HC Deb 12 February 1942 vol 377 cc1563-4
47. Miss Eleanor Rathbone

asked the Prime Minister what steps he is taking to counteract the widespread impression among those in or about to join the Forces that their chances of obtaining commissions will be impaired if they do not possess private means, and that with out private means they may be unable to meet their liabilities as commissioned officers; whether commanding officers or boards concerned with recommending men or women in the Services for commissions are permitted to make inquiries as to their financial position, or to discourage them from seeking commissions if they lack means of supplementing their Service pay; and whether my instructions on the subject have been issued to those concerned with recommendations for commissions?

Mr. Attlee

The sole test in selecting men for commissions is their suitability from the military aspect and no regard whatever is paid to candidates' financial standing. Selection Boards have therefore no occasion to inquire into the private means of candidates, and I have no reason to believe that the impression referred to by my hon. Friend is prevalent in the Forces. The large number of candidates coming forward for temporary commissions supports this view.

Miss Rathbone

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is considerable evidence to the contrary? Will he give an assurance that commanding officers will be made to understand that it is not the policy of His Majesty's Government that anybody should be deterred from seeking, or impeded in receiving, a commission by their poverty?

Mr. Attlee

I think the answer I have given sufficiently meets the point, but if the hon. Lady has any specific instances, perhaps she will bring them to the notice of the Ministers in charge of the respective Departments.

Captain C. S. Taylor

Does not the question turn upon the completely in adequate pay of the subaltern officer; and is it not a fact that many warrant officers and senior N.C.O.s refuse to take com missions because the subaltern's pay is so inadequate?

Sir P. Harris

Is the right hon. Gentle man not aware that in certain of the Guards' regiments subalterns have to show that they have at least £100 a year, independent of their pay, in order to be admitted?

Mr. Bellenger

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Selection Boards are asking candidates for commissions what is the position of their fathers? Does he not think that that is a wholly irrelevant question, and will he put a stop to it?

Mr. Attlee

I am not aware of that.