§ Mr. BENNETT
asked the Secretary of State for War, in reference to the allegation that men on their way home from Mesopotamia had, while in India, volunteered for further service in the East, whether it is the fact that on the 16th April last a Press communiqué was issued at Delhi announcing that 4,807 British soldiers in the camps at Deolali who were awaiting embarkation to England had volunteered to remain in India for as long as their services were required; whether, within a day or two of the appearance of this announcement, a Southern Command Order was issued in which the lieutenant-general commanding placed on record his keen appreciation of the patriotic and unselfish spirit shown by the men who, when awaiting embarkation for England, volunteered to continue serving in India in the interests of the Empire; whether, in a published letter addressed to the Governor of Madras, the Commander-in-Chief in India extolled the conduct of several thousands of British soldiers who on their way home on demobilisation had 1517W volunteered unconditionally to remain in India for so long as their services were required; and whether, in view of these official statements, there is any ground for holding the allegation in question to be one for which the Press must be held responsible?
§ Mr. FORSTER
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for India has asked me to answer this question on his behalf. The facts are substantially as stated in the question. The volunteering did the utmost credit to the men, but it was intended to meet a purely temporary emergency, and was not an abandonment of the right to be demobilised as speedily as possible. Further, the position was radically changed by the stoppage of demobilisation early in May. If a misunderstanding arose from communiqués and Army Orders issued in India, it has since been corrected.