asked the Secretary of State for War whether his Department is alone responsible for the suggestion of returning long-serving service men to Britain to start families; if he is aware that the idea will prove unfair to one man as against another and give opportunities to men to get back to Britain on false grounds; and will he state the names of those composing the compassionate posting committee, their respective ages, whether married or single and the size of their families, with any other qualifications to determine considerations which should be the private concern of all married people.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that serving men and nursing sisters are now compelled to spend six or more years overseas, simply because they happened to be living abroad when they were called up or volunteered for service?
I said, "at present." I understand that there is a paper on my table at this moment on this subject, and if my hon. and gallant Friend will repeat his Question later, I may have something more specific to tell him.
Every effort is made to reduce non-operational establishments in the Middle East, but the Middle East is still a considerable base for the Mediterranean and the Far East, and I do not believe that any further spectacular reduction can be made, although, of course, continuing gradual reductions can be made.
Are any of these men married; and if so cannot the right hon. Gentleman make special exceptions in their case? It is much too long to keep these men away from their families.
I did my best to explain last week the situation we were in, and I said that I was extremely unwilling to promise to do anything which I could not perform. At present, I do not see my way to performing anything more than is being done now.
I made a full statement on these matters in answer to a number of Questions on 26th September. They were also dealt with on the Adjournment last Thursday. I am afraid that I am not in a position to add to my statements at present.
Will special consideration be given to the fact that these men served for three years in very difficult circumstances in Malta, and will they therefore be entitled to special consideration in this matter?
I think the majority of the people who have been serving long terms in Malta have been brought home, but there are still some there though not a very high proportion of the total number in Malta. I hape that they will get their turn in the course of the coming months and that, in course of time it will be possible to accelerate the process; but I am not able to go beyond the statement I made in the direction of a definite undertaking.
As I said in my statement on Thursday last, the arrangements are the same for all officers and all men in the same theatre. In individual cases an officer is, however, more liable than a soldier to have to stay at his post overseas for operational reasons.