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Army Officers (Foreign Languages)

Volume 380: debated on Wednesday 3 June 1942

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asked the Minister of Information whether he will ask the Secretary of State for War for a list of officers of the Regular Army, serving or retired, who were educated in peace-time in certain selected foreign languages, so that their specialised training, acquired at Government expense, may be utilised by his Ministry in connection with propaganda, publicity and broadcasting to the countries of which they have special knowledge?

On several occasions, when suitable civilian applicants could not be found for such duties, requests have been made for personnel with special qualifications to be released from the Army. Linguistic ability is only one of the qualifications necessary for foreign publicity work.

Does the Minister not think that where officers have actually been living abroad in those countries, and have acquired special qualifications at the Government's expense, those special qualifications might very well be taken advantage of for the benefit of his Department, and is he aware that many officers of that type are available to him at the moment and are not actually employed at all?

I answered the Question of the hon. and gallant Member. In reply to his Supplementary Question, in special cases we do ask the Army to release men, but does the hon. and gallant Member really believe that just because a man has been abroad that makes him a good propagandist?

Does the Minister believe that just because a man has never lived abroad that makes him a good propagandist?

There are certain people who, if they were sent abroad, would not be useful.