HC Deb 17 December 1946 vol 431 cc1736-8
9. Mr. Arthur Lewis

asked the Secretary of State for War why Driver E. Turner, particulars of whom have already been sent him, was kept under close arrest for six months without trial; and whether he will make a statement in connection with this matter.

Mr. Bellenger

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

Following is the answer.

Driver Turner was concerned in an incident in May, with three other men, whom it was thought necessary to try first. The trials of the second and third of these men could not be held until September since special investigation was necessary. Driver Turner was tried on 1st October but the proceedings were not confirmed. A second trial was delayed because his family were trying to obtain the services of a certain lawyer to defend him. Eventually, Driver Turner refused this assistance and asked to be tried at once. His second trial took place on 29th November and he was sentenced to three years' penal servitude. I have not yet heard that the proceedings have been confirmed. I am satisfied that there was good reason for keeping him in close arrest while he was awaiting trial, and that the delay in bringing him to trial was unavoidable. The time spent in arrest however was taken into account in fixing his sentence.

11. Mr. W. R. Williams

asked the Secretary of State for War whether the account of 14610781 Private J. Walwyck, Med. Pln. Admin. Company, 2nd Royal Berkshire Regiment, S.E.A.C., has been revised, following the reduction of the soldier's voluntary allotment to his mother on 3rd December, 1945.

Mr. Bellenger

Following the reduction of the soldier's allotment in December, 1945, his unit was advised of the revised rate of pay available for issue. This information was repeated in routine notifications in April and August, 1946, and again on 3rd December, 1946, following a complaint by the soldier's mother. Payments made to him exhausted his available credit balance in July last, and the latest payments recorded are consistent with his full entitlement.

12. Dr. Comyns

asked the Secretary of State for War when the hon. Member for Silvertown can expect a reply to his letters of 4th September, 1946, and 19th November, 1946, relating to 14039062 Private L. Newlands, at present stationed in Troon, Ayrshire, who has appealed for a compassionate home posting near London.

Mr. Bellenger

A reply was sent to my hon. Friend today.

Mr. A. Lewis

May I ask my right hon. Friend why my hon. Friend has had to wait from 4th September to 17th December to receive a reply on such a simple matter as this?

Mr. Bellenger

I do not think that it was quite such a simple matter as my hon. Friend makes out. There was a delay of a few days due to my insistence on more information, and, as soon as I got that information, I replied to the hon. Member.

Mr. Lewis

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that if there were a few days' delay that does not take into account from 4th September to 17th December, which is more than a few days?

Mr. Bellenger

I quite agree, and I will look into that point.

43. Mr. William Teeling

asked the Secretary of State for War why the whereabouts of Mr. Waxman, 20, Sillwood Road, Brighton, were only recently discovered for calling-up purposes, in view of the fact that the Ministry of Labour, who issued the order, knew of his whereabouts all through the war and gave him permission to join the Merchant Navy in 1942, R.A.F. Ferry Command in 1944, and later allowed him to be transferred to B.O.A.C. and finally released him; what decision has been reached about his release; and the disciplinary action to by taken in this case.

Mr. Bellenger

A list is kept of men who are absent from their units; it is checked every six months and addresses, if known, furnished to the local police. It was as a result of one of these checks that Mr. Waxman's whereabouts were reported. His release group at present remains uncertain until particulars of his Merchant Navy service have been verified and taken into account. With regard to disciplinary action, he has been admonished by his commanding officer.

Mr. Teeling

Does the right hon. Gentleman not feel that the reprimand ought not to be given to this man but to the staff who could not find him, in view of all the points in the Question? He has worked with distinction in the service of this country all throughout the war and is now being made to train again for no apparent reason except that he is losing his regular employment.

Mr. Bellenger

That is not quite the position. This gentleman did avoid military service, although it is true he served in the Merchant Navy, but as soon as we verify certain particulars about his release group, I do not think he will have too long to serve in the Army.