HC Deb 26 October 1920 vol 133 cc1529-30
17. Major BARNES

asked the Secretary of State for War whether the provision made for military operations in Ireland for the current year has been exceeded; and, if so, to what extent?


The military expenditure in Ireland has been greater than was anticipated in the Estimates, but the excess is largely balanced by a saving on the troops in Great Britain, due to the transfer of troops from Great Britain to Ireland. It is not yet possible to state the amount of the net excess expenditure.

24. Mr. LUNN

asked the Secretary of State for War to state the strength of the various armed forces of the Crown now operating in Ireland; and what is the monthly rate of expenditure?


The strength of the military force is about 49,000; and the cost about £1,150,000 a month. It must be understood, however, that practically all the military forces in Ireland are part of the regular standing army of the United Kingdom, and that the cost of keeping them in Ireland is in most respects no greater than that of keeping them elsewhere. Additional expenditure arises chiefly from the cost of mechanical transport and certain additional stores and the employment of additional officers, but these expenses are slight in proportion to the general Army Estimates.

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

What proportion of these troops in Ireland does the right hon. Gentleman consider available for service elsewhere in case of emergency?


Before that question is answered, may I ask whether it is not the fact that at present a state of civil war exists in Ireland, and is it right, when the so-called Irish Republic is fighting us, that any information should be given about our armed forces?


I do not think the information I have given will do any harm


Or any good.


Is it a fact that we are spending £18,000,000 a year on the armed forces in Ireland, while the contribution expected from Ireland to the Imperial Exchequer is only £18,000,000?


It would hardly be possible to make a statement in a form that would be more completely misleading.


Did the right hon. gentleman not say recently that the cost of the Army in Ireland was £1,500,000 a month?


I carefully explained that this was not an additional cost, but that the troops would have to be maintained as part of the general reserve of the Army, and that the additional cost of their being kept in Ireland in present circumstances was not in any way comparable with the figures given.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

If these troops are not available for any other parts of the Empire, as, I think, it is reasonable to state, how can the right hon. Gentleman maintain that there is no extra cost in keeping them in Ireland?


The number of troops in the various garrisons in England is less than usual, and the number of troops in Ireland is larger than it usually is. We hope that that condition will be a temporary one, that at a later date a normal re-distribution of the British Army in the United Kingdom will be resumed, and that troops will live in proximity to their barracks. There is no addition to the size of the British Army in consequence of what is going on in Ireland.


In consequence of the reduction of the garrison in England, is there any need for the Emergency Powers Bill?


Is not the cost of living for the troops much less in Ireland than here?

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