HC Deb 07 June 1898 vol 58 cc869-70
MR. ASCROFT (Oldham)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for War whether in the months of January, February, and March, 1896, 535 discharged soldiers passed through the vagrant wards of the Nottingham Work- house; whether he is aware that 436 had served in the Army seven years and upwards; and whether he is aware that at least 25 per cent, of the casuals who seek the shelter of the casual wards in the various workhouses of the United Kingdom are either Army Reserve men, discharged soldiers, or Militiamen, and whether he has over ordered a Return to be made giving the precise figures; and, if so, on what date?


There are no Returns which would render it possible to verify the statements in the first two paragraphs of the Question without further inquiry. On the nights of 8th May, 1896, and 20th December, 1897, a census was taken at the request of the War Office at Nottingham in the vagrant wards: on the first date the proportion of men who claimed to have been ex-soldiers to the total was 29 per cent., but of these only 10 per cent. produced certificates to Substantiate their claims; on the latter date there were none. The proportion of men who claimed to be ex-soldiers to the total adult male paupers who were in the casual wards on the 20tih December in England and Wales was 22½ per cent., only 22½ per cent, claiming to be Army Reservists. But only five per cent. of the total were able to substantiate their claims to be ex-soldiers, 1¼ per cent. proving themselves Army Reservists.


Is the right honourable Gentleman aware that a custom prevails of some lodging-house keepers and small money-lenders retaining the certificates of Army Reserve men until they receive their money; would that not account for the small percentage of certificates given?


We know that such things do happen; but the War Office do their best to check them.