HC Deb 19 February 1946 vol 419 cc928-31
3. Captain Charles Smith

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has considered the case, submitted to him by the hon. and gallant Member for Colchester, of an N.C.O. who has been refused an O.C.T.U. course for the A.E.C., despite the recommendation of a War Office selection board; whether he will state the reason for the ban on this individual; and whether, in view of the shortage of officers of the A.E.C., he will reconsider the case.

Mr. Lawson

I have reconsidered this case, but I have nothing to add to the letter I sent my hon. and gallant Friend on 11th December, 1945.

Captain Smith

Does the Minister consider, having regard to the record and character of this man and his proven abilities, as shown in the documents I have sent, that adequate use is being made of his services at the present time?

Mr. Lawson

As I stated to my hon. and gallant Friend in the letter I wrote, the Army Council, or those they delegate to deal with these matters, cannot abrogate their responsibility in these matters and they are the final authority.

Colonel Thornton-Kemsley

Could it be that the political opinions of this N.C.O. were found not to coincide with the Left Wing leanings of the great majority of members of the Army Educational Corps?

Mr. Lawson

This rule, as I have stated, applies to all, irrespective of opinion.

70. Mr. Piratin

asked the Secretary of State for War why 7384299 Corporal G. A. Harman, R.A.M.C, who enlisted in August, 1940, embarked for Middle East August, 1941, and returned to United Kingdom under Python on 21st September, 1945, was reposted for service out of the United Kingdom on 15th December, 1945; why this soldier received no embarkation leave; and if he will arrange for his immediate return to home posting.

The Financial Secretary to the War Office (Mr. Bellenger)

This non-commissioned officer is a qualified radiographer and was posted as such to a hospital ship in December, 1945. This ship is classed as a home based unit and returns to the United Kingdom at frequent intervals. Personnel joining such a ship are not entitled to embarkation leave, but opportunities for leave are always afforded when the ship returns to this country. When this ship arrives home in the very near future Corporal Harman will be transferred to a home posting.

74. Mr. Piratin

asked the Secretary of State for War why Soong Kwong, having on two previous occasions been acquitted by the assessors, was tried on 3rd January for the third time for the same offence by a military court at Kuala Lumpur; if he is aware of the protests made against his sentence by the Central Committee of M.P A.J.A. to Lord Louis Mountbatten; and if he will take steps to secure the immediate release of Soong Kwong.

Mr. Bellenger

I have called for a report on this case, and as soon as it is received I write to the hon. Member.

Mr. J. Langford-Holt

On a point of order. Can we have a translation of M.P.A.J.A.?

Mr. Piratin

M.P.A.J.A. means the Malay People's Anti-Japanese Association.

75. Mr. Piratin

asked the Secretary of state for War whether, in the case of 2371253, Lance-Corporal G. Rabin, particulars of which have been supplied, who was recalled to his unit contrary to the terms of a letter to the hon. Member for Mile End from the Financial Secretary 0 the War Office, dated 27th September, 1945, the immediate return of this soldier to the United Kingdom will be authorised and appropriate action taken to see that lower units do not override an authority from his Department granting compassionate release to a soldier.

Mr. Bellenger

There was no question of a lower unit overriding the authority of the War Office in this case. Before the release authority had reached the unit the soldier had returned overseas. If it had been realised that the soldier was simply on leave in this country and not on the Home Establishment, steps would have been taken to retain him while the case was being considered. I do not consider that the circumstances of this case are sufficiently serious to warrant any recommendation for repatriation on compassionate grounds being sent to the overseas Command.

Mr. Piratin

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the information he has just provided to us does not tally with the information provided to me in the course of the correspondence with his Department, and that at one time, in September, this leave was granted, and that subsequently the man was found to have returned to the unit from which he had come to this country? How does he explain that a decision of the War Office on the one hand, as indicated in that letter, is overridden by the unit Commander on the other?

Mr. Bellenger

In these cases, where a man has come home from overseas and a case is put up for the compassionate release of that man, we endeavour, at the War Office, to hold him here while the case is being considered. In this case the man, unfortunately, left this country and went back to his unit before we could come to a decision.