Home Guard

Oral Answers to Questions — British Army – in the House of Commons on 11th September 1942.

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Photo of Mr James Milner Mr James Milner , Leeds South East

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is now in a position to answer the letter from the horn Member for South-east Leeds regarding the large proportion of the Home Guard in Leeds who are still without greatcoats; and whether these are to be supplied before winter?

Photo of Mr Arthur Henderson Mr Arthur Henderson , Kingswinford

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.

Photo of Mr James Milner Mr James Milner , Leeds South East

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?

Photo of Mr Arthur Henderson Mr Arthur Henderson , Kingswinford

The matter has been made more difficult by reason of the supply problem, and also the raising of the ceiling of the Home Guard; but it is our intention to remedy the position as soon as we can.

Photo of Mr James Milner Mr James Milner , Leeds South East

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?

Photo of Mr Arthur Henderson Mr Arthur Henderson , Kingswinford

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.

Photo of Sir Richard Denman Sir Richard Denman , Leeds Central

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman get on with the matter before the winter?

Photo of Mr James Milner Mr James Milner , Leeds South East

I beg to give notice that I will raise this question at the first opportunity upon the Adjournment.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore Lieut-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore , Ayr District of Burghs

asked the Minister of Labour how many civilians have been directed into the Home Guard up to 31st August; how many have been accepted by the Home Guard; and how many were found to be already members of the Home Guard?

Photo of Mr Malcolm McCorquodale Mr Malcolm McCorquodale , Sowerby

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.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore Lieut-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore , Ayr District of Burghs

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?

Photo of Mr Malcolm McCorquodale Mr Malcolm McCorquodale , Sowerby

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.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

Could the Minister give us some idea of how by giving these figures he could possibly injure the public interest?

Photo of Mr Malcolm McCorquodale Mr Malcolm McCorquodale , Sowerby

So far as I am aware, no figures of military formations have been given since the war started.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

That is not what I asked.