HC Deb 03 April 1951 vol 486 cc20-1
34. Mr. Ian Harvey

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will now review the question of the issue of orders to sentries, especially when on active service, in order that they may be more precise.

Mr. Strachey

In July, 1950, all Commanders-in-Chief were requested to take immediate steps to re-examine existing orders for armed sentries and to ensure that they were appropriate, clearly and definitely worded, and fully understood by the sentries. A further letter was sent to Commanders-in-Chief in December, 1950, to clarify the position. The actual orders which are issued to sentries overseas or on active service must be left to the discretion of the Commander-in-Chief concerned according to the local circumstances.

Mr. Harvey

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that recent cases have indicated that far too much has been left to the discretion of the sentry on duty, and that in one case there was a suggestion that a legal decision should be made; and is he further aware that it is absolutely essential that these men should have orders upon which they are clear, so that their duties are automatic, in order that these unfortunate events should not occur?

Mr. Strachey

We have twice emphasised this point to Commanders-in-Chief, but, of course, we must not take the actual drafting of the orders out of their hands.