§ 53. Major HORE-BELISHA
asked the Secretary of State for War what was the regimental pay of the private soldier in August, 1914, and in November, 1918; if he still concurs in the statement contained in the Report of the Ex-Ranker Officers' Committee that men who served in the trenches for 1s. a day in 1914 were followed later by others who were paid half-a-dozen times as much; if so, will he give the title and date of the Order which authorised the payment of 6s. a day to private soldiers who served in the trenches during the War; the approximate number of men who served in the trenches at the higher rate, and if they continued to draw such rates as private soldiers until the end of hostilities; and will he indicate under what circumstances these favoured soldiers served in comparative comfort with their less-favoured comrades in the trenches?
§ Major ATTLEE
The answer to the first part of the question is that the regimental pay of an infantry private in 1914 was 1s. a day, in 1918 1s 6d. a day. The remainder of the question is based on a misreading of paragraph 17 of the Report. This contains no suggestion that the higher paid personnel referred to were soldiers serving in the trenches, but, on the contrary, espressly contrasts the nature of the service as well as the amount of the pay. In these circumstances the specific questions asked do not arise, but I may say that the men who appear to be alluded to by the committee are the motor drivers, fitters and tradesmen of various kinds who up to a certain stage of the War were enlisted at 6s. a day and other rates 2921 largely in excess of the normal infantry rate. Men enlisted with those rates retained them as long as they served.
§ Major HORE-BELISHA
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that the Report uses the words of this question, "were followed later by others?" Does he not agree that a statement of that kind invalidates the whole of the Ex-Ranker Officers' Report?
§ Major ATTLEE
Not in the least. As a matter of fact, I think the hon. and gallant Member has not read the Report quite as carefully as I have done, because what it said was that certain persons who served in the trenches got 1s. a day, and that certain people who served under conditions that were far easier and less dangerous got six times as much. Therefore, the statement of the Report is perfectly accurate.