HC Deb 23 June 1948 vol 452 cc1342-3
33. Mr. Walter Fletcher

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether in examining applications for transfers from continuous service engagements to special service engagements, he will give consideration not only to compassionate cases but to cases where it can be shown that the applicant, through no fault of his own, genuinely believed that he would be able to purchase his discharge at the end of hostilities.

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

As I informed the House in reply to the hon. and gallant Member for Portsmouth, North (Major Bruce) on 17th March last, the scheme which allowed men who entered the Royal Navy on continuous service engagements early in the war to transfer to special service engagements is now closed. This scheme was limited to those cases in which there were compassionate circumstances because any extension beyond that would have resulted in too great a loss of men serving on regular engagements. When the regular strength of the Royal Navy allows discharges by purchase, or otherwise, on a less restricted basis than at present, applications from those men to whom the hon. Member refers will be given sympathetic consideration.

Mr. Fletcher

May I ask, first, that not only sympathetic consideration, but priority over others, will be given; secondly, does not the Minister think that the very real sense of injustice and grievance of these men, who enlisted at the beginning of the war and were given a definite undertaking which has not now been carried out, should be redressed?

Mr. Dugdale

No, Sir. I cannot guarantee to give definite priority, although I will give sympathetic consideration. Secondly, I cannot agree that there should be a real sense of injustice. I would remind hon. Members that, as a result of the scheme to which I have referred, there have been 667 applications; 569 have been approved and the men have been released.

Commander Noble

Can the Parliamentary Secretary say whether special consideration was given to those who entered the Royal Navy as boys at the beginning of the war, when there was no other method of entry?

Mr. Dugdale

That is another problem, which shows how complicated is the whole matter.

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