asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that men serving in a R.A.S.C. company, of which he knows, were notified on transfer to the B.L.A. from the M.E.F. and C.M.F. that the chance of seven day's home leave to which they became entitled would not affect their prospects under the Python scheme; that their Python leave of 28 days should start on 4th July, when they will have completed four-and-a-half years' overseas service, but they have now been told they must complete five years' service overseas before becoming eligible for Python leave; and if he will take steps to mitigate the disappointment thus caused to these men and their relatives.
asked the Secretary of State for War what arrangements have been made, or are contemplated, for the troops serving in Italy, who went through the campaigns in North Africa, Sicily and Italy, and many of whom have been abroad for three and a half years and have served under onerous conditions.
asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will make a statement about the repatriation of British troops in Italy; whether leave is still being granted to troops in Italy who are then returned to that country, or whether leave for those men in early demobilisation groups is being stopped so that they will be repatriated and demobilised at the same time; and whether he is aware that many soldiers in Italy have been overseas since 1941 and that their claims are not receiving sufficient attention as regards repatriation.
asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that some officers and men, now serving in Italy, who formed part of the Eighth Army, have had no leave to this country during the past three years; whether leave arrangements can be improved; and whether the Forces in Italy are granted leave on the same scale as those serving in the B.L.A. and in Burma.
asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that a number of men have been posted direct to B.L.A. after long periods of overseas service in C.M.F. and M.E.F.; and whether in such cases these men will receive a longer period of leave in the United Kingdom than the 10-day period granted to men who only went abroad with the B.L.A.
As I understand it, the particular point of that was that men have been told that the grant of seven days' leave would stop their Python entitlement. I made it clear to the hon. Member, and I will make it clear to the people concerned, that there is no question of that.
Js my right hon. Friend aware that his statement on Friday did not deal with the particular case mentioned in Question 43, that of a man posted from S.E.A.C. direct to the B.L.A.? Will he look into the matter?
I thought it did deal with these questions. I tried to explain earlier that men posted for operational reasons from the C.M.F. to the B.L.A. had a choice—either a small number could have 28 days' leave or the whole lot could have nine days' leave. A personal arrangement was made with Field-Marshal Montgomery whereby the whole of them were given leave at a shorter period. If there had been any longer period they would not have taken part in the battle at all.
All I could do at short notice was to arrange for the general sense of my remarks to be broadcast on the General Forces programme, and I had arranged beforehand for the Army newspapers in the various theatres of operations to reserve space to print it as fully as possible. I would like to consider whether any other steps are necessary.
In view of the large number of letters I have received from the C.M.F., and while recognising that the Minister's statement on Friday will give a measure of satisfaction, may I ask if the right hon. Gentleman is aware that there is still deep feeling among the lads out there in connection with leave?
Sir J. GriÄ£Ä£:
All periods of leave granted to a soldier are entered in his Army Book 64. This enables his commanding officer to compute the aggregate of his leave for comparison with that of his comrades and there is little or no doubt that this factor would be taken into account—but a general rule on this point would be impracticable. There ate cases, for example, where a man missed his embarkation leave but had more leave in general than a man who went on embarkation leave.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that when a man has been sent overseas without embarkation leave, it may mean that he leaves his domestic affairs in confusion, and has he not a claim to have that made up at the earliest possible moment?