There is no delegation of responsibility in these matters. If the name and address of the medical practitioner in attendance, or the name of the1248W hospital concerned, is made available to my Department, direct inquiries are made as to the state of health of the relative concerned. If this information is not available, it is the practice of the Air Ministry to invite the assistance of the local police in obtaining and transmitting the opinion of the medical practitioner in attendance or of the hospital authorities as the case may be. If there is no medical attendant, the police express no opinion as to the state of health of the person concerned.
§ Mr. Poole
asked the Secretary of State for Air whether his attention has been called to the case of Aircraftman Holden; whether he is aware that this man was refused compassionate leave on the illness of his wife because the Birmingham police stated she was not seriously ill; whether he is aware that the woman subsequently died; and what steps he has taken to ensure the supply of correct information in similar cases in future?
I am aware of the facts of this case. Aircraftman Holden applied for compassionate leave on the ground of his wife's illness on 5th December last, but it was decided in the light of the medical report, which was transmitted through the police, that his request could not be granted. Towards the end of December he made further representations to his commanding officer stating that his domestic affairs urgently required his presence at home. His privilege leave, to which he would have been entitled six weeks later, was accordingly advanced, and he proceeded home on 26th December. His leave was due to expire on 2nd January, but on 29th December he approached the local police with a view to getting his leave extended because of the serious condition of his wife. His leave was extended, and he did not in fact return to duty until 24th April. Mrs. Holden died on 11th February.