HC Deb 29 April 1907 vol 173 c521

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War what is the total force of British troops now stationed in South Africa; whether the retention of those troops abroad involves the maintenance, under the linked-battalion system, of an equal, or approximately equal, number of troops at Home; what is approximately the nominal strength of this Home force; and what is the total cost to the British taxpayer of the troops in South Africa, and of the linked force maintained at Home.


The total force of British troops now stationed in South Africa is about 16,350 of all ranks, and its cost to the British taxpayer about £2,310,000. The troops of all arms at home fulfil the double purpose of maintaining the forces abroad and furnishing an expeditionary force; and under any system some Home force must be maintained for these purposes. The linked-battalion system, which applies only to Infantry, aims at organising the Infantry at Home in as many battalions as are maintained permanently abroad; but there is at present an excess of six battalions abroad. For these reasons I am unable to earmark any definite number of troops at home as maintained in consequence of the retention in South Africa of the present garrison.