HC Deb 12 May 1952 vol 500 cc840-2
18. Miss Margaret Herbison

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is aware that British subjects who have completed their period of National Service in this country are being called up for a further period of military service when they emigrate to the United States of America; and if he will make representations against this.

Mr. Nutting

Every male British subject between the ages of 18½ and 26 who is admitted to the United States for permanent residence is liable for training and service in the United States armed forces. Deferment is possible in certain circumstances and certain categories of men who have previously served in the United Kingdom Armed Forces are exempt unless the United States is at war or declares a national emergency. Men in this age group admitted on temporary visas are also liable after one year's residence in the United States. They may obtain release from this obligation, but are thereby permanently debarred from acquiring United States citizenship.

I should be glad if the hon. Lady would send me particulars of any cases of hardship which she may have in mind, other than the one which she has already communicated to my right hon. and learned Friend.

Miss Herbison

While thanking the Minister for that answer, may I put to him one or two points which, I am sure, must cause grave anxiety to hon. Members on both sides of the House and to parents in this country? Is he aware that since putting down this Question I have had information from other sources and that it seems to be quite a regular thing that lads who have done their National Service—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speech."] Is he aware that a lad who has done his National Service last year as a Z reservist have also been called up, and will he make representations to the authorities that an ally ought not to treat British subjects in this way?

Mr. Nutting

The hon. Member will appreciate from my answer that these conditions apply to permanent residents in the United States of America, and people who go to the United States of America must, therefore, accept the obligation of their being in the United States. The list of deferment categories is very broad, and if the hon. Lady wishes to pursue the matter further I will give it to her.

Sir Herbert Williams

Are Americans in this country liable to a similar obligation?

Mr. Nutting

No, Sir.

Mr. Sydney Silverman

Can the hon. Gentleman say if there is any precedent, and, if so, what, for the conscription of British subjects into foreign armies, and whether this law was enacted with or without prior consultation with the Government of this country?

Mr. Nutting

That is a much wider question, of which I should like notice.

Mr. E. Shinwell

Do we understand that if a young American comes to this country and takes up what might be regarded as permanent residence, he is not eligible to be called up for National Service?

Mr. Nutting

Under the Act, which I think the right hon. Gentleman himself passed through this House, the answer to his question is that no obligation for service falls upon American citizens in this country.

Mr. Shinwell

If that be the position, which no doubt it is, surely there ought to be a reciprocal arrangement with regard to British subjects?

Major H. Legge-Bourke

May I ask my hon. Friend whether this liability of British subjects may not easily involve them in having to serve under the same commander twice?

Mr. R. T. Paget

Is there not a simple answer to this, that if British subjects do not like the laws of America there is no reason why they should go there to live?

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