HC Deb 16 March 1925 vol 181 cc1890-1

I want to say a few words about the Territorial Army. I have already stated publicly that in the event of an emergency, calling for military effort on a national scale, it has been decided that the Territorial Army shall be the accepted medium of the expansion of the military forces of the country. The units of the Territorial Army will then be brought up to war strength, and each division will throw off another division. It is intended, and l say this deliberately so as to remove any lingering doubts, that the Territorial Army shall be the second line Army, and the men in it shall not be used as drafts for the Regular Army. I had the pleasure of making a formal announcement to this effect to the Council of County Associations last month, and I will not add to it now, except. to say that a. scheme for implementing this policy is now being worked out in detail by a committee at the War Office. As hon. Members will see from my Memorandum, the strength of the Territorial Army is some 22 per cent. under peace establishment in the case of officers, and 24 per cent. under peace establishment in the case of other ranks. Thus we want 1,683 officers, and 42,669 other ranks to complete. As the peace establishment, in turn, is markedly lower than the war establishment, I cannot say that I regard the position as altogether satisfactory, more especially as within the next seven months a large number of men terminate their four-year engagements, and although I trust a good proportion will re-engage, I cannot doubt that a special effort must be made in the course of the current year to stimulate recruiting for the Territorial Army. I am engaged in considering now what measures can best be taken to this end.

There is no doubt that one of the moss: potent factors in influencing recruiting for the Territorial Army, for good or bad, is the attitude of employers. I fully recognise the difficulties attendant upon the release of valuable employés for training, but I would impress upon employers the necessity for making a special effort in the interests of national defence to give their men leave during the next camping season, and I would remind them that if those they employ are willing to sacrifice much of their scanty leisure in fitting themselves to defend their country, they in their turn should be ready to make a corresponding sacrifice, and I can assure employers that the Army Council will do its best to meet them and to make their part as easy as possible.