HC Deb 26 October 1909 vol 12 cc849-50

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that on the formation of the Sunderland Territorials two and a-half years ago each man joining was promised two suits of uniform free; that such men have only been supplied up to the present time with one pair of puttees, pair of trousers, one jacket, and one cap, and that to enable them to go to camp this year they were supplied with great coats, but on account of the dirty and worn condition of the latter the men declined to wear them, preferring to get wet through rather than do so; and, if so, can he state whether measures will be taken to have the said Territorials served with uniforms of a more efficient and satisfactory character?

The HON. MEMBER further asked: (1) Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the men of the Sunderland Territorials who had signed for one year, and who wished to sign on again at the end of that time, were informed that if they wished to have a blue walking-out uniform they must engage to serve for two years; that in spite of their having agreed to do so, and have now served 18 months, they have up to the present moment only been supplied with one suit; and, if so, can he state whether it is the intention of his Department to see that the promise made to the men is carried out? (2) Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a few weeks ago a detachment of the Sunderland Territorials was at Shoeburyness for special instruction; that they were the only men who had not a blue dress uniform; and that when they paraded for divine service on the Sunday they were informed that, as they were in working dress, they could not be allowed to accompany the others to church; and, if so, can he state what action is being taken to place the Sunderland Territorials on an efficient footing as to such uniform? (3) Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that out of a possible 200 Sunderland Territorials only some 60 turned out a Sunday or two ago, and that such small turn-out was due to inadequate uniforms; and, if so, can he state what action is being taken in regard to the matter?

The SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr. Haldane)

This is a matter which concerns the county association, who report that a promise of two suits of uniform free was made last February by means of a recruiting poster, and that the Durham Garrison Artillery, which it is believed is the unit referred to, and the county association now hold between them walking-out and service dress sufficient to complete the unit with two suits per man. The association have been in recent correspondence with the unit relative to completing the latter with tunics, and expect further indents from the Officer Commanding with a view to supplying any existing deficiencies from the association store. The unit appears to have had in its possession in July over 600 great-coats and service dress jackets, trousers, and pantaloons, pairs of puttees and caps, and about 450 walking-out dress tunics and trousers, the strength of the unit being 567. The great-coats were taken over by the Officer Commanding in August, 1908, from the Ordnance Department with two years' wear in them. As regards the first part of Question 57, no such instructions appear to have been issued by the association, but a new walking-out dress is not issued to men whose engagements terminate prior to the 31st October following, as thereby no upkeep grant would be earned. As regards the church parades, no information is available in the War Office.