HC Deb 04 March 1919 vol 113 cc194-5

asked the Secretary of State for War if his attention has been called to the numbers of letters being received from France daily from men of forty-one, forty-two, and forty-three years of age who have been two or three years in France and who cannot get released, whilst much younger men with shorter service are coming home demobilised daily; if grave dissatisfaction is caused by such treatment; and what is the reason for it?


Men over thirty-seven years of age are being demobilised as the exigencies of the Service permit. A considerable number have already been demobilised, but at the same time it is unavoidable that some men who are younger, or may have had shorter service, should also have been demobilised. In making up dispersal drafts a certain order of priority is followed, and each draft includes, as far as possible, a proportion of men of all classes as laid down in the order of priority. It would be unfair and also inadvisable from the point of view of industrial requirements to demobilise the whole of the men of one class, to the exclusion of men in other classes.


What are unfortunate Members of Parliament to do with the masses of these letters they receive—I have a number in my pocket now—asking us to appeal to the House of Commons to get men released?

Colonel W. THORNE

We all get them.


We endeavour to release all those men who are eligible for release as quickly as possible in the order of their industrial classification. If they have to wait a month or two, or even a little longer, they may console themselves with the fact that they are coming home as fast as they can possibly be brought. If my hon. Friend (Sir A. Fell) will send samples of his letters, or all his letters, to my hon. Friend (Mr. MacCallum Scott), he will deal with them.

Sir J. D. REES

Is it a fact that the authorities now do not take into account the one-man business or the pivotal man, or any consideration other than that of length of service combined with age?


Length of service, age, and wounds are the only considerations, mitigated by extreme compassionate grounds.

Colonel THORNE

Are we to understand that we are now supposed to send all our letters to the right hon. Gentleman?


I hope my hon. Friend will temper the wind to the shorn lamb.