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Territorial Army Recruits (Personal Information)

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 10 May 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that men joining the Territorial Army are required to reply to a number of personal questions concerning Christian names and surnames of parents, mother's maiden name, address of birth, etc.; why a simple statement of the name and address of next-of-kin is not sufficient; and if, in view of the embarrassment caused to those who were born out of wedlock, he will consider reducing such questions to a minimum

In the normal case the information asked for as to parentage is limited to the nationality at birth of father and mother, and it is not found in practice that the answering of these questions involves embarrassment. The same questions are put to Regular recruits and National Service men and similar information is asked for from applicants for civilian employment in the Government service. In certain cases where there is an alien connection or the applicant was born in a foreign country, further details are asked for, but they are kept to the minimum consistent with the requirements of security. All information obtained is, of course, treated as confidential.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the cases to which I am referring are not those of aliens or of men with alien connections, and that real embarrassment can be caused, especially in the Territorial Army, when a man may be asked for particulars about his family in front of a lot of other people from the same neighbourhood; and is he sure that the practice is uniform in all parts of the country?

If the practice is not uniform and does not bear out what I have said in reply to my hon. Friend's Question, I should like to make inquiries, and perhaps he will give me further particulars.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that when information of this personal kind is asked for in the Territorial Army, it is not asked for, as the hon. Gentleman suggests, in front of a number of people, but confidentially in a small office?