HC Deb 11 December 1945 vol 417 cc186-91
5. Mr. Asterley Jones

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is now able to state the approximate dates of release of officers in Group 22 and subsequent groups.

89. Major Bruce

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will state the reasons for the delay in demobilisation of officers in the Royal Signals falling in Groups 21, 22 and 23; whether he is aware that Royal Signals personnel in S.E.A.C. have recently had their leave stopped; and whether he is prepared to ensure that officers and other ranks in this corps are demobilised pari passu with those of other corps in the Army and that their normal leave facilities are granted them as in the case of other corps.

107. Mr. Heathcoat Amory

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is yet able to give specific dates by which the various groups of officers who have been held back will be released, so that these officers may make revised arrangements for taking up their peacetime careers and re-establishing their homes.

Mr. Lawson

The revised dates for normal releases of officers are as follow: —

Group 21— Up to 9th January, 1946.

Group 22— 10th January to 24th January.

Group 23— 25th January to 19th February.

Group 24— Starting 20th February; to be completed at.a date to be announced later.

These dates apply equally to the Royal Corps of Signals. I have no information regarding the stoppage of leave of Signals personnel in S.E.A.C. I am prepared to investigate any particular complaint.

Mr. Jones

When will it be possible to announce the dates of release of officers in groups subsequent to No. 24?

Mr. Lawson

I should like to see that Question on the Order Paper.

Mr. Stephen

Will the Secretary of State arrange with the Minister of Labour to publish another edition of the Demobilisation pamphlet, so that, with these changes, it may be brought up to date?

Mr. Lawson

I will draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to that suggestion.

39. Major Bruce

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware than an order was issued in India Command in the first week in November that all demobilisation and repatriation of British personnel in the R.W.A.F.F. would cease until all the Africans had been returned to their homes; whether he will give the reasons for the issue of this order; and whether he has any further comments to make upon it.

Mr. Lawson

This matter has already been the subject of numerous Questions by hon. Members. I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend particularly to the replies I gave on 13th November to the hon. and gallant Member for Horn-castle (Commander Maitland) and on 4th December to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Cambridge (Major Symonds).

Major Boyd-Carpenter

Will the right hon. Gentleman say how long this is going on?

Mr. Lawson

As a matter of fact, these men are being repatriated now. There is no standstill, they are now being repatriated, and as far as these officers and N.C.Os. are concerned, I think most people realise that they are the leaders of the men and are necessary until the repatriation is complete.

40. Mr. Driberg

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that a number of men in release Group 23, serving in a unit of B.A.O.R., of whose identity he has been informed, have been notified that they are to leave for home on 18th and 19th December; and if, since the journey to the United Kingdom customarily takes at least four days, he will cause the departure of these men to be so expedited that they will be released from the Army not later than 20th December, the date officially announced as the latest for the release of Group 23, and thus be enabled to spend Christmas at their homes.

Mr. Lawson

These men should be home by Christmas unless sailings have to be cancelled at the last moment, but I do not feel justified in taking special steps to get them home out of their turn.

Mr. Driberg

Is my right hon. Friend aware that they are not asking to be brought home out of their turn, but in their turn, so that they can be demobilised with the rest of their group, and that they will not be home for Christmas unless he flies them home or takes some other special steps?

Mr. Lawson

I have stated that the men will be home by Christmas unless something unforeseen happens to the transport.

41. Mr. William Williams

asked the Secretary of State for War when he proposes to issue a statement regarding the release of members of the special communications unit, as promised in a letter dated 6th November, to the hon. Member for Heston and Isleworth.

Mr. Lawson

This question has been under consideration since the letter was sent to my hon. Friend. It has been decided that, since the need for them continues, the men must be retained either until they become redundant or until they qualify for release under the release scheme, whichever is the earlier.

Mr. Williams

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the serious concern felt by men in this unit regarding the constant chopping and changing in the conditions of demobilisation, and in the amount of gratuities and leave granted to them, and will he have special inquiries made?

Mr. Lawson

I am not aware of the facts stated. I will have some inquiries made, but these men are a special class. They will be released if they are redundant, but otherwise they cannot be released in advance of their group any more than other men.

Mr. Williams

Will my right hon. Friend say why they are being retained, because my information is that there is not very much work on hand at the present time?

Mr. Lawson

I will make inquiries on the point raised by my hon. Friend.

65. Squadron-Leader Sir Gifford Fox

asked the Secretary of State for War how many of the 10,000 agricultural workers to be given Class B block releases are to be taken from the Army; what conditions with regard to the age and length of service categories of these men will be applied; and how many men will be released during the next three months, respectively.

Mr. Lawson

I understand the Army quota is about 6,700. In selecting for bulk release the usual preference will be given to the earlier age and service groups but I cannot yet say how many groups will be affected nor how many releases will be made in each of the next three months. The latter depends largely on the numbers who happen to be serving abroad.

70. Mr. Janner

asked the Secretary of State for War whether British men compulsorily transferred from the R.W.A.F.F. to the Indian Army are outside the provisions of regulations for release from the Army.

Mr. Lawson

So far as can be discovered in the time available, no British Army officers or other ranks in the R.W.A.F.F. have been transferred to the Indian Army. Personnel of the Indian Army are dealt with under the Indian Army demobilisation scheme, and not under the Release Regulations.

Mr. Janner

Will my right hon. Friend see if he can expedite the release of these men in India in view of the very considerable dissatisfaction that prevails in respect to their present circumstances?

Mr. Lawson

I will note the suggestion made by my hon. Friend.

83. Lieutenant W. Shepherd

asked the Secretary of State for War why the release of officers of the R.A.P.C. is being deferred, despite the fact that in many offices their numbers arc increasing.

Mr. Lawson

Pay Offices are under very great pressure because of the mass of extra work thrown on them by the release scheme. Despite the efforts made to obtain suitable officers to cope with the extra work, and as replacements of those due for release, it has been necessary to defer release in some cases.

Lieutenant Shepherd

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that those conditions do not obtain in certain offices of which I have knowledge, and will he take action if I give him information of specific cases?

Mr. Lawson

I am not aware of it, and I would be surprised if there was any slackness in these Pay Offices, because Pay and Records are kept fully employed in matters of demobilisation.

90. Colonel Stoddart-Scott

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that the Horsforth Urban District Council are unable to commence their housing scheme of 144 houses until their two surveyors, Captain Dean and Lieutenant Marsden, are released from the Army; that in October the Minister of Health recommended the release of both men; if they are to be offered demobilisation under Class B; and when they are likely to be released from the Army.

Mr. Lawson

Both officers were in India. Release instructions were sent in October. I have no information as to the present position, but am making inquiries and will inform the hon. and gallant Member.