HC Deb 28 May 1924 vol 174 cc418-20
53. Sir W. DAVISON

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware of the difficulties that are placed in the way of men and boys resident in Southern Ireland who desire to join the British Navy; whether his attention has been called to a circular recently issued by the director of naval recruiting in London stating that there are no facilities for recruiting in the Irish Free State, and that candidates must find their way to the nearest naval recruiting office, namely, either Bristol or Belfast, at their own expense, and be prepared to maintain themselves in England until all inquiries as to character, etc., have been made and answered (possibly a fortnight), and pay for the return journey should they be rejected; that the medical examination at Belfast is not final, and that candidates would be subjected to a further examination by a naval medical officer on arrival at the recruiting office in England; whether similar difficulties are placed in the way of men resident in South Ireland who desire to join the British Army; and whether he will take steps to remove these difficulties and to give facilities for men in Southern Ireland who desire to join the British Navy and Army?


I have been asked to reply. I am afraid that such difficulties as exist are simply the result of distance. The circular referred to in the second part of the question is used in replying to individual applications received at the Admiralty. Men resident in the Irish Free State desirous of enlisting in the Army must present themselves at an Army recruiting office in North Ireland or Great Britain. As regards the last part of the question, naval and military recruiting stations are established in those districts which, being the centres of large populations, or for other reasons, are most likely to furnish a large number of suitable candidates. Residents in Southern Ireland are under no greater disability as regards naval recruiting than residents in distant parts of Great Britain.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that a large number of the most -gallant soldiers and sailors were in the past recruited from Southern Ireland, and does he not think it desirable that facilities should be given for these men, by arrangement with the Free State Gov- ernment, who, I have no reason to doubt, would be willing to make such an arrangement?


The Government are quite aware of what the hon. Member has said, and are willing to co-operate on the lines suggested, but owing to the small number of naval barracks, we must have these distances.


Will the hon. Gentleman make representations in the proper quarter to see that soldiers in the Free State Army are not arrested in Northern Ireland when they are home on furlough?