HC Deb 25 May 1954 vol 528 cc196-7
28. Mr. Orbach

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the mother of 22885616 Rifleman William Baker was awakened at 1.30 a.m. on 8th May by police, acting at the request of the military authorities, who claimed that her son was missing from his unit and was thought to have deserted; and, in view of the fact that this man has not missed any duty, if he will see that regret is expressed to this lady, and that a suitable apology is conveyed to her by a high ranking officer from her son's unit.

The Under-Secretary of State for War (Mr. J. R. H. Hutchison)

Yes, Sir. The mistake was investigated as soon as it came to light and was found to be due to the fact that there were two men of this name, with very similar numbers used to identify them, both serving in the same company. A letter has already been sent by the unit to Mrs. Baker explaining the circumstances and apologising for the worry and inconvenience caused to her. I would myself say how sorry I am that this should have happened.

Mr. Orbach

In view of the fact that no explanation or apology was forthcoming to this lady until my Question appeared on the Order Paper and that she had herself to make inquiries as to where her son was, does the hon. Gentleman not think that the request expressed at the end of my Question is quite reasonable?

Mr. Hutchison

I think it is unreasonable to expect more than a letter of apology from the company commander of the unit and this public expression of regret by myself that this should have happened.