HC Deb 02 July 1940 vol 362 cc644-7
2. Colonel Wedgwood

asked the Secretary of State for War what steps are being taken to provide the Local Defence Volunteers with the grenades known as Molotoff cocktails; alternatively, are they encouraged to provide their own, and how can they get the petrol required?

Mr. Eden

I am not prepared to make any public statement on this subject.

Mr. Cocks

Will the Minister circulate to hon. Members the recipe of this cocktail?

Mr. Eden

Yes, if they will promise to handle it all right.

Sir Richard Acland

Will the right hon. Gentleman see that all Local Defence Volunteers get the same instructions, because there are all sorts of instructions about these things?

8. Mr. Cocks

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will consider making use of ex-service men who have been trained as machine-gunners by forming them into mobile machine-gun columns, with machine-guns mounted on side-car combinations for service with the Local Defence Volunteers?

Mr. Eden

I hope that my hon. Friend will agree that it would not be desirable to disclose information on this subject.

9. Mr. Vernon Bartlett

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the permission granted to members of the Local Defence Volunteers to wear the insignia of their rank in the last war makes discipline impossible in the present one and will he give orders that officers in the Local Defence Volunteers should display no insignia of rank other than those to which their immediate work entitles them?

Mr. Eden

Badges have been prescribed for the various grades of commanders in the Local Defence Volunteer Force, and instructions are being issued that officers and ex-officers, when on duty with that force, should not wear badges of rank held in another capacity.

Mr. Bartlett

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that quite a number of them are still wearing the uniforms they had in the last war, and that in one company in East Sussex there are six different generals all dressed up as generals; and, although one does not want to impugn their patriotism, is it not a fact that the great mass of people of this country, while they do not mind Corporal Hitler—

Hon. Members


Mr. Eden

I have heard something of that kind, and that is why instructions have been given.

Lieut.-Colonel Acland-Troyte

Will my right hon. Friend make it clear whether ex-officers are allowed to wear their old uniforms?

Mr. Eden

This is a question of badges of rank.

16. Miss Rathbone

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has considered the desirability of forming a women's force auxiliary to the Local Defence Volunteers, on lines similar to the women's services auxiliary to the Army, Navy and Air Force?

Mr. Eden

I am aware of the patriotic desire of many women to serve in this way, and I am considering means of giving expression to it.

Miss Rathbone

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider whether this Force can be formed quickly, especially in view of the need for large numbers of additional workers such as observers, motor drivers, cyclists and so on?

Dr. Edith Summerskill

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman how we are to fight in the hills, in the streets and in the houses, as envisaged by the Lord President of the Council on Sunday, if women are excluded from the Local Defence Volunteers?

Mr. Eden

That is a different question from this Question, which is about an auxiliary to the Local Defence Volunteers.

20. Mr. Cary

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the limited number of rifles available for Local Defence Volunteers he will make arrangements for soldiers on leave to reinforce that organisation in the locality where they happen to be at a time of an enemy attack, and, in order to do so effectively, order all soldiers on leave to carry their rifles and an adequate number of cartridges wherever they go?

Mr. Eden

Except for very special reasons, all leave has been stopped, and, in any event, it is thought best that, in emergency, soldiers should at once report to their own or the nearest military unit.

73. Sir R. Acland

asked the Postmaster-General whether he will take a decision that installation of telephones reasonably required by the Local Defence Volunteers shall take priority over installations required for private and commercial purposes and shall be made without charge; and whether the utmost possible efforts will be made to maintain the telephone service of the Local Defence Volunteers in the most immediate possible contact with main exchanges both day and night?

The Assistant Postmaster-General (Captain Waterhouse)

In common with all other military telephone installations provided by the Post Office, orders for telephones for the Local Defence Volunteer organisation are accepted only from the competent military authorities, normally Chief Signal Officers of Army Commands, and rentals for them are payable by the same military authorities. These telephones are treated in all respects as military installations; consequently, their provision takes priority over installations required for private or commercial purposes and special arrangements are made to maintain efficient telephone service both day and night.

Sir R. Acland

Is my hon. and gallant Friend aware of the case where the telephone, having been installed, was cut off on the grounds that the Local Defence Volunteers had not paid the quarterly charges for the telephone?

Captain Waterhouse

I have seen some reference to that in the Press, and if the hon. Member would like to write to me about it, I will go into it.