HC Deb 01 December 1919 vol 122 cc183-4

Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order of the House of the 22nd October, proposed the Question, "That this House do now adjourn."


I regret the necessity of having to call attention to what I consider to be a serious discrepancy as far as the War Office administration is concerned. For some months past I have been endeavouring to secure what I consider to be justice from the War Office in connection with a case in which the medical profession of this country is exceptionally directly interested. Nobody will doubt the sincerity and the honesty of the medical profession in its patriotism and loyalty to the people who were sufferers indirectly and directly through the great War in which we were concerned. Many of those doctors went forward to the local auxiliary hospitals to give their services free, and incidentally I may say that through the services they gave so freely there are many alive to-day who would otherwise have been in their graves. These members of the medical fraternity volunteered without hope of reward, believing that they were doing their bit for their country, and many of them have sacrificed hundreds of pounds and in many cases the whole of their businesses in order to minister to the wants of suffering humanity. Many of those doctors were like engineers and farm labourers. They have done their quota for the nation. After some considerable time a secret circular of a confidential character was issued by the War Office. This secret circular was issued on 16th June, 1915, and it allowed so much per diem to the doctors in charge of voluntary auxiliary hospitals for carrying out their duties. At the close it said: I am to say that the above authority is to be treated as a confidential communication and not to be published for general information. It is not intended that payment should be made unless it is asked for The hospitals, etc., should not be informed of this authority. I consider that a circular of this description is a disgrace to the intelligence of the War Office and an insult to the medical fraternity. Many of these men had sacrificed their businesses. They had sacrificed hundreds of pounds, and the War Office, having come to the decision that they could have some gratuity for services rendered, the circular issued to that effect, should not have been done in a secret order and it should not, have been stated that the men were not to get the gratuity unless they made application for it. That circular ought not to be kept from them. The action of the War Office in this respect is not a credit to its honesty. For some considerable time this has been going on. One or two gentlemen with whom I am particularly interested have endeavoured to get a satisfactory reply from the War Office, but have been completely ignored. The "Lancet" on 23rd June, 1917, wrote: It may be that many medical officers of V.A.D. hospitals are prepared to give their services gratuitously and to defray their own out-of-pocket expenses— Notice taken that forty Members were not present; House counted, and forty Members not being present

The House was adjourned at Twenty minutes after Eleven of the clock till To-morrow.