HC Deb 10 February 1942 vol 377 cc1378-9
24. Mr. Bellenger

asked the Secretary of State for War the average length of time men are held on charges pending trial by courts-martial?

Sir E. Grigg

I regret that the information required is not readily available, and could not be obtained without a disproportionate amount of labour, but I can assure the hon. Member that this matter is under constant review and instructions have recently been issued with a view to reducing the period to a minimum.

Mr. Bellenger

As the hon. Gentleman does not seem to have the information, would it surprise him to learn that many soldiers are kept under arrest for weeks before they are brought before courts-martial? Does he realise that such a procedure would not be tolerated under civil administration?

Sir E. Grigg

The usual reason for delay is that the evidence is not collected in a proper manner in the first instance. We are issuing instructions to enable that cause to be eliminated.

Mr. Mathers

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in the simplest cases weeks pass before men are brought to trial by courts-martial if they elect so to be tried, and that during that time the men are suffering by being confined to barracks?

Sir E. Grigg

Yes, Sir. If the legal authorities are not satisfied with the way the evidence has been collected, it has to be collected again.

Mr. Sorensen

When a man is sentenced, is the long period of detention which he has undergone before the court-martial taken off the sentence?

Sir E. Grigg

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Pritt

Suppose he is acquitted?