HC Deb 13 February 1945 vol 408 cc25-6
44. Mr. Hynd

asked the Secretary of State for War to what extent soldiers serving abroad who have been awarded either field punishment or forfeiture of pay for any reason are further penalised by being excluded from the ballots for leave or, if drawn in the ballot, refused such leave and their qualifying period of service counted only from the conclusion of the period of penalty, and if this rule has been made retrospective to men who were awarded punishment prior to the leave ballot scheme being introduced.

Sir J. Grigg

The Prime Minister made it clear that the leave scheme was intended for those who for a considerable length of time have borne the burden of campaigns overseas. The general directions issued to commanders-in-chief consequently made it clear that leave should be regarded as a reward for good service, weight being given to length of overseas service. I do not know how men who have undergone terms of field punishment, detention or penal servitude are being dealt with in every instance, but it would not be unreasonable to exclude those who have recently received these punishments. It is, however, unlikely that men who have only forfeited pay are being treated in this way.

Mr. Evelyn Walkden

Are we to assume that when an ordinary, simple transgression is involved seven days' field punishment will be regarded as depriving a man of his title?

Sir J. Grigg

As I have said, I do not know whether there is a rigid rule. All I say is that in recent cases like that, it seems to me quite natural that the people who have rendered unfailingly good service should be preferred.

Mr. Hynd

In view of the terms of the Minister's answer, and of his insistence on recent cases, if I provide him with particulars of cases where punishments were made retrospective for a considerable time before the order was issued, and also cases of trivial offences where only forfeiture of pay was concerned, will he have inquiries made?

Sir J. Grigg

By all means, I will certainly look into them, although I am bound to say, as regards the former case, with an unsympathetic mind, because it seems to me that when there is only a limited amount of leave going it should be a reward for good service. Serious offences within the last six months should put a man back. As regards trivial offences, resulting in forfeiture of pay only, I would be happy to look into them with a much more open mind.