HC Deb 04 December 1956 vol 561 cc1019-21
4. Dr. King

asked the Secretary of State for War when he proposes to start demobilising those reservists at present serving in Cyprus and Egypt.

Mr. John Hare

Very shortly.

Dr. King

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the reservists in Cyprus and Suez are complaining that they were not included in the first scheme? Will he see that they get a fair crack of the whip as compared with other reservists?

Mr. Hare

I shall certainly see that they get a fair crack of the whip—[Laughter.]—in the best sense of the term. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that, for obvious reasons, the release of those particular reservists did depend on the announcement of the withdrawal of our forces which my right hon. and learned Friend made yesterday.

Mr. Shurmer

As the great majority of these reservists are men with wives and children, will the right hon. Gentleman see that as many as possible are brought home for Christmas, as to get home to spend Christmas with their families once again is a big attraction to these men?

Mr. Hare

As I have already told the hon. Gentleman, I sympathise with that view. I cannot give him any guarantee beyond the assurance that we are speeding up the release as quickly as possible. Proof of our success in this direction is shown by the fact that we have released over 12,000 reservists and retained Regulars in the ten days since the release scheme started, which is considerably higher than the figure which I first gave to the House.

Mr. P. Williams

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is still a general turbulence in the situation in the Middle East, and because of that it would be unwise to withdraw too far at this stage?

Mr. Hare

I think that my hon. Friend is perfectly entitled to make that remark. That is why we must be careful to see that, when we get ahead with our release scheme, we do not release men whom we may need.

10. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Secretary of State for War the basis of and what method is to be applied in the release of men called up for the Middle East; if he will undertake to see that all National Service men are not detained longer than the normal statutory period; and that all students, apprentices and skilled men engaged in the engineering industry are released at once.

Mr. Hare

As I have already explained in the House, we are releasing men as soon as they are no longer required by the Army and no complicated scheme of priorities for particular classes has been introduced. National Service men completing their full-time National Service are being retained only in cases where lack of transport from overseas has caused delay.

Mr. Ellis Smith

Does the Minister agree with the many White Papers which have been published which prove that the scientists, technologists and engineers are going to become the most important men in this country? If so, will he see that they get super-priority in the matter of release?

Mr. Hare

I will certainly take note of what the hon. Gentleman has said, but I do not think I can do better than I am doing at the moment.

Mr. Strachey

Are we to understand from the right hon. Gentleman's answer that, now that the operation is over, he will take into account what I would call non-military factors, as well as the military ones, in the release of these men?

Mr. Hare

No, I think the right hon. Gentleman has misunderstood me. I said that I would consider certain cases.

Mr. Thornton-Kemsley

Is my right hon. Friend aware that National Service men who were within three months of their discharge were required to sign an undertaking to extend their service before proceeding to the Middle East with their units? What is to be done in these cases in future?

Mr. Hare

I will certainly have a look at what my hon. Friend has just said.

Mr. Strachey

Surely the Secretary of State will agree that now that the operation is over, it is time to begin to take these non-military factors into account? We quite understand that he could not do so while the operation was going on, but surely the time has now come when such questions as whether or not a man was a National Service man or in the Regular Reserve should be taken into account?

Mr. Hare

We are making very good progress. I think the House would be wrong to try to put pressure on me to introduce detailed schemes. We have taken a decision; the thing is working, and I think the House must wait and let me do my best.

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