HC Deb 18 December 1908 vol 198 cc2249-50
MR. BARNARD (Kidderminster)

To ask the Secretary of State for War whether he will cause inquiry to be made into the circumstances attending the billeting or lodging of men of the 4th battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment on licensed victuallers in the city of Hertford for military training during seven weeks in the months of March and April, 1908; whether, if they were billeted under the Billeting Act, the payments due to the licensed victuallers under the Army Acts, as recited in Army Form B 55, and according to the schedule set out in such form should be paid to them, less rations and beer omitted, estimated at 8d. per day per man; whether, when men are not intended to be billeted but to be lodged, he will prohibit the use of the billeting notices; Whether it is the duty of the police to serve the billeting notices when it is not the intention to billet, but to invite licensed victuallers to enter into contracts for lodging; whether such contracts ought to be approved by the director of contracts prior to acceptance; whether he will consider the desirability, in view of the changes in Army organisation and the abolition of the Militia, of issuing regulations showing licensed victuallers whether they are being invited to enter into contracts for lodging or being required to accept billeting under the statute, and of increasing the scale of payments, in view of the fact that recruits are not able to dress and cook their own food, and are not accompanied by orderly men, and have no time available from drill, etc., with a view to increasing the scale of payment accordingly; and that the substitution of lodging contracts for billeting notices not only deprives licensed victuallers of a portion of the remuneration voted annually for this purpose, but also deprives the troops of the sustenance allowed by the Army Act of 1881, namely, meat, bread, bacon, cheese, and beer, or the equivalent of beer.

(Answered by Mr. Secretary Haldane.) General instructions have been issued that Special Reservists while undergoing their training, and for whom accommodation does not exist in barracks, are during the winter months to be placed on the lodging list. Nothing is known of the circumstances of the particular case referred to.