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.