asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that on 8th May every ex-service man employed in the Army departments in Southern Ireland received a notice stating that he will be liable to discharge on a week's notice at the end of one month after the date of the notice of 8th May; and whether the men so discharged will receive any pensions or gratuities or be transferred to England, as recommended by the General Officer Commanding in Chief in Ireland on 16th January last?
I have not seen the terms of the notices referred to, but I am aware that such notices have been given by the local military authorities in Ireland. These notices are not specially applicable to ex-service mien, but have been given to all civilians for whom local War Department employment cannot be found under the new conditions, with the object of affording them as much opportunity as possible of seeking new employment. I trust that a large number of those concerned, and especially of those who have been employed continuously since before the War, can be absorbed in vacancies elsewhere than in Ireland, and all steps consistent with economy and with fairness to other employés of the Department are being taken to that end. I regret that, as regards special pecuniary assistance, I am not in a position to make any statement.
My answer indicates that, so far as possible, that will be done. I have, however, to take into account the fact that there are ex-service men in England and that employment of that sort is being reduced.
Where these ex-service men in Ireland cannot be absorbed, will they be dealt with by the Committee presided over by the hon. and gallant Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare)?
asked the Prime Minister what special measures the Government have in view for the future subsistence of men of the Army, Navy, and Air Forces, and the Royal Irish Constabulary who are displaced by the Government policy of financial retrenchment or Irish government; and, especially, whether, pending the passage of the Empire Settlement Bill, the Government will provide these officers and men and their families with free passages to any part of the Empire overseas and invite the overseas governments to co-operate in their settlement under the most favourable possible conditions?
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN (Leader of the House):
In the case of the officers and men in the Army and Navy who are discharged in consequence of the reductions in those forces the Government has decided to grant special compensation terms. Particulars are contained in the Fleet and Army Orders which were recently published in the Press.
In addition the Admiralty and the War Office will render all possible assistance to discharged officers and men who desire to obtain fresh employment In the case of the Air Force, no discharges have proved to be necessary. The special steps taken to meet the case of the R.I.C. have been explained in recent answers to Parliamentary questions and are described in Command Paper 1618A.
As regards the second part of the question, I trust that the passage of the Empire Settlement Bill will enable schemes to be framed at an early date for co-operation with the Dominions which will secure the object indicated by my hon. Friend. In the meantime, everything possible is being done to assist those who desire to proceed overseas forthwith. Special arrangements have been made to enable members of the Royal Irish Constabulary to commute part of their pensions to meet the cost of their passages, and temporary arrangements are being made with some of the Oversea Governments to find them employment overseas.