§ 12. Mr. Frank Allaun
asked the Secretary of State for War why he has refused the release on compassionate grounds of a National Service man whose widowed mother lives alone and who is so stricken with arthritis that she requires the assistance of a home help, details of whose case have been sent him.
§ Mr. J. Amery
I have received a very full report on this case, which I have considered with sympathy. I am afraid that this is not a case where release from National Service would be justified.
Mr. T. Williams
Surely the physical disability of this widow should have brought such a case within the confines of the statement which the hon. Member made on 1st July, when he said,The run-down of the Army has made it possible … to interpret hardship more generously than hitherto."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd July, 1957; Vol. 572, c. 1279.]This is the case of a widowed lady living alone and suffering acutely from rheumatoid arthritis. Is not such a case one for compassion?
§ Mr. Strachey
Can the hon. Member say what is the purpose of refusing these applications now? It has been agreed that we wish to reduce the number of men called up for National Service, not to increase it. Surely this type of borderline case could now be dealt with much more sympathetically.
§ 13. Mr. Frank Allaun
asked the Secretary of State for War why release on compassionate grounds is being refused to National Service men in cases of exceptional hardship, contrary to Government undertakings, and even where the widowed mothers are suffering chronic illness.
§ Mr. J. Amery
Compassionate release is invariably granted when there is exceptional hardship. I explained the position in detail during the Adjournment debate on 3rd July.
§ Mr. Allaun
Is the Minister aware that on 4th March the Government stated four circumstances in which exceptional hardship was likely to arise? I can show him letters from widowed mothers all over the country saying that the Government are breaking their undertaking. Was not one of those four circumstances that of a widow with a child or children to support? Now, four months later, I am told that this was a misprint in HANSARD and should have read "widower" and not "widow". Why not a widowed mother?