§ 31. Mr. Blenkinsop
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air why a corporal clerk, whose case has been referred to him by the hon. Member for Newcastle, East, and who has completed six years of his 12 years' service, two of them in Egypt, should neither be allowed to purchase his discharge nor be retained in England, in view of his father's recent sudden death and his mother's ill health.
I am sorry that, for reasons which I have explained to the hon. Member in correspondence, I should not feel justified in changing my decision in this case. However, the airman's tour of duty in Egypt ends in August, and he would be brought home on leave before then if his mother's health made it necessary to do so.
§ Mr. Blenkinsop
Does the Under-Secretary of State not consider that distressing cases of this kind suggest that there should be some review of the conditions governing the purchase of discharge, and would he be prepared to look at the position again?
The conditions governing the purchase of discharge are, I think, quite clear. They are governed, first, by the manning position in a man's particular trade in the Air Force, and, second, by whether there are overriding compassionate grounds. In this case, I am afraid, corporal clerks' rank and trade are 15 per cent. undermanned, and I cannot feel that the compassionate grounds are overriding.
§ Mr. Blenkinsop
Will the hon. Gentleman at least consider whether some of the posts for clerical duties of this kind could not be filled by civilian employees?
We try to substitute civilians as much as possible, but we are talking now of overseas and it is not so easy there.