HC Deb 30 March 1949 vol 463 cc1212-4
45. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Minister of Defence how many foreign nationals are at present serving with His Majesty's Forces, with separate figures for each Service.

The Minister of Defence (Mr. A. V. Alexander)

According to the latest information in my possession, the numbers are as follow: Royal Navy. 5; Army, 615; Royal Air Force, 630.

Mr. Austin

Can my right hon. Friend say whether the term "foreign nationals" includes Southern Irishmen?

Mr. Alexander

No, Sir.

46. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Minister of Defence if he will make a statement as to the conditions applicable to enlistment by foreign nationals in His Majesty's Forces; and what limitations are placed upon the rank which may be held by such nationals.

Mr. Alexander

As the reply is long I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the reply:

Regulations provide that aliens are not eligible for recruitment except with the authority of the Board of Admiralty or of a Secretary of State. Under the Act of Settlement 1701, no alien may hold a commission in the Armed Forces. Under Section 95 (1) of the Army and Air Force Acts, aliens may not be recruited to the extent of more than 2 per cent. of any corps in the Army, or any corps or unit in the Royal Air Force, and the Royal consent is necessary for the entry of any at all. There is no statutory bar to the recruitment of aliens in the Royal Navy.

The above statutory restrictions were suspended by No. 2 of the Defence (Armed Forces) Regulations, 1939, which is due to expire on 10th December, 1950. Until that date there is no statutory limit to the entry or commissioning of aliens in the Armed Forces. In addition, the Polish Resettlement Act, 1947, suspends these restrictions for five years on behalf of all ex-members of the Polish Resettlement Corps and of the Polish Resettlement Corps (R.A.F.). There is at present no statutory limitation on the rank which may be held by an alien serving with His Majesty's Forces.

47. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Minister of Defence what steps are being taken to invite the attention of foreign nationals, at present in this country, to the opportunities offered to them for enlistment in His Majesty's Forces.

Mr. Alexander

Members of the Polish Resettlement Corps, in whose favour certain legal restrictions upon recruitment and commissioning of aliens in His Majesty's Forces were waived by the Polish Resettlement Act, 1947, have been made fully aware of the opportunities open to them. Facilities have also been offered to certain other categories of foreign nationals who served in the Royal Air Force during the war.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

In view of the presence in this country of a substantial number of Allied persons with great military experience, and particularly in view of the figure which the right hon. Gentleman gave in reply to Question No. 45, is he satisfied that a real effort is being made to point out to these people the opportunities for service in His Majesty's Forces?

Mr. Alexander

Yes, Sir. In regard to the actual numbers, I am satisfied that the Service authorities are doing their duty in the matter, especially having regard to the various questions of security, language and other matters which the Service authorities have to take into account when considering the suitability of such men for appointments in the Services.

Earl Winterton

Has the right hon. Gentleman considered reverting to the system which persisted all through the eighteenth century and part of the nineteenth century, of a foreign legion consisting of people who could be relied upon and who were prepared patriotically to support this country?

Mr. Alexander

Perhaps the noble Lord will study my answer to the original Question. I know that the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) who put the Question is very much interested in the idea. We have carefully examined it at considerable length, and we came to the conclusion which I have announced.

Mr. Sydney Silverman

Can my right hon. Friend say whether the former members of the Polish Resettlement Corps to whom some hon. Members wish to give opportunities to enlist in our Forces, include those members of the Corps who served in Hitler's Army during the war?

Mr. Alexander

I have already referred to considerations of security.

General Sir George Jeffreys

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how many of the remaining members of the Polish Resettlement Corps and other available foreigners are young enough and fit enough to serve in the Forces?

Mr. Alexander

Obviously, I could not answer a question like that without notice.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

In view of the right hon. Gentleman's reply to my noble Friend the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton), may I ask whether he will consider also including in the OFFICIAL REPORT a statement of his reasons for deciding against the formation of a foreign legion which, as he knows, has been pressed upon him by a number of hon. Members in this House?

Mr. Alexander

I will consider the matter, but I can make no promise about it.