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British Army

Volume 65: debated on Monday 20 July 1914

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Inspector-General Of The Forces

53.

asked the Prime Minister whether any decision has been come to with respect to the appointment of a new Inspector-General of the Forces; and, if not, whether he will be able to give some information as to the proposals of the Government before the close of the present Session?

I propose to make a statement upon the matter before the close of the Session.

Army Pensions (Quarterly Payments)

57.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether frequent representations have been made that quarterly payments of pensions to Army pensioners is not only inconvenient but objectionable; and whether he will consider whether it is possible to make these payments at more frequent intervals, so that the men and their families may better enjoy the pension benefits?

Such representations are made from time to time, and the question of more frequent payments has more than once been thoroughly considered, but, for reasons which I am explaining to my hon. Friend more fully than is possible in an answer to a question, the Army Council are unable to introduce a universal change in the direction of more frequent payments.

Canteens Committee

59.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been directed to the fact that no member of the Canteens Committee has had any practical experience of the canteen system; and whether he will consider the advisability of appointing two-additional members to this Committee, one of whom shall have had an extensive experience in catering and the other of whom shall have served in the ranks as a private soldier and has knowledge of his wants and grievances?

I see no need to alter the constitution of the Committee, which has already met. I am satisfied that its members have the necessary experience to enable them to deal with the question referred to them. Representatives of all the interests concerned will, no doubt, be able to lay their views before the Committee.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider whether it would not be advisable to have private traders represented on this Committee besides catering companies and large firms like Harrods Stores?

Redford Barracks

60.

asked the Secretary of State for War if a date has now been fixed for the occupation of Redford Barracks and whether the Scots Greys are being removed there this year; and, if so, could he name a date?

The Scots Grays will move to Redford Barracks during the coming winter. No date has yet been fixed.

Army Rifle Meeting, Pirbright

61.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, with one exception, no senior general officer went to the Army rifle meeting recently held at Pirbright; and, if so, what steps he pro poses to take in future to remedy the lack of interest displayed?

Such a fact as that mentioned would not be reported to the Army Council, who do not propose to take any action in the matter. Attendance at this meeting is not compulsory.

Queen Alexandra Nursing Service

63.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, under the Regulations of Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service, it is compulsory for a staff nurse or sister to hold a certificate of three years' training in a recognised hospital?

Desertions (Percentage)

65.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether the net loss from desertions during the five years from 1904 to 1908 amounted to 6,086, or 3.22 per cent. of the total number of recruits enrolled during the same period, and during the five years 1909 to 1913 amounted to 7,002, or 4.72 per cent. of the total number of recruits enrolled during the same period; and, if so, to what cause does he assign the higher percentage of loss from desertion to men enrolled in the latter period?

On the basis taken the hon. Member's percentages appear to be approximately correct. But if the desertions in the first year only be considered there has been a slight diminution in the last four years. Similarly, the last four years show a slight decrease in the total struck off for desertion, without counting those who have rejoined. As regards the second part of the question it is difficult, especially within the limits of an answer to a question, to deal satisfactorily with the causes of desertion, but it may be due to the general causes which have affected recruiting, namely, increased emigration facilities and greater attractions of civil life.

Special Reserve

66.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he can explain why the deficiency of first and second lieutenants actually serving in the Infantry of the Special Reserve is 1,194, seeing that the total deficiency in the Special Reserve is only 370?

My reply to the hon. Member of the 26th ultimo took account of all the officers on the strength of the Special Reserve, namely, those in units and those on the supplementary list.

Does the right hon. Gentleman include in those figures the officers of the Infantry of the Special Reserve actually serving in the Regular forces?

Those who are on the supplementary list are ready to go up on mobilisation, but they do not go into training or into camp.

Are officers ever counted twice over in the Special Reserve and the Regular Army?