HC Deb 07 March 1944 vol 397 cc1863-4

The following Question stood upon the Order Paper:

43. Mr. EVELYN WALKDEN.—To ask the Secretary of State for War whether he can now announce the charges and the comprehensive scheme of supplies of clothing to be issued to soldiers on demobilisation.

At the end of Questions:

Sir J. Griģģ

With your permisson, Mr. Speaker, I should like to read the answer which I should have given to Question 43 if it had been called, because it is a matter of some interest.

Mr. Gallacher

On a point of Order. I just want to get clear on this procedure. The Minister has said that although the Question has not been called, he wants to read the answer, because it is important. Will a Member whose Question has not, been called, be allowed to put that Question at the finish, in the same circumstances? Can a Member approach you, and have this procedure the other way round?

Mr. Speaker

No, I could not allow a Member, who had not been here in person to ask his Question, to do so later, simply because he thought his own Question important. It is a matter within the discretion of the Minister concerned, subject to my consent.

Mr. Gallacher

If he satisfied you of its importance, could he not put it?

Sir J. Griģģ

This Question relates to the supply of clothing to soldiers on demobilisation, and the reason for my asking permission to give the answer now, which I would have given had the Question been asked, will be quite clear when I have given that answer. The answer is: This matter is not yet sufficiently advanced for a comprehensive statement to be made. I feel, however, that it may interest Members of Parliament to see a demonstration of the clothing which will be issued on demobilisation, and of the method of issuing it. I am therefore making arrangements for this demonstration to be held at Olympia next Tuesday, 14th March, between the hours of 10 and 12 and 3 and 6. I should be obliged if Members who wish to go would get in touch with my private office.

Mr. Evelyn Walkden

While thanking my right hon. Friend for the explanation, may I ask what is the actual obstruction between the War Office and the Treasury as to the ratio of money allowed to be spent by the War Office on equipping demobilised soldiers on discharge?

Sir J. Griģģ

There is no obstruction on anybody's part. The scheme is in complete working order. As I say, I am not in a position to make a final and comprehensive statement, but I suggest that the hon. Member should go to the demonstration. He will then see for himself.

Mr. E. Walkden

I shall be delighted.

Mr. McGovern

Is the Minister aware that there is a case in which a man was discharged without any civilian clothing, and that he cannot get a job because he has only his uniform, and is therefore refused unemployment benefit because he cannot take a job offered?

Sir J. Griģģ

That must be a very special case and I am quite prepared to look into it, if the hon. Member will send me particulars of it. It is not in accordance with the normal practice.

Mr. Leslie Boyce

Cannot a suit be exhibited in the House? Is the journey to Olympia really necessary?

Mr. Maxton

Would it not be helpful if the Minister would put on one of these suits?