HC Deb 27 April 1954 vol 526 cc1452-3
22. Mr. Ian Harvey

asked the Minister of Labour what percentage of those registering for National Service since the 1st January, 1954, have been deferred on medical grounds; and what have been the main medical reasons for deferment in these cases.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Watkinson)

I regret that the information desired by my hon. Friend is not available, but the percentage of the men who were medically examined in the first quarter of 1954 and who, on medical grounds, are not fit for service under present arrangements is estimated to be 20 per cent.

Mr. Harvey

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is some concern about the evasion of National Service going on through men obtaining doctors' certificates which are then honoured by the Board? Will he look into the matter?

Mr. Watkinson

I do not think so. I think that medical boards do as they were asked by this House to do and are very careful to see that they do not call up men who are medically unfit for military service. That sometimes means delay in conferring with consultants and so on, but I do not think many people evade Service for medical reasons.

Mr. G. Thomas

Is the percentage climbing or falling; 20 per cent, seems a very high figure of people who are unfit?

Mr. Watkinson

Twenty per cent, is about the same as it has been over the past 12 months.

23. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Minister of Labour whether his regulations permit theological students to secure deferment of National Service in order to complete their studies; and whether, on the completion of their studies, they can opt to serve as chaplains during their term of National Service.

Mr. Watkinson

Yes, Sir. Theological students are granted deferment in order to complete their studies. As soon as they take holy orders or become regular ministers they cease to be liable for National Service.

Mr. Sorensen

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether on completion of their period of theological study when they are called up they can opt to serve as chaplains in their denominations if they so desire?