asked the Secretary of State for War how many men of the disbanded Irish regiments are entitled to pensions, and what will be the aggregate value of such pensions to officers and men; whether efforts have been made to secure work for them or positions of trust, and if as a condition of granting such pensions they have been asked to take the oath of allegiance, whether steps have been taken to prevent any of them from joining the Irish Republican Army; and if any of them have been invited to join units of the British Army?
I might explain to my hon. and gallant Friend that the disbandment of these units does not involve the compulsory retirement or discharge of all the individuals composing them. The only officers who will be compulsorily retired prematurely are the officers who are retrenched as surplus to the general requirements of the Army, and the only soldiers who will be compulsorily discharged prematurely are the special short service men who are discharged under the terms of Army Order 181 of last month. Officers and soldiers of these categories will be compulsorily retired and discharged respectively throughout the Service as a whole, whether the units to which they belong are disbanded or not, and will receive the special compensation authorised by Army Orders 179 and 180. The remaining officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of the disbanded units will be offered the option of continuing in the Service by transfer to other corps, and the non-commissioned officers and men who do not accept such transfer will receive the special compensation authorised by Army Order 180. I cannot at present give the figures asked for in the first and second parts of the question. As regards the third part of the question, steps to assist the retrenched officers to find work are under consideration. The answer to the fourth and fifth parts is in the negative and to the last part in the affirmative.