HC Deb 28 November 1944 vol 404 cc2382-3
28. Mr. Driberg

asked the Secretary of State for War if he can make any further statement about the conditions under which A.T.S. and other personnel are living on a gun-site at a place of which he has been informed; if double tentage has now been provided; and how soon it is expected that the hutments will be complete.

Sir J. Grigg

I will, with permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a statement giving the facts so far as I have been able to ascertain them by the most exhaustive research. Broadly speaking, these facts point to the eminently suitable conclusion that both the hon. Member's statement and mine were correct, though I should add that they also point to the conclusion that, but for the competition of a heavy demand for storage tents from 21 Army Group, the double tentage might have been authorised earlier by the War Office.

Following is the statement:

There are nine sites at which mixed batteries are or were operationally deployed in the area in question. In one of these, huts were available at all relevant times. In two others the unit in occupation at the time I gave my answer was in process of relief in the ordinary course by a wholly male unit. This leaves six sites, at two of which the hon. Member gave lectures on 13th November, the day before my oral answer was given. The hon. Member put down a Question to me on the Order Paper for written answer on 9th November. A reply in the same form as that subsequently given was sent to him on the same day. That answer was then premature in that the double tentage had not arrived on the sites although issue of it had been authorised. There was some delay in this authorisation owing to large competing demands from 21 Army Group.

The position on 13th November when the hon. Member visited two of the six sites which alone are in question, was as follows. On three of the sites winter tentage had been delivered. It had not been erected owing to deficiencies of certain necessary accessories. On three others, including the two visited by the hon. Member, winter tentage had still not arrived. By 14th November, the day I gave my answer to the hon. Member's oral Question, it had been delivered to all six sites. By the night of 16th November the A.T.S. auxiliaries on the two sites visited by the hon. Member were actually housed either in huts, double tentage or civilian buildings. This was also the position on that day at the other sites, except one where the auxiliaries were not so housed until 19th November.