National Service Men (Training)

Oral Answers to Questions — British Army – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25 October 1949.

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Photo of Mr William Warbey Mr William Warbey , Luton 12:00, 25 October 1949

asked the Secretary of State for War what period of local training is given to national service men sent to Malaya after completing their 16 weeks' basic training; and whether this training is given outside possible battle areas.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

As far as possible all reinforcements, whether National Service or Regular, arriving in the Far East are not sent on operations before they have been in the Command for a suitable period for acclimatisation and for training in the tasks they are likely to be required to perform in jungle operations. Since units are located where bandits are also located, any training involves possible interference from bandits.

Photo of Mr William Warbey Mr William Warbey , Luton

Will the right hon Gentleman say what he regards as a suitable period for acclimatisation; and has he seen the letter in "The Times," in which a parent complains that his son was sent for jungle training in a trouble spot within 24 hours of his arrival at Singapore?

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

The suitable period may vary, but it is about four weeks. With regard to the letter in "The Times," although the parent complained he also observed that his son made no complaint.

Photo of Mr John Platts-Mills Mr John Platts-Mills , Finsbury

Does the right hon. Gentleman's answer explain why young bandsmen were thrust straight into the fighting in Malaya?

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

If the hon. Member will give particulars of any young bandsman being thrust straight into the fighting, I will deal with the matter.

Photo of Mr Tufton Beamish Mr Tufton Beamish , Lewes

Does not the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Platts-Mills) mean "bandits" and not "bandsmen"?

Photo of Mr William Warbey Mr William Warbey , Luton

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will now announce a date after which no national service men will be sent to likely battle areas except in the case of supreme national emergency.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

National Service men must continue to be sent to possible operational areas so long as the fulfilment of our overseas commitments renders this necessary.

Photo of Mr William Warbey Mr William Warbey , Luton

In the review of the use of our defence forces which is now taking place, will the right hon. Gentleman undertake to uphold the principle that the purpose of National Service, whatever its future form may be, is to provide partially trained reserves for a national emergency, and that in times of peace conscripts should not be exposed to the risks of war?

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

That seems to be a matter for debate.