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Pioneer Corps (Aliens)

Volume 387: debated on Tuesday 2 March 1943

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asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware of the discontent in the alien Pioneer Corps because of maladjustment of men to jobs; and whether he is satisfied that at the present stage of the war he cannot with safety allow all members of the Pioneer Corps to volunteer for normal services for which their qualifications suit them?

I am not aware of this discontent in the alien Pioneer Corps companies which have done and are doing excellent work. Extensive arrangements already exist for transferring skilled men from the Pioneer Corps to arms of the Service where their skill and qualifications are most useful. About one-fifth of the aliens, that is the bulk of those with qualifications of particular use in the Army, have already been transferred. After carefully reconsidering the question, I have now decided to extend these arrangements considerably. In future, aliens will be able to serve in all arms except the Royal Corps of Signals, provided in each case that there are no security objections. But no soldier has a right to a transfer, which can only be carried out if it is in the interests of the Service. In this respect aliens are in the same position as British troops in the Pioneers and elsewhere who wish to transfer but have not so far been allowed to do so owing to the needs of their corps.