HC Deb 07 August 1905 vol 151 cc371-3
MR. LAMBERT (Devonshire, South Molton)

I beg to ask Mr. Attorney-General what statutory authority is vested in the Government to order Volunteers enlisted for home defence to be medically examined for service abroad.


, who replied, said: So far as I am aware there is no such statutory provision. But as no such order has been issued the question does not arise.


Has the right hon. Gentleman not ordered that the Volunteers should be examined for service abroad?


No such order was issued.


Why, the order was issued only the other day.


No order, but a circular has been issued. The circular was to this effect:—"Medical officers are to report on the general physical standard of the men under their charge, with a view to ascertaining their fitness for active service abroad."


Is not that an order?


No, Sir. It is not an order, and there was no order to carry out this medical examination. There may possibly be units of the individuals who do not desire to submit to it. The circular still remains, and if the medical officers do not get these facilities they will report as completely as they can, upon the best information obtainable.

MR. RUFUS ISAACS (Berkshire, Reading)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether commanding officers of Volunteer battalions have power to expel, reduce in rank, or otherwise punish any Volunteer who refuses to submit to the medical inspection as to fitness for foreign service prescribed by the War Office circular letter of the 11th July, 1905.


I beg also to ask the Secretary of State for War whether the commanding officer of a Volunteer battalion which is in brigade camp with Regular troops, and thus subject to military law, will, have power to arrest or imprison, or disgrace or punish any Volunteer who refuses to submit to the medical examination prescribed by the War Office circular letter of the 11th July, 1905.


I have already replied to the hon. Member's first Question in my Answer to the hon. Member for the South Molton Division. In reply to the second Question, I do not desire to put a limit to what might be the powers of an officer commanding troops under military law; but no such order as that suggested by the hon. Member has been given to Volunteers under military law, nor will it be given.

MAJOR SEELY (Isle of Wight)

Can the right hon. Gentleman state as a fact that any Volunteers have been ordered to be examined under the order?


Many Volunteer corps have, under the orders of commanding officers, submitted to this examination, to the great advantage of the public service. As I have already stated, this is not an order issued by the War Office, but it has been found by commanding officers a most convenient method of obtaining this information.

SIR HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)

Can the right hon. Gentleman state what Las been the result of the examinations referred to?


I have not as yet any official report, but the examination has been very satisfactory in the case of those corps which have carried it out.