HC Deb 01 February 1945 vol 407 cc1599-601
6. Sir Douglas Hacking

asked the Minister of Labour whether he has yet reached a decision regarding the demobilisation of political agents from the Forces.

Mr. Bevin

The Government have given careful consideration to this matter and, with my hon. Friend's permission, I propose to circulate a full statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT describing the arrangements which will apply to candidates, agents and others.

Sir D. Hacking

Will the right hon. Gentleman's answer indicate an early release of the agents belonging to the political parties?

Mr. Bevin

I think my hon. Friend had better read the answer.

Following is the statement:

General Election—Release of Candidates, Agents, Organisers and Officials.


1. Subject to over-riding military considerations, potential candidates on the short list who are serving in the Forces will be granted adequate facilities (includ- ing, if necessary, short special leave) to enable them to appear personally before the Selection Committee of their prospective constituencies.

2. Application will be made by Party Headquarters to the Ministry of Labour and National Service and will indicate when the Election Committee is to meet. A small Committee consisting of representatives of the four main Party organisations will assist the Ministry of Labour and National Service in making their recommendations. If a favourable recommendation is made, the Service Departments will take the necessary steps to bring the candidate back to this country if he is overseas, but only normal travelling facilities will be used. The Service Departments will inform Party Headquarters when the man in question is likely to be available.

3. Adopted candidates will be temporarily released in adequate time before the Election. To enable this to be done, candidates who have already been adopted and are serving in or within easy reach of this country, including those selected under the arrangements in paragraph 2 above, will not be sent to more distant Commands pending the Election. Subject to the exigencies of the Service, adopted candidates serving in distant Commands will be brought home as soon as possible. If not elected to Parliament, adopted candidates will be recalled to the Forces.

Agents, Organisers and Officials

4. There will be provision for the early release from the Forces, Civil Defence Services and industry of:

  1. (a) recognised constituency agents or organisers, irrespective of the basis of their remuneration and whether they are to serve in the constituency to which they were previously attached or in some other constituency, and
  2. (b) the key staff of Headquarters and Regional Offices of political Parties. Release from the Forces will be subject to over-riding military considerations and to the individual's consent.

5. So far as releases from the Forces and Civil Defence Services are concerned, persons who were formerly part-time or honorary agents will not be excluded if now required as full-time agents, but in such cases it must be established that the persons were, in fact, formerly part-time or honorary agents. Persons who have not been agents before will, however, be excluded, and former constituency agents now wanted for Headquarters and Regional Offices will not be eligible for release unless they are posted at home and can easily be spared.

6. Agents, organisers and officials will be liable to recall to the Forces if they do not perform the work for which they have been released and will, in any event, be subject to recall after the Election.


7. The above rules will apply to the smaller political Parties and to Independent candidates, but the Ministry of Labour and National Service must be satisfied in any particular case that the candidate genuinely intends to contest the seat and that any agent applied for is wanted for a constituenecy which the Party or candidate intends to contest.

8. Temporary civil servants covered by the Servants of the Crown (Parliamentary Candidates) Order, 1927, who wish to become Parliamentary candidates will be permitted to apear before a Selection Committee and, if necessary, to address a subsequent "Adoption Meeting," whether held in public or not. They will not be permitted to appear again on any political platform or take part in any political activity or propaganda while they remain in the Civil Service. If adopted, they must resign from the Civil Service at a date not later than the date of the announcement that a General Election is to take place and their resignation will be final.

9. The above arrangements will cover the Election in Northern Ireland for the Imperial Parliament.

10. Special emergency arrangements will be made if the Election should take place at an unexpectedly early date.