HC Deb 04 November 1919 vol 120 cc1303-4
32. Mr. HIGHAM

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will state why the certificates issued to the Volunteers do not date from their joining the Volunteer Corps; is he aware of the fact that thousands of men who joined the Volunteers in 1914 have received certificates which only show that they volunteered in 1916; and can he explain the reason for this omission?


I would refer my hon. Friend to the written reply given on the 28th October to a similar question put by the right hon. Member for South Hammersmith, where it was explained that until the Volunteers were organised under the Act of 1863 in May, 1916, they were not under any legal obligation as soldiers, and the War Office holds no records of their services prior to May, 1916. The letters of thanks to which my hon. Friend alludes must consequently be limited to enrolments under the Volunteer Act, by which the Volunteers became a definite part of the Home Defence organisation.


Is no recognition to be given to the men who joined the Volunteer Training Corps before the formation of the Volunteer Force, in spite of the fact that the head of the Volunteer Training Corps, Lord Desborough, had a room in the War Office and did his work in conjunction with the War Office?


If we have no records there is great difficulty in giving any recognition.


The men who were over thirty-five years of age and joined the Volunteers in 1914 and afterwards joined the Regular Army have no recognition of the fact that they trained to be soldiers before joining the Regular Army?


I should be very glad to mete out to everyone what he deserves for services rendered during the War, but the fact is that there are no records, and without records it would be impossible to proceed in the matter. I would remind the House that every step of this kind that is taken involves the employment of additional staff and added expenditure.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the fact that the Volunteer Training Corps have records of all these cases which they would furnish cost free to the Government?