HC Deb 16 October 1945 vol 414 cc948-51W
Sir G. Fox

asked the Secretary of State for War how many teachers are still in the Army; and what arrangements are now to be made for their accelerated release.

Mr. Lawson

Approximately 9,740 teachers, recognised as such by the Ministry of Education, were still serving in the Army on 1st October, 1945. Like the rest of the Army, they will be eligible for Class A release with their normal age and service groups, unless they voluntarily elect to serve on. In addition, offers of Class B release up to the full quota fixed by the Ministry of Labour and National Service have been or are now in process of being made to the men concerned. Very considerable numbers are involved, the great bulk of which have already been dealt with.

Captain Blackburn

asked the Secretary of State for War whether the recent announcements that the release of officers both in the B.A.O.R. and C.M.F. will be retarded for an indefinite time were made with his sanction; and whether he is satisfied that all the officers in these theatres are fully employed.

Lieut.-Colonel J. Hutchison

asked the Secretary of State for War what the position is regarding bulk retention of officers with the B.A.O.R.; why accelerated release makes it necessary to hold back officers while men are being released; and why the length of retention cannot be stated and to which individual officers it will apply.

Captain R. Adams

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will direct that, in B.A.O.R. and all other commands, essential officers and other ranks are replaced with the same speed and efficiency as were casualties during the period of fighting, in order that the release of these men may not be unduly delayed.

Lieut.-Commander Hutchison

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware of the concern felt by many officers serving in the B.A.O.R. at the recent announcement that their release from service must be held up indefinitely; and whether he will make a full statement on this subject, indicating the amended dates when the different age and Service groups of officers may expect to be released.

Mr. Lawson

I would refer hon. Members to the statement made by me earlier to-day regarding the existing shortage of officers and the policy which has been adopted to meet the situation. As regards the suggestion made by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Balham and Tooting (Captain R. Adams) I can assure him that the system of replacement drafts from the United Kingdom which was in use during the war is still in force and that every effort is made to despatch replacements for individuals due or overdue for release. Overseas Commanders are co-operating to the full in dealing with this problem.

Lieut. Commander Hutchison

asked the Secretary of State for War whether soldiers are eligible for release in Class C on grounds of exceptional domestic hardship.

Mr. Lawson

Yes, Sir. Men should apply to their commanding officers, giving full supporting evidence.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

asked the Secretary of State for War whether the demobilisation scheme makes provision for officers and other ranks who gave many months' service in the Territorial Army prior to the war.

Mr. Lawson

I would refer the Noble Member to the reply given to the hon. and gallant Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Major Boyd-Carpenter) on Tuesday last.

Lieut.-Colonel Byers

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that compassionate cases of release forfeit the right to 56 days' leave with pay; and whether he will have this rule amended since compassionate cases are those most requiring the financial assistance which 56 days' leave with pay affords.

Mr. Lawson

Terminal leave is based on the broad principle that soldiers who leave the Army compulsorily require a period of leave to give them an opportunity of resettling themselves in civil life, but that no such concession is called for in the case of those who are permitted to leave to take up work of national importance or otherwise at their own volition. This principle is followed generally in the Release Scheme, except that the soldier released under Class B receives a comparatively short period of leave. The man who is released before his turn on compassionate grounds is given no leave, but he receives as soon as possible his war gratuity, post-war credit, overseas service grant (if relevant) and a civilian outfit. The hardship in compassionate cases is by no means necessarily financial and may be adequately met by release from further service in advance of the normal date. In certain exceptional cases where circumstances require the man's presence at home immediately before authority for his release can be obtained the unit commander is empowered to grant up to 28 days' compassionate leave.

Mr. Turton

asked the Secretary of State for War how many personnel in B.A.O.R. and C.M.F. commands, respectively, are to have the Class A demobilisation delayed beyond the published dates of their release groups.

Mr. Lawson

It is not possible to say how many soldiers are or will be delayed, as delay may be occasioned by individual deferments under the operational necessity clause or by travelling difficulties. Every effort is made to restrict the number of such deferments to an absolute minimum. The number of actual deferments for military reasons is small. As regards officers, I would refer the hon. Member to the statement I made to the House to-day.

Sir E. Graham-Little

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will inquire into the case, details of which have been submitted to him, of a driver in the R.A.S.C., called up in 1940 at the age of 20 and whose help is urgently required by his father; and if, as the business which now has 1,500 customers registered for milk alone will have to close down, he will expedite the release of the son.

Mr. Lawson

The application forwarded by the hon. Member is being investigated. If the facts are confirmed, the application will be forwarded to the appropriate authority in B.A.O.R. for decision.

Lieut.-Colonel Byers

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, after consideration of the evidence sent to him, he is in a position to release 1116938 Gunner J. R. Beesley, 438/53 Field Regiment, R.A., at one time a student at Glasgow University, in order that he can resume his university course as quickly as possible.

Mr. Lawson

I have no authority to decide individual applications for release under Class B. Approved names reach my Department from the Ministry of Labour and National Service. Gunner Beesley's name has not so far been received. In the case of university students applications should be submitted through the university authorities.