§ 12. Mr. Dodds
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air, in view of the recent discharge of a sportsman, details of which have been sent to him, if he will discharge 2731286 A.C.2 Thaine, S.G., now serving in Iraq, who as the result of an accident on 18th July, 1954, when two toes were broken, is now handicapped by a big toe centre joint being devoid of movement and walks with a limp and in recent weeks has been twice in hospital.
This airman has recently been found temporarily unfit for service, and is being returned to the United Kingdom. I understand that the reasons are unconnected with the slight disability of one foot, but I am looking into the case further and will write to the hon. Member as soon as my inquiries are Complete.
As I said, this man is on his way home. When he gets here, he will go before another medical board. I should prefer to reserve my judgment until that happens.
§ 17 and 18. Mr. Lewis
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air (1) why the Royal Air Force has rejected the services of a man, of details of whose case he has been informed, because of a foot disability, and has accepted another man, of whom he has also been informed, who is more seriously disabled;
§ (2) if he will give full details of the actual service rendered by a leading aircraftman, particulars of whose case have been supplied to him; the time that this National Service man has been sick, excused parades, and excused wearing boots: and the reasons for keeping this man in the Royal Air Force.
The airman who is being discharged suffers from a disability which is considered likely to be aggravated by the normal conditions of Service life.
The other airman referred to by the hon. Member entered the Royal Air Force on 18th October, 1954. He completed the first half of the recruits' training course and the less strenuous parts of the second half. During the past two months he has been training as an instrument mechanic. From early December until mid-February he was at a medical rehabilitation unit. He was given seven days' convalescent leave and has since had fourteen days' sick leave. He was excused wearing boots almost since entry, and parades since the beginning of December.
This airman is being retained in the Royal Air Force because his disability is considered likely to respond to treatment. If it does not so respond in a reasonable period we shall review his case again.
§ Mr. Lewis
Is the Under-Secretary of State aware that before this man went into the Forces the medical board refused to grade him because of his disability, that he had to undergo a special examination, that he was grade A 4/G 2 permanently, that he has not been able to wear boots during the whole time he has been in the Forces, that he has been excused all parades, all drills, all P.T. and every other type of activity, and that his feet are getting worse, notwithstanding that he has had special insoles supplied to him? Does the hon. Gentleman not feel that this man, particularly when the medical experts have said that his feet are getting worse, should be discharged, as others have been?
No, Sir. He has not received his special insoles yet. The sorbo-rubber ones which he is wearing at the moment are only temporary, until the special ones are ready. I do think that before we come to a decision we should ascertain whether the insoles improve his condition.
§ Mr. Lewis
On a point of order. Is it right for the Under-Secretary of State to make a statement definitely not in accordance with the facts? I spoke to this man yesterday, and he tells me he has been compelled to wear insoles, which the medical experts admit are making his feet worse. What is this man to do?
—pending the production of the special ones. He did not like wearing the temporary ones, and asked the medical officer if he need go on wearing them, and he was given permission not to wear them.
§ Mr. Shinwell
Is the Royal Air Force so hard up for men that it requires to keep a man of this sort? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is undoubtedly some disquiet amongst hon. Members and in the country about the discrimination exercised by the Royal Air Force, whereby one man is accepted and another man rejected?
I do realise that, of course, but I think it is most important to look at each case carefully on its own merits. The moment we try to lay down rules we shall find ourselves being very unfair to many people. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that I shall continue to examine each case carefully on its merits, and if I feel that it is not doing a man any good to stay in the Air Force, and if his condition is likely to deteriorate because of Service life, I shall release him.
§ 19. Mr. Dodds
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air when it is proposed to discharge 2739651 Aircraftman, Second Class, John Albert Letman, who has been continuously ill since childhood, has undergone two major operations, suffers from a damaged hip that gives 1292 pain and, despite having been in the Royal Air Force for eight months, has done no basic training, has been excused many duties and is grade 4.
Although this airman has been assessed as medically fit for the trade in which he is now training he is undoubtedly a borderline case, and after careful consideration I have decided that the balance of advantage lies in discharging him from the Air Force.
§ Mr. Dodds
Why on earth do we have to have rows in this House to get justice as between man and man? Does not the Under-Secretary of State appreciate that Members on this side of the House agreed to National Service on the ground that there would be fair play? It is certainly not taking place today.
I am certainly not afraid of what the hon. Member may say when I come to a conclusion about the discharge of a man from the Royal Air Force. He can say exactly what he likes about it. I shall continue to examine each of these cases carefully, and when I feel that a man ought to be discharged I shall discharge him.