HC Deb 30 November 1972 vol 847 cc602-3
5. Mr. Michael Cocks

asked the Minister of State for Defence if he will explore the possibility of setting up a scheme to assist the close relatives of Service personnel buried in war graves overseas to visit the graves at least once in their lifetime.

Mr. Blaker

Our present scheme results from a comprehensive review made about five years ago. It provides for bringing home the body of a dead Serviceman, or for helping two of his family to attend the funeral overseas at public expense. If neither of these is practicable for Service reasons, two relatives may visit the grave at public expense provided they go within two years of death. The possibility of extending the scheme further back in time was carefully considered, but had to be ruled out because of the practical difficulties and the cost.

Mr. Cocks

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his reply, but he will realise that it is not really satisfactory. The Government have resources to do this not only through the Armed Forces but through BOAC. Surely it is a small thing for the country to do for the relatives of those who have made the supreme sacrifice for their country.

Mr. Blaker

I am not clear what point the hon. Gentleman has in mind. Perhaps he will discuss it with me privately or in correspondence, and I will consider it.

Mr. Wallace

As a member of the Commission, I find that there is a tremendous public interest in this matter. Are any voluntary organisations assisting in this work—perhaps the Royal British Legion, for example?

Mr. Blaker

The Royal British Legion gives assistance.