HC Deb 22 October 1946 vol 427 cc1456-7
19. Mr. Walter Fletcher

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the exceptionally strong grounds put before him for the release from service of Lieutenant David Barden, he will now reconsider his previous decision.

Mr. J. Freeman

In view of his age and release group, this officer cannot be considered for indefinite release for purely business reasons. He has been offered temporary release on three occasions and this offer remains open.

Mr. Fletcher

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that in this as in other cases, for young soldiers whose parents are either dead or very ill, temporary release is really no answer? Unless a new policy is adopted, they may lose the whole of the business they might otherwise get, through not being given special consideration.

Mr. Freeman

I realise that there are difficulties in these cases, but the fact remains that, while there are more people urgently requiring compassionate release than we can afford to release, some framework of rules has to be devised for allotting vacancies, and it seems to as that preference should be given to soldiers who have a certain amount of service. This particular soldier is under 20 and in group 65.

29. Mr. Yates

asked the Secretary of State for War why 2198535 Sapper F. S. Hadley, R.E., C.M.F., was under close arrest for 129 days from 6th April to 13th August awaiting court martial and more than a further 47 days awaiting a sentence of three years' penal servitude for desertion; why a letter, dated 9th May, from a relative was not acknowledged before 4th October; and if he will review the sentence and also take steps to prevent soldiers and their relatives suffering unnecessary anxiety from long periods of arrest before trial.

The Secretary of State for War (Mr. Bellenger)

I have called for a report regarding the time spent awaiting trial and will write to my hon. Friend. An instruction was recently sent to all commands stressing the need to avoid delay in these cases. A letter dated 9th May was received in this particular case and the writer was informed on 22nd May that the matter had been referred overseas. The result was notified to the writer on 4th October. The sentence will be reviewed at least every six months in accordance with the normal procedure, when any special circumstances will be taken into account.

Mr. Yates

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, even though a relative was notified on 4th October, this man's wife has not been notified at all, and will this long period of waiting be taken into consideration in a further review of the sentence of this man?

Mr. Bellenger

The answer to the latter part of the question is "Yes, Sir." In answer to the first part, I was not aware of that, but I presume that the answer was to an individual inquiry.