HC Deb 30 October 1956 vol 558 cc122-6W
69. Mr. Strachey

asked the Secretary of State for War how long it is intended to continue the call-up of certain parts of the Army Reserve and the retention of time-expired Regulars with the Colours ; what useful employment is being given to these men in present circumstances ; and whether he will define the purposes for which these men are now retained.

Mr. F. Maclean

As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister explained in his statement of 9th October, these reservists are needed in order to keep formations and units up to operational strength. Because the emergency created by the action of the Egyptian Government continues, I regret that their release is not at present warranted but they will be released as soon as the operational situation permits. So far as their primary duty of standing-by allows, reservists are training and carrying out normal military duties including the domestic tasks which are necessary in every unit.

72. Mr. Allaun

asked the Secretary of State for War how many National Service men who had not volunteered for the Reserve have been called up in connection with the Suez dispute, and under what authority ; when they will be demobilised ; and whether they will be paid the sum they would have received if they had been on the Reserve since completing their National Service.

Mr. F. Maclean

All the men called up for service in the Suez emergency are members of either the Regular Reserve or the Army Emergency Reserve. The Army Emergency Reserve consists of volunteers and of National Service men fulfilling their statutory liability for part-time service.

The number of National Service men recalled was about 3,600. Directions for the recall of these National Service reservists were given under Her Majesty's Proclamation of 3rd August, 1956, which was made under Section 5 of the Army Reserve Act, 1950. Section 25 of the National Service Act, 1948, makes it clear that those provisions apply to National Service men. When reservists will be released depends upon the course of the present emergency, No-one will be retained longer than is justified.

77. Mr. Royle

asked the Secretary of State for War how many officers and men in each of the three Services were called up in the Suez Emergency Proclamation under Emergency Reserve, Category 2.

Mr. F. Maclean

Only Army reservists have been recalled. About 5,000 of these were in Army Emergency Reserve, Category II, which consists of volunteers and of non-volunteer national servicemen.

79. Sir R. Cary

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will consider examining possibilities whereby a moratorium could be declared on all mortgage and hire-purchase repayments due from reservists during the period of their temporary recall to the Colours.

Mr. F. Maclean

Recalled reservists are eligible for National Service grants which are designed to enable them to meet such liabilities as mortgage and hire purchase repayments. In addition they have the protection of the Reserve and Auxiliary Forces (Protection of Civil Interests) Act, 1951. If my hon. Friend knows of any cases where these arrangements seem to have failed I will gladly look into them.

80. Mr. Owen

asked the Secretary of State for War how many miners were recalled as Army reservists during recent months ; and whether he will make a statement concerning policy for their return to the mines.

Mr. F. Maclean

We do not keep records of men's employment whilst on the Reserve. Accurate figures are not therefore available, but we estimate that about 600 of the reservists called up were employed in the coal-mining industry. As I explained in a written Answer on 24th October to a Question by the hon. Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Dodds) the reservists called up in the present emergency are vital to the Army's needs which must take precedence over other claims. But it has been possible to help the industry by the release of 98 key men.

81. Mr. Rankin

asked the Secretary of State for War why certain reservists failed to join the ship which was taking them back to their unit in Germany from Southampton on 24th October.

82. Mr. Allaun

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will make a statement on the reservists who were due to go overseas on the "Asturias" on 24th October.

Mr. Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for War how many of the 187 reservists who failed to report to the troopship "Asturias" on Wednesday, 24th October, have now done so; and what were the reasons for such failure to report.

Mr. F. Maclean

1,368 reservists were due to return to British Army of the Rhine in Her Majesty's Transport "Asturias" on 24th October. 1,166 actually embarked. The 202 reservists who did not embark are accounted for as follows : 78 missed the boat or had been granted a short extension of leave by their units. These men returned to Germany by other routes. 42 were certified to be sick at home or in hospital. 10 were on compassionate leave. 40 returned to their units a day or more late. 22 have been apprehended as absent without leave and 10 have not yet been traced. Those men who are found to have been absent without good cause will be subject to disciplinary action under the Army Act.

83. Miss Herbison

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will give instructions that leave for harvest work should be granted to reservists who have been called up.

Mr. F. Maclean

My right hon. Friend regrets that the situation does not permit the issue of such instructions. But if farmers apply for assistance with the harvest, the local Army authorities are giving help wherever possible on a day-to-day basis.

Dame Irene Ward

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is satisfied that the grants for reservists and the computation for commitments meet the requirements having regard to the fact that reservists are likely to have firm obligations ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. F. Maclean

These grants are designed to enable inescapable commitments to be met and in calculating them account is taken of firm obligations of reservists.

Sir I. Fraser

asked the Secretary of State for War if a reservist is normally called up to serve in the rank which he last held as a serving soldier; and what are the rules governing this matter.

Mr. F. Maclean

A National Service man performing his reserve service is recalled to the Colours in the substantive rank he has held while serving in the Territorial Army or the Army Emergency Reserve. Regular Army reservists and volunteer members of the Army Emergency Reserve are, with certain minor exceptions, called out in their substantive ranks. I have written to my hon. Friend giving details.

Mr. Swingler

asked the Secretary of State for War how many complaints he has received, in connection with the recall of reservists, of pay difficulties and time wastage ; and what steps he has taken to deal with these problems.

Mr. F. Maclean

About 150. The action taken varied according to the type of complaint and whether or not it was substantiated.

Mr. Swingler

asked the Secretary of State for War to what extent the number of ceremonial parades has been increased in the Army for the purpose of keeping reservists occupied.

Mr. F. Maclean

Not at all to my knowledge. But, if the hon. Member has a particular case in mind, I will gladly look into it.

Mr. Dodds

asked the Secretary of State for War what was the change in circumstances which enabled him on 5th October to allow seven days' leave for reservists when a few days before it had been his policy that more than 72 hours' passes were militarily impracticable.

Mr. F. Maclean

We could not grant more than 72 hours' leave until we were satisfied that the situation permitted it.