HC Deb 22 July 1947 vol 440 cc120-1W
34. Mrs. Ayrton Gould

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is now in a position to grant free priority passages to the next-of-kin to serving men irrespective of the country in which they are serving.

Mr. Bellenger

Arrangements are being made to extend the existing scheme, and I will circulate details in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following are the details:

Hitherto, the arrangements for sending a relative to see a Service patient on the dangerously ill list in a military hospital, where such a visit is expected to assist recovery, have been limited to Europe. Transport and other difficulties ruled out any extension of the scheme until recently. After careful examination of the practical problems involved, it has now been decided to extend the scheme to all overseas stations of the Services, with the exception of one or two small stations to which there is no speedy form of transport and which, therefore, a relative could not reach within any reasonable time.

The detailed arrangements for the normal working of the scheme will take a little time to complete, involving, as they may, special provision for the accommodation and care of the relatives concerned whilst overseas. The relative will invariably be sent by air, but the return journey will, save in the most exceptional circumstances, have to be by sea. We shall be responsible for providing all necessary transport, accommodation and food.

Pending completion of the detailed arrangements for normal working, all commands abroad are being informed that they may request the attendance of a relative in the appropriate cases provided they can ensure proper care for the visitor whilst absent from the United Kingdom.

I should add that I am doubtful whether the scheme will, for practical reasons, operate for any of the more distant stations in view of the time that would necessarily elapse between the despatch of the request and the arrival of the relative.