HC Deb 23 November 1937 vol 329 cc1005-9
11. Sir John Ganzoni

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has any announcements to make affecting the Territorial Army?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

In view of the length of the answer to this question, and as it contains an important pronouncement, may I be allowed to make it after questions?


Mr. Hore-Belisha

I am glad to be able to avail myself of this opportunity to announce to the House certain measures which I had intended to announce in the Debate on the Motion which was put down for 10th November last in the name of my hon. Friend who asks this question, and postponed owing to the adjournment of the House on that day. These measures are for the most part designed by His Majesty's Government to recognize the full status of the Territorial Army as an integral part of our Defence system, and to emphasize the fact that to-day that Army has a claim to the same sources and standards of instruction as the Regular Army.

In the first place, officers appointed as commanders of Territorial Army Infantry Brigades or as commanders, Royal Artillery, of Divisions, whether they are Regular or Territorial Army officers, will be given the rank of brigadier. Territorial Army officers who have held that rank for three years or more will be allowed to retain it after ceasing to hold the appointment.

Secondly, Regular officers appointed brigade majors of Territorial Army Brigades will be seconded for the purpose, a course which is followed in the case of Regular Army Brigades. This change, while removing an invidious distinction, will also encourage the release from their units of the best qualified regular officers for these appointments, as the Regular units will not go short of officers in their absence, and those in the lower ranks who remain will not be deprived of the promotion which seconding ordinarily gives to them. With the same object in view, the additional pay of adjutants of Territorial Army units will be raised from 3s. 6d. a day to 5s. a day, the rate being drawn by adjutants of comparable Regular Army units.

Similarly, warrant officers Class II or non-commissioned officers who act as serjeant-majors of Territorial Army units, who now receive the pay of their substantive rank, with 2s. a day additional pay, will in future have their pay made up to that of warrant officers Class I appointed as regimental serjeant-majors of Regular units. In the matter of service dress uniform also they will be treated as warrant officers Class I.

In future there will be no limitation on the appointment of Territorial Army officers to command Divisions, Brigades, Divisional Artillery or other formations which consists solely of Territorial Army troops. Although it is realised that the Territorial Army officer cannot frequently give the necessary time to hold such commands or obtain the experience of handling mixed forces, he will he considered on merits without any discrimination, and, further, his opportunities of receiving higher instruction will be increased. To this end provision is being made for two vacancies at the Staff College, and one vacancy at the Imperial Defence College for Territorial Army officers, who will receive the pay and allowances of their rank during periods of attendance at those colleges.

Other suggestions have been made, not always unanimously, for facilitating the business of the Territorial Army. In order that these suggestions may be fully examined, I propose to ask a number of gentlemen well acquainted with the Territorial Army to make an inquiry with the following terms of reference:—

To examine and report on the general administration of the Territorial Army with special reference to:—

  1. (i) The organisation and finance of county associations.
  2. (ii) The reduction of correspondence and the simplification of administration between the War Office and county associations and between county associations and units.
  3. (iii) The reduction of office work in units and the system of providing clerical assistance.

His Majesty's Government trust that these measures will prove acceptable to the Territorial Army who give so much of their spare time to render service to the State.

Sir J. Ganzoni

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this announcement will give great satisfaction throughout the Territorial Army and the county associations, and can he tell me what will be the ultimate annual cost?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

I am glad to hear from the hon. Member that the announcement will give satisfaction. The annual cost will be £65,100.

Mr. Lawson

The right hon. Gentleman has made a long and rather complicated statement, and I should like to ask whether the inquiry includes the possibility of increasing the pay and general emoluments of the private soldier in the Territorial Army?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

The inquiry will be comprehensive, but I do not think that that question arises in connection with this matter. The Territorial Army, it should be clearly understood, is not an army which works for pay or profit. It consists of volunteers.

Mr. Lawson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I put that question to him because of the obvious absence of any reference to the private soldiers in the Territorial Army? Is he not aware that the private soldier labours under very great disadvantages on occasions, particularly when he goes up for annual training?

Sir J. Ganzoni

Yes, but is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the proficiency pay of the Territorial soldier has just been considerably raised?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

I should be very sorry if the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) were to spread abroad the idea, which is not felt in the Territorial Army, that the Territorial soldier should be working for more pay. He, like the officer, is giving his leisure time to the State, and his expenses are met, and I think that if we depart from that principle we shall do grave injury to the voluntary system.

Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether he has any information as to whether the British Broadcasting Corporation encourages or discourages giving appointments to men on their staff who are in the Territorial Force?

Captain Peter Macdonald

In view of the fact that the facilities of the King Edward Convalescent Hospital in the Isle of Wight have been extended to Territorial officers, will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to see that this fact is brought to the notice of Territorial officers, in order that they may be able to take advantage of them?

Mr. Bellenger

In view of the reorganisation which is apparently going to take place in some of the commissioned ranks, does the right hon. Gentleman contemplate any variation in the non-commissioned ranks, other than pay?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

If the hon. Member will consider my statement he will see that it is intended to remove anomalies which exist as between the Regular and the Territorial Army, and for that purpose an officer commanding a Brigade in the Territorial Army will be called a brigadier, as he is in the Regular Army. All the reforms I have announced reconcile the practices as between these two Armies. That is the whole purpose of the answer. As the soldier in the Territorial Army is not treated in any inferior capacity as compared with the regular soldier, having regard to the time he gives, I have not made any announcement affecting him, but announcements affecting promotion and rank.

Miss Wilkinson

Can the Minister say why the officer class is the only class paid for these patriotic duties?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

That is not the case. I do hope that no injury will be done to the Territorial Army by the putting of these questions. Recruiting is breaking all records, and men of all classes in society are serving quite voluntarily in this Army, and showing an increasing disposition to do so. No injustice whatever is done either to officers or men. I have not drawn any invidious distinction between them.

Mr. Lawson

Is the Minister aware that, personally, I welcome his statement? All that I was asking is that he should leave the conditions for his committee flexible enough to allow them to give consideration to any disadvantages under which the private Territorial soldier labours.

Mr. Hore-Belisha

I am most obliged to the hon. Member. I appreciate the spirit in which he put his question, and I can give him an assurance that the committee will make a comprehensive review, and will be able to take any of these considerations into account if they exist.