§ Resolution reported,
§ 1. "That a number of Land Forces (including Air Force), not exceeding 5,000,000, all ranks, be maintained for the Service of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland at Home and Abroad, excluding His Majesty's Indian Possessions, during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1919."
§ Resolution read a second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I do not think it is quite in accordance with the traditions of this House to take the Report of the Vote for the men of the Army without a representative of the War Office being present. In those circumstances, I beg to move "That the Debate be now adjourned."
§ Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned," put, and negatived.
§ Original Question again proposed.
I should like to call attention to certain questions because, although they have been alluded to in preceding Debates, the replies from the representative of the War Office have not been of such a character as to give any promise of reform in these matters in the future. I should like first to draw the attention of the House to the fact that some time ago a Committee of Inquiry was appointed to inquire into the administration of the Royal Army Medical Corps in France, and I understand that the terms of reference to this Committee when it was appointed included also the administration of the Army Medical Service in this country as well as in France. We all know that there is a very serious dearth of medical men to meet the civilian needs as well as the needs of the Army, and although the House desires, no doubt, as we all desire, that the requirements of the Army should have the first call on the services of the medical men of this country, we have a right to know that the services 1338 of these medical men are being used to the fullest and best advantage in the Army Medical Service. There have been numerous complaints that these services were not being utilised to the best purpose and extent, and consequently this Committee of Inquiry was appointed which included my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh University (Sir W. Cheyne); it was sent on a pilgrimage to France, it returned some months ago, five months ago it reported to the War Office, and repeated requests were made that this Report should be given to the House.
I am sorry I am not in order in dealing with that matter, but I should like to refer to another matter to which I called the attention of my hon. Friend the Under—Secretary yesterday, and that was with regard to the appointment of duly qualified legal officers—
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolution reported,
§ 2. "That a sum, not exceeding £1,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Expense of the Pay, etc., of His Majesty's Army (including Army Reserve) at Home and Abroad (exclusive of India), which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1919."
§ Motion made, and Question proposed,
§ "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
§ Captain CARR—GOMM
I wish to ask a question with regard to officers and men when on leave in this country. They have, of course, to find their own food during the period which is specified on their leave warrant. Owing to the state of affairs with regard to food at the present moment, these men whom the War Office are sending now from war areas have been in some difficulty, and I desire that my hon. Friend should put himself in touch with the necessary Department in order to clear up this 1339 difficulty, because I think it is a very serious one at the present time. I asked a question about it at Question Time, and since then I have heard one or two facts which call for somewhat urgent steps to meet this special contingency. The last information I had was that the leave warrant, as issued to the men, is sufficient for thorn to obtain their meat or their sugar. On the other hand, if that is so, I am sure that all the difficulties which this other Department had, if I may say so, put in the way of these men at the present moment, are removed. If a man has a leave warrant in this country he can go and get his meals at a club or restaurant or he can get his food from a shop. If the War Office can arrange with the Food Ministry for the leave warrant to be sufficient for their purpose, then the matter would be at an end, but this Food Ministry has issued certain Regulations which make it incumbent on these men—and I think the War Office should note this —to go to the local authorities and draw an emergency card. In the case of these men, as my hon. Friend who has been instrumental in obtaining leave for them during the last year knows, although their time is longer than it was formerly, it is considerably prescribed at the present time, and they do not want to spend a long time waiting at these offices. In addition to this fact, one must remember that a considerable number of these men have never before been in London or the other big cities to which they come for leave, and they do not know their way about there for obtaining these facilities which have been arranged by the Food Ministry. I think the War Office should take this matter up very urgently and quickly, and I suggest that they should see that this leave warrant which everyone gets when he comes on leave is sufficient to obtain for him the meals necessary to sustain life when he comes for leave. I would especially ask my hon. Friend to see this matter put through without any further delay, in view of the uncertainty and difficulties entailed on the men concerned.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
It is very doubtful whether this can be raised on this Vote at all. This only deals with the pay of the men, and the point does not seem to be relevant to that pay. It seems to me either to be a criticism of the Food Controller's office or a criticism of the administration 1340 of the War Office. If it is the former, it would not be under the War Office Estimate at all, and, if it is the latter, it would not come on this Vote.
§ Mr. RENDALL
I would submit, Mr. Speaker, that the pay is what the soldier has to live on, and if Regulations are made so that the pay is valueless it would seem to be in order to raise the question if it could be shown that the pay is no use for the purpose of supporting life unless new Regulations are made by the War Office.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ AIR FORCE ESTIMATES, 1918–19.
§ Resolutions reported,
- 3. "That a number of Air Forces, not exceeding 1,000, all ranks, be maintained for the Service of the United Kingdom of Great Britian and Ireland at Home and Abroad during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1919."
- 4. "That a sum, not exceeding £1,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Expense of the Pay, etc., of His Majesty's Air Force at Home and Abroad, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1919."
§ Resolutions agreed to.