HC Deb 13 March 1924 vol 170 cc2619-20

I now come to the Territorial Army. The principal facts connected with the Territorial Army can be gathered from page 11 of my memorandum. The actual strength of the Territorial Army has been increased during the past year by 5,944 officers and men. We are still yet under strength, and I would make an earnest appeal to employers to give all facilities to their employés to join the Territorial Army, and to employés to give up some of their leisure to bringing this force, which made such a name for itself during the War, to its full strength and an even higher state of efficiency. I would like here to pay a tribute to the extraordinary devotion which all responsible for raising and organising the Territorial Army have shown during the past year. A great deal of this work is not only given gratuitously, but often at the cost of much leisure and even money on the part of individuals throughout the country, and it is only that spirit which enables the Territorial Army to develop so economically, and, at the same time, so efficiently.

That really is put forward in the spirit, first of all, of not only recognising how wonderful the Territorial Army does its duty to the nation, but I am asking the House and the nation to recognise that, after all, they are for defensive purposes only, and upon such an Army as that in the last resort, the well-being of the whole nation depends. It is not in any bellicose or war-like spirit that this has been done, because there are none who detest war more than hon. Members and hon. and gallant Members who have been through the War. This is simply being put forward in the peaceful spirit in which the Territorial Army has been organised—in a spirit of defence and in no other sense. Perhaps the most interesting development in the Territorial Force is its growing connection with the Air Force. It is necessary to increase establishment in order to provide for certain anti-aircraft brigades to assist in home defence. The strength of these brigades will ultimately come to 22,000 officers and men. They will be recruited and organised by the County Associations. Money has been taken for this purpose, but difficult questions of organisation remain still to be solved before a definite scheme can be promulgated. Schemes are now under consideration by the War Office.

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