HC Deb 14 December 1944 vol 406 cc1324-6
17. Mr. Francis Beattie

asked the Secretary of State for India if he can make an announcement about the application to the Indian Army of the 28 days' leave scheme recently announced by the Prime Minister.

Mr. Amery

I wish to take this opportunity of clearing up certain misconceptions which exist in regard to leave home for British personnel of the Indian Army. The War Office have for some time been operating a "home posting" scheme based on length of service overseas. As I have explained to the House this scheme cannot be applied as such to the Indian Army, but, in lieu of it, an Indian Army leave scheme for 61 days' leave at home has been introduced which is also primarily based on length of service overseas.

On the announcement of the new 28-day leave scheme, which as my hon. Friend is aware is not based primarily on length of service, I felt that it was essential that it should also be applied to the British personnel of the Indian Army in addition to the existing leave scheme in order that those who would not be eligible by length of service overseas should nevertheless have the advantage of a scheme intended to benefit those who had borne the burden of campaigns fought often in the most adverse climatic conditions. I am glad to say that arrangements have been made for the application of the scheme to British personnel of the Indian Army. Both regular personnel and emergency commissioned officers will be covered and the scheme will be applied in the same manner, both as regards numbers and conditions of eligibility, as it is being applied to the British Service. The Royal Indian Navy will also share in it. As in the British scheme the allotment of passages will be at the discretion of the Commanders-in-Chief concerned and will be dependent on operational necessities.

Mr. Beattie

Does my right hon. Friend realise that his statement will give great satisfaction to the personnel serving in the Indian Army?

Mr. J. J. Lawson

As this scheme applies to the men who have been serving for long years in India and other parts, can he tell us when they are likely to come home on leave in view of the fact that it is dependent on the Command?

Mr. Amery

I ought to make it clear that there are two leave systems. There is the longer home-leave system which has for some time now been applied to the British personnel with the Indian Army as well as to the British personnel of our Forces here; and there is a short-leave system which is also being applied to British personnel of the Indian Army. Both are coming into force.

Sir J. Mellor

How did the widespread misunderstanding about this arise?

Mr. Amery

I think it arose because it was not possible, without first making special arrangements, to say at once that it applied to those belonging to the Indian Army. As soon as the special arrangements could be worked out I was in a position to make this announcement.

Mr. Bellenger

Many of these officers and other ranks, with long service in the British Indian Army, have wives and families out there; does this scheme make any provision for families being brought to this country?

Mr. Amery

I think that as far as possible and as far as the great difficulties of shipping allow, that point is being looked into.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Can my right hon. Friend give an assurance that the scheme he has announced will not interfere in any way with the normal scheme of repatriation for long service?

Mr. Amery

I trust that it will not in any way interfere with that.

Mr. Evelyn Walkden

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is still widespread doubt about the ratio of troops who are allowed to come home on leave under any scheme, that in some cases it is one per 100 and in other cases one per 200 or 250 per month? Will the right hon. Gentleman's statement mean a change in that arrangement?

Mr. Amery

The purpose of the arrangement which I have announced is to enable British personnel of the Indian Army to enjoy facilities equal to those enjoyed by the British Army. The amount of facilities that can be granted either to the British Army or to the British personnel of the Indian Army necessarily depends on operational and shipping conditions, over which, naturally, I have no control.