HC Deb 17 December 1941 vol 376 cc1929-30
34. Mr. Tinker

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that Gunner Daniels, No. 11403032, was arrested at Leigh, Lancashire, on 29th October, because it was alleged he had not responded to the calling-up papers; that Daniels claims that he never received such papers; and will he have inquiries made so as to remove the imputation that Daniels was trying to evade military service?

The Financial Secretary to the War Office (Mr. Sandys)

As this soldier's enlistment notice was returned to the Ministry of Labour and National Service from his last-known address, the civil police were asked by the military authorities to make inquiries in accordance with the normal procedure. Information was subsequently received that the soldier had been arrested by the civil police at Leigh. The soldier was interviewed by his commanding officer on the following day and stated that his failure to report had not been due to any deliberate intention of evading military service. This statement was accepted by his commanding officer.

Mr. Tinker

That is all I wanted—to clear the man's name, because it appeared in the local paper that he had been arrested and his family have suffered as a consequence.

Mr. G. Strauss

Can the hon. Gentleman take steps to prevent individuals being arrested on grounds such as this when they never receive their calling-up papers?

Mr. Sandys

That Question should be addressed to the Home Secretary, for it is the responsibility of the civil police. Their responsibilities are not easy ones to discharge. It is not easy for them to determine whether the fact that a man has failed, as this man had done, to notify his change of address, which he was under an obligation to do having registered under the Act, was due to a wilful desire to evade calling-up or to an error.

Major Milner

Could not such men be given the benefit of the doubt?

Mr. Bellenger

Does not the initiative come from the War Office who ask the civil police to take action, and could not the War Office be more careful?