HC Deb 27 February 1945 vol 408 cc1210-2
8. Mr. J. Glanville

asked the Secretary of State for War if he has made inquiries into the case of Signalman J. Cosgrove, 2332917, particulars of which have been sent to him, and will he explain why after having served for 4 years and 7 months with the forces overseas and only arriving in this country on 6th January, 1945, he has been notified that he is shortly to be again sent on overseas service.

Sir J. Grigg

This man came back to this country with his unit. When it was found that he was qualified for repatriation to this country on the grounds of long service overseas, steps were taken to ensure that he stayed here for at least three months under the normal rules.

Mr. Glanville

Is the Minister aware that this man was granted 28 days' leave, and was not even allowed to complete it, but was taken back into the Forces, inoculated and vaccinated and told that he was to be sent overseas?

Sir J. Grigg

I quite agree that a mistake was made. The man was brought home with his unit, which was on an operational move from one theatre to another. When it was discovered that he was entitled to repatriation, irrespective of the movement of his unit, the mistake made was remedied.

Sir Patrick Hannon

Would it be possible for the right hon. Gentleman in giving his replies to turn a little this way sometimes?

Hon. Members


11. Mr. McKinlay

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that soldiers who had served over four years with the M.E.F., on being transferred to the B.L.A., were informed they would be repatriated to this country on completion of four and a half years, that they have since been informed that the period is now five years and Army Group Orders quoted to that effect; and if the previous arrangement of four and a half years is cancelled.

Sir J. Grigg

As my answer is necessarily rather long, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Lord Willoughby de Eresby.

Mr. McKinlay

Will the right hon. Gentleman read it before he circulates it? If he does he will find the same mistake as was made in the case of the answer to Question 8—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I have called the next Question.

Mr. McKinlay

Am I not entitled to ask a supplementary question?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. Member was a little slow. I had called the next Question.

Mr. McKinlay

But I was on my feet.

Following is the answer:

Most of the officers and men posted to the B.L.A. from other theatres overseas have come here first and have had disembarkation leave. In the great majority of these cases this leave has not broken the continuity of their overseas service as reckoned for purposes of repatriation. I am not aware that any promise on the lines suggested by my hon. Friend was made to men transferred to the B.L.A. In any case he will appreciate that it is administratively impossible in a theatre of war for some officers and men to be subject to rules which differ from those which apply to others serving in the theatre. I regret therefore that those transferred to the B.L.A. cannot retain the conditions for repatriation which applied to them when they were serving elsewhere. The period which qualifies for repatriation from the B.L.A. is five years, which is a few months longer than the period which applies in the Mediterranean theatres. On the other hand men serving as near home as North West Europe have greater opportunities for leave to this country than those in Italy or other more distant theatres. Moreover, as I have said, so far most of those who have come to the B.L.A. from other theatres have had leave in this country and at the same time have been allowed to preserve their full Python rights.

31. Mr. Walter Edwards

asked the Secretary of State for War if there is an age limit for overseas service with the Army, and, if so, what is the age limit.

Sir J. Grigg

No soldier under 18½ is sent abroad at all, and it has not so far been necessary to send those between 18½ and 19 to theatres of war other than North-West Europe. There is no upper age limit for service overseas, but, before any officer or soldier is sent overseas, he is given a medical examination, and he is not sent unless he is passed fit for the duties he will be called upon to perform.

Mr. Edwards

Is my right hon. Friend aware that I have the case of a man who is now 45 years of age and has seven children, and who was sent overseas three years ago? Does he not consider that, in cases such as that, the man ought to he kept in this country rather than he sent overseas, and that younger people should be sent overseas?

Sir J. Grigg

If the job which the man is doing overseas is a job which is necessary, I do not, in the least, agree.