HC Deb 09 November 1954 vol 532 cc1012-3
2. Mr. Hale

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that, in a recent case, an Oldham instrumentalist who applied for deferment of his 15 days' training on the ground that this call-up would involve his absence from the Edinburgh Festival, the Belle Vue contest and a broadcasting engagement, the application for deferment was refused; how many applications for deferment have been made and granted during the last 12 months; and why this one was refused.

Mr. Head

This man was excused camp with his unit last year and warned in 1953 that he would have to train this year. He appears to have entered into the engagements to which the hon. Member refers despite this warning. Applications for deferment are normally dealt with by commanding officers and no central return is made.

Mr. Hale

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is not a question of entering into an engagement? This man is a member of a distinguished band. He was going to perform in the Edinburgh Festival, the Belle Vue contest, and was going to appear on the B.B.C. during this fortnight. The whole of this man's career as a musician was wrapped up in these appearances. Why this obstinate, pig-headed refusal to defer for a few days this man's call-up, which might jeopardise his whole career?

Mr. Head

Apart from being a member of a band, this man has a National Service obligation. He did not attend camp in 1953. He was then warned that he would have to attend next year. Once again the camp took place in August, but notwithstanding the warning he went on with his own private arrangements. We cannot make these exceptions.