16. Mr. Robertson
asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has considered the possibility of instituting a leave service from Italy to the United Kingdom which will allow long service men with the Eighth Army a brief reunion with their families?
§ 27. Mr. John Dugdale
asked the Secretary of State for War whether arrangements have now been completed by which all men who have served continuously overseas for six years will be sent home by the end of this year?
The Secretary of State for War (Sir James Craig)
Such shipping as can be made available for Moving troops for reasons other than operational requirements and sickness is being used to bring back to the home establishment men who have been overseas for many years, and, as I said in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for West Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) on 12th October, I hope that most of those men who have been abroad for six years and more will be brought back to this country by the end of this year. These arrangements rightly have the first call on our shipping resources. A short leave system, which implies bringing a considerable number of men to this country and then sending them back, is at present, I regret, entirely beyond our means.
When we can get large numbers of troops into Italy why should it be so difficult to get small numbers out? And will the right hon. Gentleman consider moving leave troops in small craft to Tunisia and thence by fast ship to a West of England port?
§ Sir J. Grigg
Every conceivable consideration in the matter has been taken into account and conned over very carefully.
§ Mr. Bowles
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that convoys which have reached this country in the last three or four weeks have been partly made up of completely empty liners?
§ Sir J. Grigg
Perhaps the hon. Member will give me particulars. I do not know the movements of every ship.
§ Mr. Magnay
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, so far as my experience 17 goes, we, who have numbers of men in the 50th Division, can only get leave for them by application to the War Office? Would it not be far better for the Minister to make some form of quota whereby men could be taken regularly, not because they have written to their Members, but according to length of service?