HC Deb 12 February 1946 vol 419 cc45-8W
Mr. Chamberlain

asked the Secretary of State for War the policy of his Department in reference to applications for Class C releases by owners of one-man businesses which were temporarily closed for the duration of the owner's service in His Majesty's Forces.

Mr. Lawson

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) on Tuesday last.

Mr. Medland

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that nursing sisters due for immediate demobilisation are being detained at 211 Transit Camp, M.E.F., and have been informed that the routine ship for January has been cancelled; and, in view of the need for nurses in this country, will he arrange for their immediate transport home.

Mr. Lawson

I am making inquiries into this matter and as soon as they are completed I will write to my hon. Friend.

Major N. Macpherson

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will now release officers who volunteered to defer their release before the conclusion of hostilities with Japan with the express object of participating in operations in the Far East.

Mr. Lawson

No, Sir. All officers and other ranks who voluntarily deferred their release undertook to continue to serve subject to the normal rules governing transfer and posting. There was no mention of participation in operations in the Far East and there is no means of distinguishing between those who deferred with the express object of fighting the Japanese, and those who deferred for other reasons.

Mr. Dumpleton

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the Adjutant - General has recently announced in Batavia that demobilisation may be slowed down; and whether he will reconsider this decision and dispel the dissatisfaction it has caused.

Mr. Lawson

The Adjutant-General is on his way back from an overseas tour and I am not yet aware of the precise terms of any statement he may have made on any particular subject. I am confident, however, that he will have made no statement which conflicts with War Office policy. As has been made clear on numerous occasions, demobilisation is proceeding and will continue to proceed as rapidly as governing factors allow.

Captain Crowder

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is yet in a position to announce the dates for the demobilisation of men in release Groups 27 and upwards.

Mr. Lawson

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and" National Service will be making a statement in the next day or two concerning all three Services.

Mr. Keeling

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that men in Kenya in Group 27 who were called into the transit camp in mid-January for repatriation were subsequently told that their departure was postponed in order to facilitate the repatriation of Italian prisoners who had struck work; and whether he has any statement to make to explain these happenings.

Mr. Lawson

An error was evidently made in sending to the transit camp men in Group 27 unnecessarily early. They did in fact leave Mombasa on 4th February and are due to arrive in this country a week before the opening date for their Group, which is 7th March. It follows that there is no reason to suppose that the arrival of men in Group 28 or later from East Africa will be delayed beyond the dates laid down for their Groups. As the men in question had arrived in the transit camp too early the Italian prisoners were quite properly shipped first, although I can fully understand the irritation that this must have caused. I am arranging for overseas Commands to be asked to avoid the unnecessarily early assembly of men in transit camps.

Major Wise

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will give an assurance that prisoners of war who were rescued from torpedoed Japanese transports in the Far East have been demobilised on the same terms as other Far Eastern prisoners of war who were released from prison camps after the Japanese surrender.

Mr. Lawson

Yes, Sir. There is no discrimination between those ex-prisoners of war from the Far East who were repatriated before the Japanese surrender and those repatriated after that date.

Mr. Turner-Samuels

asked the Secretary of State for War in what groups up to and including Group 26, are officers no longer being sent for service to B.A.O.R., the Continent or the Middle East

Mr. Lawson

Unless they have voluntarily deferred release or are Regular soldiers with certain specified minimum periods of service still to serve, officers required for drafting overseas are at present normally drawn from the following Age and Service groups:

B.A.O.R., 29 and later; C.M.F., 29 and later; all other theatres (including Middle East) 40 and later.

If, however, suitable officers in these Age and Service groups are not available to fill specific appointments, individual officers from earlier groups may have to be posted as a matter of military necessity.

Mr. Turner-Samuels

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that group 25 is now being compulsorily deferred as operationally vital for up to three months; and how far that will affect the date of demobilisation of Group 26, or any subsequent group.

Mr. Lawson

No, Sir. Neither as regards officers nor other ranks is Group 25 being compulsorily deferred as operationally vital. The release of Group 25 other ranks was completed on 4th February 1946, and that of Group 25 officers is due to begin on 14th March, 1946. Group 26 other ranks began on 5th February and is due to be completed by 6th March. The closing date for Group 25 officers has not yet been announced. The second part of the Question does not, therefore, arise.