HC Deb 13 March 1951 vol 485 cc1279-81
30. Brigadier Prior-Palmer

asked the Secretary of State for War how many male non-commissioned officers and how many warrant officers are at present in the War Office on typing and other clerical duties; and how many hours a day have they spent on military training during the past six months.

Mr. M. Stewart

One hundred and fifteen warrant officers are employed in supervisory and other clerical duties, and 457 non - commissioned officers are employed on similar duties and on typing. No fixed daily period of military training is laid down, but, in order to meet the requirements for promotion to each rank, courses are run for the military personnel in the War Office to enable them to attain the required standards in military subjects.

Brigadier Prior-Palmer

Does not the hon. Gentleman consider this is rather an alarming number in view of the shortage of fighting material, and is he taking any steps to reduce the number?

Mr. Stewart

No, I do not think that the number is alarming. We have to have a certain number of soldiers performing these duties, partly because they will be required to be familiar with them in time of war, and partly because they are sometimes required to work irregular hours.

Mr. Moody

Is my hon. Friend aware that some right hon. and hon. Members opposite won their medals, fame and glory for doing much less in the War Office than the typists there are doing now?

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Can the Minister assure us that this staff at the War Office is part of the Royal Army Service Corps, and that, therefore, it is part of their training; or are they men seconded from fighting units?

Mr. Stewart

I could not say, without notice, what arms they are in.

31. Brigadier Prior-Palmer

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will give an estimate of the effect which the replacement of non-commissioned officers by civil servants of equivalent grade would have on the finances of his Department.

Mr. M. Stewart

The cost of the civil servants would be much the same as that of the non-commissioned officers they replaced, but would, of course, constitute an extra charge since the non-commissioned officers would, in present circumstances, be employed elsewhere, and not discharged. Normally, however, when a post is filled by a soldier, it is because, for one reason or another, it is not suitable for a civilian.

Brigadier Prior-Palmer

As the matter is really more a problem of manpower than of finance at the moment, would it not be better to replace some of these n.c.o's. by civil servants, so as to free them for the fighting units?

Mr. Stewart

No, for the reason I gave the hon. and gallant Member in the previous Question.

Mr. H. Hynd

Could not female labour be used?