§ 63. Mr. Dodds
asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the use of an Army marquee, 10 Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Service men and transport from the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers depôt at Arborfield, Berks, in connection with the fête on the village recreation ground at Sandhurst, organised by a political party in Sandhurst, the proceeds from which go to party funds; who authorised their use; and what charges have been made for the hire of the marquee, the men and transport involved.233W
§ 64. Mr. Lipton
asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the circumstances in which soldiers were employed to erect a marquee last week for a political party fête at Sandhurst, Berkshire.
§ 68. Mr. Driberg
asked the Secretary of State for Defence why the services of a number of soldiers, and a marquee belonging to the Army, were made available for a political party fête at Sandhurst; and, in view of another similar incident brought to the attention of the then Under-Secretary of State for War, what steps he has taken to remind commanding officers that such use of Army personnel and equipment is contrary to regulations.
§ Mr. Ramsden
At the request of a retired R.E.M.E. brigadier, the Officer Commanding R.E.M.E. Junior Leaders Unit at Arborfield agreed to supply a marquee on loan, and a number of Junior Leaders to erect it, for a village fête He was unaware that this fête had political connections. He should, however, have consulted higher authority before agreeing.
No charges were raised for the hire of the marquee or for the use of troops and transport, but I understand that there was a local agreement that a contribution of £5 should be made to unit regimental funds.
It was subsequently discovered that the fête was organised by the Sandhurst Conservative Party. This being so assistance from the Army was contrary to Defence Council Instructions, which state specifically that authority will not in any circumstances be given where the object is to raise funds for political purposes or where the organisers are associated with any political party. I very much regret what has occurred. The question of any disciplinary action and reimbursement to public funds is now in the hands of the local military commander who will shortly submit a full report to me.