I am informed that, out of a total of about 34,000 part-time volunteers in the County of Middlesex, 750 persons have intimated their intention to resign. The procedure to be adopted as regards compulsory enrolment generally under Defence Regulation 29BA is under discussion with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service, but has not yet been finally determined.
I could not say, because it depends upon a number of factors in addition to the one to which my hon. Friend has called attention, but I am inclined to think that the resignation of 750 out of 34,000 shows a satisfactory position.
asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the opposition to the Defence Regulation under which elderly part-time Civil Defence volunteers will, after 5th February, be required to remain in the service for which they have enrolled, he will consider a modification of this order, so that it shall not apply to persons over the age of 60?
I do not propose at the present time to modify the Orders to ex-dude from their operation persons over the age of 60 years who decide not to avail themselves of the opportunity to notify their resignation but to continue to give service service in Civil Defence. As was stated in my Reply on 22nd January to my hon. Friend the Member for Duddeston (Mr. Simmonds) the responsible Ministers will keep a watch over the arrangements for release. I have no doubt local authorities will consider sympathetically applications for release on grounds connected with age. A person whose request for release is refused by the local authority may appeal to the Regional Commissioner.
Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that in this case he is applying conscription to persons who have already given a good deal of voluntary service and applying no such compulsion to the others?
I am not applying compulsion in the way suggested by the hon. Member. Thousands of persons took up part-time Civil Defence service. They are a very fine body of people, and I hope the hon. Member will not discourage the civic spirit which has animated them. If in any particular case it is claimed that a person is too old, it will be considered.