HC Deb 15 March 1922 vol 151 cc2187-8
53. Lieut.-Colonel Sir F. HALL

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether the Government have considered the serious statement made recently by the Commander-in-Chief in India to the Legislative Assembly at Delhi as to the inadequacy of the present military forces, owing in part to their inefficient and defective equipment, to deal with the grave state of disaffection and sedition which has arisen throughout the Indian Empire; is he aware that in the same speech Lord Rawlinson protested against any further diminution in strength of the British and native forces in India; what reduction has been made in the strength of the Army in India compared with 1914; whether this reduction has been made on the understanding that the equipment of the Army would be correspondingly improved; and what steps have been taken by the Government to meet the dangers apprehended by Lord Rawlinson?


A summary of Lord Rawlinson's speech to the Legislative Assembly has been telegraphed home; he neither asserted, nor even suggested, that the present military forces were inadequate to deal with any internal situation likely to arise. The reductions made in the Army since 1914 are as follows: The British strength in 1914 was 77,672, and in 1922 70,340. The Indian strength pre-War was 155,395, and in 1922 is 147,483. This reduction was made on the understanding that the equipment of the Army would be correspondingly improved. Though the improvement in equipment is not yet complete, considerable progress has been made.


Considering that there has been a reduction of 10 per- cent, of white troops in India since 1914, when will the new and improved equipment be ready for delivery to the whole of the troops?


I cannot say.


Can my right hon. Friend say when the Committee of Imperial Defence is likely to arrive at a decision on the question of the Indian Army?


Recent events have interrupted the progress this Committee was making, and some of us who are sitting on it are very busy men, and it is rather difficult to find the time that is necessary, but I hope the Report of the Committee to the Cabinet will not be long delayed.

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