HC Deb 17 October 1939 vol 352 cc667-9
27. Mr. Rhys Davies

asked the Secretary of State for War what restrictions are imposed on the number of letters that men, serving in His Majesty's Forces in France, are allowed to send home to their families; and whether such restrictions conform to the practice prevailing during the great war of 1914–18?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

I am not aware of any restrictions, and orders are being issued that none are to be imposed.

Mr. Davies

Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been called to the very serious delays in the receipt of letters by soldiers in France?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

I called attention to it myself, but there is another question on the Order Paper and the hon. Member will hear the answer in a few moments.

Mr. Davies

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us whose attention he directed to this matter?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

I drew the attention of the House of Commons to it, and if the hon. Member will wait for the answer to the other question, I think he will find the position is satisfactory.

Mr. Ede

Will the right hon. Gentleman assure us that no restriction will be imposed by regimental officers on the troops with regard to the amount of correspondence?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

I have had a telegram from the commanding officer saying that no such restrictions have been imposed, nor is there any intention of imposing them.

30. Mr. Dobbie

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware of the grave concern among wives and families of members of the British Expeditionary Forces at the long delay in, and in many cases the non-arrival of, letters and parcels of comforts to the men from their families at home; and, in view of the anxiety of the men themselves at the non-arrival of same, will he investigate the matter with a view to expediting delivery?

31. Mr. Jennings

asked the Secretary of State for War, whether he is aware that letters despatched to serving soldiers in France from this county have taken as long as three weeks to be delivered; and will he take some action to expedite the delivery of letters to serving soldiers?

32. Mr. Paling

asked the Secretary of State for War the reasons for the: delay in delivering letters and parcels to the troops in France; and what steps are being taken to deal with any difficulties that may exist?

70. Mr. Mathers

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware of the grievance felt by soldiers abroad, and their friends at home, regarding the delays which have occurred in the transit of letters and parcels; whether steps have been taken to overcome the difficulties; and whether he can say the average time now taken for deliveries to the troops abroad?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

I myself called attention to this matter in my statement to the House last Wednesday. Before that time, delay was of course inseparable from the movement in which the troops were continuously and over a long distance engaged. Since then at my request, my hon. Friend the Assistant Postmaster-General and the Director of Army Postal Services have been making a personal investigation, and I am glad to say that I have received a message from my hon. Friend to the effect that parcels and letters, with the exception of those insufficiently addressed, are proceeding from this country with regularity and despatch. When my hon. Friend returns from France he will report to me what period of time should properly be regarded as the due course of post, although this naturally cannot be constant if there is movement.

Mr. Dobbie

Will the right hon. Gentleman report to the House when his hon. Friend has reported to him?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

Yes, Sir. My hon. Friend the Assistant Postmaster-General is in France making a report on this matter, and I think the position will now be satisfactory.

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