§ MR. COGHILL (Stoke-upon-Trent)
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for War why quantities of socks, caps, tobacco, and other comforts sent out months ago for the officers and men of the Natal Field Force have not been delivered to them. Why have they not received the gift of chocolate of Her Gracious Majesty the Queen; whether there is a large accumulation of parcels for the Natal Field Force at Durban and whether there is any officer at Durban charged with the duty of seeing to the distribution of these parcels; and, if not, why has not one been appointed.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
There is no information at the War Office that confirms the statement made in the first three paragraphs of the question. But it is very probable that, owing to the enormous quantities of supplies and stores required for the daily use of the field force in Natal, the military authorities have been unable to secure the early delivery of these presents to the troops, in addition to carrying out their military duties. The excellent arrangements made by Mr. Hamilton Gatliff at the Cape have recently been extended to Durban, and there is no doubt that in future there will be no delay in the distribution of parcels beyond what is unavoidable in connection with the movements of a field force.
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that parcels sent out in November had not been delivered by the end of February?
§ MR. WYNDHAM
I am not aware of that fact, but I do not know whether my hon. friend knows the magnitude of the task of delivery. I may mention that I yesterday received a private letter from Mr. Gatliff, dated January 31, and he tells me that, though he is working voluntarily, he has five clerks and fifteen other men working under him, and that he had dispatched 40,000 parcels to the front up to the end of January.