HC Deb 21 May 1946 vol 423 cc162-4
4. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Secretary of State for War upon what dates military personnel in release Groups 29 and 30 will leave East Africa, and upon what dates these personnel will arrive in the United Kingdom; and whether he is satisfied that their date of arrival is sufficiently early to permit these personnel to obtain full disembarkation leave prior to demobilisation.

13. Lieut.-Commander Clark Hutchison

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware of the dissatisfaction felt by officers and other ranks in Groups 29 to 31 at present serving in East Africa Command at the delay in repatriating them for release with their groups; and whether he will make a full statement on this subject.

20 and 30. Mr. J. L. Williams

d the Secretary of State for War (1) if the announcement recently made by H.Q., East Africa Command, that the next shipping opportunity for personnel proceeding to the United Kingdom for demobilisation is not expected to be before June, means that men of Groups 29 and 30 will not arrive until after the dates set for release; and if he will reconsider this matter;

(2) if he is aware that N.C.Os. in Kenya Colony, due to be repatriated last month after completion of the stipulated term of overseas service, were not allowed to proceed to Nairobi transit camp in time for shipment and had to return to their units to wait indefinitely; and if he will consider means for the early repatriation of these men.

47. Major Legge-Bourke

d the Prime Minister which Department of His Majesty's Government was responsible for making the decision to delay the repatriation of 600 officers and other ranks from East Africa in order that a contingent from East Africa might arrive in time for the Victory parade, and why this decision was made.

68. Mr. Keenan

d the Secretary of State for War why transport arrangements have not been made so that men of the East Africa Command in age and service Groups 29 and 30 could be home for demobilisation in the period set for their release; why men for the Victory parade, and men being demobilised under Class B were given preference to travel; and if he will take steps to alter such arrangements and prevent discontent arising.

Mr. Lawson

This decision was taken by the War Office in consultation with the Admiralty and Air Ministry. It was considered essential that the contingents for the Victory March from East Africa, Aden, Mauritius, Seychelles, St. Helena and High Commission Territories, should reach this country in time to take part in the parade. In order to ensure this, it was necessary to give them priority over other personnel due for repatriation to this country and this unfortunately involved some delay in the release of about 600 men serving in East Africa I very much regret that this delay should have occurred. All those whose repatriation either for release or Python has been delayed are due to sail on a ship which is expected to leave East Africa on about 5th June and should reach this country about the end of June. I am advised that there is unfortunately no possibility of providing a ship before that date.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Does that answer mean that as a result of a deliberate decision of the War Office the demobilisation of 600 men has been held up in order to facilitate the arrival of contingents for 8th June?

Mr. Lawson

Yes, that Is so, and I very much regret that the result has been such as it has, but it was not foreseen that it would be the result at that particular time. I have taken steps to see that there is no repetition of this incident in any other part of the world.

Mr. Keenan

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in addition to—

Major Legge-Bourke

I beg to give notice—

Mr. Speaker

I hope that the hon. and gallant Member will not give notice while a question is being asked by an hon. Member who also had a Question on this subject.

Major Legge-Bourke

It was on the previous Question—

Mr. Speaker

After a previous Question has been dealt with and passed, the hon. and gallant Gentleman cannot give notice of raising that matter on the Adjournment.

Mr. Keenan

Is my hon. Friend aware that in addition to those who were being sent home for the Victory Parade, there were men in Group B and also men who have been demobilised, younger men, sent from East Africa? That did cause and does cause discontent among the men. We have all had correspondence over it.

Major Legge-Bourke

I beg to give notice that in view of the unsatisfactory nature of the replies given by the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Transport, and the reply given this afternoon, I will raise the matter on the Adjournment on Thursday, 30th May.