HC Deb 15 February 1965 vol 706 cc154-5W
55. Mr. Iremonger

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of the Armed Forces of the Crown have bought themselves out in each of the past five years, and for what sums; how many have applied to have their cases considered by a conscientious objectors' tribunal after being sentenced for offenc s, and with what results; and if he will make a statement on the position of Service men desiring discharge on conscientious grounds, and on the working of the Incitement to Disaffection Act.

Mr. Mayhew

The number of men and boys who purchased their discharge or their transfer to the Reserve in each of the calendar years 1960 to 1964 was:

1960 5,788
1961 6,267
1962 6,172
1963 5,937
1964 7,450

The sum paid varied in each case up to a maximum of £250 according to the years of completed service and training of the man concerned. In compassionate cases the fee was sometimes waived in whole or in part. Recruits to the Army and the R.A.F. in the first three months of their service, who are included in these figures, pay a sum of £20 in accordance with their statutory right.

The numbers of men who applied to have the Chairman and Members of the Appellate Tribunal assess the genuineness of their claim to have committed an offence on grounds of conscience were:

in 1960 14
in 1961 9
in 1962 6
in 1963 7
in 1964 13
and of these nine, seven, six, three and six respectively were upheld.

A Serviceman who professes to have developed a conscientious objection which may conflict with the satisfactory performance of his duty is required to prove the genuineness of his belief. If, because of an offence or offences which he claims were committed on grounds of conscience, he is awarded a sentence of not less than three months imprisonment or detention, he may state his case before the Chairman and Members of the Appellate Tribunal set up under the National Service Act, 1948, who have consented to advise the Service Departments, in cases of this kind, whether the claim is well based. The Ministry of Defence will be guided by this advice in deciding whether or not to allow the man's discharge.

It is also open to a man to apply for his discharge by purchase; in these circumstances discharge is at the discretion of the Department.

Questions on the working of the Incitement to Disaffection Act should be addressed to my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General.