asked the Prime Minister the methods adopted by the Service Departments for notifying casualties to the next-of-kin; whether such information can be conveyed by the clergy rather than by the police; and what steps are taken to ensure that no information regarding casualties is permitted to become known locally until the next-of-kin have been informed?
The Service Departments notify casualties to next-of-kin by telegram confirmed by letter, or by letter. The second part of the Question, therefore, does not arise. In the absence of speedier means of delivery the purport of a telegram relating to a case of dangerous or serious illness may occasionally be conveyed to the next-of-kin by the local police in advance of the physical delivery of the telegram. This may have given rise to the mistaken impression that the police are used to notify casualties as a routine measure. As regards the last part of the Question, every endeavour is made to ensure that the official notification to the next-of-kin is the first intimation of a casualty. But in some cases casualties occur in circumstances which are made the subject of Press announcements before the next-of-kin can be officially informed. If my hon. and gallant Friend has any case in mind where it appears to him that the procedure has been open to criticism, perhaps he would communicate with the Service Department concerned.