§ 1. Mr. Dodds
asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware of the present practice by which, when required to move from one point to another in busy towns, small parties of up to three soldiers are marched in single file along the highway under command of a non-commissioned officer; that this practice involves shouting orders, which is a nuisance to motorists, does not enhance the prestige of the Army nor encourage recruitment and whether he will therefore give orders that in such cases soldiers are to use the footpaths in the same way as civilians.
§ The Secretary of State for War (Mr. Antony Head)
It has always been the practice for troops to march whilst on duty and they cannot usually do this on the pavement. I do not see that shouting orders need be a nuisance to motorists.
§ Mr. Dodds
Is the Minister really saying that when, in a town like Woolwich, one or two soldiers have to go to another part of the town for a medical examination it is necessary to put another soldier in charge of them and to march them through the streets, which is a nuisance, I can assure him, to the public generally and to motorists? Will the right hon. Gentleman not go and have a look at the ludicrous situation that is created, which does not enhance the prestige of the Army?
§ Mr. Head
It is very often not one or two but four, five or six, and our experience is that much the best way of getting soldiers to go a short distance is to march them and that a lot of time would be wasted if they went there under 1942 their own steam and were late. We are trying to get people through the streets as quickly as possible.
§ Mr. Dodds
Is the Minister aware that I have had a letter from his Under-Secretary of State which states that from one to three are marched in single file and when there are four to six they are marched in double file? Why does the right hon. Gentleman say that this practice does not apply to one man when the Under-Secretary mentions from one to three?