§ 27. Mr. Medland
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty why refusal to allow men to buy themselves out of the Royal Marines is persisted in, when these men desire to go overseas to 1974 take up lucrative appointments and business careers; and under what conditions men may buy themselves out of the Service.
With the reductions already made in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, and those now in progress, the burden of maintaining efficiency devolves more and more on men serving on regular engagements. At present therefore it is practicable to release Royal Marines from their regular engagements only in cases where there are exceptional compassionate circumstances.
§ Mr. Medland
Will my hon. Friend please explain why it is that men are not allowed to buy themselves out now, when there are so many additional numbers in the Forces, whereas they could always do so between the wars when there were so few?
I was simply waiting for the next question; I am perfectly prepared to answer. At present we are engaged in building up the regular strength of the Royal Navy and, until that is completed, it is difficult to give discharges as often as we would like. I hope, naturally, that as that strength is built up we shall be able to give discharges more frequently than we can now.
§ Mr. Rankin
In view of the fact that some of the men concerned are finding difficulty in making the necessary payment, would my hon. Friend allow them to make the payment out of the bounty money which is due to them?
Mr. H. D. Hughes
Does my hon. Friend really think it helps regular recruiting to the Navy and other Services if men know that once they have taken a regular engagement there is no way they can get out of it, no matter what their circumstances may be?
That is not true. They can, in fact, in exceptional compassionate circumstances, but I do not consider that the circumstance mentioned by my hon. Friend here—that the men concerned wish to take up "lucrative appointments and business careers"—is an exceptional compassionate circumstance.
§ Mr. Medland
Will my hon. Friend please inform us whether these facilities will be granted this month, next month, this year, next year or never?