HC Deb 23 January 1945 vol 407 cc623-4
18. Mr. Rhys Davies

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the mother, sister and recently the wife of No. 5054628, Gunner J. Simm, A Division, C Company, No. 2 South African Convalescent Depot, C.M.F., a native of Westhoughton, Lancashire, have all died since he has been serving in the Forces and that he has been refused compassionate leave since the death of his wife; and will he reconsider his decision in this case.

The Secretary of State for War (Sir James Grigg)

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

Mr. Davies

Does not my right hon. Friend think that in the case of the death of the wife of a soldier he should automatically be allowed compassionate leave to come home to clear up problems which must necessarily arise?

Sir J. Grigg

Not automatically, particularly where there are no children. Perhaps the hon. Member will read my answer and see if it does not really dispose of his case.

Following is the answer:

On 18th October last an application was made for the return to this country of Gunner Simm on account of his wife's illness. His wife died on 19th October. A further application was made on 6th November to enable him to dispose of two insurance policies due upon the death of his wife. The facts were reported to the Commander-in-Chief, who has the final decision in such cases. He has evidently decided that the case is not strong enough, in comparison with the many others which he receives, to warrant repatriation. He may have been influenced by the fact that free legal aid is available to soldiers overseas and insurance policies can be disposed of by the grant of a power of attorney. As far as I am aware, the deaths of Gunner Simm's mother and sister have not hitherto been mentioned. Moreover, they took place, so I understand, before the death of his wife. Gunner Simm has no children. In general a man is only repatriated if his presence in this country can alleviate hardship. While I have every sympathy with Gunner Simm in his loss, I regret that on the information I have the grounds for his return to this country are not as strong as in many other distressing cases.