Skip to main content

National Service Training (Boredom)

Volume 529: debated on Tuesday 29 June 1954

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


asked the Secretary of State for War if his attention has been drawn to the published report of the conference between representatives of his Department, the Air Ministry and the British Association for Commercial and Industrial Education on the subject of National Service; and what steps he will take to abolish boredom and time-wasting in the Army.


asked the Secretary of State for War what courses have been arranged for unit officers on the best methods of counteracting boredom and stimulating the interest of National Service men.

I have read this report with great interest. It is part of the job of every officer to keep his men interested and contented, and I think that all officers well know this. This responsibility is stressed throughout an officer's training both at Sandhurst or his officer cadet school, and later in his unit.

As the Secretary of State has wasted so much time in the House denying that there was time wasting in the Army will he now recognise, from this report, that all these authorities agree that there is time wasting in the Army? Will he, therefore, pay more attention to a question in which he himself says he is greatly interested and substitute civilians for soldiers in clerical and such-like duties? That has not been fully done, according to the reports he has been given.

I dealt with that matter last week at Question time. I have never denied that there are inevitably certain duties in the Army that are not exciting for National Service men We should like to get rid of them, but without an enormous increase in expenditure and a much larger number of civilians we cannot do so.

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the trouble does not arise from routine duties but from the fact that large numbers of National Service men are not fully and usefully occupied during their training? Will he have a look at the critical remarks by a High Court judge last week at Shrewsbury Assizes, who drew attention to the demoralising effects of boredom and to the need for the Secretary of State and other authorities concerned to accept some responsibility in this matter?

The hon. and gallant Member may be an expert about boredom. If he will send me particulars I shall be interested to look into the matter, but I would assure him that the object of the vast majority of officers is to see that their men are not bored.

Does my right hon. Friend know that no boredom in the Army is greater than that which I feel when I listen to the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Swingler) and the hon. and gallant Member for Brixton (Lieut.-Colonel Lipton)?