HC Deb 02 November 1954 vol 532 cc196-7
29. Mr. Chapman

asked the Secretary of State for War on what grounds compassionate postings are now arranged; and whether he will review present policy on this matter.

Mr. Head

Compassionate posting in the Army was abolished in January, 1947. Compassionate cases are dealt with by leave, temporary retention in this country or discharge.

Mr. Chapman

Does the Secretary of State agree that the international situation has improved a good deal and that questions of urgency which could have governed the cancelling of compassionate postings have largely disappeared? Could we not take it that we are not now very near to war and could revert to having real compassionate decisions in these cases?

Mr. Head

As I think any other hon. Member who has had to handle this matter would agree, compassionate postings would lead to a very large number of applications with the system of National Service, in which full use of a man's service has to be made. We have still a very large proportion of soldiers abroad and I am satisfied that the most deserving cases are dealt with by these other means.

Mr. Nicholson

Am I right in thinking that applications for compassionate posting are considered only if the application is made by the man concerned?

Mr. Head

No, Sir; but we do not push through such postings unless we know that the man concerned wishes to come home. There have been instances of these pleas being made without consulting the man concerned and without his desiring to come home.