§ Dr. Russell Thomas (Southampton)
In raising the matter of the pay of chaplains in the Army perhaps I may read a Question on this matter which I put to the Secretary of State for War on 2nd February last. I asked the Secretary of State for War:if he will state the daily rate of pay, after three years' service, of a fourth class chaplain who holds the rank of captain.The Secretary of State replied:The pay of a chaplain to the Forces, fourth class, who is holding a temporary or emergency commission is 15s. 4d. a day, irrespective of length of his service.1886 I repeat that sentence, "irrespective of the length of his service."On his selection for a permanent commission his pay would be 19s. a day."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd February, 1943; col. 735, Vol. 386.]I would ask the House to remember that, because the impression conveyed might possibly be that it might not be very long until the chaplain was promoted and that his pay would then increase. Now there are one or two points I wish to put on the question of pay. Chaplains who joined the Army before August, 1939, of whom there must be a very limited number, receive 16s. 6d. per day. A temporary chaplain, as the Secretary of State said, receives only 15s. 4d. A recently promoted captain in the Army receives, I think, about 17s. 6d. a day, although I admit that he starts as a second lieutenant at a lower rate than a chaplain. As a second lieutenant he gets 14s. 6d., but he is very soon promoted, I think after a matter of months, and then his pay is increased. Frequently, too, he soon becomes a captain, and after three years' service as a captain he gets an increase of 1s. 3d. a day. Those are a few points with regard to the pay which officers receive.
Next I should like to turn the attention of the House to the age of the Army chaplain as compared with that of the ordinary officer in the Army. I am not suggesting that there are not older officers, but on the whole, I think, the Army chaplain is considerably older than the average officer. I understand, and I hope that I may be corrected if I am wrong, that chaplains are not accepted before the age of 25; most of them, I believe, are well over 35, and many of them older still. They are men who have had considerable training. They are members of a learned profession. Many of them have been educated at the universities of Cambridge or Oxford, and after that they have received a course at a theological college. Others have gone straight away to theological colleges. In addition to that they have, as it were, put in an apprenticeship to their work. Most of them having served as curates for two, three, four or five years, positions in which they are frequently underpaid, because of the economic stress of the church, but they were willing to accept that low pay on account of the high nature of their calling.
1887 It has been said to me—I mention this very diffidently, and the Parliamentary Secretary will correct me if I am wrong—that the War Office originally averaged the pay of a certain number of curates and upon that average decided the rate of 15s. 4d. a day for a chaplain. I cannot vouch for this. But it suggests to me that the War Office was to some extent taking advantage of the bad economic conditions of the Church, perhaps—I hope not—making use of them in that way. We must remember that the ordinary curate is frequently supported by public contributions and willingly forgoes the luxuries of this world. Many chaplains, being older than the average officer, are married and often have two, three or four children. They occupy country vicarages and rectories and have considerable responsibilities, and yet the allowances to them are on the same scale as for the average officer, and owing to their lower pay they are unable to send money home to help their families. I have already pointed out that the Secretary of State said that chaplains receive 19s. a day on promotion, but in point of fact the hope of promotion for a temporary chaplain who has served already for three years is extremely remote. Promotion to third class chaplains, who rank as majors, is extremely rare, and appointments as divisional chaplain go as a rule to those who joined the Service before war broke out. Therefore I think the possibility of a young chaplain obtaining the extra pay referred to is very small.
An Army chaplain's duties are very considerable. Not only has he to perform his normal duties as a minister of religion, but he has also to move about the camp in a social sense, giving advice and guidance to young men, and this involves him in further expenses. He cannot do that work without spending a certain amount of money, it may be on buying cups of tea or coffee. At the same time he has to contribute to the officers' mess in the same way as an ordinary officer. There is no doubt that all this makes a considerable call on his pay and leaves him with but little margin of money to send home if he desires to do so.
§ Mr. Austin Hopkinson (Mossley)
Supposing he had neither silver nor gold nor brass in his purse and only one coat and 1888 no scrip and no shoes, would he not be at a hopeless disadvantage?
§ Dr. Thomas
I often listen to the hon. Member, and if he will listen to my argument, he will realise that the Army chaplain is not claiming something for his own benefit but asking that the State, which appoints him, should have a little more consideration for his family. I shall read in a moment a letter from an Army chaplain in which he shows that he has no desires for himself. Therefore perhaps my hon. Friend will not interrupt me further, and I will proceed to develop my points. The work of the Army chaplain is steadily increasing. Owing to the shortage of chaplains in the Army, the chaplain frequently has to attend to regiments besides his own. He has his daily duties as a padre to give religious instruction, and there is other work, and I know in fact that chaplains have very little time to themselves—those at least who take their duties earnestly, and I believe that is the case with the majority of Army chaplains.
Let me compare the pay of the Army chaplain with that of the Army doctor. I do so very diffidently, and I am trying in no way to prejudice the claims of doctors. I am not saying that they are receiving a fraction too much, but I want to compare one learned profession with another. The Army doctor is often a young man who has left hospital only about six months. He is paid 19s. 6d. a day when he is commissioned as a lieutenant. He is very quickly, within some 18 months, promoted to the rank of captain, and then receives 24s. 6d. a day, and after that he is in many cases rapidly promoted to the rank of major. That is a very unfavourable comparison. Although the Army doctor, when the regiment is on active service and suffering from attrition due to the enemy's attack, can be extremely busy, in fact overwhelmed with work, under ordinary conditions, I believe, his work is fairly light. He has his sick parades in the morning, and attends to any emergency conditions which may arise, such as accidents; in fact, his work is not arduous unless the unit to which he belongs is actually in action. It can be argued by the Financial Secretary that the Army chaplain is very much in the same position as anybody who is taken into the Army out of good employment at home. He may say that 1889 anybody is now liable to be called up for military service and may have to give up very lucrative employment and be placed in the ranks. I would ask him to remember that such a man is not responsible for mess charges if he does not hold the position of an officer, and if in fact he has been in a position of some status in private life he will probably, if he shows ability, soon be promoted to be an officer and his pay and conditions will improve. At this juncture I will read a letter which I hope will satisfy the hon. Member for Mossley (Mr. Hopkinson) and show him that Army chaplains are moved with the noble ideas which were formulated to us so long ago, in the days of "staff and scrip" to which he referred. I will read a portion of the letter.I do not want you to think that I am discontented or unhappy with my work in the Army. Never have I had such great opportunities or been more happy, or had my work more appreciated; but I do feel that, in the matter of pay and promotion, chaplains are not getting a fair deal, considering the work that they are expected to do among the troops. Many other chaplains, I know, feel just the same, Nor is it that I personally want promotion; because I feel the chaplains should not wear any badges of rank at all; but I will give particulars of myself so that you may have definite data to work upon. I am 37, and have been married 12 years and have four children. I shall very soon have completed three years' service in the Army. My pay is 15s. 4d. a day, and the family allowance for my wife and children is 10s. 6d. a day. All my children are at school, the two eldest at boarding school, and one has already started at a prep, school before I joined up. My wife has to keep her home going, and but for the fact that she has worked very hard at home, and also in part-time work outside and has relations and friends who have helped her financially we should never have been able to manage. Other chaplains who have spoken to me agree with me that we ought to be eligible for increase of pay after three years service, and that promotion to third class chaplain should be possible as a recognition of service, and experience of the chaplain's work in the army.I do not think it is an unreasonable request that he is making, and I am certain he is making it not because of himself but because of his wife and children.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
I hope my hon. Friend will not do me the injustice of suggesting that I think that these unfortunate men should be treated unfairly, but on the question of promotion does not my hon. Friend think that the chaplains might very well wait until the Ruler says, "Friend, go up higher"?
§ Dr. Thomas
Perhaps, indeed, it is the Ruler who has guided me to undertake this task on their behalf to-day. These men had a splendid record in the last war. Some of them deliberately broke the rules, following the example of Bishop Talbot, and went out into no man's land to bring the wounded away, at considerable sacrifice to themselves. They have proved themselves willing to lay down their lives for their friends. I have here a notification of a certain chaplain who was lately a country vicar and who was awarded the M.C. for gallantry during the campaign from El Alamein to Tripoli, and the citation says that the medal was awarded for his work in rescuing the wounded under intense machine-gun fire and restoring confidence in the men after the enemy had destroyed the regimental first-aid post, killing and wounding many of our soldiers. That is an example of what has probably occurred many times in this war and occurred hundreds of times in the last war.
I think I have made my main points. These chaplains are drawn from many denominations, some from the Anglican Communion, some from the Free Church ministries, some from the priesthood of the Roman faith, but when they work among our young soldiers who have set out on an unknown and perilous journey, my information is that they forget, in their hearts, their doctrinal differences, and unite and co-operate in the service of the Master of all men. They, too, hold out their hands in friendship and fellowship to our friends from the United States and our kith and kin from the Dominions overseas. They are brave men, who have frequently given their lives for others. Not only do they give the soldier guidance in his daily life; not only do they endeavour to guard him from the evils that constantly beset him, whether he be at home or in a foreign land; not only do they support and sustain him when he is separated from his home and family; but, to my mind, they give another greater service than all these: when, perhaps, the soldier on or after the field of battle makes the supreme sacrifice on behalf of his country, it is the chaplain who gives him that spiritual help and comfort which allows him to die with peace in his heart.
§ Sir Henry Morris-Jones (Denbigh)
I am sure that the House will have agreed that my hon. Friend has performed a ser- 1891 vice in bringing this matter forward. To those who belong to that noble and sacred profession, money must inevitably be a secondary consideration, but we should be the last to agree that any chaplain in His Majesty's Forces should be in such financial straits as to be unable to provide for his family with the reasonable comfort to which every other person in this country is entitled, and to be able to educate his children. My hon. Friend paid a great tribute to this class. In the last war I was medical officer to a battalion, and I had many instances of the tremendous help given by chaplains. The work of the medical officer could hardly be carried out without the effective help of the chaplains. There are cases which the medical officer has to refer to the chaplain because they are partly physical, partly psychological and partly moral. Chaplains have to write letters home for the men, and that service is most valuable, because there are men in the British Army to-day who cannot read or write, from every part of this Kingdom. The Minister may question that, and he is in a much better position to know the facts, but I can tell him that there are units where there are men who cannot write or read intelligibly.
I know a chaplain who has been right through the campaign in the Middle East from the beginning. He is now in Tunisia and has gone through all the hardships of the battalion. On more than one occasion he has had the appreciative thanks of the commanding officer. If it can be established, as I think it can, that some chaplains serving in His Majesty's Forces who are unable to keep their families in a reasonable state of comfort, I ask the Minister to say that he will make representations to the Treasury or the Government to recognise the valuable work of this noble element of the Army who are rendering service to their country. He would thus give encouragement to a large number of chaplains. I understand there is still a certain scarcity of chaplains. Some who are outside would be prepared to come into the Army but are deterred from making the plunge by reason of the difficulties that have been pointed out. I trust the Minister will give a message of hope to those who are in the Army and to those whom we may require at a later stage.
§ Sir Francis Fremantle (St. Albans)
I should like to take the opportunity to endorse what has been said by my hon. Friends and colleagues who have brought this matter forward. It is interesting that the three hon. Members who will now have spoken on behalf of the chaplains are all members of the medical profession and have shown very strong feeling in support of the sister calling—with which their profession do not always agree and with which there has often been considerable and heated argument. At the same time, we recognise the moral claim that chaplains have upon the consideration of the House of Commons for the work they do in our Forces. There are different kinds of chaplains. There is the swashbuckling type. There are also the extremely timid chaplain and the extremely efficient and all-round useful chaplain. Each of these men serves in his own way. I am thinking at the moment of a timid chaplain who was with me in Gallipoli; when he did brave things he was probably the bravest of the lot, having regard to what he had to overcome.
The Financial Secretary to the War Office is probably wondering in his mind how far he can justify any claim for better financial consideration for this arm of the Service, and it is on that point that I want to make a suggestion. We all recognise the difficult position of the chaplain in the ordinary life of the Army and in the officers' mess, where he is liable to be looked upon as an extra and out of the picture, considering the life-and-death work which the Army usually have before them. However, those who take a long-term view of the matter and are in command are fully aware that the essential thing at the bottom of victory is the morale of the men. Morale is really at the bottom of it, and we trade on it, we take it for granted. Soldiers as a rule have taken it for granted. You have this morale in the men, you have their patriotism, their self-sacrifice. What is it for? Why are they sacrificing themselves? In many cases they would not be able to say. It is a kind of feeling that they are expected to do so, but at the bottom surely it is religion, whether it is expressed or felt or not. I am one of those who fear that we are trading on the assets of the basis of our morale at the present time, and that we are failing to store such assets for the future. If that is the case—and I 1893 at any rate feel it very strongly indeed—the more we can do to establish the position of chaplains and to encourage them in their work, the better it is. The Army have done great things in the direction of morale in this war, not only through generals whose names and their encouragement of religion are household words to us, but we have also the Army Welfare Department, which has done so much to help on and encourage this line of thought and feeling in the Army. But at bottom it is worth nothing unless you have a moral basis. It is the religious basis which is the only thing that is behind and above and over everything. If that is so and the chaplains are doing this unique service, they ought anyhow to have a position equal to that of our own profession.
It is not true, as my hon. Friend said, that the medical officer has an easy time of it when he is responsible for healthy troops. It is not the case that he is only called upon to attend to the morning sick-parade, to accidents and to casualties when men are in action. That is out of date. The modern medical officer who is up to date has to live with his regiment, he has to get to know them, to take part in their physical exercises, to know them and to encourage them to healthiness and to encourage their healthy effectiveness. That is a physiological work which he is doing if he is trained to do it. The chaplain in the Army needs no less to exert a constant influence to play his part. It is for that reason that, although it would seem that a medical man does more for the efficiency of the troops, that he has bigger obligations which he incurred in his training and better prospects outside, and that it may be easier to buy a chaplain's services in the Market, I do not think that is the proper way to look at it. I do hope that the Minister in reply may be able to give us some encouragement that he is going to lighten the burden of the Army chaplains and their families.
§ Mr. Austin Hopkinson (Mossley)
I only rise to assure the hon. Member who initiated this Debate and those who have supported him, that I am entirely on their side in the matter. I do not see the faintest reason why we in the House and the taxpayers at large should not supply all our modern apostles with as many pairs of shoes as we think they ought to have. Indeed, it is our duty to see that they are properly provided. But I suspected 1894 that I saw in the speech of the hon. Member for Southampton (Dr. Russell Thomas) a tendency to suggest that they themselves were putting forward proposals, and it was on that point that I intervened for fear he should go too far and present as theirs a claim which they had not made, and which he was really making on his own initiative.
§ Dr. Russell Thomas
I must reassure my hon. Friend that I was not putting a claim forward on their behalf at all. I happen to know something of their conditions myself, and it was because of that I was putting it forward.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
That is exactly the point I wanted to clear up. It was worth while intervening for a moment or two on that account, because these Debates are widely reported, and I did not want any misconception to arise or that anyone should think there is any difference of opinion in this House on this subject. What was really at the back of my mind was this: Nowadays certain high dignitaries are preaching the exact opposite to what I suppose to be the particular type of doctrine to which these chaplains are committed. They are preaching that the larger number of shoes you have and the larger number of coats you wear, and the greater amount of silver and gold and brass you have in your purse, the more likely you are to be making spiritual progress. They openly say that poverty is a danger to the souls of men. "For," they say, "if men have not a good standard of living, how can they be good?" I wish on this appropriate occasion to make a protest, because that is the sort of thing which is circulated officially at the present time and becoming the basis even of a new political party, of all things in the world, a party which attributes to the Christian faith the remarkable principle that a high standard of living is the only way to spiritual progress, so that Lazarus ought to have gone to hell, and Dives to Abraham's bosom.
§ Mr. Jewson (Great Yarmouth)
I welcome an opportunity of saying a few words in support of my hon. Friend who has brought this matter before the House, first of all because I remember the very fine services rendered by chaplains during the last war. The hon. Member for Denbigh (Sir H. Morris-Jones) and myself happened to serve in the same regiment. 1895 All the chaplains I came across during my service abroad during the last war rendered very great service to the troops they looked after. I have not the least doubt that they are equally good to-day, and I feel that we ought to see as a House, that they have at any rate, in so far as other officers are concerned, what I might call most favoured nation treatment. Padres, one would suppose, should well be able to speak for themselves, but on a subject like this they put forward, as my hon. Friend opposite has said, no claims on their own behalf. That is only the more reason why we should see to it that they are not suffering from any neglect on our part, which would fail to secure for them as much pay as we think they ought to have and as we can possibly afford to give them.
As a Nonconformist, I naturally have acquaintance with a number of those who are serving in the Forces as Nonconformist chaplains. I can tell the House that a number of them are men of full age who have felt it their duty to leave their churches where they were doing their work in order to serve with the men at the Front. I do not know what their financial sacrifices are, but it may well be understood that they are men who have not any substantial resources other than their pay. For that reason also I think we ought to see that their pay is at any rate adequate to their needs. I do not think I need say any more in support of this claim, which I cannot but believe will commend itself to the House and, I hope, to the Minister.
§ Mr. Shinwell (Seaham)
I should not have intervened in this Debate had it not been for the amazing and fantastic observations which we heard from the hon. Member for Mossley (Mr. Hopkinson). I take no exception whatever to the plea presented by my hon. Friend opposite that chaplains in the Forces should be properly and decently remunerated. If, in the opinion of the public at large and of the Forces, they are rendering useful service in respect of what is called morale, or in theology, they have to live, and they ought to be properly paid. I doubt whether any hon. Member would take exception to that, but why a plea of this character should be used for the purpose of denouncing those theologians who have dared to face up to vested interests in 1896 this country, and who seek to ally the Church, not for the first time, but against great opposition, with social security, I cannot understand, and I strongly oppose the views that have been expressed by the hon. Member. I want to ask this question. The hon. Member pretends to be an ascetic. He scorns the fleshpots. One of these days we shall see him appearing in this House in a loin cloth. Then we shall begin for the first time to believe in the sincerity of the hon. Member. He scorns those members of the Church of England, the theologians, because they want more than one pair of shoes. I should like to ask the hon. Member how many pairs of shoes he possesses.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Charles Williams)
I do not really think the hon. Gentleman is in Order in asking how many pairs of shoes another hon. Member has. I cannot for the life of me see that it has anything to do with the subject being debated.
§ Mr. Shinwell
With great respect, that is precisely what I thought when the hon. Member for Mossley questioned the right of these spiritual gentlemen to demand more than one pair of shoes. Even if my hon. and learned Friend opposite, on behalf of the War Office intimated the intention of the Government to increase the emoluments of the gentlemen concerned, the Government would obviously have no say as to how those emoluments should be expended, whether on one pair or two pairs of shoes, but, as I pointed out, since the hon. Member for Mossley has used this Debate as a medium for expressing these grotesque views, it is about time somebody in this House replied to them.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
If I might interrupt the hon. Member, in spite of the fact that he has not asked a question, I am afraid he is treating this matter entirely from the point of view of the Mosaic law, and some 2,000 years ago there were certain amendments to that law upon which I based my remarks. If he will persist in keeping to it, I am afraid it is no use arguing——
I cannot understand why my ancestors should be brought into the discussion. I am not myself acquainted with the nature of their mode of life, but I do protest at all this poppycock about the mode of life which, in the opinion of the hon. Member, is the only kind of life which can form the basis of morale.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
Is not this exactly the same dispute as we once had with the hon. Gentleman's ancestors?
§ Mr. Shinwell
Leave my ancestors out of it. I did not drag the hon. Member's ancestors in, Least said about that subject, soonest mended. The fact is—and I express an amateurish opinion on this subject, for what it may be worth—that you can never have a true appreciation of what is called religion—which we must not always associate with theology—unless there is a material basis which will enable you to grasp it.
§ Dr. Thomas
On a point of Order. I believe that the Debate is on chaplains' pay, and I regret that the hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell) has utilised it for his own political purposes. Is it in Order for him to do so?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
As far as I can see, this question of chaplains' pay is a fairly wide one, and, therefore while I was not prepared to allow hon. Members to go back to the Mosiac law, I would not pull up the hon. Member for what he is now saying. Also, I am afraid I did not hear some of the speeches which were made earlier.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I do not know why the hon. Member takes exception to my observations, because I am supporting him all the way. The first thing I said was that I thought there was a strong case for remunerating the chaplains to the Forces on a decent scale, and I hope that that will be done. My complaint is against the assumptions of the hon. Member for Mossley, who indulges in this House in far too much poppycock of the most insincere character, and I protest against that.
§ Professor Gruffydd (University of Wales)
I rise to support the case which has been made on behalf of the chaplains; and I do so for a very good reason. I think my constituency has more chaplains in it than any other constituency except Oxford and Cambridge. When I was in 1898 the Service myself, in the last war, I learned two things about chaplains. One was the tremendous amount of worry that the chaplain who had come in from outside had about his wife and children. Chaplains are very prolific men; I think they serve their country better in supplying children than any other class of professional men. It is natural that they should suffer more because of their commitments than almost any other class.
Here is a new point which I would like to bring to the notice of the House. My experience in the Navy makes me believe that a system governing chaplains like that of the Navy would be much better for the Army than the system it now has. As a Nonconformist, I do not think that chaplains should be officers. They should be ministers, as is the case in the Navy, supplying the spiritual needs of the people under their care. If that were done in the Army it would be much easier to regulate this matter of pay. There would be no comparison of rank. The difficulty, I understand—and I think the Minister will probably say so—is very often that if you promote these people to the rank which gives them the payment they deserve, you will have all sorts of repercussions in other departments in the Army. If Army chaplains were, like Navy chaplains, just ministers, paid from an outside Chaplains' Fund, it would be much more satisfactory. There is perhaps an historical reason why that is not the case in the Army. To-day there are Nonconformist chaplains, and Roman Catholic chaplains, in the Army; but in the old days all chaplains in the Army were Church of England chaplains, and came from the officer class. The Nonconformist chaplains do not come from the officer class. The Nonconformist men under their care feel a good deal of strangeness about approaching a chaplain who is an officer. They would much prefer to approach a chaplain who is, like one of their own ministers, a member of their own class. Before sitting down, I wish to express my complete agreement with what the hon. Member for Southampton (Dr. Thomas) has said, and I support most heartily his plea.
§ The Financial Secretary to the War Office (Mr. Arthur Henderson)
In view of some of the statements which have been made, it would be preferable, I think, if I were to give the House some in- 1899 formation about the basis on which chaplains are employed. The problem to which my hon. Friend referred in initiating the Debate applies mostly to what are known as war-time chaplains, and not to those who were serving as chaplains before the outbreak of war. War-time chaplains are given temporary commissions as chaplain fourth class, with a status equal to that of captains. They receive, as my hon. Friend said, 15s. 4d. per day, plus the allowances payable to officers of the rank of captain. They remain on this rate until selected for promotion to chaplain third class. On attaining that status, they receive pay at the rate of 27s. 2d. per day. I agree that promotion to this class is slow, as it depends upon establishment vacancies. My non. Friend made a comparison with the pay of combatant officers. I do not know where he gets his information from, but I am afraid he was rather wide of the mark. Combatant officers on appointment as second lieutenants receive 11s. a day, and after six months they normally become lieutenants at 13s. a day—not 17s. a day, as my hon. Friend alleged. After three years' service, their pay increases from 13s. a day to 14s. 6d., which my hon. Friends will observe is still less than the 15s. 4d. a day received by the chaplain from the day of his commission.
§ Dr. Thomas
The hon. and learned Gentleman said that after three years' service a second lieutenant gets 14s. 6d. a day. Does he still say that?
§ Mr. Henderson
No; I said that after six months he normally becomes a first lieutenant, and after three years' service, if he remains a first lieutenant, he gets 14s. 6d. Moreover, combatant officers of the rank of first lieutenant do not receive the allowances of a captain until they have been promoted to that rank. I would also point out that the Royal Army Chaplains Department is the only corps in the British Army in which emergency officers—that is, officers who have come in for the duration of the war, straight from civil life—all start with the status of captain. In the case of medical officers, as my 1900 hon. Friend knows, they start in this war with the rank of lieutenant. Consideration has, however, been given to the rates of pay of chaplains, and it has been decided that the emergency chaplain who has served for three years during this war and has not received promotion to the third class shall receive 18s. 2d. a day, instead of 15s. 4d. as now. This means that approximately 20 per cent. of wartime chaplains will benefit immediately from these increases: in fact, as from Easter Sunday; and I would suggest that that is not a bad Easter offering.
May I take this opportunity of referring to the work of our chaplains? We have received many appreciative references to their work and gallantry from the various theatres of operations overseas. A considerable number of chaplains have been awarded decorations and mentions in despatches. Most of our commanders-in-chief abroad have personally expressed great appreciation of the work that chaplains have done and are doing. Both in the Middle East and in North Africa Trojan work has been done by all chaplains, but especially by those of the Eighth Army, who have been with the men of that great Force through all their vicissitudes and fortunes. My hon. Friend refers to a recent case where a Wiltshire vicar, serving with the 7th Armoured Division, which forms part of the Eighth Army, was cited as being awarded the Military Cross for gallantry during the whole campaign from El Alamein to Tripoli. I have also seen a recent casualty list which includes the names of two chaplains reported as missing, believed prisoners of war. It is reported that both these chaplains remained behind with the wounded and the dying when their positions were overrun by the enemy. Chaplains serving in France, Greece, Crete and the Far East in this war have lost their lives or have been taken prisoner in similar circumstances. More recently, in North Africa two chaplains were killed in minefields, having gone forward to succour the wounded and to bury the dead.
As a class, when they are serving abroad, chaplains have to cover long distances over rough and, in wet weather, very dangerous roads. They work exceedingly long hours day and night. The chaplains share in the living conditions of our troops in the forward areas as well as sharing the strain of battle condition and aerial strafing behind the lines. These 1901 conditions the chaplains willingly share with the troops, and I agree with my hon. Friend when he said that their behaviour is of high value to the maintenance of morale. I hope that what I have said will satisfy my hon. Friend that the response that has been made to his appeal is satisfactory.
§ Rear-Admiral Beamish (Lewes)
May I ask my hon. and learned Friend if he will communicate with his opposite numbers at the Admiralty and in the Air Ministry with a view to getting some assurance that chaplains in the Royal Navy and the Air Force shall be similarly dealt with, so that the matter may be dealt with as a whole and not piecemeal?