HC Deb 22 October 1946 vol 427 cc1453-4
16. Mr. Swingler

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will make a statement on the machinery for the representation of collective grievances in the Army, and the methods by which this machinery is brought to the notice of all ranks.

Mr. J. Freeman

Complaints through the normal Service channels may be made about any matter affecting the individual. They can be made by an individual only, but need not be confined to matters affecting him alone. To seek redress, a soldier has only to apply to his officer and this method is well known throughout the Army.

Mr. Swingler

Does not my hon. Friend consider that it is time this system was reformed, and that there was some machinery for the representation of collective grievances and suggestions?

Mr. Freeman

No, Sir, not on the evidence at the moment. But I have the greatest respect for my hon. Friend's views in this matter, and I shall always be prepared to consider any representations he may make.

Lieut.-Commander Gurney Braithwaite

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether the rules governing the making of representations and complaints are exhibited on notice boards and read to the men on parade once a quarter, as is the case in the Navy?

Mr. Freeman

I should require notice of that, but I think not.

Mr. W. J. Brown

Does not the hon. Gentleman think that the recent events with which this House has been concerned demonstrate, beyond dispute, that we ought to have some kind of recognised machinery for allowing grievances to come to the surface and be dealt with before becoming acute? Will he not brush up his antiquated ideas on this subject?

Mr. Freeman

My ideas are no more antiquated than those of the hon. Gentleman. We have the machinery, and it is a matter of great regret if, on occasions, it does not work. We are all agreed that it should be made to work.