HC Deb 18 December 1946 vol 431 cc1955-6
47. Mr. Swingler

asked the Minister without Portfolio whether a system for the representation of collective grievances and suggestions is now being instituted in the three Services.

The Minister without Portfolio (Mr. A. V. Alexander)

In all three Services arrangements now exist for the consideration of collective and individual suggestions. In the Army and Royal Air Force request hours have been instituted. In the Royal Air Force station committees representative of all ranks are also being established. A collective machinery for suggestions has for many years been in operation in the Royal Navy: this is now being overhauled with a view to improvement. The collective submission of complaints is a much more difficult problem in the case of disciplined Forces. The question is being examined in detail, but I cannot say at present whether any change will be practicable. Adequate facilities exist for the submission of complaints by individuals.

Mr. Driberg

Will my right hon. Friend see that form S.272 is revised further in the light of this statement? It was revised about 18 months ago.

Mr. Alexander

I will make a note of the suggestion and look into it.

Mr. McGovern

May I ask whether we cannot now have a revival of the old Labour Party idea of soldiers', sailors' and airmen's councils?

Mr. Alexander

I have nothing to add at the moment to what I have already said.

Mr. Callaghan

What is the difference between a collective grievance and a collective suggestion? Where is the line drawn?

Mr. Alexander

I should have thought there was a vast difference between collective suggestion, which may well tend to avoid complaints, and a mass meeting in order to produce something quite different.

Mr. Thurtle

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether in considering this question he will obtain information from other European countries, including Russia, as to what means their men have of representing their grievances?

Mr. Alexander

We have some ideas about that.

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