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Personal Cases

Volume 498: debated on Tuesday 1 April 1952

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asked the Secretary of State for War why the date of discharge from full-time service of 22330907 Lance-Corporal Parker was altered in his discharge book from 31st January, 1952, to 25th February, 1952.

This alteration was made to correct a mistake by which the date on which this soldier reported for part-time service, instead of the date on which he completed his terminal leave, was entered in his discharge documents.

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that this alteration had nothing to do with the charge that was subsequently laid against Lance-Corporal Parker?

I am completely satisfied on that point. I understand the reason for my hon. Friend's anxiety, but I can assure him that it is not so.


asked the Secretary of State for War if his attention has been drawn to the fact that 22330907 Lance-Corporal Parker was kept under close arrest for nine days, and was subsequently sentenced to 28 days' detention for the unauthorised borrowing of a motor-cycle; and whether he will cause a review of this sentence, in view of its severity.

This soldier's sentence of 28 days' detention was confirmed and promulgated, but on 14th March the reviewing authority remitted 21 days' detention and he was, therefore, released from detention on 18th March.

Can my right hon. Friend say why it is necessary in a case of this kind to keep the soldier concerned, who is on discharge leave, under close arrest? In a similar case tried by the civil authority he would not have been so detained.

This is habitual in the procedure, and I do not think that under the circumstances nine days was an unduly long time.

12 and 16.

asked the Secretary of State for War (1) why 22774347 Signalman G. W. Parsons, 7 Training Regiment, Royal Signals, Catterick Camp, was not granted legal aid in the preparation of his defence before a district court-martial;

(2) on what date 22774347 Signalman G. W. Parsons, Royal Signals, was tried by court-martial at Catterick Camp; and on what date his sentence was confirmed and by whom.

The trial took place on 20th March, 1952; the sentence was confirmed by the Commander, Signals Training Centre, Catterick, on the following day.

All applications for legal aid in this country are considered by the Director of Army Legal Services. For trials by court-martial for purely military offences, it is granted whenever the case presents particular legal difficulty or in cases of mutiny, serious cases of insubordination and certain other specific offences. The charge in this case, under Section 33 of the Army Act, was a straightforward one and did not come within the scope of the scheme.

Is the Minister satisfied that this trial was properly conducted? Is it or is it not a fact that just before this trial this soldier was charged and summarily convicted on a charge of making a false statement to obtain pay, and that on investigation a senior officer quashed the proceedings on the ground of irregularity? Is it not a fact that the soldier was told at the trial that he should have had expert legal advice on a certain point, and that certain important evidence was never produced?

I am not aware of these facts, but if the hon. Gentleman would care to inform me of the details of them I will certainly look into the matter.


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will make a statement on the case of Gunner J. E. O'Leary, missing in Malaya since 2nd March, 1951.

A death certificate could not be provided by my Department until an investigation in connection with a murder charge had been completed by the civil authorities and an inquest into this death had been held. The civil authorities have now decided to dispense with an inquest, and I hope that the death certificate will very soon be issued.

Is the Minister aware that in this very deplorable case the parents have been treated with a lack of consideration which is really heartless, especially in view of the right hon. Gentleman's promise in the House on 13th November that the fate of this lad was going to be cleared up within a week or two? I am really ashamed of the way in which this has been handled.

I very much regret this delay but, as I say, we could not issue the death certificate until the civil authorities had completed their examination.