HC Deb 18 June 1952 vol 502 cc1176-7
14. Mr. Hale

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air for what reason the Oldham man, to whose name he has been referred, who was a qualified butcher and was employed as a butcher throughout his two years' service in the Armed Forces and who is now in civilian employment as a butcher, is being called up for 15 days' Z training; and what training he will receive.

The Under-Secretary of State for Air (Mr. George Ward)

As I explained to the hon. Member in my letter of 8th May, this man is not being called up as a Class Z or Class G reservist, but in accordance with his statutory obligations for part-time National Service. During his fortnight's call-up he will be employed in his whole-time National Service trade of Cook II and will help the permanent staff at a Royal Air Force Station to carry out the extra domestic work caused by the call-up of Class G reservists for operational refresher training.

Mr. Hale

What is the precise advantage to the nation or to National Service of calling up a man to perform the same duties as he is usefully performing in Oldham, of depriving an important shop of his services, of transporting him 200 miles by rail and many miles by road, and then telling him that, never having used his services as a soldier at all during two years of service, the Government are now going to give him a bit more experience of his own occupation?

Mr. Ward

This man is still a National Service man with a statutory obligation to the Royal Air Force, and he is going to be employed as he was employed during his full-time service, as a cook and not solely as a butcher.

Mr. J. Hudson

Why does not the Under-Secretary tell my hon. Friend that this man will be engaged in cutting up the red meat that was promised?

Mr. Peter Freeman

Will the hon. Gentleman consider giving this man training as a vegetarian cook?

The following Question stood upon the Order Paper:


TO ask the Under-Secretary of State for Air, if he will provide facilities for free air passage to Leading Aircraftman J. Sextou, a national serviceman serving in the Middle East, to attend the World Solo Accordion Championship contest at Scheveningen, Holland, in September, in view of his placing in the All Britain Solo Accordion Championship.

Mr. Brockway

May I draw attention, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that the name should be Leading Aircraftman J. Sexton, a good British name?

Mr. Ward

This case has been most sympathetically considered, but it is not possible to grant a free air passage to Leading Aircraftman Sexton in order to take part in this contest.

Mr. Brockway

May I point out that, while one has the greatest desire that compassionate cases should not be prejudiced, the Commanding Officer has given a fortnight's leave so that Leading Aircraftman Sexton can take part in this world competition? It is only a matter of a place on the aircraft, and, in view of that fact, will the hon. Gentleman reconsider his decision?

Mr. Ward

No, Sir. The normal tour of duty abroad is for two and a half years only, and no provision for leave in the United Kingdom at the public expense is made, except on urgent compassionate grounds. To grant this man a free passage for this purpose would be grossly unfair to those borderline compassionate cases which we often have to refuse.

Mr. W. R. Williams

Would it not be better for Mr. Sexton if he turned his attention to football or cricket?