HC Deb 04 March 1947 vol 434 cc447-9

3 a.m.

Vice-Admiral Taylor

I beg to move, in page 9, line 14, at the end, to insert: (2) Notwithstanding anything contained to the contrary in the King's Regulations and Admiralty Instructions, Volume 1, Section 385, or in any other provision, any member of the Polish resettlement forces shall be eligible for enlistment in His Majesty's Navy. The object of this Amendment is, of course, that personnel in the Resettlement Corps may be permitted to enlist in His Majesty's Navy as they are now permitted to enlist in the Army and the Air Force. Under present King's Regulations and Admiralty Instructions, no alien is allowed to enlist in His Majesty's Navy. Therefore, my Amendment is to remove that disability, so that the personnel of these forces may, if they wish to do so, have the opportunity of enlisting in His Majesty's Navy. There is no question about the services and the efficiency of the personnel of the Polish Navy. They are small in numbers, but they did immensely good service with us during the war, although not so great as the service done by the Polish Army and Air Force. I know from letters I have received how keenly the personnel of the Polish Navy feel on this matter. They feel—wrongly, I admit—that they have been let down. They do not understand that the Regulations prohibit them from enlisting in His Majesty's Navy. I think we are agreed, at any rate on this side of the House, that for the personnel of these forces we should do all we can to assist them in the terrible position in which they find themselves at the present time. If this Amendment is to be accepted, there are two points which I wish to raise. One is that the administration of those who enlist in His Majesty's Navy shall not be under military control, but shall have their own control. There is also the question of the pay rates in the Polish Navy, which are somewhat different from ours, and I hope that if this Amendment is accepted, that matter will be looked into. I hope that the Amendment will be accepted by the Government.

Major Legge-Bourke

I beg to second the Amendment.

It is with some trepidation that I salute the quarter-deck for the purpose of supporting this Amendment. I feel there is little that need be added to what my hon. and gallant Friend has said, and if I have risen to second the Amendment, it was with the desire to assist in piping the Poles on board.

The Parliamentary and Financial Secretary to the Admiralty (Mr. John Dugdale)

I quite appreciate the point that has been made by the hon. and gallant Member for South Paddington (Vice-Admiral Taylor), but I think he does not quite appreciate the position as it exists today, which is briefly as follows. Under King's Regulations and Admiralty Instructions, persons born out of His Majesty's Dominions are only to be entered if proof is produced that both parents are or were British subjects. but that is not a law, and it does not require amendment. Exceptions can, in fact, be made, and I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that in this case the Admiralty do intend to make the exception that he requires. I hope this assurance will satisfy him.

Vice-Admiral Taylor

I am very much obliged to the Parliamentary Secretary for that decision, which will give great satisfaction to these men who have served us so well. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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