HC Deb 14 May 1946 vol 422 cc165-7W
37. Mr. Cooper-Key

asked the Secretary of State for War why block deferment of release groups is permitted to take place in certain branches in the Forces under Middle East Command; and whether he will give an assurance that deferment will be applied only after consideration of individual cases.

Mr. Bellenger:

Deferments of officers and other ranks on operational grounds in M.E.F. have only been allowed on an individual basis and will continue to be authorised only after careful consideration of each individual case.

82 and 83 Mr. Kirkwood

asked the Secretary of State for War (I) if he is aware that cipher personnel of the Royal Signals, M.E.F., have been told that they are to be deferred beyond their age and service release dates, although messages which need the use of cipher are increasingly rare and these men, now being deferred, will spend much time in idleness; and if he will take steps to replace these men, who are older than most soldiers now serving, by men from higher age-service groups in B.A.O.R. or Great Britain and so relieve them from the arduous conditions of the desert and free them to return to their homes and civilian vocations;

(2) if he is aware that orders have been given in the M.E.F. to defer the release of certain cipher personnel, aged 42–45 years, who, because they are in low age-service groups, are excluded from the L.I.A.P. Scheme, although many younger men are getting 28 days' home furlough; and, until these men can be released, will he see that they are given priority in home leave, as many have not seen their families for over a year, as the division was moved from B.A.O.R. to M.E.F. in October, 1945, without home leave being granted.

Mr. Bellenger:

There is a general shortage of trained cipher personnel and I understand that it may be necessary for the Commander in Chief to defer the release of some of those serving in the Middle East. They will certainly not be retained unless it is really essential to do so. I am making inquiries as to the length of time for which their release is likely to be deferred and if, as I hope, it is not expected to be for long, it would not be justifiable to send them home to this country on leave. I will write to my hon. Friend as soon as I have received further details.

89. Major Legge-Bourke

asked the Secretary of State for War how many officers of the Royal Signals serving in the Middle East have had their releases deferred in April; how many replacements have arrived during the same period; and what employment is being found for such officers.

Mr. Bellenger:

On 2nd May, 20 Royal Signals officers serving in the Middle East had had their release deferred on operational grounds. Fifteen Royal Signals officers arrived in the Middle East during April. I have no detailed information as to the exact appointments of these officers, but I can assure the hon. and gallant Member that they will all be fully employed.