HC Deb 07 November 1916 vol 87 cc13-5

asked the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been called to the case which came before the Bermondsey Tribunal in which an applicant passed by a medical board produced three medical certificates stating that he was unfit; whether he is aware that, although this applicant had five soldier brothers, one being killed and two wounded, and had a father in the asylum and a widowed mother, and a wife and two children, the military representative stated that he was instructed to oppose and appeal against any proposal for temporary, exemption as suggested by the tribunal; whether he is aware that the Mayor protested that the tribunal had no power left and had better disbtnd, and that Councillor Shearring protested that the tribunal was under the iron hand of the military; and whether the action of this military representative reflects the present policy of the War Office in, such cases?


My hon. Friend presumably refers to the case of H. G. Spong. As this man was thirty years of age, and has been passed for general service, the military representative considered that he would have no alternative but to appeal if the exemption of six months proposed by the tribunal were granted. He suggested, however, to the tribunal that the man should go before the Special Medical Board, and this suggestion was adopted by the tribunal by 11 votes to 4. There the matter rests.


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that there are a number of unfit men in the Army, including volunteers and conscripts, wounded and invalided soldiers; that the majority of these men never can be made fit for any category of military service; that their maintenance is costing the country a very large sum of money; and can he see his way to alleviate the position by granting discharges in as many cases as possible?


All men who are unfit for military employment are discharged as soon as possible. The question as to how far men who have been disabled are to be kept in the Service for further treatment, and, if necessary, instruction in some trade, is under consideration.


Are we to understand then that the hon. Gentleman denies on behalf of the Government that there are thousands of unfit men in the Army paid by the State, and doing no work at all?


Is it not the case that large numbers of unfit men are being recruited, not directly for military purposes, but for industrial purposes, under the substitution scheme, and will the hon. Gentleman tell us what power there is under the Military Service Acts to do this?


I do not think that arises out of the question.


It is true.