asked the Secretary of State for War how many officers and how many of other ranks have now taken home leave from the Middle East, paying for their own air passages; and to what extent the existence of this arrangement prevents him from extending the grounds on which compassionate home leave may be granted.
§ Mr. Head
Special arrangements have been made to enable officers and other ranks of the Services and their families to fly home direct from the Canal Zone to this country at their own expense. I cannot give the numbers who came home privately before the scheme started on 9th July, but since it did so 62 Army officers and 57 other ranks had reached this country by 22nd July. The limiting factor in extending the qualification for compassionate leave is not the availability of aircraft.
§ Mr. Driberg
If there is even this amount of surplus air space available, is it not rather wrong that it should go only to those men and officers who are fortunate enough to be able to pay their own fares home? Would it not be better even to consider a secondary category of compassionate leave for cases slightly less urgent than the most urgent ones?
§ Mr. Head
The amount of air space available is dependent on the extent of orders we give to charter companies in the contract for trooping. With regard to the question of a less urgent type of compassionate leave, our problem in considering compassionate leave is to have a really definite regulation so that we can say that if qualified a man has it and if not he does not get it. To judge the merits of less urgent cases would put an immense task on the administrative machine.
§ Major Legge-Bourke
Are there any stipulations made about the length of time that the officers and other ranks concerned have to serve in the Middle East before they can have this sort of leave? Would my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the free leave to Cyprus is really no substitute for United Kingdom leave?