HC Deb 20 May 1941 vol 371 cc1370-2
13. Colonel Arthur Evans

asked the Secretary of State for War, whether he is now in a position to make a statement regarding officers' outfit allowance?

Captain Margesson

I have given this question very careful consideration, and have had the advantage of discussing it with Members from all sides of the House. Hon. Members are aware that the existing outfit allowance is mainly based upon an official price list, which has been accepted, through their trade organisations, by tailors throughout the country; and I would emphasise that uniforms of War Office standard materials can, in fact, be obtained at these prices. I am aware that, in some cases, tailors will quote higher prices for uniforms made up in their own materials, and will not quote the official price for uniforms made up in standard materials unless specifically asked to do so by the customer. Newly-commissioned officers, therefore, should insist, in their own interests, upon seeing the official price-list which has been agreed between the War Office and the trade organisations of the tailoring industry.

I have drawn attention to this aspect of the question because it is clear to me that officers are not always aware of their rights in the matter. On the general question, however, I realise that officers, even so, cannot always buy in the cheapest market, and that some articles which are not included in the list of essential articles of uniform are, nevertheless, often bought by officers. For these reasons, and to ease the position of newly-joined officers generally, I propose to increase the outfit allowance from £30 to £35, with effect from 1st January last.

Colonel Evans

While thanking my right hon. and gallant Friend for that answer, might I ask whether the camp kit will be issued free of charge to officers, in addition to the allowance of £ 35? Will he publish the official price list in the OFFICIAL REPORT, for the guidance of all concerned?

Captain Margesson

I see no objection to publishing the official price list. As a matter of fact, every man leaving an Officer Cadets Training Unit is provided with that list.

Mr. Thorne

Is it not perfectly clear that if a man or a number of men persist day after day and hour after hour, they can get what they want?

Major-General Sir Alfred Knox

Is the tailor bound to supply the articles at the official price?

Captain Margesson

Yes, they have agreed to do it.

Mr. Bellenger

Is dating the concession from 1st January the best that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman can do? Is not that a rather arbitrary date? As there were many officers who obtained their commissions before then, cannot he date the concession from the date suggested by the deputation, to the beginning of the war?

Captain Margesson

I have given that matter very careful consideration, and, have looked at it from all points and angles, and I do not think I can do better than to date the concession from 1st January.