HC Deb 15 October 1945 vol 414 cc684-5
45. Flight-Lieutenant Teeling

asked the Prime Minister whether he will instruct the Service Departments that all returned prisoners of war, from whatever theatre, shall be granted Christmas leave this year at home.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)

Prisoners of war liberated from the Japanese will normally be on repatriation or release leave at Christmas time this year, unless they are on Regular engagements or have elected to serve on. Personnel released from other theatres have been granted, if in the Navy, 14 days plus seven days for each six months in captivity, or, if in the Army or R.A.F., a minimum of 42 days' repatriation leave. On return to units after this leave, the men take their place on the normal leave roster. It would be inequitable to give them the further preference suggested; there may be many others who have been unable to have Christmas leave in past years, including some with long overseas service. While it is not the intention to impose special travel restrictions on Service personnel at Christmas, the numbers who can proceed on leave at any one time are necessarily limited and it is ununkely that more than about 10 per cent. of the Forces at home can be at home on Christmas Day.

Flight-Lieutenant Teeling

Are we to understand that it is going to be possible this Christmas for Service personnel to travel? Normally, they are not supposed to.

Mr. Attlee

I cannot say more on this matter than I have said about the possibility of there being 10 per cent.

Mr. Keeling

Do 14 days, plus seven days, mean 21 days, or do they mean something quite different?

Mr. Attlee

My addition would make it 21 days.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Is it a fact, as stated in some newspapers to-day, that some serving men, including prisoners of war, who are on their way home, might not be home at Christmas because of the trouble at the docks?

Mr. Attlee

That is an entirely different question.