§ 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 20 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.