HC Deb 07 July 1915 vol 73 cc353-4
22. Mr. R. McNEILL

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether the troops in the Second Army, of the New Armies, were recruited last September and have been under active service conditions ever since, during which time they have been quartered in the South of England; whether the majority of the men belong to Lancashire and other parts of the North of England, many of them being married men, and have had no opportunity of visiting their families except seven days' leave at Christmas; whether orders have been issued that, preparatory to going on foreign service, these men shall be given week-end leave and no more for the purpose of bidding good-bye to their families, but that they shall pay their own railway fare; whether he is aware that the fare from Salisbury to Lancashire and Yorkshire is a sum beyond the means of many of these men to spare out of their pay; and whether he will undertake that all who obtain leave before going abroad shall be enabled to visit their homes free of cost?


Arrangements are made for giving leave to soldiers in anticipation of their being detailed for drafts, as far as the exigencies of the Service permit; but my hon. Friend will understand that in the circumstances such leave must necessarily be brief. The question of giving a free railway pass once in every six months to soldiers on leave is under consideration.


Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind the fact that a great many of these men gave up very remunerative positions when they joined the Army, and that, as their leave must be very short, it would be a great hardship to them if they were precluded from seeing their relatives before going abroad?


As I said, the question of giving extra free passes is being considered now.