HC Deb 06 December 1938 vol 342 cc968-9
6. Mr. Erskine Hill

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he can make any statement as to the recruiting of Territorial anti-aircraft units in Scotland; and whether, when there is a surplus of recruits in any one district, arrangements can be made for a pool of recruits from which skilled men may be drafted to field or heavy artillery units?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

Territorial anti-aircraft units in Scotland, which existed before 1st November, are, in every case, practically up to establishment, and recruiting in the units converted or formed since that date is proceeding satisfactorily. It is not practicable to have a pool of recruits which can be drafted to units as required, because a Territorial can serve usefully only in a unit whose drill hall is within reasonable distance of his home or place of employment, and a man must be posted to a unit, and cannot then be transferred to another unit unless he consents. Field and heavy artillery units in Scotland are well up to strength.

Mr. Erskine Hill

While thanking my right hon. Friend for his reply, may I ask him whether, as regards places where drill halls are close together, as in Edinburgh, he will reconsider his answer to the second part of my question?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

I shall always be very glad to consider any suggestion made by my hon. and learned Friend. The field and heavy artillery units, as I have just said, are already up to strength, and, therefore, the pool would not serve any particularly useful purpose, but I shall be only to happy to fall in with any practicable proposal made by my hon. and learned Friend.

Mr. Mathers

Is it possible for the Minister to say how many units are covered by his reply?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

In all, about 14. units.

Mr. Robert Gibson

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether when there is a surplus of recruits for a particular unit, the selection is made by examination or by priority on the list?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

I think it would generally be made by priority plus merit.

Mr. J. J. Davidson

With regard to these words "up to establishment" as related to anti-aircraft units, do they mean that those units have their full equipment?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

The question relates to personnel, and not equipment.