§ 21. Colonel BURN
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that in some commands at home it is understood that only 10 per cent. of the men serving in each regiment are allowed to proceed on leave during the Christmas holidays; and will be issue an Order making it clear that only 10 per cent. Of the men of home-serving regiments may go on leave at one time, but that these may be followed by another 10 per cent. when the first return to duty, and so on?
§ Mr. FORSTER
I am afraid Christmas leave must be limited to the Christmas period. The answer to the latter part of the question is therefore in the negative.
Can the hon. Gentleman say whether all week-end leave will be stopped after this? Will men be allowed any leave after Christimas?
§ 32 and 33. Mr. JOWETT
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War (1) if he is aware that soldiers on active service in France are complaining of unfairness in regard to the granting of leave in the letters they send home because officers are being granted leave far more often than other soldiers, many officers being allowed 1441 leave three or four times in the course of twleve months whilst other soldiers cannot get so much as one leave in twelve months; if he will make inquiries with a view to sharing the opportunities for visiting their homes more fairly as between officers and other soldiers; and (2) if he is aware of the dissatisfaction among those soldiers now on active service in France who have been there more than twelve months since they had their last leave, on account of the fact that soldiers who have only been in France four, five, or six months altogether are being given their first leave before their turn comes as compared with soldiers who have had no leave for twelve months; and if he will make inquiries with a view to removing the cause of this dissatisfaction?
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
I am prepared to admit—what must obviously be the case—that there may be inequalities, or what appear inequalities, in the grant of the privilege of leave in different cases. It is obviously impossible to place 1,500,000 men on a roster and to observe mathematical precision in following such a roster. I can only again repeat that it is the desire of the Commander-in-Chief to give all the leave that can possibly be given. As is known the facilities have been increased. I am sorry that my hon. Friend raised the question of the amount of leave given to officers and men respectively. I can assure him that the interests of officers and men in this matter are both of equal concern to the military authorities.