The number of men recorded as deserters by the Services is at present about 21,000. The number who have surrendered since 22nd January for the Navy and R.A.F. is 1,350. For the Army, surrenders numbered 2,157 to (he middle of July, the latest date to which figures are available.
In view of the shortage of manpower, and while appreciating the numbers of those who have given themselves up, has the right hon. Gentleman any idea how he is going to get the remainder in, because something must be done about it?
The position has been debated on many occasions in this House. Those who comprise the deserters are by no means all of them deserters of long duration. There is a constant outflow and inflow in this sphere every month. At the present time the average is about 690 men. Some are just over the period necessary to be declared as deserters—three or four weeks—and others have deserted for a longer time; but I cannot go back on my previous decision.
In view of the tact that my right hon. Friend's reply indicates the failure of the Government's policy in this matter, would he again consider the question of granting a general amnesty to these men?