HC Deb 19 February 1918 vol 103 cc597-8

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether it is proposed to turn out of the Volunteer Force many thousands of men. who responded to the original appeal of the Secretary of State and took the Volunteer oath but are not in a position to undertake the regular number of drills laid down, after they were sworn in, by the Act of 1916; whether he is aware that many have bought their own uniform and given much time to training and drill; and, seeing that it would be in the interests of the nation that these men should have the right to take part in Home defence in case of invasion, whether he will permit them to remain either as reserves or as supernumeraries to the establishment provided they undertake to serve until the end of the War?


It has been decided that, with the exception of a comparatively small number of men who will be retained to perform definite duties, such as guards, etc., no Volunteers will be kept in the force after 31st March next who have not undertaken to serve until the end of the War and to perform a certain programme of training.

I am aware that many Volunteers have bought their own uniform, and have given much time to training and drill, and I hope that all who are physically eligible will be prepared to undertake the very moderate training obligations referred to.

The syllabus of training laid down is the least that the military authorities consider should be performed by any man who is to render useful service as a soldier in the event of invasion. The increasing reliance that is being placed upon the Volunteer Force makes it specially important to do everything possible to increase its efficiency.


Can the hon. Gentleman say the number of men who are being turned out of the Volunteer Force by this Order?


I am afraid that I cannot say until April 1st.


Is it not the fact that only those have been turned out who could have left by giving fourteen days' notice, and that it was found utterly impossible to carry on the force upon those lines?


I must ask for notice of that question.