HC Deb 06 February 1940 vol 357 cc12-3
23. Dr. Edith Summerskill

asked the Secretary of State for War what were the chief illnesses responsible for the deaths of 719 men out of the first casualty list of 758?

Sir V. Warrender

It would be undesirable to publish information of this character during the war.

Dr. Summerskill

In view of the fact that 70 per cent. of these men died in this country, have investigations been made to find out whether the housing conditions have anything to do with it? Are commanding officers advised that it does not benefit the soldier to expose him unduly to cold and damp?

Sir V. Warrender

The hon. Lady surely knows that it is constantly impressed on officers of all ranks that their first care and duty is the welfare of their men. So far as housing conditions are concerned, in spite of the difficult conditions in which we have to house the men at the present time, every attention is paid to them. With regard to the incidence of disease, if she will refer to the answer given by the Secretary of State last week, she will see that he stated that the number of deaths from disease was not unduly high considering the number of men in the Army.

Mr. A. V. Alexander

Are the War Office adhering to the pledge which was given to me that the basis of accommodation should not be less than 50 square feet?

Sir V. Warrender

That is another Question.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

What is the reason for the apparently large proportion of deaths of men in the Artillery? Does not that show that the conditions under which they live have something to do with it?

Sir V. Warrender

The Artillery is one of the largest Corps in the Army.

Sir Ernest Graham-Little

Were any of these deaths due to cerebro-spinal meningitis, and have any precautions been taken against infection?

Sir V. Warrender

I cannot answer that Question without notice.

24. Major Milner

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in addition to the usual telegraphic notification to relatives of the death of a member of the armed forces any scroll or certificate, or other more formal and permanent expression of sympathy, is being sent?

Sir V. Warrender

This matter is under consideration.

Major Milner

If I put a Question down in a week, could the hon. Gentleman give me a reply?

Sir V. Warrender

I do not know about a week, but perhaps I may let the hon. and gallant Gentleman know.