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Service Men (Deaths Overseas)

Volume 722: debated on Wednesday 22 December 1965

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57.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence why, after a 17-year-old soldier, on active service in Aden, had been killed by the discharge of a bullet from a gun due to the carelessness and negligence of a fellow soldier, he refused to pay the cost of £393 of bringing the body back to England and burying it, and left it to the parents of the soldier to do so.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the Answer given on 26th October by my hon. Friend the Minister of Defence for the Royal Navy to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney).

Does not my hon. Friend think that if that is the policy of the War Office it is about time that it was changed in cases where the Department itself is responsible for the man's death, since it happened because of negligence? Would he not agree with me that what was done only serves to dig the knife more deeply into the wounds of the afflicted parents, and that the whole thing is an absolute damn scandal?

I cannot accept what my hon. Friend says, and neither can I accept that we should differentiate as between people unfortunately killed in action and people killed in accidents or who die from other causes.