HC Deb 10 February 1948 vol 447 cc198-9
21. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Secretary of State for War how many military police were on duty and present at 1.45 p.m. on Monday, 12th January, 1948, at London Road Station, Manchester; if he is aware that the sergeant spoke to the men who were asked for their passes in an insolent manner; why was the captain who was present not asked for his pass; and if he will hold an investigation into all these circumstances.

Mr. Shinwell

Two lance corporals of the Corps of Royal Military Police were on duty at this station at the time mentioned, and a sergeant for the area was visiting the station. This sergeant was a Regular soldier of excellent record, whose conduct has never been the subject of complaint. As regards the third part of the Question, officers do not have leave passes.

Mr. Ellis Smith

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many of the boys serving in the ranks come from as good homes as any of the officers, and has not the time arrived when they should have equality of treatment? Is he further aware that a number of railwaymen and myself counted at least five military police there, and, in view of the serious manpower shortage, does he not think that that is overdoing it?

Mr. Shinwell

All I can say is that I am advised that, at the time mentioned by my hon. Friend, only two lance corporals of the Military Police were on duty at the station. There may have been others there, but they were not on duty, at any rate, on our behalf. As regards equality of treatment, I think my hon. Friend will acquit me of any desire to prevent equality.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Would the right hon. Gentleman ask his hon. Friend to tell him when a sergeant is considered to be insolent and when he is not?

Mr. Ellis Smith

If the hon. and gallant Gentleman had been there and had heard the sergeant, he would have had no hesitation in describing him as insolent.

Mr. Wilson Harris

Will the Minister place in the Library a transcript of what the sergeant said?

Mr. Ellis Smith

Is my right hon. Friend aware that that is what we would expect from the editor of the "Spectator"?

Mr. Speaker

These personal allusions are really quite improper, and should not be made.