HL Deb 23 June 1915 vol 19 cc116-8

EARL BATHURST rose to ask His Majesty's Government whether £30 can be added to the peace outfit allowance of £20 for Territorial officers who were serving on 4th August, 1914, so as to place them on an equality with Territorial officers joining after mobilisation who receive an outfit grant of £50.

The noble Earl said: My Lords, in asking this Question I need say very little. But I should like to allude to one fact which appears in the Question—namely, that the allowance of an ordinary Territorial officer on joining was only £20. That was not a very generous amount, considering that he had to buy both his service kit and all his camp equipment, and generally either a dress kit or a full dress uniform. There is no complaint about that. The complaint is that when mobilisation took place any new officer who joined got the full allowance of £50, with which he could buy clothes suitable for winter wear, while the former Territorial officer, after perhaps being in camp two or three months, would have found his uniform the worse for wear, and it would be necessary to procure thicker clothing and that almost indispensable article the" British warm" in order to get through the winter. Further than that, there is the case of those officers who had formerly been in the Territorials but who had retired a month or two, possibly a year, before the war. Those officers returned to their unit, or went to some other unit, and on rejoining they received the full outfit allowance of £50, though they had probably retained their old kit. I have brought this matter before your Lordships' notice as I am president of my County Association and take a great interest in the officers of the Territorials, and I hope that His Majesty's Government may be able to give this extra grant to those officers who were serving their country at the time mobilisation took place.


My Lords, the Question as it appears upon the Paper seems calculated to create a somewhat erroneous impression, because it is not the case that the outfit of the officers in question was limited to a sum of £20. It is true that it was limited to that amount up till August, 1913, but the £20 was then raised to £40, subject to certain conditions. Officers commissioned after August 4, 1914, no matter to which branch they belong, are given £50, including £7 10s. for camp kit; and I would point out to my noble friend that this £7 10s. was allotted to the officers on behalf of whom he is making the complaint. The £50 in question is not given to any officer who was serving before August 4, 1914, whether Regular, Special Reserve, or Territorial Force officer, and there is no particular reason why this concession should be made to one branch of the Forces alone. As a question of abstract justice I admit that my noble friend appears to have a good case, but I do not think he has made sufficient allowance for the circumstances of the case. It must be perfectly obvious to him, as to every one else, that in war time everything is more scarce and more expensive. For instance, if my noble friend wished to purchase a horse he would have to pay a great deal more for it at the present moment than before the war began. We have been assured on the highest authority that no country was more unprepared than ours was when war broke out. For one thing, we were largely deficient in officers. These officers had to be procured by some means or other, and it is obvious that special inducements had to be offered, because otherwise in many cases they would not have been able to afford the necessary expenses. I admit that on the face of it there does seem to be some slight injustice, but it is practically impossible that his suggestion should be adopted. The question was carefully considered at the time, I am informed, and it was found impossible to make this grant retrospective. I hope that my noble friend will not consider that I have returned an unsympathetic reply; and I feel sure that on reflection he will see that it is impossible to make a concession to one branch of His Majesty's Forces which is not available in the case of others.


Did I understand my noble friend to say that officers who had originally been in the service did not receive the full grant of £50 on rejoining? If so, I think he is mistaken. I was told that cases had actually happened of officers who had only retired a month or two before mobilisation and who got the full amount of £50 on rejoining. I can speak for myself; it was specially mentioned that I was to have £50 for my kit, although I had a certain amount of my old kit in my possession.


I will make further inquiry if my noble friend desires me to do so.