HC Deb 04 March 1959 vol 601 cc429-30
22. Mr. Chetwynd

asked the Secretary of State for War how many men are employed as batmen and as servants to officers' wives.

Mr. Soames

No central record is kept of the number of soldiers employed as batmen. The scale is laid down in regulations which make it plain that batmen are provided solely to give personal service to officers.

Mr. Chetwynd

Is there not a considerable misuse of manpower in that many batmen are doing services for officers' wives which really ought to be done by paid help? Cannot this be looked into, because it is causing considerable alarm among certain of the men?

Mr. Soames

It is impossible to cover the duties of batmen by specific regulations. It must be a matter of commonsense arrangements between the officer and his batman. My experience is that arrangements between the officer and the batman are arrived at by mutual voluntary agreement, and I do not think it helps to make general allegations of this nature. If the hon. Member has specific details of cases where he thinks a batman has been misemployed and will let me know, I should be glad to look into them, because I am as anxious as he is to stop any misuse of manpower.