HC Deb 01 February 1945 vol 407 cc1606-8
16. Mr. Quintin Hogg

asked the Secretary of State for India how many years continuous service overseas must be completed by British ranks of the Indian Army before they are given the benefit of the 61 days' leave scheme which is to take the place of the Python scheme for such British ranks.

The Secretary of State for India (Mr. Amery)

I assume my hon. Friend is referring to the permanent cadre of the India Unattached List. The rule for them is the same as for British officers of the Indian Army and they must have completed five years' overseas service before they are eligible for home leave. British ranks of the Indian Army who are not permanent members of the India Unattached List are eligible for home posting under the War Office scheme.

Mr. Hogg

Having regard to the fact that, for other purposes, India is a command in which the period of overseas service is least, will not my right hon. Friend consider the case of the men who have to spend five years in India before they can come back even for 61 days?

Mr. Amery

I fully understand the difficulties, which are not only shipping difficulties but operational difficulties. These make it difficult for commanders-in-chief to spare a large number of highly experienced men simultaneously.

Mr. Hogg

Does not the efficiency of an officer or a man, after five years out there, become seriously impaired, and is not this a very short-sighted policy?

Mr. Amery

This is a matter which must be left to the discretion of the military authorities on the spot who, I am sure, are as well aware of that as my hon. Friend.

Mr. A. Bevan

Is not the Minister aware that letters now being received by Members of this House show a state of mind in which many officers cannot be any longer regarded as necessary for operational duties; and is it not the case that they ought to be given leave as early as possible, if the morale of the Army is to be maintained?

Mr. Amery

I am fully aware of the fact that many officers and men feel the hardship of long separation from this country, but whatever they may feel or write on that subject, I do not believe that they would allow their efficiency to be impaired.

Mr. Bevan

They cannot help it.

Mr. Turton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that married Air Force personnel in India come back after three years, and is it not very unfair that the Regular soldier should have to serve an extra two years in India?

Mr. Amery

I think my hon. Friend will understand that the extra period which may be served by a Regular soldier in the British Army in India is a matter for the War Office. What I am dealing with is the question of those belonging to the Indian Army, which requires men with special experience in handling Indian troops. I am sorry to say that it is not so easy to spare such men as other British troops. We do our best in the matter, but we have to consider operational necessities.

Mr. Hogg

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible moment.

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