HC Deb 29 March 1955 vol 539 cc192-3
40. Mr. Keenan

asked the Secretary of State for War when the hon. Member for Kirkdale will get replies to his complaints sent by letters on 28th February, 1955, 2nd March, 1955, and 12th March, 1955, about the sentences passed on three National Service men whose homes are in Kirkdale, and the stoppage of allotments to their mothers; and why it takes many weeks, or longer, for replies to be sent to Members of Parliament about Army matters.

Mr. Head

My hon. Friend replied to the hon. Member's first two letters on 16th and 24th March respectively and I acknowledged the last on 14th March. We have had to make special and detailed inquiries in the Canal Zone. I will let the hon. Member have the final answer very shortly.

Mr. Keenan

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the harsh sentences that are passed in the Zone-in these cases, six, seven and nine months-for offences which in " civvy street " would probably be met by a 40s. fine? I wanted to put the words " harsh sentences " in my Question but they were refused at the Table. I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will consider, in the cases of these young soldiers: who are very often boys, suspending the sentences and giving them a chance, rather than penalising them when they are away from home. Further, can the right hon. Gentleman give a reply to the last part of the Question, and tell me why it takes the Army so long to reply to inquiries? I have had only half a reply to the three questions I asked.

Mr. Head

These sentences are different from those in civil life. These men were charged with striking a superior officer. That is a very much more serious charge than one of common assault.