HC Deb 17 October 1944 vol 403 cc2181-5
19. Sir Robert Young

asked the Secretary of State for War whether his Department is alone responsible for the suggestion of returning long-serving service men to Britain to start families; if he is aware that the idea will prove unfair to one man as against another and give opportunities to men to get back to Britain on false grounds; and will he state the names of those composing the compassionate posting committee, their respective ages, whether married or single and the size of their families, with any other qualifications to determine considerations which should be the private concern of all married people.

37. Mr. Turton

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has now received a report on the provision of compassionate leave to men in the Middle East who wish to return home in order to start a family; and, if so, if he will make a statement.

81. Mr. Bellenger

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is now able to give the House any further information as to the orders issued in the midrib. East Command regarding transfer to home establishment in connection with marital obligations.

Sir J. Grigg

I understand that a full report is on its way by air. Until I have received it, hon. Members will, I hope, appreciate that I cannot add to what I said previously.

Sir R. Young

Will the matter contained in the report be circulated as soon as possible after it is received?

Sir J. Grigg

I should be quite glad to give my hon. Friend notice so that he may put down another Question.

Mr. Bellenger

May I ask my right hon. Friend why there has been such considerable delay in getting this report from the Middle East Command? Surely it could have been done in less than a week through the cable?

Sir J. Grigg

I do not admit there has been undue delay at all. In a matter of this delicacy, it is extremely important that I should be fully documented.

31. Major Keatinge

asked the Secretary of State for War if it is proposed to amend the rules whereby civilian service abroad before the war is not taken into account when military service overseas is being reckoned for purposes of posting home.

Sir J. Grigg

I have nothing at present to add to the reply I gave my hon. and gallant Friend on 3rd October.

Major Keatinge

Is my right hon. Friend aware that serving men and nursing sisters are now compelled to spend six or more years overseas, simply because they happened to be living abroad when they were called up or volunteered for service?

Sir J. Grigg

I said, "at present." I understand that there is a paper on my table at this moment on this subject, and if my hon. and gallant Friend will repeat his Question later, I may have something more specific to tell him.

32. Mr. Turton

asked the Secretary of State for War what percentage of the men serving in the Middle East have served overseas for a continuous period of four years.

Sir J. Grigg

Seven per cent.

Mr. Turton

Will my right hon. Friend consider an immediate reduction of non-operational establishments in the Middle East to secure that these men come home at once?

Sir J. Grigg

Every effort is made to reduce non-operational establishments in the Middle East, but the Middle East is still a considerable base for the Mediterranean and the Far East, and I do not believe that any further spectacular reduction can be made, although, of course, continuing gradual reductions can be made.

Mr. Turton

Could my right hon. Friend make representations to the commander of these Forces that a seven per cent. reduction should be aimed at during the next few months?

Sir J. Grigg

No, Sir, reductions have been going on constantly, under great pressure from the War Office, over a period of months, and I do not believe it is possible for him to make, within the next few months, a reduction of that amount.

Mr. Shinwell

Are any of these men married; and if so cannot the right hon. Gentleman make special exceptions in their case? It is much too long to keep these men away from their families.

Sir J. Grigg

Speaking from memory, I believe that just over one-third of the men are married.

Mr. Shinwell

Cannot anything be done in their case?

Sir J. Grigg

I did my best to explain last week the situation we were in, and I said that I was extremely unwilling to promise to do anything which I could not perform. At present, I do not see my way to performing anything more than is being done now.

75. Mr. James Griffiths

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will give special consideration to the position of men who, having served a long period in Malta are still serving overseas, have had no leave; and whether he will consider their early return, to this country.

72. Mr. Gledhill

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he can now consider granting leave to those members of the Forces who have been in the Middle East and Burma for over four years.

Sir J. Grigg

I made a full statement on these matters in answer to a number of Questions on 26th September. They were also dealt with on the Adjournment last Thursday. I am afraid that I am not in a position to add to my statements at present.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Will special consideration be given to the fact that these men served for three years in very difficult circumstances in Malta, and will they therefore be entitled to special consideration in this matter?

Sir J. Grigg

I think the majority of the people who have been serving long terms in Malta have been brought home, but there are still some there though not a very high proportion of the total number in Malta. I hape that they will get their turn in the course of the coming months and that, in course of time it will be possible to accelerate the process; but I am not able to go beyond the statement I made in the direction of a definite undertaking.

70. Mr. J. J. Lawson

asked the Secretary of State for War whether officers who have served four years in the Far East will be entitled to be returned to this country, in view of recent pronouncements concerning those serving in the Far East.

Sir J. Grigg

As I said in my statement on Thursday last, the arrangements are the same for all officers and all men in the same theatre. In individual cases an officer is, however, more liable than a soldier to have to stay at his post overseas for operational reasons.