HC Deb 08 July 1919 vol 117 cc1586-8
24. Mr. CLOUGH

asked the Secretary of State for War if, in view of the signing of Peace, he can hold out hopes of the preferential treatment, in respect of demobilisation, of the married men now with the Colours?


asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the shortage of skilled workmen in the building trade, he can, now that Peace is signed, see his way to release all building trades workmen whose services arc not absolutely required in the Army?


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that many men who were formerly dock labourers and are now in the Army quartered in Great Britain have for some time past had no occupation except sport; whether he is aware of the great shortage of labour in Liverpool and other ports of the United Kingdom, resulting in congestion, delay to British shipping, loss of perishable food, and increased price of food; and whether he can see his way to release men from the Army who have employment waiting for them?

34. Major O'NEILL

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, when the time comes for enlarging the scope of the Demobilisation Regulations, he will ensure that a priority is given to Irish soldiers who volunteered over those who were called up under the Military Service Acts in Great Britain?


I hope next week to publish the Memorandum which I promised the House last week, setting forth the further steps which will be taken consequent on the ratification of Peace to reduce our armed forces and to release men in the order best calculated to mitigate hardship. I do not wish to anticipate this by partial answers.


In connection with Question 32, does the right hon. Gentleman not see that it would be in the natural interest, both as regards economy and efficiency, immediately to release these men? They badly want it.


That is typical. Once you make out a case for one particular class, there arc fifty other cases almost as good in every way. There are a variety of local circumstances to support them. Then you introduce a system, and soldiers do not consider it just or fair that men should go before their turn.


But the right hon. Gentleman is aware, I presume, of the great congestion and delay to shipping?


Arising out of Question 34, can the right hon. Gentleman say that he realises the class to which I refer are in a very special category, in view of the fact that many joined in face of great hostility, and possible danger to themselves?


That adds greatly to the merit of their action, but I am afraid it does not afford grounds for altering the administrative arrangements necessary for demobilisation.


Will the new Regulation contain new grounds for compassionate release?


It will deal with what we think are the best arrangements for the release of men. We want to release as many as possible, and in a way to give as much satisfaction as possible.