HC Deb 24 November 1965 vol 721 cc482-3
2. Mr. Wall

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about Her Majesty's Government's decision not to allow persons with a non-British born parent or a British naturalised parent to receive a commission in the defence forces.

The Minister of Defence for the Royal Navy (Mr. Christopher Mayhew)

The rule about the parents of an applicant for a commission is as follows. We must be satisfied that each parent was born in a Commonwealth country or the Irish Republic, and that from birth until now or the time of death, each parent has remained a British subject or a citizen of the Irish Republic. In special cases my right hon. Friend has authority to waive this rule.

Mr. Wall

While I am grateful for that reply, may I ask the hon. Gentleman whether he means that each case will be considered on its merits? Would he not recognise that if there were a blanket prohibition it would be grossly unfair to the sons of Poles or South Africans who fought for Britain in World War II?

Mr. Mayhew

I absolutely agree. This is a very important part of what we propose.

Sir B. Janner

Is my hon. Friend aware that many people are concerned about coming within the category of the general provision? Will he emphasise that people with good characters will not be refused appointment to commissioned rank provided that they satisfy every other question of security?

Mr. Mayhew

The question of character is not really at stake here. What we are worried about—I think that both sides recognise this—is that the possibility of pressure sometimes arising through, for example, having relations on the other side of the Iron Curtain, is a factor that we have to bear in mind.