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Personal Cases

Volume 498: debated on Tuesday 8 April 1952

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asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has now been able to arrange for the posting to Malta from Tripolitania of 7591061 Corporal L. Bartolo, R.E.M.E., L.A.D. Attached 4/7 R.D.9, M.E.L.F. 1; and if he will state the reasons for the delay in dealing with this case and for the nonpayment of family allowances for Mrs. Bartolo's children and of an appropriate portion of the local overseas allowance for her maintenance.

As regards the first part, "Yes, Sir." The answer to the second part is that special family allowances and married rates of local overseas allowance are issuable only where the husband and family have set up residence together at the husband's duty station; as this condition was not fulfilled, this n.c.o. was not then entitled to these allowances, but he will be when he joins his family in Malta.

When the right hon. Gentleman says—and I welcome the information—"Yes, Sir" in reply to the first part of the Question, does that mean, as I gather from his last words, that the man in question has not yet gone to Malta?

The first part of the answer means that this man will be posted to Malta very shortly.


asked the Secretary of State for War if he has considered the case of Private Robert Harper of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps who died from tuberculosis while on the way to Warwick Hospital, on Wednesday, 12th March, having been treated by his medical officer for spasmodic asthma; and what steps he is taking to ensure the correct diagnosis of disease from which serving soldiers may be suffering.

Yes, Sir. The concurrence of tuberculosis of the lung and bronchial asthma inevitably makes diagnosis of the former chronic condition difficult. In this case, I regret to say, it escaped detection.

In view of the fact that it was stated at the inquest that this man had been suffering from tuberculosis of the lung for several months, will the Minister say why it was that he not sent to hospital until the day on which he died? Secondly, what steps are taken to see that there is a proper X-ray examination of soldiers to detect the disease from which they may be suffering?

I am in agreement with the hon. Gentleman that we should do everything possible to detect tuberculosis at an early stage. I am informed by expert opinion that bronchial asthma can make it extremely difficult to detect tuberculosis at an early stage. I have been into the case in some detail, and, although I much regret the mistake, I think it is one which might have been made by any medical officer concerned. I am further informed—although I am afraid it is poor consolation—that even had the initial diagnosis been made it would probably not in this particular case have saved the man's life.

Would not the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of mass X-ray for all entrants? Mass radiography is the answer to this question.

I think the hon. Member will agree that that is a different Question, but I undertake to look into it.


asked the Secretary of State for War if he will consider the case of 1474384 ex-Bombardier Tomkins, about whom the hon. Member for Uxbridge wrote on 10th March, and an answer to which he has not yet received; and if he will ensure that ex-Bombardier Tomkins is not recalled for reserve training.

Yes I have, but it is not very satisfactory. Will the Minister look into this again? There is no question of personal hardship. It has never been claimed there was. The man was in the Territorials before the war and served throughout the war, and it would not hurt him to do another 15 days. But he is now over 40 years of age and is the managing director of a substantial firm which is going on to armament subcontracts in the national emergency. Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that he should be kept on his present job and not called up?

These questions of men on the industrial side being called up are referred to the Ministry of Labour. This case has been referred to them, and they do not consider that on those grounds this man should be exempted.

In view of the fact that there are 114 Questions on the Order Paper today, would not this have been a suitable Question to put down for a written answer?

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that I am asking him to look into this personally? Is he not aware that the Ministry of Labour turned this case down on the grounds of personal hardship and that I am emphasising that there are other aspects of this matter and asking him to look at it again?


asked the Secretary of State for War if he will arrange for the Z Reserve training period to be suspended in the case of Mr. W. A. Beasley, who is under contract to the North Warwick Colliery Lodge for the delivery of allowance coal.

If the hon. Member will let me know this man's Army number and unit, and if possible the date of call-up, it will expedite our inquiry into the case.

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for that answer, may I ask if he is aware that this man is under contract to the colliery that it has been impossible to find anybody capable of carrying out this detailed delivery work, and that the miners of the North Warwick Colliery feel very strongly on this point?

I will undertake to look carefully into the case. I think that, on the whole, the War Office is not unsympathetic when cases of this kind arise.