HC Deb 04 March 1964 vol 690 cc1286-7
16 and 17. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Secretary of State for War (1) how many former National Service men now on the Reserve have, within the last three months, received railway warrants, travel instructions and notification that they are preposted to certain units in the event of their units being recalled; and what is the purpose of these notices;

(2) why certain former conscripts who completed their service more than 31 years ago are now receiving railway warrants, cash vouchers for 10s. and reservists instruction books.

Mr. Kirk

It is not possible in the time available, and without a great deal of effort, to state how many former National Service men have received such instructions in the last three months. The purpose of these notices is to instruct Reservists what they are to do in the event of mobilisation.

The issue of these instructions is a continuous process made necessary by the need to provide replacements of pre-posted Reservists when individuals cease to be liable. There has been an increase in activity in this field as a result of the passage of the Navy, Army and Air Force Reserves Act, 1964, which released some 800,000 men from liability, of which a number was preposted.

Mr. Allaun

Does the Government's denial of any intention to recall these men hold good? If so, why send them these notices? Is the Under-Secretary aware that many former conscripts received these notices not when they had completed their service but in the last few weeks, and that this fact has greatly upset them, especially when they have young wives, or live with their parents, and especially since there is no mention on the notice that it is a purely precautionary measure? Will the Government look into this question again?

Mr. Kirk

I hope that what I have said makes it plain that this is a purely routine and precautionary measure, and has nothing to do with the present military situation overseas.

Mr. Paget

Can the hon. Gentleman tell us, in round figures, how many Reservists at any one time are equipped with warrants and instructions, so that they can be made immediately available?

Mr. Kirk

I should require notice of that question.