HC Deb 30 May 1962 vol 660 cc1331-2
1. Mr. Spriggs

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will consider discharging all National Service men who are married with family responsibilities, and where their skilled labour is required in industry.

The Under-Secretary of State for War (Mr. James Ramsden)

The exemption of National Service men by categories was fully discussed during the proceedings on the Army Reserve Act, and I would refer the hon. Gentleman in particular to my right hon. Friend's remarks on 19th December, 1961 [OFFICIAL REPORT, col. 1252.] But my right hon. Friend is always prepared to consider appeals by individuals.

Mr. Spriggs

I should like to ask the Under-Secretary and, through him, his right hon. Friend whether they will give consideration to my proposals in view of the fact that many of these young men have left behind them wives and young families, many of them in bad housing conditions and in lodgings where overcrowding is prevalent. If proof of these conditions is provided, will the Minister give consideration to such cases?

Mr. Ramsden

We discussed fully in the House the possibility of exempting categories, and I am sure that the House was right to confirm our view that this is not practicable, because, as the hon. Member knows, we are always prepared to consider individual cases on their merits.

Mr. Frank Allaun

Will the Minister reconsider at least exempting such men from the further six months' call-up? Is it not an added injury when such men, who many of us believe should not have been called up at all, have this extra burden imposed upon them?

Mr. Ramsden

Marriage and domestic responsibilities in themselves are not necessarily grounds for compassionate treatment; they have never been recognised as such throughout the period of National Service. I repeat that the important thing is that we should look at individual cases, and this, of course, we do with the greatest care.

6. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Secretary of State for War how many of the British National Service men in Germany so far conscripted for an extra six months have sought exemption; and how many have been granted it.

5. Mr. Dempsey

asked the Secretary of State for War the number of National Service men, at the latest convenient date, originally detained to serve the additional six months period who have been released from Her Majesty's Forces after appealing against retention.

The Secretary of State for War (Mr. John Profumo)

Five hundred and ninety-one National Service men have so far submitted appeals against retention, of which forty are still being considered. One hundred and four have been released.

Mr. Allaun

Is the Minister aware that most of the men who have not sought exemption have refrained because they are without hope of obtaining it and that their families, particularly in the North-West, are receiving widespread reports of bitterness about the additional six months' call-up?

Mr. Profumo

If what the hon. Member says is correct, I am wholly unaware of it. Everybody who has been held back has been made fully aware of his right to appeal. As far as I am aware, these appeals are coming forward when they are genuine. If the hon. Member has any particular case in mind, I will gladly look at it.