HC Deb 09 May 1916 vol 82 cc438-9
12. Mr. ASHLEY

asked the Under-Secretary for War whether he is aware that till recently Southern Command Orders included an order to medical officers of units that they should at once medically examine all men joining to ascertain whether they were fit for general, military service; that a short time ago an officer high in the medical service informed these officers that it was no business of theirs to inspect recruits, and that a fortnight ago an order was issued in this command that no medical inspection should should take place except for infectious diseases; and whether he will at once give instructions that medical examination by the medical officers attached to units is to be resumed, so as to avoid waste of public money by inefficient soldiers being retained for a considerable time in the public service?


I am aware that there has been a change in the orders of the Southern Command in respect of this matter. Previous to the adoption of the system of examination of recruits by selected boards of Royal Army Medical Corps officers, a large number were examined in the first instance by civil medical practitioners and it was considered necessary that these men, on joining their units, should be re-examined by the Regimental Royal Army Medical Corps officer, as the civil medical practitioners have not always the necessary experience in examining recruits. But now that all recruits are examined before enlistment by selected recruiting boards, the second examination by the Regimental Royal Army Medical Corps officer is not considered necessary, except for the purpose of detecting infectious disease. As it is unnecessary, public money and public time is saved by its being abolished.


Are we to understand that not only in the Southern Command but all over England second-line recruits are not examined by the regimental medical officer, and is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Southern Command is full of these unfit men who are costing the country a large sum of money?


I am not able to say whether this Order extends beyond the Southern Command, but I presume it does.