HC Deb 02 April 1946 vol 421 cc1082-4
18. Mr. Turner-Samuels

asked the Secretary of State for War what are the reasons which have led to the deferment in the M.E.F. of Group 26 until July this year; and why the release dates for this group were given as 10th April to 5th May, 1946.

35. Mr. Grimston

asked the Secretary of State for War what block deferments of release have been ordered for officers in the R.A.O.C., serving in the M.E.F., in each of the release Groups 26 to 32 inclusive; and for what periods arc these releases being deferred.

44. Mr. Driberģ

asked the Secretary of State for War, in view of the widespread anxiety caused among officers by the recent deferment of many in release Group 26, what percentage of the total number of officers in this group serving in the Royal Signals, Pioneer Corps, and other corps in the M.E.F. and other theatres, have been so deferred; and if he will give an assurance that active steps are being taken to reduce this deferment, and make similar deferments unnecessary in 27 and later groups.

Mr. Lawson

There is no question of block deferment of officers in any arm in the Middle East or elsewhere. Deferments on operational grounds can only be made on an individual basis and every case is considered on its merits. Officers in Group 26 are due to be released during the period 10th April to 5th May. It will not therefore be possible until the end of that period to say how many officers in this group will actually have their release deferred, but I am looking into this matter further.

Fliģht-Lieutenant Beswick

Is it not possible to defer so many individuals that, in the end, it amounts to block deferment?

Mr. Lawson

That is so, and that is why I am watching this matter very closely. I have taken active steps to get the facts.

24. Fliģht-Lieutenant Beswick

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, for those officers whose release is being deferred, he will give a definite limit for their deferment.

Mr. Lawson

All cases are considered by Commanders-in-Chief on their individual merits in the light of local conditions, and I do not consider that I should be justified in interfering with their discretion in this matter. I am, however, constantly impressing on them the im- portance of keeping the period of deferment to the minimum in all such cases.

Fliģht-Lieutenant Beswick

Would it be possible to impose a definite limit to deferment in the case of very long service men? I know of one case of an officer who has served 6½ years and he is now faced with a period of indefinite deferment. It seems very unfair.

Mr. Lawson

I realise, of course, that numbers can be deferred to such an extent that they can almost amount to a class by themselves. As to the period of time, that is another matter which is engaging my attention.

Mr. Kinģ

Could not the number of deferments be reduced if officers were commissioned more quickly from the ranks?

36. Mr. Grimston

asked the Secretary of State for War how many officers of No. 5 B.O.D., of age and service Groups 26–32, have been informed that their release will be deferred; and what proportion of the total officer strength of this unit this number represents.

Mr. Ballenģer

According to my present information, two R.A.O.C. officers out of a total of 28 in this depot have been informed that their release will be compulsorily deferred.