HC Deb 31 October 1944 vol 404 cc618-9
40. Mr. Hammersley

asked the Secretary of State for War whether full consideration has been given to the desirability of treating the repatriation of soldiers with over three years' continuous service overseas as a matter of more urgent importance than that of demobilisation.

Sir J. Grigg

I am not quite clear what the hon. Member has in mind as obviously demobilisation, by which he presumably means release, does not call for action until after Germany has been defeated. But I can certainly give the hon. Member an assurance that no resources, whether of man-power or shipping, are at present being diverted from purposes of repatriation to release. In the period between the defeat of Germany and that of Japan, there will be a re-allocation of the nation's man-power resources, including those of the Army. There will be many conflicting claims on those resources but the repatriation of men with long service overseas will remain urgent and important. Most of these men will clearly fall into the earlier release groups.

Mr. Hammersley

While thanking my right hon. Friend for those assurances, may I ask him whether he is aware that there is a prevalent feeling in this country that there are in training establishments here a large number of officers and men who would welcome the opportunity of serving overseas, thus giving those who have been abroad so long a chance to come back an leave?

Sir J. Grigg

Oddly enough, the training establishments at home are among the places to which I have devoted some attention, but I think the estimate of the people immediately available for overseas service is very much exaggerated as they consist very largely of people who are recovering after being wounded and those who have actually been repatriated from overseas.