§ MR. H. C. LEA (St. Pancras, E.)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been drawn to the recent action of the general commanding at Aldershot abolishing military piquets and appealing to the honour of the soldier to insure good behaviour on the part of all ranks of the garrison when outside barracks; whether this innovation on the part of General Smith-Dorrien has been attended with successful results; if so, can he see his way to issue orders to the other generals commanding to adopt a similar rule; and whether he will consider the advisability of appointing a Departmental Committee to inquire into the necessity of retaining the military foot and mounted police as an integral part of the military forces of the Crown, having in view the diminution of all categories of offences amongst soldiers, more especially that of drunkenness, during the last ten years.
§ MR. HALDANE
I have already explained to the House that the regulation as regards the patrolling of the streets of garrison towns is permissive, that the practice is not universal, and that the question as to the necessity or otherwise of employing men on this duty should be left to the discretion of the General Officers Commanding-in-Chief. As regards the military police, my hon. friend has evidently forgotten that the preservation of good order among soldiers is but a minor part of their duties, and that the Provost Establishment of a Field Army can only be formed from such a body. The suggestion, therefore, of their abolition is quite impracticable.