HC Deb 19 March 1918 vol 104 cc787-8

asked the Undersecretary of State for War whether he has any statement to make with regard to the proposal that the maisons tolerés in France should be placed out of bounds for British troops?


asked the Under-Secretary of State for War if he can now state, as the result of his promised inquiries, whether brothels in France in the vicinity of American camps are placed out of bounds to American soldiers by the American military authorities?


It has been decided, with the permission of our Allies, to place these houses out of bounds for our soldiers in France. I do not intend to take any notice of the unscrupulous attacks made upon myself either personally or as the mouthpiece of my Department—attacks based upon the dishonourable process of extracting an isolated sentence from an argument and making a conditional sentence absolute—but I should like to remind the House that it was not the British military authorities, as has been asserted, who established these houses, or who provided the women in them, nor can I find, as has been asserted, any justification for the statement that any part of the French civil population protested against any of these institutions established under their own laws; nor did our military authorities in France receive any such protest. While this step has been taken, the House must not think that the very grave problems of venereal disease which confront the military authorities in France have been disposed of. My military advisers have grave doubts that the contrary may be the effect. This question, which, it must be remembered, is not merely a military one, but a great social and national one, will continue to be watched with anxiety by us. I have not yet received the information asked for by my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke.

Brigadier-General McCALMONT

Are we to understand from my hon. Friend's statement that this decision has been come to without the concurrence of the military authorities?


It has been come to with the concurrence of our Allies.


What is the punishment for being out of bounds?


One great effect of this Order is that we are now adding to the many punishments which will be inflicted under the Army Act.


When will the hon. Gentleman be in a position to answer the question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Pembrokeshire (Mr. Roch)?


I have an Order, but I understand that that does not meet the point which my hon. Friend raised. I hope to be in a position within the next two or three days to answer it.


Will the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Venereal Diseases be taken into consideration?


I do not know what are those recommendations.