HC Deb 08 December 1943 vol 395 cc954-5
25. Lieut.-Colonel Sir Ian Fraser

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he will make a statement about the leave allowed on repatriation to members of the Merchant Navy who have been prisoners of war?

Mr. Noel-Baker

As I told my hon. and gallant Friend in answer to a Question on 10th November last, merchant seamen who returned from enemy camps were at that time given one month's leave with basic pay and subsistence allowance. Since I gave him that answer the arrangements have been revised and improved. In future the leave granted will be one month for any seaman who has been in captivity for fifteen months or less and a further week will be allowed for each additional period of three months up to a maximum of two months. This will include any leave due to the prisoner when he was made prisoner.

Sir I. Fraser

Will my hon. Friend—because he has shown a good spirit in this matter—continue wherever possible to assimilate the conditions of merchant seamen to those of the Navy?

Mr. Noel-Baker

I am much obliged for what my hon. and gallant Friend has been good enough to say, and I will certainly consider this point, and I ought perhaps to add that this new arrangement will apply to all seamen whether fit to return to sea or not.

Mr. R. J. Taylor

Will this new arrangement be made retrospective in respect of those seamen who had been repatriated and had returned back for duty before this arrangement came into operation?

Mr. Noel-Baker

I will consider my hon. Friend's suggestion, but retrospective arrangements are sometimes very difficult to carry out.