HC Deb 11 July 1922 vol 156 cc1018-9
15. Captain Viscount CURZON

asked the Secretary of State for War whether an anti-aircraft brigade for the defence of London is to be formed in the Territorial Army; if so, what is to be the strength of the force and what will it cost; whether the War Office have any figures to show how large an anti-aircraft force would actually be required to defend London from attack by an air force as large as that of France; and whether the decision can be reconsidered, with a view to devoting the money to aircraft in lieu of ground defence?


As the answer to this question is somewhat lengthy, I will, with my hon. and gallant Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Viscount CURZON

Could I not have an answer to the last part of my question, as to whether the decision can be reconsidered with a view to devoting the money to aircraft, in lieu of ground defence?


I think my Noble Friend had better see the entire answer. If the House like, I can read it, but it is very long.

Following is the answer:

As a beginning to the future organisation for the air defence of Great Britain, two air defence brigades, Territorial Army, for the defence of London are included in the current year's Estimates, and steps are now being taken to form them. This has been done in consultation with the Air Ministry.

The provisional peace establishment for the ground troops of an air defence brigade, Territorial Army, is approximately 1,633 all ranks, including the signal section. These numbers do not include the squadron or squadrons, Royal Air Force, co-operating with the ground troops. The total strength of two brigades as above is, therefore, approximately 3,266 all ranks. The above establishment has been agreed to by the Air Ministry, who were consulted.

The total annual cost of an air defence brigade, Territorial Army, as given above —exclusive of the squadron Royal Air Force—is about £55,000, and for two brigades it will therefore be £110,000.

The decision to raise the ground troops of two air defence brigades for the defence of Great Britain has been reached after careful study of present and future strategical conditions. It is not in the public interest to disclose the considerations which have animated the War Office in deciding to raise these ground troops. The due apportionment of the available money for defence against air attack between aircraft and ground defence troops has been, and still is, the subject of careful consideration.