§ 26. Mr. Ness Edwards
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air the Regulations governing the practice whereby a member of the Royal Air Force, released five days before his due release date to take up residence at college, is denied three weeks' pay, travel warrant to his home, and demobilisation civilian clothing allowance.
The Regulations on these matters vary according to an airman's engagement, the length of his service, and the method of release if the right hon. Member will let me have details of any particular case he has in mind, I shall be glad to look into it and see whether the man has had the benefits to which he is entitled.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this is a normal case of a National Service man serving his normal period and being released five days before his due release date in order to go into training college, and then having this imposed upon him? Surely, this treatment is not justifiable under the Regulations?
I did not know until the right hon. Gentlaman rose just now that this Question concerned a National Service man. He did not say in his Question that it concerned a National Service man. The Regulation about National Service men is that they can be allowed to leave the Service early to go to college by arranging for their terminal leave to fall inside their two-year period instead of outside it; that is to say that such a man will start his terminal leave 24 days before his two-year period is up. If, on the other hand, he claims his release earlier than that 24 days, he is deemed to be prematurely released and is not entitled to terminal leave.
§ Mr. Edwards
Yes, but the plain fact of this case is that this man gave notice nine months before his due release date that he had been accepted for college. Despite all this he is denied three weeks' pay, his demobilisation allowance and a travel warrant from Lincoln to South Wales. Surely, this is the sort of thing which the hon. Gentleman ought to look into very closely?
I should be delighted to look into the matter. I have already offered to do so if the right hon. Gentleman will give me the details.
§ Mr. Strachey
Would the hon. Gentleman agree that there can be no case for, in effect, fining a man because he claims the privilege, which is always granted in all the Services, of early release for educational purposes? I can quite understand that in some circumstances a man might be denied it, but surely there can be no case for giving it to him and then inflicting financial penalties upon him.
I agree. We do all we can to help National Service men when they are starting in college but they must have taken the trouble themselves to try to get themselves into the Service in time to complete their two years beforehand. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Yes, it is true; they must. They cannot, half way through their National Service, say that they want to be released early to go to college. These are matters which I should like to look into in connection with this case.
§ Mr. Edwards
The hon. Gentleman is, I know, aware of the expedited call-up procedure, but in this instance a matter of five days is involved. Had it been a matter of months, and had the man not applied for an expedited call-up, he should have been penalised, but here he is being fined for five days.
I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman realises how difficult it is for me to give any opinion without knowing the facts.