§ Major Guy Lloyd
asked the Minister of War Transport whether he is aware of complaints being made by Servicemen and ex-prisoners of war about crowded conditions of accommodation and other discomforts experienced on transfer both to and from Australia; and whether he will take immediate steps to improve existing conditions.
§ Mr. Barnes
Although no specific complaints have been addressed to my Department by Servicemen and ex-prisoners of war about crowded conditions of accommodation and other discomforts experienced on transfer to and from Australia, I am aware that dissatisfaction has been expressed resulting on occasions in the refusal of certain personnel to embark. The ships employed in trooping to and from Australia are, like all other troop transports, fitted to conform to the standards required by the Sea Transport Regulations, and approved by the Service authorities. Messing, canteens and other amenities are also provided in accordance with the requirements of the Service De- 1681W part0.ments concerned. The difficulties which have arisen will remain so long as the present shortage of passenger shipping space persists. To reduce the numbers carried would result in delay to essential movements including the movement of personnel due for leave or demobilisation. I should add that owing to the disproportionate numbers of officers and warrant officers to be moved on certain routes, the Service authorities have agreed as a temporary measure that, when necessary, officers up to the rank of Lieutenant R.N. or the equivalent may be embarked in accommodation normally allotted to troops which may involve sleeping in hammocks. In these cases every effort is made to improve the conditions in the troop deck spaces used for officers and to provide such additional amenities as are practicable, but it is not possible to accommodate and mess the passengers to the same standard as is normally laid down for officers.