HC Deb 20 August 1940 vol 364 cc1095-7
1. Mr. Purbrick

asked the Secretary of State for War whether consideration has been given to the question of providing blankets for the Home Guard during the winter nights for such as are required by the nature of their duties to sleep in shelters away from their homes?

The Secretary of State for War (Mr. Eden)

Yes, Sir. The Home Guard is being provided with blankets. Over 350,000 have been issued, and issue is proceeding at the rate of about 80,000 a day.

Mr. Robert Gibson

Will my right hon. Friend consider economising blankets by enrolling in the Home Guard men who are so fit that they can sleep without blankets, though they are over 65?

4. Mr. Mander

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will now consider the advisability of placing the Home Guard, as regards its organisation of officers and other ranks, in the same position as that occupied by the Territorial Army, so that, for example, a captain would hold that rank with the addition of the letters H.G.?

Mr. Eden

The Home Guard is organised on the basis of equality of service and status. There is, accordingly, no system of "ranks," although there are "appointments" suitably graded for the commanders of the various formations.

Mr. Mander

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this question suggests a change on to the Army basis, and that there is a widespread demand for that, in view of the very arduous duties that the Home Guard are called upon to perform, certainly in Staffordshire; and ought not my right hon. Friend seriously to consider this aspect of the matter?

Mr. Eden

I have considered it, but my information is different from that of my hon. Friend.

9. Mr. Ness Edwards

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has considered the resolution from the South Wales Miners Federation condemning the organisation of the Home Guard in the Welsh coalfield; and whether he will take steps to merge all the Home Guard into one organisation and thus remove the suspicions which have been aroused in relation to the private armies?

Mr. Eden

I have not been able to trace the resolution to which my hon. Friend refers, but it is clear that the Home Guard should all be one organisation, and, as a result of recent discussions, this is being effected.

12. Brigadier-General Sir Ernest Makins

asked the Secretary of State for War whether arrangements will be made to remunerate such members of the Home Guard as in fact during the conditions following on an invasion of this country are called upon to give continuous full-time service with the military forces?

Mr. Eden

The Home Guard, as my hon. and gallant Friend is aware, is in essence a part-time voluntary unpaid force. It is impossible to legislate in advance for conditions which might follow on an attempted invasion, but the House may rest assured that the Government would make suitable recognition of such special services as the Question suggests.

15. Sir Francis Fremantle

asked the Secretary of State for War what arrangement has now been made with the civil medical profession through the Central Medical War Committee to provide medical care for the Home Guard when on duty?

Mr. Eden

I am glad to have this opportunity of expressing my gratitude for the very generous offer received from the Central Medical War Committee. The committee have been asked to communicate, through their local organisation, with each of the Territorial Army Associations, in order to make suitable arrangements in each area, and the associations have been asked to take full advantage of the committee's suggestion.

19. Mr. T. Smith

asked the Secretary of State for War whether it is intended to issue overcoats to those members of the Home Guard who have to do night duty?

Mr. Eden

Yes, Sir. Members of the Home Guard are to be provided with greatcoats.

Mr. Smith

Will the right hon. Gentleman do his best to expedite the matter, in view of the fact that many members of the Home Guard are asking for this to be done?

Mr. Eden

I quite agree, and as a matter of fact many local reports have already been received showing that the matter is being attended to.

24. Mr. Cocks

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the necessity for equipping the Home Guard for winter conditions, he will make provision for the supply of four pairs of gum-boots per post, serge for uniforms, stoves, duck-boards and roofing materials?

Mr. Eden

The provision of gum-hoots and serge uniform is under consideration. Necessary engineer and ordnance stores will be obtainable with the authority of the military area commander.