HC Deb 07 March 1945 vol 408 cc2010-1
33. Mr. Glenvil Hall

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he will state the upper age limit for naval ratings posted to service on a foreign station; and if he will make provision to permit men in their forties who have served two years on such stations to be transferred for service in Home waters.

Mr. Alexander

There is no upper age limit for service abroad. The manpower situation makes it impossible for me to agree to the suggestion in the second part of my hon. Friend's Question.

Mr. Hall

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many of these men are in their forties and have served for several years in tropical waters, and that they are suffering badly as a result? Could nothing be done to bring them nearer home, even if they have to continue to serve?

Mr. Alexander

We do everything we possibly can. The length of the tour abroad is about 2½ years. The fact is that I could not man the Fleet if I were to make widespread arrangements of the kind the hon. Member has suggested.

Mr. Walter Edwards

Could not the right hon. Gentleman give sympathetic consideration to the point put by my hon. Friend? Could he not give instructions that men of that age should, when possible, be sent home?

Mr. Alexander

We do as much as we can in that connection and sympathetic consideration has always been given in that way, but I am afraid my hon. and gallant Friend must recognise that I have a very great problem in manning the Fleet with men of experience in leading rates.