HC Deb 04 May 1920 vol 128 cc1875-7
27. Major BIRCHALL

asked the Secretary of State for War and Air, whether any arrangements have been made to confer with large employers of labour in reference to recruiting for the Territorial Force?


The War Office has been in communication with a number of central organisations of employers in different industries as regards the giving of special facilities to employees for joining the Territorial Army, and it has been suggested to these organisations that, so far as the circumstances of their particu- lar industries permit, they should adopt the practice of Government Departments of giving an additional week's holiday on full pay to employees who complete the full period of a fortnight's annual training in camp. It has been thought better that this matter should in the first instance be discussed by these organisations among themselves than that the War Office should negotiate with individual firms or employers. Generally speaking, the response to date has been favourable both from public bodies and from private employers. In many cases the matter is still being considered by the employers' organisations in conjunction with the local Territorial Associations, who are, of course, primarily responsible for the actual recruiting for the Territorial Army.

In addition, two well-known Generals— Lieutenant-General Sir E. S. Bulfin and Lieutenant-General Sir W. P. Braithwaite —have been temporarily appointed to tour the country and put the case for the Territorial Army before meetings of employers. A number of meetings have already been arranged and it is hoped that during the next six months every employer in the country will have been approached, either individually or through the medium of the central or local employers' associations.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that some of the Labour mayors in the metropolis are doing all they can to stultify the movement in favour of the Territorial Force? Will he see whether it is not possible to get these people into line and to prevent their resistance?


An amount of opposition is being undoubtedly offered in some quarters.

Colonel GREIG

Will the hon. Gentleman furnish the names of the mayors who are opposing the scheme?


I shall be very pleased to give my right hon. Friend an actual case.


I must point out that I said nothing about mayors.


(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for War and Air whether his attention has been called to the statement of Lieut.-Colonel A. E. Hirst, made at a meeting of the West Riding County Territorial Force Association at York on 26th April, that either the Government or the War Office did not want the Territorial Force to succeed; and whether he can give the House any assurance as to the attitude of the Government and the War Office towards the reconstitution of the Territorial Army?


Yes, Sir; my attention has been drawn to the statement in question. The suggestion that either the Government or the War Office does not want the Territorial Army to succeed has, I need hardly say, no shadow of justification. The House must be aware that the problem of raising an efficient force to take its place as a genuine second line to the Regular Army has been examined with the greatest care by His Majesty's Government and the Army Council, and every effort is being, and has been made, to reconstitute the Territorial Army on successful lines.

It must be remembered that the exact organisation of the Regular Army has not yet been decided upon, and this fact enhanced the difficulties of working out the details of its replica in the second line— the Territorial Army. There have been very many difficulties to overcome, and the inevitable result has been that considerable time has been occupied in reaching decisions on the various points involved.

In addressing a meeting of representatives of the Territorial Associations on 30th January last, I made it abundantly clear that it was the determination of the Government to make the Territorial Army a reality in every respect.

With few exceptions, the appointment of headquarters staffs and of commanding officers has been completed, and the appointment of regimental permanent staff is well advanced. As a result recruits are now coming in in increasing numbers, and I have every hope that the Force will ultimately be established on a firm basis.

I can readily give the House an emphatic assurance that the Government and the Army Council will spare no effort to make the scheme of reconstitution of the Territorial Army effective.