HC Deb 10 August 1916 vol 85 cc1247-8W

asked the Secretary of State for War if he can do anything to accelerate replies to questions addressed to the War Office by Members of this House?


I am not quite sure whether my hon. Friend is referring to Parliamentary questions, oral or written, or to inquiries made by letter addressed to the War Office. As regards the former, my hon. Friend will realise that they are very numerous, but every oral question is answered on the day for which it is set down, unless it is absolutely impossible to obtain the information in time. As regards written inquiries addressed to the War Office by Members of this House, everything possible is done to send early answers, but I am bound to say that many of the questions, both in this House and by letter, are such as in the case of persons not Members of this House would visually be answered by referring the inquirer to the proper military authority concerned, who would most frequently be the officer in charge of Records. If the War Office is expected to give detailed information about the circumstances from day to day of individual soldiers, correspondence with the local military authorities already heavily burdened, is necessary, and some delay in the production of the answer is inevitable. If I might make an appeal to Members of the House I would ask them to confine their questions, as far as possible, to matters of principle and of general interest, and to direct their inquiries about individual soldiers to the authority who actually possesses the necessary details. I am aware that it is sometimes difficult for laymen to know to whom inquiry should be addressed, and in order to meet this the Army Council are drawing up a concise statement of directions, to which they propose to give very extended publicity.