asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the existing ambiguity, he will define the position of commissioned officers of the Home Guard, stating to what extent they have the obligations, rights and privileges of other commissioned officers and to what extent those of private soldiers?
I am not aware of any ambiguity. As the Home Guard is a part-time force, serving without pay, the obligations, rights and privileges of its members are not exactly comparable with those either of officers or of privates in the Regular Army. Home Guard officers have access to instructions which make their position clear in regard to powers of command and discipline and other matters. As regards financial benefits, all ranks of the Home Guard are treated alike, under regulations which are special to the Force. This has been a feature of the Force since its inception.
Perhaps my right hon. Friend is not aware that if a Home Guard officer is killed on duty, his widow is treated as being the widow of a private soldier, whereas, in regard to Estate Duty, he does not get relief on the whole estate, as he would if he were treated as a private soldier?
I think there is a little misconception, if not confusion, about this matter. There are two reliefs under different Finance Acts. There is a relief under the Finance Act, 1924, and that applies both to officers and to other ranks of the Home Guard. Then there is an exemption under the Act of 1894, which applies neither to officers nor to privates of the Home Guard.