HC Deb 05 February 1918 vol 101 cc2135-6W

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that overseas British soldiers have in certain cases concealed the fact of their being already married and have become engaged to, and have married girls in this country; that such girls and their friends, especially if in humble circumstances, have no means of acquiring information independently of the men themselves; that at the headquarters of all Dominion troops all information from the soldier's file is refused under the King's Regulations. except that the Australian headquarters will state whether a soldier on joining described himself as married or single; whether he will consider if a change in the Regulations permitting some information to be given can be made; and will a copy of the. whole of the information about overseas soldiers upon the file be afforded if application for the same is made by the soldier himself?


I have made inquiries, and find that the practice of the Canadian, Australian and New Zealand military authorities agrees with that of the Imperial Authorities in regarding the information recorded in a soldier's documents as confidential. All that the documents of a soldier can show in this respect is whether he declared himself married, single, or widower on enlistment, and whether he has married with permission during his service. It is the practice of the Canadian Authorities to refer abonâ fide inquirer to the man's Commanding Officer, whose permission is necessary to the marriage, and who would not give it if he was aware of an impediment. The Australian Authorities inform inquirers whether a man is married or single so far as is known from the records. An inquirer therefore already has facilities for finding out the point at issue, in so far as it is ascertainable from a man's documents. As regards New Zealand, I would refer my hon. Friend to a letter which appeared on the 2nd February in the "Times" from the High Commissioner. I understand from the New Zealand military authorities that inquiries made at their office as to whether a soldier is married or not have always been answered.