HC Deb 11 March 1941 vol 369 cc1128-30
5. Mr. Mander

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is now in a position to make a statement with regard to certain matters concerning the Home Guard, including compensation when called up for full-time duty?

Captain Margesson

I had intended to deal with the question of compensation for loss of earnings in a more comprehensive statement covering various questions affecting the Home Guard, but it has now been decided to issue instructions on this point at once. Compensation for loss of earnings will be allowed to the Home Guard up to a maximum of 10s. a day on the same lines as for the Civil Defence Services. With my hon. Friend's permission, I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT an outline of the conditions under which compensation will be paid.

Following is an outline of the conditions:

Compensation for loss of earnings will be allowed to the Home Guard up to a maximum of 10s. a day on the same lines as for the Civil Defence Services. It should be emphasised that the Home Guard remains essentially a part-time unpaid force and that interference with a man's civil occupation can be justified only by conditions of real emergency. The arrangements for compensation are thus intended to meet quite exceptional cases where members of the Home Guard are called upon to carry out their duties at times other than those normally contemplated, either through being called out during their working hours or through being retained on duty when already out and when it is not possible for the duty to be carried out by those whose employment is not affected. The retention on duty during working hours must have been authorised by the battalion commander or by higher military authority in emergency as a matter of military necessity or if the men are actually called out at a time which interferes with their normal civil occupation this must be under direct orders from the higher regular military command. Subsistence allowance will not be payable for any period of continuous duty in respect of which a man receives compensation for loss of wages. These arrangements will apply equally in the event of volunteers being called out for temporary full-time duty in case of invasion, subject to such relaxation of the conditions for making claims, etc., as may be found necessary in the particular circumstances. Instructions in regard to the making of claims and the method of payment when the case arises are being issued at once to all concerned.

10. Mr. Frankel

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is yet in a position to report to the House the results of his inquiry into the action of a colonel at zone headquarters, Home Guard, with respect to the selection of officers?

Captain Margesson

Yes, Sir. As I have previously stated, it is an instruction to the Selection Boards which recommend appointments to commissions in the Home Guard that officers will be chosen primarily for their powers of leadership and the confidence they are likely to inspire in all ranks, and that business, social or political prominence will not be regarded as a qualification in this respect. The reports which I have now received on the case to which my hon. Friend refers make it clear that the memorandum issued by the zone commander was not in accordance with the above instruction. Steps were at once taken to remove any misunderstanding that may have existed as a result of this memorandum, and I am satisfied that the official instructions are now being strictly observed by all concerned. The zone commander has since vacated his appointment.

11. Mr. Wedgwood

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of all the circumstances, and of the admission of friendly aliens to the Auxiliary Territorial Service, he will remove the ban on entry into the Home Guard of those whose parents were not born British subjects, while retaining all necessary safeguards?

Captain Margesson

Any male British subject between the ages of 17 and 65, and of reasonable physical fitness, is now eligible for enrolment in the Home Guard irrespective of his parents' nationality, provided that he does not also possess German, Austrian or Italian nationality, or is not married to a woman of German, Austrian or Italian birth. Where an applicant is disqualified by this proviso, his case may be submitted for special consideration if he served with the British Forces in the last war. Nationals, by birth, of an allied or neutral state, are also eligible for enrolment under the same conditions as British subjects, if they are vouched for by the chief constable of the county or borough in which they reside.

Mr. A. Bevan

Is it not rather a foolish objection merely because a man is married to a person of another nationality? Can we have an answer? There is a great deal of hardship arising out of these absurd restrictions.

Captain Margesson

We always look into these matters, but I think we have now gone a long way in this case. We had better see how it works out.

Mr. G. Strauss

If a German can join the Pioneer Corps, surely an Englishman who has married a German refugee can join the Home Guard?

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