HC Deb 23 November 1943 vol 393 cc1419-20
19. Mr. Quintin Hogg

asked the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been drawn to the case of 6134709, Corporal Crouch, R.A.S.C., who was reverted to corporal from company sergeant-major owing to injuries received on war service; and whether steps will be taken to grant war substantive rank in this and similar cases?

Sir J. Grigg

It has been necessary in inquiring into this case to communicate with the command overseas where this soldier is serving. I will write to the hon. Member as soon as the inquiries have been completed.

Mr. Hogg

In pursuing these investigations, will my right hon. Friend consider the possibility of the necessity of changing the Regulations in regard to these reversions, which arouse a good deal of feeling?

Sir J. Grigg

That consideration has been examined very exhaustively as an inter-Service matter on several occasions. It was considered in conjunction with the general inquiry in the last Debate, in which the Lord President made a statement earlier this year.

20. Mr. Mander

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that certain repatriated soldiers, of a regiment of which he has been informed, in Wolverhampton, holding the rank of lance-corporal, have been informed that they will revert to the rank of private on 29th November next; and whether in such cases he will consider the advisability of allowing the N.C.O. rank to be retained at any rate until the men have been before a medical board and been discharged?

Sir J. Grigg

Acting ranks and lance appointments are normally relinquished when the holder ceases to perform the duties of the rank or appointment. But an exception has been made in the case of prisoners of war. They retain these appointments during the whole period of captivity and for 28 days after they have disembarked in this country on being released or repatriated. I am anxious to ensure that these repatriated prisoners should be well treated, but any further concession on the lines suggested by my hon. Friend would hardly be fair on other soldiers in the Army to whom the general rule I have mentioned applies.

Mr. Mander

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that these men, after having been prisoners of war for over three years and having held the rank of lance-corporal, feel very keenly indeed that now, having come home, they should lose that rank and have to go back to private; and will he consider the matter in the light of these men's feelings?

Sir J. Grigg

If the hon. Member has been listening to one of the earlier Questions asked me to-day, he will see that other people who have not been prisoners of war feel deeply about this matter too, and I am well aware of that. The matter has been exhaustively considered, and the present arrangements are considered to be the best calculated to be fair to all parties. I might remind the hon. Member that prisoners of war are already considerably better treated in this respect than others.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

Does the right hon. Gentleman believe that two blacks make a white?

Sir J. Grigg

I do not admit that they are black.