HC Deb 02 November 1939 vol 352 cc2141-2W
Mr. Lees-Smith

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he can make an announcement with regard to a new scheme for the welfare of soldiers?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

Provision is made for the welfare of the soldier through a number of organisations. Every officer is instructed to look after his men and attend to all their personal needs. In addition, there are Army chaplains, medical officers and sports officers, and there are institutions such as the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes and various philanthropic organisations who are also interested. Further, the Nuffield Trust furnishes a large sum of money to be spent in directions not covered by public funds.

It is realised, however, that with the great increase in the Army, drawing men from all parts of the country and from all walks of life, some further provision might with advantage be made, and it has accordingly been decided to appoint to the staff of each General Officer Com-manding-in-Chief an honorary Welfare Officer. He will make recommendations to, and be available for consultation with, the Command on any question affecting the welfare of the troops.

Each Territorial Army Association has been asked to appoint one or more Social Welfare Officers, who may be civilians or retired officers, to be responsible for assisting commanding officers and for coordinating all efforts to improve the conditions of the troops. County Associations will be responsible for providing the necessary clerical assistance. Further, each Territorial Army County Association has also been invited to appoint a Social Welfare Committee to study the subject of the social welfare of the troops and to afford what help may be required. The County Welfare Officers will expend, for the benefit of the soldier, funds that the County Welfare Committees may be able to derive from individuals and organisations within the county.

The new welfare scheme will be supervised by Lieut.-General Sir John Brown, Deputy Adjutant-General (T), War Office, under the Adjutant-General. Full particulars of this scheme, from which it is hoped much benefit to the Army may be derived, will to-day be published. If any hon. Members, whose qualifications seem particularly suitable to this work, would care to interest themselves in it, I should be grateful if they would notify me.