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Parade Regulations

Volume 467: debated on Tuesday 12 July 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for War what are his regulations dealing with the action to be taken when soldiers faint on parade.

There are no specific orders laid down. Such matters are left to the discretion of the officer commanding the particular parade. The normal practice is for the nearest non-commissioned officer to fall out and detail two other ranks to remove the individual to the rear, loosen the collar and belt, and arrange for medical attention.

As there are no specific regulations for dealing with these cases, will the right hon. Gentleman consider regulations preventing the recurrence of the incident which occurred at Shrewsbury last week, where a woman was left helpless on the ground and a photograph was taken of her?

So far as the photograph of the incident is concerned, I regard it as regrettable. It was of no advantage to anybody. As regards dealing with the soldier, or whatever rank is held by the unfortunate individual who suffers this discomfort, we must leave it to the discretion of the commanding officer, who is responsible.

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that the photograph was a correct portrait of what actually took place, and that the "couldn't care less" expression on the faces of those around this poor girl has been very disturbing? May I further ask him whether any penalty attaches to a woman who goes to the rescue or assistance of another in such circumstances?

I must reject the suggestion that the comrades of this sergeant who suffered in this fashion were unconcerned. They were very much concerned about their colleague, but naturally fainting is usually unexpected and it is not very easy to decide what should be done.

Will my right hon. Friend refute or comment on the suggestion that any person in that condition cannot be dealt with until the review has ended?

This is a matter which must be left to the discretion of the commanding officer, and it is quite impossible for me to interfere in matters of this sort. All I wish to repeat is that I think it is deplorable that an incident of this kind should have been depicted in the Press in the way it was.