HC Deb 20 November 1946 vol 430 cc847-9
46. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Minister without Portfolio how many of those members of His Majesty's Forces now in prison were sentenced for crimes of turpitude and how many for Forces offences; how many of these offences were proved to have been caused by domestic trouble in the lives of the offenders; and if he will take steps to review these cases.

Mr. Bellenger

Some of the figures asked for are not available or could only be obtained after lengthy research which I do not feel would be justified in present conditions. I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT such figures as are available. I have no information about the number of cases due to domestic trouble, but this factor is always taken into account by courts martial in awarding sentences and also by the reviewing authority when sentences are periodically reviewed.

Mr. Hughes

In view of the shortage of manpower, will the Minister take steps to restore as many of these men as possible to the Forces, to industry. and to their families?

Mr. Bellenger

Yes, Sir, but I should like to have the assistance of those who are absentees and deserters.

Mr. Janner

Is there any method of revising these sentences so that in cases where leniency might be extended, it shall be extended?

Mr. Bellenger

Yes, Sir, and they are constantly being revised.

Brigadier Low

What is the distinction between crimes of turpitude and Forces offences?

Mr. Bellenger

In the statement that I am circulating in HANSARD, I am distinguishing between what are known as civil offences and military offences.

Following are the figures:

Of 1,338 soldiers convicted by courts martial and serving sentence in military prisons and detention barracks in the United Kingdom on 9th November, 1946, in were sentenced for civil and 1,227 for military offences.

On 31st October, 1946, a total of 1,570 soldiers were in civil prisons in the United Kingdom, 430 convicted by courts martial and 1,140 by civil courts. Of the former 212 were for purely military offences and 218 for civil or combined civil and military offences.

The number of airmen serving sentences in civil prisons and military prisons and detention barracks in the United Kingdom is as follows:

In civil prisons and Borstal institutions:
For civil offences 94
For Service offences 43
In military establishments:
For Service offences only 192