Orders have been issued for all men serving under the Military Service Acts to be dispatched from their present stations by 1st April, 1920, at the latest, subject to the necessary transport being available.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are men now in Mesopotamia who were sent out there in the autumn of 1916, who have had no leave and have now been transferred to work with labour corps in charge of Arabs and Turks?
asked the Secretary of State for War if he can give an assurance that all the 1914–15 men serving in India, Egypt, and Mesopotamia will be returned to this country by the end of this year; what decision has been arrived at regarding the future of the Yeomanry; and if the regiments will be re-formed as they were before the War?
Orders have been issued which provide for the dispatch to the United Kingdom of all 1914–15 men, including men enlisted under the Derby scheme who are serving in Egypt and Mesopotamia, and are eligible for demobilisation by 1st November, 1919, subject to the necessary shipping being available. In the case of India, where demobilisation has been delayed owing to the operations against Afghanistan and the internal situation in that country, an extra period of time up to 1st February has been given, by which date, given the necessary shipping, these men should have started for home. In practice, however, the return of these men has been greatly accelerated, and there is every reason to hope that every man who enlisted in 1914 or 1915, and who is eligible for demobilisation, will have left India before the end of the year. With regard to the latter part of the question, no final decision has yet been reached as to the number of mounted Yeomanry regiments which will be required in the new Territorial Force, or how they will be employed, and it is not possible therefore at this stage to say whether the regiments will be re-formed as before the War or not.
Can the right hon. Gentleman give us an assurance that in the present state of the shipping question there are ships sufficient to bring all these men home at the time mentioned?
Is it not the fact that the fundamental difficulty in the reconstitution of the Yeomanry and Territorial units is the question of finance and the wave of insistence on economy which is sweeping over the country?