers vouchers to enable the veterans of the South African War to travel from Leeds to attend the Thanksgiving Service at St. Paul's Cathedral which is being held to mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the peace treaty at Vereeniging.

Yes, Sir—No, Sir. In spite of the special interest of this occasion, I regret that I cannot arrange a concession.

Are we to understand that the negative came from the right hon. Gentleman's head while the other reply came from his heart? Will he reconsider this matter, in so far as there can be very few men concerned after 50 years; or, if he cannot meet it in this way, could he intercede on their behalf with the Railway Executive?

With regard to the latter part of the supplementary question, I will certainly discuss the matter with the hon. Gentleman. With regard to the first part, the hon. Gentleman will realise that if I once made a concession in this case, there are innumerable other organisations which might wish to follow suit.

Further to that answer, how can the right hon. Gentleman say there are many other cases which would have to be considered? After all, this kind of case is only likely to arise twice in a hundred years.

I could suggest a great many, but I do not wish to waste the time of the House.

Does the Minister not appreciate that there are considerable charitable funds left over from the South African war, and that the money might be used to give this last remnant a little bit of fun in meeting together, and could he not try to see if he could get these men up to London?