HC Deb 04 June 1957 vol 571 cc1048-9
1. Mr. Brockway

asked the Secretary of State for War on what grounds African troops of the King's African Rifles present in England to take part in the Royal Tournament are not issued with pillows and sheets for their bedding at the Royal Artillery Depot, Woolwich.

The Under-Secretary of State for War (Mr. Julian Amery)

Sheets and pillows were not issued automatically to these troops on arrival, because they do not use them in Africa. Sheets and pillows, however, have been placed in the barrack rooms and any soldier who fancies them can use them. Several are, in fact, doing so.

Mr. Brockway

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this depot has a faultless record in regard to discrimination and that none of us is making any charge against the commanding officer, but is it not the case that, with regard to these African troops, the pillows and sheets were withheld on the instructions of the European officer commanding, and that it was only after publicity was given to the matter that they were provided with bedding similar to that of other troops? Will the hon. Gentleman issue instructions that there shall not be such discrimination in future between the different races?

Mr. Amery

The hon. Gentleman has sometimes drawn attention to genuine cases of discrimination, but I would resent this charge if it were not so patently absurd. Our sole desire has been to make our visitors comfortable and to give them what they are used to at home.