HC Deb 20 February 1951 vol 484 cc1053-4
37. Mr. Snow

asked the Secretary of State for War what administrative machinery exists in his Department to discourage the issuing to other ranks of orders involving fatigues of a tedious character and which are designed to produce superficial smartness.

Mr. Strachey

It is general policy that fatigues should be reduced to an absolute minimum in order that the greatest possible time can be devoted to training. If my hon. Friend would let me have details of any cases he has in mind, I will look into them.

Mr. Snow

While thanking my right hon. Friend for that extremely satisfactory answer, and while bearing in mind the importance of keeping the right perspective about this sort of thing, may I ask him whether he realises that the assigning of these tedious, time-wasting fatigue orders has a very adverse effect on morale? Is he further aware of the colloquialism in use in the Services for fatigues of this sort?

Mr. Strachey

As far as personal smartness is concerned, I am sure my hon. Friend would agree that is a very important factor in morale, but it is most important that no fatigue which is time wasting, and seems so to the men, is instituted, because that, I think, is destructive of morale.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

in view of the Question, would the right hon. Gentleman ask his hon. Friend whether, when he was selected for the guard of honour in Berlin he was so selected for his smartness or for his superficial smartness?

Mr. Snow

As I have a suspicion that that remark was addressed to myself, may I say that there is no foundation in that story? I was not present on that occasion.

Mr. Ian Harvey

Will the Minister ensure that none of the men to be called up will be subjected to any of these tedious duties?

Mr. Godfrey Nicholson

Will the Minister make sure that among the fatigues discouraged he will not include the shovelling away of snow?