HC Deb 02 December 1941 vol 376 cc982-3
6. Mr. Bellenger

asked the Secretary of State for War what instructions have been issued to the troops regarding travelling arrangements to those proceeding on leave during the Christmas period?

12. Major Lyons

asked the Secretary of State for War whether leave on short pass, subject to exigencies, will be granted as usual for all ranks during Christmas week; and whether those to whom it is issued will be able to use railway facilities, including any additional trains then operating, alike with all other persons?

Captain Margesson

In order to minimise passenger traffic over the railways during the Christmas period, leave travel by rail to and from destinations in this country will be avoided between 24th and 28th December, inclusive. Exceptions to the general rule will, however, be permitted in the case of sick leave, embarkation leave and compassionate leave. Men will not proceed on short-pass leave by rail between 20th and 29th December, but men proceeding on privilege leave between 20th and 22nd December will be granted nine days in all, and preference will be given, as far possible, to those who have missed their turn for leave on short pass.

Mr. Bellenger

In view of the fact that arrangements that are not strictly comparable are being made for the civilian population, does not the Minister understand that His decision will give rise to a considerable amount of discontent in the Army, and is it not possible even now, at this late hour, to achieve some better equation between these proposals for the military and those for the civilian population?

Major Lyons

Will the Minister consider the whole thing afresh, and bear in mind that special trains may be put on for the civilian population?

Captain Margesson

The arrangements for the civilian population have nothing to do with me, but I believe a Question is upon the Order Paper for the next Sitting Day in regard to civilian passenger traffic. I can say that there will probably be as many soldiers at home for Christmas this year as was the case last year. I do not think that the special arrangements which I have just announced will create any hardship.

Professor Savory

Does this proposal apply to Northern Ireland?

Captain Margesson

These instructions do not apply to Northern Ireland.

Sir Joseph Nall

Is it not the case that these arrangements do not stop any leave, but merely alter the dates on which the men can travel?

Captain Margesson

That is so.