HC Deb 03 December 1946 vol 431 cc44-6W
94. Mr. Pritt

asked the Secretary of State for War why a number of men in age and service Group 43, who were promised that they would be demobilised by 18th November are detained in transit camp at Toulon, whilst Group 44 is passing through the camp to be demobilised.

Mr. Bellenger

As far as I am aware no men in Age and Service Group 43 have been detained in the transit camp at Toulon too late to be released by the end of the period allotted to that group. Men from several commands may pass through this camp, and any of those commands may for transport or other reasons have found it advisable to despatch some men in Group 44 from their commands shortly before the opening date for the release of that group.

96. Mr. Randall

asked the Secretary of State for War why it is not possible for men from S.E.A.C. to arrive in England at least one month prior to demobilisation in order that they may have their 28 days' disembarkation leave.

Mr. Bellenger

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by my predecessor on 16th October, 1945, to several hon. Members, of which I am sending him a copy.

97. Mr. Randall

asked the Secretary of State for War why men in S.E.A.C., in release group 44, have not yet been transferred to the transit camp, thereby delaying their ultimate date of demobilisation.

Mr. Bellenger

Group 44 is due to be released with Group 45 between 19th November and 22nd December and I have no reason to think that all members of these groups will not be released during the allotted period. The detailed arrangements are, however, a matter for the command concerned, as I explained in a reply which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. D. Jones) on 5th November.

99. Mr. Gallacher

asked the Secretary of State for War if it was with the sanction of his Department that the infantry, with Bren-gun carriers and armoured cars, were used to patrol the camp of an R.A.O.C. regiment in the Middle East, following a protest about the slowing down of demobilisation.

Mr. Bellenger

I am awaiting a report on this matter and will write to the hon. Member.

106. Mr. Sharp

asked the Secretary of State for War what action he has taken, and when, to ensure that every soldier fully understands the reasons for the slowdown in demobilisation and for the relatively small provisional release programme for the first six months of 1947.

Mr. Bellenger

All commanders-in-chief were informed by cable on nth November of the reasons for the rate of release promulgated and were instructed to explain them to the troops. Commands were warned in advance of the broadcast on the release programme by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and arrangements were made for the troops to hear this. A verbatim report of his statement in the House on 26th November on the release programme was also cabled at once to all commands, where I have no doubt arrangements were made to circulate it immediately to all formations and units.

Major P. Roberts

asked the Secretary of State for War how many Army and ex-Army personnel were on demobilisation leave on 31st August, 1946.

Mr. Bellenger

Officers and other ranks remain in the Army until the end of their release leave. The figures for those on release leave on 31st August, 1946, were:

Officers. Other Ranks. Total.
British Army (male) 23,068 246,508 269,576
Nursing officers and V.A.D. 798 400 1,198
A.T.S. 635 9,087 9,722
Totals 24,501 255,995 280,496

Mr. Sharp

asked the Secretary of State for War how many instances have been reported to his Department of units where refusal to obey orders has followed the issue of the provisional release programme for the first six months of 1947; and whether the officers of the units concerned had received previous instructions so that they could explain the reasons for the small releases to be effected.

Mr. Bellenger

I am aware of four incidents. An explanation did not accompany the details of the release programme for the first half of next year announced by the Ministry of Labour and National Service and previous instructions were not given to officers. I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave today to his oral Question.