HC Deb 20 May 1952 vol 501 cc250-1
22. Major Anstruther-Gray

asked the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been drawn to the number of applications by Army officers serving in the Canal Zone to relinquish their active commissions; and whether he will make a statement.

21. Mr. Arbuthnot

asked the Secretary of State for War the number of Army officers serving in the Canal Zone who have asked to relinquish their commissions; and what steps are being taken to assist them to maintain their evacuated families now that the overseas scale of family allowances no longer operates.

29. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will inquire into the reasons for the numerous applications by officers in the Canal Zone to relinquish their commissions.

Mr. Head

On 1st January this year the ban on the retirement of Regular officers was lifted and, since then, Middle East Command have received 30 applications to retire from officers serving in the Canal Zone. The bulk of these had no doubt accumulated during the imposition of the ban. In the majority of cases the reason given for the application was the expense of family separation. I am looking into this problem.

Major Anstruther-Gray

In view of the fact that, as the Minister said, the bulk of these people are married men, can he give an undertaking that he will grant some better family allowance so that he will not have this wastage of much needed officers in an important Service?

Mr. Head

We have three possible steps under examination, but obviously I cannot give a promise to my hon. and gallant Friend.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Can the right hon. Gentleman say why, for some considerable time, there has been an apparently unjustified and violent disparity between the pay of serving officers in the Canal Zone and the rates of pay and allowances drawn by members of the War Department Command Secretariat in the Canal Zone, who get a very much higher scale of allowance?

Mr. Head

I have looked into that, and I think that the reports have been exaggerated. Nevertheless, I do agree that something might be done.

Mr. Simmons

How many other ranks on active service are allowed to retire?

Mr. Head

The rule in this respect is that all compulsory retention in the Service will be completely finished by September, 1953. Once that is over the normal situation which obtained before the war in the case of officers and men will be resumed.

Mr. Wigg

Is it not a fact that this station is so unpopular that for a considerable period not one National Service man undertook a Regular engagement and that that points to the fact that the problem cannot be solved by providing special treatment for officers?

Mr. Head

That is not the case. The number of re-engagements, although not as good as elsewhere, do not compare so markedly unfavourably as the hon. Member has indicated. So far as officers are concerned the number is slightly higher, but not a great deal higher than applications for retirement elsewhere.