HC Deb 20 November 1951 vol 494 cc190-1
5. Major W. J. Anstruther-Gray

asked the Secretary of State for War which branches of the Service the new short-service engagement of three years with the Colours and four years with the Reserve is intended to apply to.

Mr. Head

This is a new type of Regular Army engagement, and is not to be confused with the various short service engagements which are designed to meet special, and usually temporary, demands for manpower. It will apply to all arms of the Service, except the Women's Services.

Brigadier O. L. Prior-Palmer

Could my right hon. Friend say, if at the end of his three-year engagement a man is willing to take on for another three years, whether he will be permitted to do so?

Mr. Head

Yes, Sir. This form of engagement introduces a man to the Regular Army, and, should he wish to do so, he can then remain in the Army as a career with the ultimate limit at the age of 55

15. Mrs. Eirene White

asked the Secretary of State for War what benefits accrue to a man who, being liable for National Service, chooses to enlist for the new short service period of three years.

Mr. Head

Any man liable to National Service who enlists on the new Regular engagement of three years with the Colours and four years in the Reserve receives the rates of pay and allowances applicable to Regular soldiers, which are higher than those paid to National Service men during their first 18 months' service.

In addition, he is eligible for a longer period of annual privilege leave and, on completing his Colour service, he gets other benefits. He receives Reserve pay throughout his Reserve service. The National Service man during his part-time service is unpaid except when actually performing training. Finally, he may continue his career in the Army and qualify for a gratuity or Service pension.

Mrs. White

Will the right hon. Gentleman see that the fullest possible publicity is given to these new arrangements so that potential recruits may know exactly what choice there is before them? Could he also explain why this opportunity is not available to the women's Service?

Mr. Head

I am much obliged to the hon. Lady for her suggestions regarding publicity. I hope that this new engagement will become widely known and it is my intention at a subsequent date to issue combined particulars with regard to conditions in the Army as a whole at the present time and the attractions which the Army holds out as a career. The question of women recruits under these terms was considered, and I can assure the hon. Lady that for good reasons it was not thought wise to proceed with the matter at the present time.

Mr. John Hynd

Are these men entitled to draw discharge clothing on completion of their three years?

Mr. Head

Yes, Sir.

Mr. George Wigg

Can the right hon. Gentleman include, if possible, particulars of what prospects these men have of obtaining commissions from the ranks?

Mr. Head

The opportunities of obtaining commissions from the ranks for men who join the Regular Army in this manner are absolutely open. I would say they have a very adequate chance of obtaining commissions, and I am sure the hon. Member will realise, from his own knowledge of these matters, that there is absolutely no discrimination against these men in obtaining promotions or commissions.

Mr. Wigg

That was not quite my question. What I want to ensure is that the private soldier when he is asked to go into the Regular Army shall be convinced that he has an equal opportunity of obtaining a commission, if he has the merit, in every branch of the Service and in every regiment

Mr. Head

I can assure the hon. Member that that is a fact and that it is one in which we can all take pleasure at the present time.

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