HC Deb 01 April 1941 vol 370 cc838-9
20. Mr. G. Strauss

asked the Secretary of State for War how long Mr. Hugh Slater will remain a private in the Army before he is allowed to resume the duties for which his special abilities suit him as lecturer in the War Office school for the Home Guard?

Captain Margesson

My hon. Friend will appreciate that at this early stage in his training it is not possible to forecast Mr. Slater's future career in the Army.

Mr. Strauss

Is it not a fact that the minimum time required before a man can become an officer is five months, and, as this man has been employed full-time by the War Office as a lecturer to officers of the Home Guard, is it not a waste of his great abilities to allow him to go through the normal process when he could be doing so much better work?

Captain Margsesson

I do not think that any of that necessarily follows. His commanding officer has had his attention drawn to the qualifications of Mr. Slater, and, if he proves otherwise worthy of it, he will no doubt have an opportunity for training.

Sir R. Acland

Does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman realise that that kind of answer will not do at all?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I called the hon. Member because I thought he was going to ask a Supplementary Question.

Mr. Strauss

Would it not be better, where a man is already doing responsible work for the War Office, that he should not become a private just because his military age has been reached, if his work was of real military value beforehand?

Captain Margesson

The Home Guard is not a reserved occupation, but it is always possible at a later stage to send Mr. Slater back to carry on his duties in the Home Guard.

Sir R. Acland

In view of this man's qualifications, it is absurd—[Interruption.]

Mr. Gallacher

Is the Minister not aware that there are large numbers of experienced officers of the International Brigade who are serving as privates in the Army?