HC Deb 10 April 1957 vol 568 cc1128-30
49. Mr. Dugdale

asked the Minister of Defence on what grounds National Service officers and other ranks are not entitled either to a free passage for their families or to the married rate of local overseas allowance.

Mr. Sandys

Because it is not considered desirable to encourage National Service officers and men to take their families with them during their brief period of overseas service.

Mr. Dugdale

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the answer given to me by the Secretary of State for Air was that it was thought better to reserve accommodation for the families of Regular officers and men? While appreciating that that may be so, may I ask whether this is not a ham-handed way of doing it? Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that the few officers who can afford to take out their families will use the accommodation, even if there is a shortage of it, while those who cannot afford to do so will not be able to take their families, even though there is a large amount of accommodation available?

Mr. Sandys

I may be a bit ham-handed in understanding the right hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, but I will study it.

50 and 51. Mr. Allaun

asked the Minister of Defence (1) if he will now grant release on compassionate grounds to National Service men in all three Services who apply for it, whose home circumstances are similar to those in which postponement of call-up has recently been permitted;

(2) if he will publish in all units of the three Services an announcement that applications from National Service men for compassionate release will now be sympathetically considered in the case of a man who has a relative physically dependent on him, or who is the mainstay of an orphaned family or of a widow with a child or children to look after, or a man living alone with a widowed mother.

Mr. Sandys

I am asking the Service Ministers to ensure that the conditions to be satisfied for compassionate release shall conform with the corresponding conditions governing exemption from call-up.

There are a whole variety of grounds on which applications may be made for compassionate release. I do not, therefore, think it would be appropriate to make a special announcement in regard to the particular types of cases mentioned in the Question.

Mr. Allaun

May I thank the Minister for that Answer, which will be very widely appreciated? May I ask whether he is aware that there are certain cases —details of which I can send to him—of National Service men in such circumstances of domestic hardship who are still being refused exemption on compassionate grounds; and as there are many men who are unaware of these new terms, would not my proposal be the best way of making them aware of the possibilities?

Mr. Sandys

I think the best thing would be for the hon. Member to send details of those cases to the appropriate Service Ministers.

Mr. Paget

Will the Minister publish somewhere, in some document which would be available to hon. Members, what are the general heads upon which these compassionate releases will be granted, because I feel that would be of tremendous use to hon. Members in advising their constituents?

Mr. Sandys

I feel sure that there is such a document in existence. I do not know what it is, but I will find out and send a copy to the hon. and learned Member.

52. Mr. Allaun

asked the Minister of Defence approximately, how many National Service men he proposes to call up in each year from 1957 to 1960; and whether he will now reduce their period of service.

Mr. Sandys

As was explained in the recent White Paper on Defence, the Government will shortly make a full statement to Parliament on this subject.

Mr. Allaun

But since the Minister will have more men on his hands than he needs long before 1960, could he not reduce the period of National Service very shortly? Would not that be fairer than any form of selective call-up?

Mr. Sandys

I do not want to anticipate the statement which will be made on this subject as a whole.