HC Deb 26 January 1949 vol 460 cc921-3
50. Mr. Lipson

asked the Minister of Defence if he will provide for National Service men the new clothes they require for civil life, in view of the fact that many are not financially able on demobilisation to pay for them and have outgrown those they had before.

53. Mr. Hurd

asked the Minister of Defence if, in view of the prolonged service now required from National Service men enlisted between 1st January, 1947, and 31st December, 1948, he will restore for them the release benefits, including a civilian suit, provided for other National Service men called up since 1945.

Mr. Alexander

I would refer the hon. Members to the reply I gave yesterday to the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt).

Mr. Lipson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his reply is most unsatisfactory, and that there is a feeling in the Services over this matter that many of the men when demobilised are not able to afford to buy their clothes, and that their parents are not in the position to buy them for them?

Mr. Alexander

No, Sir. This policy was announced a very long time ago. It has been in existence since January, 1947, and in view of the whole of the circumstances, economic and financial, it is not proposed to revise it.

Mr. Austin

Will my right hon. Friend look at this matter from a commonsense point of view. Is he not aware that when a youth goes into the Armed Forces and engages in a healthy outdoor life for a year or 18 months, his physique is bound to alter, and his old clothes will no longer fit him? That being so, is it not reasonable for the Government to provide a suit for him on demobilisation?

Mr. Alexander

It has already been announced in previous statements that certain items of clothing can be purchased cheaply. In addition, 60 coupons are issued for the purpose of obtaining new clothes.

Mrs. Jean Mann

In view of the fact that the price of a gentleman's suit has so greatly increased, together with the fact that these men have had three months' extra added to the contract without their consent, or even without their being consulted, is it not the least that the Government can do to give them a suit when they are demobilised?

Mr. Shurmer

Will the Minister consider that certain articles of clothing should go free to these men? It is a question of a suit of clothes. What is the good of 60 coupons if the men have no money with which to buy these clothes?

Mr. Alexander

All I can say is that the Government have considered this matter very carefully, but they do not propose at present to revise this policy.

Mr. Lipson

In view of the unsatisfactory and unsympathetic reply, I beg to give notice that I shall take an early opportunity of raising this matter on the Adjournment.