HC Deb 04 June 1919 vol 116 cc2015-6
92. Mr. C. WHITE

asked the Secretary of State for War whether an application was made by telegraph by the Superintendent of Police, Ashbourne, on 9th May last, for special leave for Private T. Fearn, No. 235469, 21st Divisional Headquarters, British Expeditionary Force, France, for the purpose of seeing his brother who was dying; whether he is aware that no reply was received from the War Office till the 13th May, when leave was refused on the grounds that it was only granted to men in their turn; whether he is aware that Private Fearn's brother died in the interval between the 9th May and the 13th May; whether he is aware that Private Fearn and the brother now deceased joined the Army in August, 1914, and served throughout the whole War; and whether he will state the reasons why leave is withheld in cases such as this?


The grant of special leave rests with the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Expeditionary Force concerned, and at no time since the beginning of the War has the War Office asked a General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of an Expeditionary Force to grant special leave to any men to return home on account of the serious illness of a brother. The efforts of the Department to secure special leave are entirely confined to cases where the wife or a parent of a soldier serving overseas is dangerously ill.


Why was no answer sent to the communication till 13th May?


I can only suppose that it was because of the ordinary pressure of work.


Will the right hon. Gentleman take some steps to alter such Regulations that are now in force at the War Office so as to facilitate releases of this character, which involve, in some cases, extreme hardship?


I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will join with other hon. Members in desiring an early and effective reduction of the staff of the War Office, and also of all other Government Departments. But if the enormous correspondence with which we have to deal is to be accelerated in its dispatch, it will require a great increase of staff, and not the diminution which the House desires.

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