HC Deb 17 August 1916 vol 85 cc2049-52
76. and 77. Mr. KING

asked the Secretary of State for War (1) whether he has inquired into the case of Private F. C. Lee, No. 28,561, 13th Battalion, Devon Regiment, now in training for about three weeks at Saltash; whether he is aware that this man was summoned to the Colours by the threats of the recruiting officer, Captain Longrigg, at Bath; whether the same recruiting officer has now sent to him Army Form W 3,470, stating that Lee may be called up any time after 26th September next, whereas the same Captain Longrigg actually threatened to arrest him a month ago if he did not join on 12th July; whether he will call for an explanation of this action from Captain Longrigg; whether he is aware that F. C. Lee was the sole support of his invalid mother and sister, who now only receive 3s. 6d. to live upon; whether, in order to remove a state of things prejudicial to recruiting, he will give Lee a free pass till the end of September and make a proper allowance to his mother and sister; and (2) whether he has inquired into the case of Thomas Simpson, who joined the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment in August, 1914, and was subsequently discharged from the Army as medically unfit; whether a certificate of medical unfitness and discharge was given to him at Preston; why, in view of Section 3, Sub-section (1), of the Military Service Act, Session 2, and paragraph 5 of the First Schedule of the principal Military Service Act, 1916, he was summoned at the Manchester County Police Court on 7th August, 1916, as a deserter and fined £2; where this medically unfit man now is; and whether he is to be kept in the Army?


asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that the Reserve Battalion of the 20th Royal Welsh Fusiliers, stationed at Kinmel Park, is composed of men who have been rejected as unfit for foreign service and of men who have been injured at the front; that, in consequence, the physical standard of the battalion is low, and that there are in the battalion men who have for some time been recommended for discharge; if he is aware that on 10th August the commanding officer sent round the orderly sergeants to the various dining-rooms to read out to the men a list of penalties which would be applied in future to all men who report sick and are marked M.D. by the medical officer, such penalties to include pack drill from 2 to 4.30 every Saturday afternoon for all men given M.D. during the week, also to parade in front of the canteen at 6 p m. every night for regimental fatigue duty; and if steps will be taken at once to stop this punishment of men who justly report illness?


asked the Secretary of State for War if he will inquire into the treatment of soldiers at Penkridge Bank Camp in Staffordshire; if a man who reported himself sick to the doctor was sent back to parade without examination, and was taken ill and died; and if there have been several cases of suicide among the men in this camp?

89. Mr. O'GRADY

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that George Quine, G. Hodgson, James Baxter, Richard Aircher, Ernest Cartmell, Samuel Benson, and Arthur Malpas, who were recently engaged to serve on the steamship "Duke of Cumberland," belonging to the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company, are all of military age, were never employed at sea before, and are therefore not bonâd-fideseamen; whether he can state if these men have been exempted from military service under the Military Service Acts; and, if so, upon what grounds and authority?


further asked—

90. If the Secretary of State for War is aware that F. Brooks, R. Leach, W. Croas-dale, F. Mason, T. Baron, R. Brooks, W. Bolton, A. Robinson, T. Gillett, T. Cartmell, W. Kirkham, T. Bonny, R. Mather, C. Austin, and J. Wignall, who were recently engaged to serve on the steamship "Duke of Connaught," belonging to the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company, running from Fleetwood to Belfast, are all of military age, are not bunâ-fide seamen and were never at sea before joining that vessel, and that, on their accepting service in the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company's boats on account of the seamen being on strike, they were informed that while they were in the service of the railway company they would be exempt from military service; and whether he will state upon what grounds and authority these men have been exempted from military service under the Military Service Acts?


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that Edward Murphy and John Cleary, both of Clydebank, Glasgow, left Ireland for the first time last March specially to work at munitions, and have since been so employed in Glasgow, and that under the Military Service Act these men, not ordinarily resident in Britain, are exempt, and more especially as they were engaged in munition work; whether he is aware that they have since been brought before a Court, fined £1 each, and received warrants to join the Colours; and whether, seeing that such action is contrary to the Military Service Act and calculated to work injury if persisted in, he will take immediate steps to allow those men back to their work?


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that Messrs. Riley and Browne applied on the 23rd June last to the Islington local tribunal for exemption under the Military Service Act, 1916, Session 2, and have received from that tribunal no notice of the hearing of their applications, but have, contrary to the provisions of that Act and while their applications were pending, been arrested and charged before a magistrate and fined and handed over to the military authority; and whether he will give directions for their immediate release?


All I can say in answer to these eight questions is that they cannot be answered without reference to the Commands, as the information asked for is not in the possession of the War Office. Reports will in each case be obtained, and when received will be communicated to the hon. Members interested by letter, so as to save them the necessity for taking further trouble in the matter.


Arising out of the answer to 76 and 77, is the hon. Gentleman aware that I sent him full information about these two cases at the end of last week, and that these questions have been on the Paper a very considerable time, and cannot he facilitate and accelerate the reply to these questions?


I am ready to do anything I can to accelerate the reply, but I am not in a position to give as full a reply as I should like to the hon. Gentleman without communicating with the various Commands, which is being done.


Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that Questions 89 and 90 refer to cases where the Military Service Act is used for the purpose of encouraging blacklegs to break a dispute, and does that come within the category of the other questions?


It comes within the category, but I cannot give an answer without information.


Would it assist if these questions were put down a long time in advance, with all the information and references fully set out?


I should be much obliged for any assistance.


I beg to give notice that I shall call attention to this question on the Motion for the Adjournment.


In view the the very great importance of this question, will the hon. Gentleman make inquiry by telegraph, or by any other means quickly?


I think I am right in saying that inquiries have been made, but we have not received an answer.

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