HC Deb 22 November 1955 vol 546 cc1236-9
2. Mr. T. Williams

asked the Secretary of State for War to what extent it is the practice to call up for National Service men who have been discharged as unfit for service by the Royal Air Force; and whether, when the physical disability continues, the Service man has a right under the regulations to insist upon treatment by specialists other than Army physicians; and who determines when this right can be exercised.

Mr. F. Maclean

The first half of this Question is a matter for my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service. As to the second part, any soldier is at liberty to seek private medical treatment at his own expense in off-duty hours.

Mr. Williams

Does that reply mean that the affected person can seek specialist treatment in this country, as distinct from in Germany?

Mr. Maclean

Within reason, he can certainly make use of his privilege leave to seek specialised medical advice and, if necessary, commanding officers will grant special leave for the purpose.

Mr. Ede

What happens if his private medical adviser advises him that he is unfit for duty but the Army doctor thinks that he is fit for duty?

Mr. Maclean

The view of the Army doctor, in general, will prevail.

Mr. Williams

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Secretary of State for War informed me by letter in July that he saw no reason why this soldier should be allowed to seek specialist treatment, other than from Army physicians?

Mr. Maclean

If may well be that there is no reason why he should, but he is at liberty so to do in his spare time and at his own expense.

3. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will make a statement on the latest policy adopted regarding leave for National Service men.

Mr. F. Maclean

National Service men are allowed 35 days' leave during their two years' service, embarkation leave if they go abroad and terminal leave. In addition weekend leave may be granted at the discretion of commanding officers.

Mr. Smith

Is this policy well known to all officers with responsibility for granting leave?

Mr. Maclean

Yes, Sir, certainly it is well known.

5. Mr. Owen

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware of the clothing difficulty of National Service men on release; and whether he will institute an inquiry with the purpose of assessing the nature of this problem, and making a clothing allowance.

Mr. F. Maclean

In 1949 the late Government decided that such an allowance should not be paid, and after considering the question my right hon. Friend thinks they were right.

Mr. Owen

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that what may have been a correct policy in 1949 surely cannot be interpreted as a correct policy in 1955? Is he aware that a good many of these young men are returning from the forces and seeking to re-equip themselves for civilian life, and that it is costing their parents sums varying between £25 and £35? Is he aware that that seems to me, and I think to other hon. Members, to be a most unfair burden to be put upon the parents of these young men?

19. Mrs. Hill

asked the Secretary of State for War how many times National Service men have chest X-rays from enlistment to release.

Mr. Head

About 80 per cent. are X-rayed by the mass miniature process before entry into the Army, and the rest shortly after entry. Any man suspected during his service of having been exposed to infection is examined immediately.

Mrs. Hill

Is the Minister aware that chest physicians consider that 18 is a vulnerable age; that these frequent examinations are a great help; and, further, that these men should be examined before being sent overseas and when they return? This would really give the public greater confidence in the medical services of the Army.

Mr. Head

We do try to examine men when they come back. The problem is that we have only a limited amount of apparatus, and we do not want to delay a man's demobilisation. About half are examined before they go out.

20. Mrs. Hill

asked the Secretary of State for War the incidence rate of tuberculosis among National Service men; and to what extent it varies in the different parts of the country.

Mr. Head

A special check in 1953 showed the incidence to be 0.9 per thousand. We do not keep separate records for different parts of the country.

Mr. Elwyn Jones

How does that incidence compare with the incidence among the ordinary population?

Mr. Head

It is better. I think the incidence among the ordinary population is 1.7 per thousand.