§ THE EARL OF ALBEMARLE
My Lords, I rise to call the attention of the 913 Under-Secretary for War to: (1) The inadequacy of the provision for travelling allowance in respect of officers of the Territorial Forces, and of the remuneration of medical officers for examining soldiers for physical fitness; (2) the advisability of making arrangements for a full and complete signalling plant for each unit; and (3) the impossibility of providing in future local or detachment bands which will affect recruiting in the Territorial Army. I do not claim that these are matters of very great public interest, but still they affect individuals and units in the Territorial Army, and therefore it is in the public interest that these matters should be brought before your Lordships. I hope I may get some satisfactory statement on each of these questions from Lord Lucas, to whom I have already privately written. The first question deals with the travelling allowance of officers of the Territorial Force to and from camp. According to the present regulation it would appear as though these officers are to travel third-class; but that would be contrary to the rule that all officers are to travel first-class. The next question is that of the remuneration of medical officers for examining soldiers as to their physical fitness to serve. At present medical officers are only allowed 1s. a head for examining recruits, and they feel it is somewhat an indignity to them, because they would far sooner examine the recruits for nothing than give their time for 1s. If His Majesty's Government could see their way to make the performance of this duty more palatable it would be a good thing in the interests of the Service. The next point has reference to the question of signalling plant. I am sure everyone wishes to make the Territorial Army a success, but no unit, I imagine, can be considered complete without signalling plant. I know that this runs into money. I believe a proper plant would cost some £200 or £300; the grant is not big enough at present to enable the County Associations to provide all their units with complete signalling plants, and I am sure your Lordships will consider that a unit is not complete if it does not possess 914 everything required for an emergency. My last point may raise a smile—it is that of local or detachment bands. All Infantry units in the past have had local bands. I admit that perhaps the music produced has not always been what your Lordships would enjoy, but these bands do affect recruiting. Volunteers have been accustomed to a band, and from long experience I know that a band is far better than a recruiting sergeant. I apologise for taking up the time of the House on these apparently small matters, but they constantly crop up before the Territorial Associations and considerably add to the difficulties.
My Lords, with regard to the question of travelling allowance, a penny a mile is the all-round rate paid to the County Associations, but officers are entitled to travel first-class. When the County Associations are sending considerable bodies of men to camp they will get cheap excursion rates, and the saving thus made will enable the Associations to pay first-class fares for the officers. The allowance has been worked out on what has been paid by Volunteer regiments in the past. As to the payment of doctors for examining recruits, in the past many medical officers have shown great public spirit in this matter and examined recruits free. We are greatly indebted to them for it, and it is hoped that many of them will continue to do so. I think we may fairly reckon on a certain number of units getting their recruits passed free as in the past, but where a recruit has to go to a doctor who does not belong to the Territorial Force, the charge will probably be more than the 1s. The usual fee is, I believe, 2s. 6d. and the saving made in respect of recruits examined free will enable this to be paid.
§ THE EARL OF ALBEMARLE
I would point out that to examine a recruit properly takes at least a quarter of an hour. I knew of a case where 150 recruits were examined at the rate of three minutes a head. That is not doing the work properly. Efficient examination takes from ten minutes to 915 a quarter of an hour per man, and I think it is hardly fair to expect a surgeon to give up so much of his time for nothing.
The next Question put to me had reference to signalling plant. The increase of the administration grant under the new financial arrangement ought to provide money enough to go a considerable way towards maintaining these signalling plants. It is, however under consideration at the present time as to whether an initial issue of signalling plant should be made to battalions to start them off where they have not got the full amount of signalling plant. But the ordinary annual grants to the Associations should be quite sufficient to maintain the signalling plants of units which already have them. The question of bands was considered when the administration grant was calculated, and a certain amount was allowed for bands. The administration grant is paid over to the County Associations, and it is for them to decide in each case how much of that money they will spend upon bands. If they consider that detachment bands are good things to have they will be able to spend their money upon them. So long as the expenditure of an Association does not exceed the total grant the financial authorities at the War Office will raise no objection. It is a matter which must rest with the County Association, which, in the opinion of the Army Council, is the best authority to decide as to how far detachment bands and things of that sort are a necessity.