HC Deb 29 April 1913 vol 52 cc969-70
5. Mr. PETO

asked the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been called to a letter dated 15th April, from the War Office to the Mayor of Marlborough, in which leave to take part in the Empire Day celebrations annually held at Marlborough is refused to the Marlborough College contingent of the Officers' Training Corps; whether he can state the reason for this refusal; and whether, in view of the fact that Empire Day has become the occasion for national and Imperial thanksgiving and dedication throughout the Dominions, and that as lately as last year the Marlborough College contingent took part in the celebration and were on that occasion addressed by Lord Methuen, he will take into special consideration the effect of this prohibition and withdraw it in the case of members of the public schools of Great Britain?

Colonel SEELY

Empire Day celebrations in this country are occasions for civilian rejoicing and are not military in character. The Army Council is strongly of opinion that the day is therefore not suited for military displays, which should be reserved for the occasion of His Majesty's Birthday. If members of the Officers' Training Corps desire to take part in Empire Day celebrations it is proper for them to do so in their civilian character and not as soldiers.


Are members of the Officers' Training Corps a part of the defensive forces of the Crown?

Colonel SEELY

They undoubtedly form part of our military forces, and are properly so regarded. That is why they wear the King's uniform.


What portion of the forces of the Crown are they by the Army Act?

Colonel SEELY

They undoubtedly form part of our military forces; otherwise they would not wear the King's uniform.

Captain CRAIG

Is there any objection to their taking part in the celebration of Empire Day? Will any punishment be meted out to them if they happen to do so?

Colonel SEELY

No part of His Majesty's forces wear His Majesty's uniform without permission.