asked the Secretary of State for War in what units of the British Army it is an offence to faint on parade; under what Section of the Army Act men are so charged; how many men have been so charged in the last five years; and what penalties are prescribed for those found guilty.
It is not an offence under the Army Act to faint on parade. The other parts of the Question do not, therefore, arise.
Can the Minister say why, in the Brigade of Guards, fainting on parade is automatically attributed to idleness and is subject to punishment? Can he also say whether it is not a fact that the Commanding Officer of the Coldstream Guards recently issued summary punishment to an officer in this respect, and whether this action was not illegal under Section 46 of the Army Act?
No, Sir. It is not automatic that a man receives punishment if he faints on parade. Each case is gone into. There are various ways of preparing oneself for a parade, and a bad way is to have an "all night sitting" the night before.
In considering the question of fainting on parade, will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the very large Government majority yesterday, which showed clearly that hon. Members opposite were fainting in their Parliamentary duties?
If a man who has had an "all night sitting" is susceptible to fainting, cannot he arrange to pair with somebody?
Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the last part of my supplementary question? Is it not a fact that the Commanding Officer of the Guards recently issued a summary punishment to a junior officer? Is not this specifically forbidden under Sections 46 and 47 of the Army Act? Will the Minister inquire into the situation and take disciplinary action against the Commanding Officer concerned?
No, Sir, it is not forbidden. It is my experience that the best way to run an army is to trust the commanding officer to run his unit, and take action if he does not do so properly.
In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.