Political Meetings (Service Regulations)

Oral Answers to Questions — Royal Navy – in the House of Commons on 17th February 1943.

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Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Maldon

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that Chief Petty Officer Foster has appeared on public platforms in support of the Conservative candidate in the North Portsmouth by-election; and whether this breach of King's Regulations may be taken as a precedent by naval personnel?

Mr. Alexander:

Chief Petty Officer Foster had been given permission to contest the North Portsmouth by-election, and his appearance on public platforms after he had decided not to stand was due to a local misunderstanding of the Regulations. This mistake has been corrected, and steps are being taken to prevent its recurrence elsewhere.

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Maldon

Was it not rather unfair to the other candidate to refuse him permission to have naval personnel on his platform, in view of this local mistake?

Mr. Alexander:

I am sure that my hon. Friend would not wish, because the Regulation had been misunderstood in one case, to have the Regulation thereby abrogated. We took appropriate steps to deal with the matter once it had been brought to our notice, and to prevent a recurrence.

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Maldon

Would it not be a good thing to amend this Regulation so that members of the Forces can appear on public platforms when they are on leave and exercise their ordinary rights as citizens?

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

Why cannot petty officers and ordinary soldiers and sailors appear on public platforms? Are we not fighting this war for democracy? Why cannot we give them the privileges which ordinary citizens are entitled to?

Photo of Mr William Thorne Mr William Thorne , West Ham Plaistow

Does that apply to members of the Home Guard also?

Mr. Alexander:

That is a question for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War.

Photo of Sir Jocelyn Lucas Sir Jocelyn Lucas , Portsmouth South

Is it not a fact that the Opposition candidate was also claiming this petty officer's support?