HC Deb 17 April 1951 vol 486 cc1641-5
22. Captain John Crowder

asked the Secretary of State for War if Class Z reservists who are receiving disability pensions are recalled if their rate of disablement is as high as 30 per cent.

41. Mr. Fitzroy Maclean

asked the Secretary of State for War to state the Government's policy in regard to the calling up of disabled men as Class Z reservists.

Mr. Strachey

Notices to join for training inform reservists that if they have a disability pension of 30 per cent. or over they should report the fact and will not be required for training.

Captain Crowder

Is the Minister aware that many men who have been in touch with the Ministry of Pensions for a 25 per cent. disability pension are being called up, and that was the answer they were given? Can he say whether these men have a medical examination when they arrive at the centre and whether they will draw their pension during their period of service?

Mr. Strachey

They will, of course, be medically examined before their period of training begins.

Mr. Maclean

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that two of my constituents, one with only one eye, and one with only one leg, have both been called up, and would not it have been simpler not to call these men up in the first instance?

Mr. Strachey

I presume that they have over a 30 per cent. disability pension, and, if so, they will be automatically exempted by that provision.

Mr. A. R. W. Low

Does that not show that the Department's re-registration on this matter of the call-up of reservists is not at all satisfactory?

Mr. Strachey

One of the advantages of the present exercise is that it will discover the marginal errors in the matter of re-registration.

24. Mr. Mulley

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will indicate the general grounds of personal hardship arising from the date of Class Z reservists call-up which he considers sufficient to justify a change of the call-up date; and if he will instruct his officials that circumstances which would normally entitle a soldier, stationed in this country, to compassionate leave should at least be sufficient for this purpose.

Mr. Strachey

In many cases it is impracticable to change the date of call-up of a Class Z reservist. Most reservists will train with the particular units with which they would serve in the event of mobilisation, and for which their qualifications make them most suitable. These units are carrying out training at fixed periods throughout the year and if alternative dates for training were granted it would mean that a reservist would have to train with another unit, and one of the main purposes of the training would be defeated.

Where, therefore, it would cause severe personal hardship to a reservist to attend for training during the period given in his warning notice, consideration can in those cases only be given to the possibility of granting exemption from call-up. In view of the varying circumstances of the cases, I cannot attempt to lay down hard-and-fast rules for granting exemption, but the general principle is that exemption is granted if the presence of the reservist at his home is essential. The same criterion is adopted in deciding whether a soldier in this country should be granted compassionate leave.

Mr. Mulley

Do I understand from my right hon. Friend's reply that he will instruct his officials to take a sympathetic attitude to a change of date, or is it because of inconvenience to his Department that they are not prepared to consider these changes?

Mr. Strachey

No, Sir. I can only repeat what I have just said in my answer. In the majority of cases it is not possible to change the date because these men are called up for a particular unit which is holding its camp on that particular date, and the whole camp of the Territorial battalion, or battery, or whatever it is, would have to be changed. Therefore, we must either exempt a man altogether or call him up on that particular date. That is not a universal rule, but it does, I am afraid, apply in the majority of cases, and it is not a question of the convenience or inconvenience of the Department.

Mr. Vosper

Can the Minister say whether decisions in these cases are taken by the Army Record Office concerned or referred to the War Office?

Mr. Strachey

They will be taken in the War Office.

Mr. Shurmer

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this is causing great hardship in a number of cases where men are working in large establishments and their holidays have already been allocated, and they may have committed themselves to a certain amount of money which they will lose if he completely refuses to alter the call-up period? Is he also aware that this applies in those cases where a man is urgently needed at home because of his wife's confinement; and that the matter is causing considerable discontent?

Mr. Strachey

I hope that my hon. Friend appreciates the reason, which is not apparent on the surface, we cannot in the great majority of cases change the date. It is a question of either granting an exemption for a man altogether, or calling him up on a particular date.

28. Brigadier Clarke

asked the Secretary of State for War what action he proposes to take to trace Class Z reservists when their papers are returned as not at the address to which the call-up notice was sent.

Mr. Strachey

In these cases action will be taken to trace the reservists through the police and through such other channels as are available.

Brigadier Clarke

How may of these Class Z reservists have gone abroad, and do they come into the marginal error to which the right hon. Gentleman referred on a previous Question?

Mr. Strachey

I cannot say how many have gone abroad, although I imagine the number is negligible.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

What happens if a reservist is in gaol? Is he still called up?

40. Mr. Eric Fletcher

asked the Secretary of State for War why Mr. A. Lafleur received no notification from his Department that he had been selected for recall as a Class Z reservist prior to receiving instructions dated 21st March to report for training on 27th May.

Mr. Strachey

My hon. Friend will, I hope, have now received a reply from my hon. Friend the under-Secretary of State about this matter.

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