HC Deb 05 August 1919 vol 119 cc150-2
12. Mr. N. MACLEAN

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he was aware that Sapper D. Logan, No. 282320. L Signal Battalion, Royal Engineers, Havre Detachment, A.P.O. 1, Le Havre, France, was forty-one years of age and was unable to secure demobilisation; that Sapper Logan was with the 56th Divisional Signal Company up till the 21st February, 1919, when he was transferred to the 4th Army; that before transfer he had an interview with the commanding officer, Royal Engineers, in the endeavour to secure release on compassionate grounds; that he was informed that his demobilisation would not suffer, and that he was certain to be released within three months; whether he had been subsequently transferred to the D Corps Signal Company and to the 4th Area Signal Company; and whether, seeing that men of similar age and service had been released from each of these units, he would take immediate steps to release Sapper Logan?


As I stated in reply to a similar question by the hon. Member for Morpeth on Wednesday last, if Sapper Logan's age is as stated in the question, he will be released in accordance with the instructions recently issued making provision for the early release of all men eligible for demobilisation.


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will amend Army Council Instruction No. 287, of 1919, so that a soldier who is the only child of a widowed mother in necessitous circumstances may not be precluded from being demobilised on compassionate grounds?


As was stated on the 23rd July in reply to the hon. Member for St. Rollox, the Memorandum published on the 17th instant greatly enlarges the scope of the demobilisation regulations, and also renders eligible numbers of men not previously eligible for release. Under the circumstances, I regret that I cannot at present consent to any further modification of the Regulations governing demobilisation. During May and June, 7,864 releases on compassionate grounds were authorised, in addition to over 25,000 in previous months.


Does not the right hon. Gentleman consider that a soldier who is the only child of a widow in necessitous circumstances is a subject of compassion?


Yes, certainly of compassion, but whether it falls within the category of compassionate cases or not is another matter.


In view of the fact that compassionate regulations cause a great deal of hardship, is it not time they were amended?


I think we had much better try and wind up the whole question of retention of men in the Army. In the course of a limited number of months it will be achieved, and it is not worth while at this stage introducing a lot of complicated Regulations, when we are trying to bring them home from every theatre, and to release them as fast as we possibly can.