Re-Clothing.

Oral Answers to Questions — British Army. – in the House of Commons on 15th June 1920.

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Mr. PALMER:

6.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, before committing the country to expenditure in reclothing the Army in pre-War uni- forms, he will give orders for pattern uniforms of khaki to be made with regimental colour and cuff facings and collar badges of one line regiment, one rifle, and one cavalry regiment, and cause these to be displayed in the Tea Room, together with the comparative cost of uniforms so adorned and made at the Pimlico factory compared with the price of pre-War uniforms?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I regret that I do not see my way to adopt this suggestion at the present time.

Mr. PALMER:

Will the right hon. Gentleman receive a small deputation of anti-waste Members of this House to put the whole matter before him?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I would consider it to be my duty to receive a deputation of Members if they so desired, but I should not counsel it.

Sir F. HALL:

May I ask if the right hon. Gentleman does not recognise that the great majority of Members are desirous of saving?

Photo of Mr John Hinds Mr John Hinds , Carmarthen

10.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether it is proposed to provide the Territorial Army with new uniforms?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

As I have already stated, the only regiments to be considered for the provision of full-dress during the current financial year are the Household Cavalry and Foot Guards. It is intended to issue only service dress to Territorial units.

Mr. PALMER:

And the service dress will be khaki?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

The service dress will be khaki.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel David Morgan Lieut-Colonel David Morgan , Rhondda East

12.

asked the Secretary of State for War how much time is occupied on an average per day by private soldiers in pipe-claying and cleaning uniforms of the pre-War pattern?

Photo of Brigadier-General Sir Owen Thomas Brigadier-General Sir Owen Thomas , Anglesey

13.

asked the Secretary of State for War what cleaning materials are necessary to maintain the pre-War uniforms in proper condition; what is the cost of these materials; and by whom is the cost to be defrayed?

Photo of Sir Robert Thomas Sir Robert Thomas , Wrexham

23.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that, owing to the amount of labour involved in cleaning brightly coloured uniforms, the proposed reintroduction of pre-War clothing in the Army is extremely unpopular with private soldiers and is likely to prejudice recruiting; and will he reconsider the matter?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I am informed that little, if any, more time is occupied in cleaning uniforms of pre-War pattern than in cleaning service dress, which is difficult to keep smart and clean, and that practically no addition to the cleaning material is necessary. In the case of most regiments the only article of full-dress which requires pipe-clay is the waist-belt, and at stations abroad the white helmet. The expense is met by the clothing allowance scheme, which is about to be reintroduced. I have no doubt that the soldier will take a pride in keeping clean his full-dress, which is so closely connected with the traditions of his regiment.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel David Morgan Lieut-Colonel David Morgan , Rhondda East

Will the right hon. Gentleman explain how much time is occupied in cleaning the different uniforms?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I cannot do that without notice, but certain I am that smart habits and appearance on the part of a soldier in His Majesty's Army is most important.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel David Morgan Lieut-Colonel David Morgan , Rhondda East

Notice has been given in the first part of my question asking the right hon. Gentleman to tell how much time is occupied in cleaning the different uniforms?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I did not notice the hon. Member had specifically put it. It is very difficult to estimate how much time is occupied. In the case of the very clean and smart soldier, who keeps his uniform in good condition, it would probably be a very short time, but the slipshod, lazy, and dirty soldier would undoubtedly have to give greater service to make his outfit clean.

Photo of Mr Noel Billing Mr Noel Billing , Hertford

The time occupied is about twenty minutes. I speak from experience.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel David Morgan Lieut-Colonel David Morgan , Rhondda East

14.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether the wearing of regimental buttons and badges, together with the associations of khaki, will provide the maximum of esprit de corps, and so relieve the taxpayers of spending £3,000,000 on the proposed new uniforms for the Army?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

My military advisers do not consider that the wearing of buttons and badges with khaki would cover the many Regimental traditions or the distinctions that have been earned by units and are associated with their historical past, nor do they agree that it would provide the full incentive to esprit de corps. Khaki is now the working and fighting dress of the soldier, and is of universal pattern, whereas the distinctions and honoured traditions of a unit are intimately connected with the pre-War uniform which was the fighting uniform of former days.

Photo of Mr James Dawes Mr James Dawes , Southwark South East

15.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether it is intended to use gold lace in the proposed new uniforms for officers?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

Yes, Sir; but the amount of gold lace to be used on the new uniforms for officers will be very small as compared with that worn before the War.

Photo of Mr Noel Billing Mr Noel Billing , Hertford

May I ask whether, having regard to the desirability of keeping officers of small incomes, the right hon. Gentleman will see that anything that he specifies is within the income of not necessarily wealthy officers?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

Yes, and I would point out that the allowance which has been authorised is in that direction.

Mr. PALMER:

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the allowance is not sufficient to pay for the uniform of an officer of the middle classes?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I am informed that it will in the main be sufficient, but previous to the grant of this allowance the whole cost of providing the uniform was thrown on the officers, so that they are certainly far better off in that respect than they were before the War.

Photo of Mr Noel Billing Mr Noel Billing , Hertford

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the War has brought in officers from different ranks of society?

Photo of Mr James Dawes Mr James Dawes , Southwark South East

16.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether any allowance will be made to officers to defray the cost of the proposed new uniforms; if so, how much; and whether this item is included in the estimated expenditure of £3,000,000?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

Yes, Sir; as I stated on Tuesday last, new entrants will receive a grant of £150 towards the cost of uniform and those who joined during the War will get £150 less the amount of outfit grant already received, which, in most cases, is £42 10s.

Sir J. HOPE:

Will pre-War officers receive any allowance covering the expense of altering their pre-War uniform?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

No. Where the pre-War uniform is of a more expensive pattern and has more lace on than the new pattern, the officer will be allowed to wear it and to continue to wear it until that uniform is worn out.

Mr. PALMER:

Does the right hon. Gentleman not realise that public opinion is dead against him on this extravagance?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

Of course, it is very difficult to gauge exactly what public opinion is and still more difficult to gauge what instructed public opinion is.

Photo of Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy , Kingston upon Hull Central

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that in most cases where uniform has been put away for five years and more they are quite old, and will he not reconsider the question of making the same allowance to these officers? I know of cases where it will be very hard indeed.