asked the Secretary of State for War whether the transfer of high medical category personnel from the Royal Army Pay Corps to combatant corps, includes officers, warrant officers, non-commissioned officers, as well as other ranks; whether he is aware that there are, in the pay office, experienced civilian staffs, themselves ineligible for military service, who could effectively substitute for such personnel; whether he proposes to authorise such substitution, and the recruitment of more civilian labour, as a means of hastening the policy announced?
No, Sir. The transfer will not include officers, warrant officers, and the more senior non-commissioned officers who are needed to train and supervise the large numbers of untrained staff who will replace the men transferred to combatant corps. With regard to the second part of the Question, the possibility of using civilian staff in more responsible posts in War Department establishments in which both military and civilians are employed has been and will be kept continually under review. Quite recently established civilian employees from pay offices and other establishments were interviewed by special Promotion Boards with a view to selecting individuals suitable to fill certain officer posts in those establishments. But the reports I have received indicate that no wholesale substitution on the lines suggested by my hon. Friend is practicable.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the training of new staff in Army pay offices is almost exclusively done by the civilian staff and not by these officers, and that therefore the reason given for excluding commissioned ranks from the process which is now going on does not hold water?