Private Soldier's Detention.

Oral Answers to Questions — British Army. – in the House of Commons on 16th December 1941.

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Photo of Sir John Mellor Sir John Mellor , Tamworth

asked the Secretary of State for War upon what dates the illegal detention from 10th August to 19th August of a private of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps was reported to the Aldershot Command and to the War Office, respectively; and upon what date this soldier's account was credited with pay and allowances for the period of his illegal detention?

Photo of Mr David Margesson Mr David Margesson , Rugby

The soldier in question was found guilty by court-martial on two charges, first, that he failed to ensure that £1 10s. was handed over to unit accounts, and, secondly, that he fraudulently converted to his own use a sum of approximately £12 belonging to the soldiers' canteen. He was sentenced to reduction to the ranks and six months' detention. The conviction on the first and lesser charge was subsequently quashed, and four months of the detention award was remitted. The soldier should therefore have been released on 10th August. Unfortunately there was some delay in communicating this decision to the officer commanding the detention barracks, with the result that the man was not released until 19th August. His pay was resumed with effect from that date. The fact that owing to an oversight on the part of the unit he had not been credited with the pay due to him during his last 10 days of detention was first brought to the notice of the War Office by my hon. Friend's Question. Instructions were issued forthwith that the soldier's account should be credited with the arrears of pay due together with an additional ex-gratia payment of £5 compensation in respect of the period of unauthorised detention.

Photo of Sir John Mellor Sir John Mellor , Tamworth

While I thank my right hon. and gallant Friend for his reply, will he state whether cases of illegal detention are automatically reported to the War Office, and is he quite satisfied that there was no attempt to hush up this case locally?

Photo of Mr David Margesson Mr David Margesson , Rugby

No, Sir, there was no attempt whatsoever to hush up this case locally. In answer to the first part of my hon. Friend's Question, I would point out that illegal detention should not, of course, take place.

Photo of Sir John Mellor Sir John Mellor , Tamworth

When illegal detention is discovered to have taken place, should it not be automatically reported to the War Office?

Photo of Mr David Margesson Mr David Margesson , Rugby

I am not sure about automatically, but it should come to our attention. In this case a series of mishaps has taken place.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

Who assesses the compensation of £5 for 10 days' illegal imprisonment?

Photo of Mr David Margesson Mr David Margesson , Rugby

I said it was an ex-gratia payment.