HC Deb 18 January 1924 vol 169 cc398-9W

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that his Department has refused to disclose to the parents of an officer in the Army the address or whereabouts of such officer; and whether he will take steps to ensure that, in eases where acute domestic distress is caused by the practice of the Department, information of a soldier's whereabouts may be given to the parents?

Lieut.-Colonel ASHLEY

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. The general rule adopted by the Department, and believed to be in consonance with the practice of banks and other similar institutions, is that the private addresses of officers and soldiers cannot be disclosed to third parties without the consent of the person concerned. In the case to which I understand the hon. Member to refer, several letters from the parents have been forwarded by the War Office to the officer's last known address and have not been returned. I presume, therefore, that the officer has received them, but does not wish to communicate with his parents. In these circumstances, whilst fully sympathising with the parents' distress, I very much regret that I cannot take the action suggested in the last part of the question. I may add that the officer concerned is a demobilized temporary officer, who has now no connection with the Department.