Ex-Service Men and Merchant Seamen (Badge).

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Commerce. – in the House of Commons on 9th June 1942.

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Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw

asked the Prime Minister whether he is now able to indicate whether a badge of suitable design can be issued to all ex-Service men and merchant seamen who are not otherwise eligible for a badge under present Regulations?

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

On a recent occasion, the House was informed of the reasons for which the Government considered it undesirable to extend the classification of those to whom the King's badge for invalided officers and men can be issued. At the same time, a promise was made on behalf of the Government that the question of the institution of a new badge for invalided officers and men ineligible for the present King's badge should be examined. It is, of course, inevitable that, given the basis of award for the King's badge, there must be difficult border line cases which may seem to be hard cases for those affected. The Government have, therefore, considered with sympathy the proposal for a hew badge.

They have, however, reluctantly decided not to adopt this proposal. A considerable number of those eager to join the combatant services have to be rejected on medical grounds. It would be invidious to make any distinction between these men and those whose disabilities escape detection until after they have been admitted. Every man and woman in this country should now be doing the work by which, in the opinion of the Government, he can render the best service to his country. There is, therefore, no just basis for distinction between those who are discharged from the combatant Services owing to ill health which is not attributable to their service and those who are obliged to give up other forms of service for similar reasons.

In conclusion, I would remind the House that, under the conditions of total war, no man's patriotism can be called in question because he is wearing civilian clothes. In this war, therefore, no man requires a badge or any other form of decoration to prove that he has done his duty to his country or has been willing to do it.

Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw

Can my right hon. Friend indicate how the Government have looked at this matter with sympathy, and does he understand that his answer will cause considerable disappointment among large numbers of men who have been discharged from the Forces after doing their duty, and some of whom are now receiving white feathers because they wear civilian clothes?

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

I would remind my hon. Friend that because one examines a matter with sympathy, it does not necessarily mean that one comes to the same conclusion as he does. The matter has been looked at with sympathy, and I think the reply shows conclusively that there would be great difficulties in making distinctions which would not cause hardship in one direction or another.