I sent my hon. and gallant Friend an answer to his letter of 4th September yesterday. For supply and other reasons, which this explains, I regret that it is not at present possible to withdraw from use the capes which are an alternative issue to greatcoats, but instructions have been given that the capes should, so far as possible, be assigned to members who do not carry out regular outside duties and the greatcoats to those who do.
Is it not a fact that repeated promises have been made for nearly a year that these units will be supplied with greatcoats? How is it that that has not been done? Should not the War Office, who invented this absurd cape, which prevents the use of arms, supply greatcoats without question to replace them?
Is not the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that Leeds is the centre of the clothing industry and that there are thousands of greatcoats which could be supplied to-morrow if the War Office would give instructions, which they have promised for almost a year now to give? Will the hon. and learned Gentleman see that the instructions are given before the winter comes upon us?
I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that the matter is not quite so simple as that. There is not this tremendous reserve supply of greatcoats, but we are hoping to obtain greater supplies as time goes on, as I have indicated in my reply.
It would not be in the public interest to make known the number of civilians directed to enrol in the Home Guard. All but a negligible number of the men so directed have been enrolled. So far as I am aware, no directions have been given to any man who is already a member of the Home Guard.
While I am willing to give my hon. Friend any number of cases, such as he has no knowledge of at the moment, might I ask whether he is satisfied that the present administration of his Department in this matter is satisfactory and does he not think it requires great tightening up?
While not expressing satisfaction on any matter, I think that the efforts of my Department are meeting with the approval of the War Office in this matter. I think, with regard to the first part of my hon. and gallant Friend's supplementary, that he is mistaken. Forms of inquiry were sent out to persons who were members of the Home Guard, and in some cases these were mistaken for directions. In no such cases have directions been sent out.