Cases Awaiting Courts-Martial.

Oral Answers to Questions — British Army. – in the House of Commons on 10th February 1942.

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Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw

asked the Secretary of State for War the average length of time men are held on charges pending trial by courts-martial?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Edward Grigg Lieut-Colonel Sir Edward Grigg , Altrincham

I regret that the information required is not readily available, and could not be obtained without a disproportionate amount of labour, but I can assure the hon. Member that this matter is under constant review and instructions have recently been issued with a view to reducing the period to a minimum.

Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw

As the hon. Gentleman does not seem to have the information, would it surprise him to learn that many soldiers are kept under arrest for weeks before they are brought before courts-martial? Does he realise that such a procedure would not be tolerated under civil administration?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Edward Grigg Lieut-Colonel Sir Edward Grigg , Altrincham

The usual reason for delay is that the evidence is not collected in a proper manner in the first instance. We are issuing instructions to enable that cause to be eliminated.

Photo of Mr George Mathers Mr George Mathers , Linlithgowshire

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in the simplest cases weeks pass before men are brought to trial by courts-martial if they elect so to be tried, and that during that time the men are suffering by being confined to barracks?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Edward Grigg Lieut-Colonel Sir Edward Grigg , Altrincham

Yes, Sir. If the legal authorities are not satisfied with the way the evidence has been collected, it has to be collected again.

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

When a man is sentenced, is the long period of detention which he has undergone before the court-martial taken off the sentence?

Photo of Mr Denis Pritt Mr Denis Pritt , Hammersmith North

Suppose he is acquitted?