HC Deb 15 July 1952 vol 503 cc1967-8
31. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will now reconsider and differentiate the cases of Her Majesty's Forces sentenced for crimes of turpitude from those sentenced for Service offences, during the war and since, by courts-martial; and if he will take steps to provide an amnesty in suitable cases, so that as many as possible of those persons may be restored either to the Forces or to civil employment.

Mr. Head

All sentences awarded by courts-martial for crimes of a civil or Service nature are periodically reviewed and sentences are frequently remitted or suspended. As regards the latter part of the Question, I think the hon. and learned Member will agree that the suspension of a sentence on review is similar in effect to his proposal of an amnesty in suitable cases.

Mr. Hughes

Does the Minister agree that a great many evils arise from the present state of affairs? Can he not devise some means whereby they can be obviated?

Mr. Head

The present state of affairs arises from the committing of offences which are punished. I appreciate that it is important periodically to review the sentences, but I think that entirely to obliterate them would have a very unfortunate effect.

Mr. Fernyhough

Can the Minister say why it is that Her Majesty's Government are now prepared to be so lenient towards ex-Nazis, many of whom they are releasing, and why they will not extend to our own people the same kindness and the same generosity that they are extending to our enemies?

Mr. Head

The question of the treatment of ex-Nazis is outside my sphere of responsibility. I am concerned to see that men in the Army get a fair deal, both in courts-martial and when their sentences are reviewed.