HC Deb 26 July 1950 vol 478 cc452-3
55. Mr. Marlowe

asked the Minister of Defence whether he is aware of the hardship caused to men and women in the Services by the increased cost of travel when going on short leave; and whether, in the circumstances, he will authorise an increase in the number of free rail warrants available to them.

Mr. Shinwell

Regular members of the Forces stationed in the United Kingdom receive a free travel warrant for each period of long leave up to a maximum of three a year. National Service men, in general, get three in 18 months. In addition, all members of the Services in this country, and their families, can travel on the railways at concession rates. These arrangements are reasonably generous, and, while I have every sympathy with Service men and women who are stationed a long way from their homes, I am afraid we could not undertake to extend them.

Mr. Marlowe

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell me why, when I ask a Question about the arrangements for short leave, he gives an answer dealing with what happens on long leave, about which I did not ask him? I asked him if he is aware of the difficulties which arise particularly on short leave. As one Government Department has made travel so much more expensive, I should like to know why another Government Department does not give these facilities?

Mr. Shinwell

I pointed out in my reply that we provide very generous concessions for those going on long leave, and implied that we do not provide the same concessions on short leave.

Sir W. Darling

On a point of order. May I call your attention, Sir, to the fact that at this end of the Chamber we cannot hear the important answers of the right hon. Gentleman?

Mr. Speaker

I think we all suffer from the same difficulty, whether we are here or there in the House, owing to the acoustics.

Mr. Shinwell

I apologise if my observations failed to reach the ears of hon. Members. Sometimes they do not wish to hear what I have to say—I mean, of course, on other occasions.