HC Deb 09 October 1945 vol 414 cc49-50W
Brigadier Low

asked the Secretary of State for War the length of overseas tour current now in each of the overseas theatres in which our troops are serving; and when he intends to reduce them.

Mr. Lawson

The current qualifying periods for return to the United Kingdom are three years and four months in India and S.E.A.C. and four years in all other overseas Commands. Unfortunately it has not yet been possible to get the actual tour down to the qualifying period, but every effort is being made to do this. In the Far East the length of the tour is now about three years eight months, in the Middle East four years one month, and still longer in East Africa, where there are additional transport difficulties. At the moment the transport situation is such that we are hard pressed to maintain the existing periods, in conjunction with the very large repatriation commitments under the Release Scheme, and much as I should like to reduce the periods I do not think it would be right to hold out hopes that a reduction is at present practicable.

Mr. Astor

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will take steps to alleviate the disparity in hardships between troops in M.E.F. and troops in B.A.O.R. and home commands in respect of length of unbroken service abroad and facilities for home leave.

Mr. Lawson

The period of the overseas tour is the same for M.E.F. as for B.A.O.R., but I regret that it is not possible to arrange identical leave schemes for these commands, or to bring them into line with Home Commands in that respect. The arrangements for leave must depend upon the transport facilities available, the length and time of the journeys and the number of men who can be spared at any one time. These factors vary considerably in different places and disparity of treatment is unavoidable unless the troops in B.A.O.R. and at Home are to be restricted to the practical limits of the more distant commands. The existing system represents the best that can be done in the present situation.