asked the Secretary of State for War for what reason the wives and families of men of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Leicestershire Regiment, who have been sent to Hong Kong, have received notice to vacate their married quarters at Glen Parva Barracks; why the notice was not issued until after the men had left; and if he is aware of the effect of such treatment on recruitment for the Regular Army.
Before a soldier is allotted a married quarter he has to sign a certificate included in which is a statement that he understands that he will be required to move his family when he is posted from the station and alternative accommodation is offered. The married quarters occupied by the wives and families of men of the 1st Battalion The Leicestershire Regiment at Glen Parva Barracks are required for occupation by soldiers serving at the station who are awaiting married quarters so that they can be united with their families. I am looking into the matter to see whether there are any exceptional features in this case.
Can the right hon. Gentleman give a guarantee that alternative accommodation will be provided for these people, and will he explain how the Government reconcile their attitude towards the men and families in Government quarters with what is supposed to be their policy towards tied cottages?
In every case alternative accommodation is offered.
Can my right hon. Friend say whether the assurance was given to the wives of these men that they would not be disturbed until their husbands came back, because that has been stated, and will he see that the wives have an opportunity of making contact with their husbands before they make any further move?
So far as I am aware, no such assurance was given, certainly not by myself or anybody at the War Office. I can say that we are viewing this matter very sympathetically.
Is my right hon. Friend able to confirm the opinion held by some of the wives at Glen Parva Barracks that they had been promised that they would be allowed to stay in the barracks until they travelled to their husbands in Hong Kong, and is it the policy of his Department to send wives to Hong Kong in the present situation?
No promise could have been given in view of the condition attached to the occupancy of married quarters, to which I have referred in my original answer. On the question of sending wives and families to Hong Kong, that is a matter which requires to be very carefully considered.
Will my right hon. Friend say whether this conditional regulation dates from a time when the housing shortage did not exist and whether, under present circumstances, it ought not to be reconsidered; also, is the alternative accommodation offered to these women in a transit camp?
The practice to which I have referred is the normal practice which has been in operation for many years. As regards the alternative accommodation, we have offered hostel accommodation, most of which is satisfactory, but I am looking into the matter to assure myself that the accommodation is such as can be reasonably offered to these wives and families.
In view of the fact that Scottish soldiers are being sent to Hong Kong and in view of the housing difficulties in Scotland, will the Minister give special consideration to the matter before agreeing to any evictions in Scotland?
That seems to be quite a different question.