HC Deb 21 January 1947 vol 432 cc19-20
27. Mr. Walker

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is prepared to initiate an inquiry into the conditions of labour in the military workshops at Tel-el-Kebir; whether he approves of young soldiers, engaged for long hours in these workshops, being subject to rigorous military duties in addition to their working hours; and if he will give some definite date of release to men enduring life in such hardships in the desert.

The Secretary of State for War (Mr. Bellenger)

I am satisfied that there are no grounds for special inquiry into the conditions at Tel-el-Kebir. The men work 48 hours a week, in which is included the time spent on military training, which is essential for all military tradesmen if they are to be efficient soldiers. Non-Regular soldiers, everywhere are released according to the provisions of the release scheme. Although Tel-el-Kebir obviously cannot compete in the way of amenities with cities such as Cairo or Alexandria, the camp is a good one and there are facilities for recreation.

Mr. Walker

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the men at Tel-el-Kebir are complaining very bitterly about conditions prevalent in that area, and would he not consider that when a man has worked eight and three-quarter hours in a military workshop, four hours' sentry duty or other military duty is in no sense a relaxation for him? Moreover, is he aware that the men are complaining that the life they are living out there is no different from prison conditions on the desert?

Mr. Bellenger

No, Sir, I was not aware of any widespread dissatisfaction. I hope my answer has done something to reassure my hon. Friend.