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Corporals' Messes

Volume 496: debated on Tuesday 26 February 1952

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asked the Secretary of State for War which units in London District make arrangements for junior non-commissioned officers to feed apart from private soldiers.

All regular units in London District do so.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether this is a recent arrangement or whether it has always been so?

There is no major change of policy in this matter. In the Brigade of Guards a corporal is the same as a sergeant, and this merely includes the lance-corporals.

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us why in that case he has not amended Queen's Regulations to provide for the establishment of corporals' messes in the Brigade of Guards?

This is not a matter for Queen's Regulations, but a domestic matter in the Brigade of Guards. I see nothing either in the performance of their duties or in the recruiting figures to suggest that there is anything wrong in it.

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that in nearly every good regiment that habit pertains and that the corporals mess by themselves?

That habit even pertains with the Opposition in the House of Commons Dining Room.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is not the appropriate occasion for discussing the segregation of classes in the Members' Dining Room, and that it ought to be discussed on some other occasion? May I ask the Minister to advance a reason for this change? Was this a request on the part of the junior non-commissioned officers or the private soldiers, or has this been imposed at the dictation of the commanding officer, and who at the War Office is responsible for this decision?

As I said before, this is a domestic matter and the reason behind it is that every unit has got to do everything it can to increase the authority of N.C.O.s. Nowadays N.C.O.s are very young, and it makes it a great deal easier for them to maintain authority if they are given a certain status.

In view of the importance of this matter and of the fact that there is the clearest evidence of an attempt on the part of the Secretary of State for War to introduce class distinction into the Army, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment.