§ 21. Major GLYN
asked the Secretary of State for War whether there are still remaining in France a larger number of troops than was anticipated at the time of the last Army Estimates; whether the reasons for this are chiefly due to the 685 complications caused by the delay in concluding peace with Austria, Hungary, and Turkey; and what are the approximate establishment figures for the following services performed by troops; graves registration, lines of communication for the Rhine to Italy and to Marseilles, repatriation of railway wagons and lorries under War Office arrangements, and guarding, sorting, and loading of stores thrown up for disposal?
§ Sir A. WILLIAMSON
With regard to the first part of the question, there is no ground for the hon. and gallant Member's suggestion that delay in the reduction of the numbers of troops in France has resulted from delay in the conclusion of peace with Austria, Hungary and Turkey. Any delay that has arisen has been due mainly to the magnitude of the work of clearing up and disposal. The total establishment for the services referred to in the latter part of the question is approximately 32,000 all ranks; 11,000 of these are engaged in handling, storage, movement and guarding of surplus stores, including a proportion for the repatriation of railway wagons and for railway services for the troops. The balance of about 21,000 are employed on military duties, including principally work under the Graves Registration Department.
§ Major GLYN
Will the hon. Gentleman make enquiries of the Ministry of Munitions, where he will find that the Commander says he can do perfectly well with 5,000 and does not need 11,000; if so, may the balance of these men be demobilised?
§ Sir A. WILLIAMSON
I am afraid I cannot answer for what I shall find; but I shall be very pleased to inquire if the hon. and gallant Member will indicate to me exactly what he wishes to know.
§ Viscount CURZON
Does the cost of these men come on the Army Vote or on that of the Ministry of Munitions?