HC Deb 29 October 1919 vol 120 cc747-8

Next I come to the fighting services. Details in regard to the fighting services will be given, of course, by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War-and the First Lord of the Admiralty much more fully than I can pretend to do in what is a general survey of the whole financial situation. But as a result of the deliberations of the Finance Committee, acting in collaboration with, and frequently at the initiative of, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War, the forces at home, including troops preparing for overseas, will be reduced between 1st September and 15th November by 217,000 men; the Army of the Rhine between the same dates will be reduced by 116,000 men, making in that force alone (the Army of the Rhine) a total reduction of 157,000 men since 26th July; the Army of France and Flanders between 1st September and 15th November will be reduced by 133,000 men: the Army of the Black Sea will be reduced by 6,000 men; the Army in Egypt and Palestine by 22,000 men; and the Army in Mesopotamia by 7,000 men. These reductions will amount to almost exactly 500.000 British troops. In the same period Indian troops will he reduced by 14,000, and there v; ill be substantial reductions in Chinese labourers and Indian camp followers. The General Officer Commanding in Mesopotamia has agreed to a reduction by 1st December of 94,000 in the forces there, inclusive of British and Indian troops and followers. Further reductions will be made amounting to 76,000 British troops between 15th November and 1st May next which date it is hoped that all troops will have left France and Flanders. I give that statement as a brief summary of what has already been decided. It does not preclude further reductions as we may End them possible.