HC Deb 24 January 1956 vol 548 cc22-3
34. Mr. Hayman

asked the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been drawn to a recent case at Slaighton Camp, Chester, when a National Service man was beaten up by other soldiers for an alleged offence of which he was later found not guilty in a court of law; and what steps he proposes to take to see that the rule of law is observed in the Army.

Mr. Head

Yes, Sir. The soldier responsible for this was sentenced to detention by a court martial.

Mr. Hayman

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the general public are perturbed by this kind of thing and will expect him to ensure that every step is taken to prevent a recurrence?

Mr. Head

Yes, Sir. I disliked the incident very much indeed. As I said, the soldier was court-martialled and sentenced to detention.

Mr. Bellenger

Do not this case and other cases which have been brought to the notice of the public indicate a very sad state of affairs in these units? Will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to bring to the notice of commanding officers the fact that he will inquire into each such case as to how it affects the commanding officer of the unit?

Mr. Head

I have inquired into this case. The British Army is a very large concern, and this was an isolated case. I have not heard of a similar case, although the right hon. Gentleman suggested that there have been such cases; I have not heard of any arbitrary trial with a result like the one in this case. If the right hon. Gentleman has any other cases in mind, perhaps he will let me know. I assure him that I am absolutely against this sort of thing, and I am sure that every commanding officer is, too.