HC Deb 28 November 1944 vol 404 cc2385-7
33. Mr. Quintin Hogg

asked the Secretary of State for War what is the minimum period of overseas service which qualifies for the leave scheme announced on 17th November.

Sir J. Grigg

In view of the very different circumstances of the overseas theatres concerned a wide measure of discretion has been left to the commanders-in-chief. They were simply given guidance to have regard to length of service and to good service particularly in the fighting line, but within these very general instructions I have no doubt that the practice will vary according to theatre.

Mr. Hogg

While appreciating the good reasons for my right hon. Friend's answer, may I ask whether he will under take to let the House know in some measure, how this scheme is working out and on what principles the various commanders-in-chief are using their discretion?

Sir J. Grigg

I will consider that, but I have not full information about some yet.

47. Captain Gammans

asked the Prime Minister if any preference is to be given to married men in the leave regulations for men in the Forces in the Mediterranean and the Far East.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Churchill)

No, Sir.

Captain Gammans

Does not my right hon. Friend feel, in view of the fact that very few men, comparatively speaking, can come home under this regulation, that an exception might be made for married men?

The Prime Minister

The matter of choice and the methods of conducting the choice are in the hands of the commanders-in-chief. I understand that the method which has been adopted in Italy is one of balloting, which is not unfamiliar to us. According to the first report I have had on the subject it is giving great satisfaction. Anyhow, unmarried people have feelings as well as married people.

50. Lieut. - Commander Hutchison

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the rigorous conditions of overseas service in war-time, he will consider increasing the scale of foreign service leave laid down in the Appendix to Cmd. 6548.

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. The scale of foreign service leave laid down in the Appendix to Command Paper 6548 was arrived at after the most careful consideration of all the various factors involved.

Lieut. - Commander Hutchison

Does not my right hon. Friend think that a good case can be made out for increasing the peace-time allowance of foreign service leave?

The Prime Minister

We are not in peace-time.

56. Mr. Driberg

asked the Prime Minister if he can make any further statement on the possibility of granting home leave for Christmas to soldiers now in the Mediterranean theatre.

The Prime Minister

In my statement on 17th November I expressed the hope that some men would be back from the Mediterranean by Christmas. The first contingent of officers and men from Italy will be here quite soon—I will not give the actual date. Another contingent is due before Christmas. The first detachment from the Middle East will arrive before the New Year. This is in full accordance with the expectations which I authorised.

Mr. Driberg

Is the Prime Minister aware that some disappointment was caused by a statement from G.H.Q., Middle East, which appeared to contradict or modify his original statement? Can we take it from what he says to-day that his original hope still holds good?

The Prime Minister

Yes, it certainly holds good. I have asked my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War to ascertain how this contradiction was put out in that form.