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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.