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Leave, Middle East (Meals And Accommodation)

Volume 389: debated on Tuesday 4 May 1943

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asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware of the complaints of exorbitant charges for tea, cakes and lodgings, to men in the Middle East Forces, while on leave in Tripolitania and Egypt; and will he take the necessary steps to secure that serving soldiers are able to afford their leave?

I have received no such complaints, and I do not consider that they would be justified in Egypt, where the Army, philanthropic organisations and generous local inhabitants have made extensive arrangements to provide meals and accommodation for sleep and recreation for troops on leave. Special camps have been built, and clubs and canteens have been set up. For example, Army Welfare last autumn controlled 150 beds for officers and 6,000 beds for other ranks in Cairo and 100 beds for officers and 3,000 for other ranks in Alexandria. More have doubtless been provided in these towns since then. It is not long since Tripolitania was a battle area, and most of the supplies sent there are for military purposes. But those concerned are doing what they can to provide canteens and clubs which, as in Egypt, should make it unnecessary for soldiers to pay exorbitant prices.

Will the right hon. Gentleman look at some correspondence which has been sent to me on this matter, and will he realise that the rate of exchange of currency is making it very awkward for the soldiers?

Will my right hon. Friend take note that many soldiers write back and say how remarkable are the efforts of the War Office to help the soldiers?

Will my right hon. Friend appoint a successor to General Willans, who was accidentally killed, and as soon as he is appointed will my right hon. Friend send him to North Africa to make inquiries into the situation?

General Willans' notes did not survive the accident in which he was killed. A successor has been appointed, but in the meantime another high officer has been sent out to pick up the threads of the investigation which General Willans had been conducting.