Skip to main content

Married Officers (Batmen)

Volume 465: debated on Tuesday 31 May 1949

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.


asked the Secretary of State for War for how many hours per day married officers of the rank of lieut.-colonel, major, captain and lieutenant, respectively, have the use of a batman; and how much he estimates that such assistance is worth to officers who would otherwise have to employ civilian help.

Batmen are not provided on an hourly basis. They are provided for duties of a personal nature such as the cleaning of the officer's uniform and equipment when the officer is accommodated in single or married quarters. They are not wholly employed in these duties: they have to perform other military duties. A lieut.-colonel in a field force unit is allowed a batman, but other lieut.-colonels and more junior officers have to share batmen. The monetary value of a batman's assistance would therefore vary, but it would be small.

Why is the right hon. Gentleman so continuously reluctant to give me a straight answer to a straight Question? How can he possibly justify a situation in which married officers who are lucky enough to live in married quarters can have the services of a batman, while married officers unfortunate enough not to live in married quarters, because there are none available, cannot have the services of a batman?


asked the Secretary of State for War if he will now issue a servant allowance to married officers who, owing to the fact that married quarters are not available, cannot have the assistance of a batman.

On the introduction of the post-war code of pay and allowances on 1st July, 1946, servant allowance ceased to be paid as it was absorbed into the marriage allowance of married officers and the lodging allowance of single officers, and it is not intended to alter this. On the other hand, I do not propose to alter the practice whereby married officers in quarters may have the services of available batmen.

Will the right hon. Gentleman say what he finds so very funny about the fact that a lot of officers are living in great hardship as a result of this regulation, and can I not appeal to him to show a little more human sympathy and to look into the matter a little more carefully?

I did not detect any humour in the Question, and there is certainly none in the answer.

Can the right hon. Gentleman explain the anomaly by which the married officer for whom no married quarters are available has the worst of both worlds, because he has neither a batman nor a servant allowance?

The reason is that we have not sufficient batmen to go round, so we use them in the most appropriate fashion.

That is no reason for denying to the married officer for whom no married quarters are available a servant allowance.

Does not my right hon. Friend think that the best way to overcome this difficulty would be to remove batmen altogether?

No, Sir. I could not agree with my hon. Friend. If batmen can be made available without difficulty to married officers in quarters we shall certainly do so.

When the right hon. Gentleman says that he has not sufficient batmen available, is he supposing that when more married quarters are available the Army will increase by so many more batmen so as to make sufficient men available?

In order to satisfy the Opposition completely, will my right hon. Friend give a guarantee to the House that the needs of the Service will never be allowed to interfere with the convenience of officers?

In view of the frivolous way in which the right hon. Gentleman has answered these questions and the utterly unsatisfactory nature of the replies, I give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.