HC Deb 12 February 1942 vol 377 cc1586-7
Major Milner

(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that members of the Leeds Home Guard are still without greatcoats and that as promises have been made since last November which have not been kept, un less assurances are immediately forthcoming numerous resignations will take effect this week, and whether in these circumstances he is prepared to take immediate action and provide the greatcoats essential for duty in the present inclement weather?

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for War (Sir Edward Grigg)

I am aware that some members of the Leeds Home Guard are without greatcoats; but all members have had the opportunity of drawing either a greatcoat or a cape. The latter are an excellent protection against inclement weather, though admittedly not so convenient as greatcoats. My right hon. and gallant Friend explained the position fully in this House on 27th January and undertook that all capes in the Home Guard should be replaced by greatcoats as soon as an alternative use for the capes had been found. We hold by that under taking; but the House will, I am sure, agree that in the meanwhile waste of sound and serviceable capes would not be justifiable when restrictions on all forms of clothing are being rigidly enforced. I am confident that members of the Home Guard will understand the position and will accept my assurance that we are doing our utmost to find an alternative use for the capes without undue delay.

Major Milner

Is it not a fact that promises have been made since November, that the matter has been in the hands of the War Office since 3rd January, that no action has been taken, that some men are without either greatcoats or capes, and that there are ample supplies of great coats available in Leeds? Why cannot action be taken immediately on a small matter of this sort?

Mr. Hepworth

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this applies to Bradford as well as to Leeds?

Sir E. Grigg

The matter cannot be considered with regard to one unit alone and an issue to all units would involve very considerable waste. It is not the case that members of the Leeds unit are without capes or greatcoats. There are capes available for all, without greatcoats or not. The House rightly insists on the avoidance of waste and we are entitled to ask for the co-operation of hon. Members in enforcing it.