HC Deb 15 November 1938 vol 341 cc667-9
23. Mr. Henderson Stewart

asked the Secretary of State for War whether any sites for anti-aircraft gun emplacements have yet been chosen in the East of Scotland?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

Yes, Sir. All the sites required have been selected.

Mr. Stewart

Does that mean that negotiations have been completed and that the War Office have entered into possession of the site?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

I have answered the question on the Order Paper, and the answer is exactly as I have said.

Mr. J. J. Davidson

I think we ought to have a fuller reply. Does the right hon. Gentleman's reply indicate that we have only reached the stage of selecting the sites, or have the sites been actually established in the East of Scotland?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

I was asked whether the sites have been chosen, and the answer is that they have been chosen.

24. Mr. Henderson Stewart

asked the Secretary of State for War the total number of anti-aircraft artillery units now established in Scotland; how many of these units are provided with 3.7 guns for practice purposes; and what steps he is taking to restore the confidence of Territorial officers and men in the efficiency of the Departments responsible for organisation and supply?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

The new organisation under which the number of anti-aircraft units established in Scotland has been raised from six to 25 came into being on 1st November. Those units which are to be equipped with 3.7-inch guns will shortly be receiving an issue. I am not prepared to accept the suggestion contained in the last part of the question.

25. Mr. Stewart

asked the Secretary of State for War why the Deputy-Chief of the Imperial General Staff, appointed in June to be responsible for the co-ordination of anti-aircraft defence, was not per- mitted to take up his duties until 29th October; and whether he is satisfied that no greater centralisation of control at the War Office is needed to provide an adequate and efficient anti-aircraft defence service?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

The new anti-aircraft organisation under the control of the new Deputy-Chief of the Imperial General Staff was due to take effect only from 1st November last. The officer selected relinquished his previous appointment in Egypt on 29th October. All forms of organisation are subject to review.

27. Mr. Turton

asked the Secretary of State for War whether there is now an adequate supply of ammunition for the anti-aircraft guns at Dishforth aerodrome?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

I have made inquiries and I find that during the recent crisis there was an adequate supply of suitable ammunition at Dishforth aerodrome.

Mr. Turton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the false statement made by the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) on 3rd November, when he said that there were one or two antiaircraft guns but no ammunition, has caused grave anxiety in my constituency and can he do something to prevent the Opposition Front Bench from circulating these false rumours?

30. Mr. Ede

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the clear deductions from the fact that of the guns deployed by the 52nd Anti-Aircraft Brigade, Royal Artillery, Territorial Army, four-elevenths were 3.7 and one-eleventh had no predictors, he will say whether similar proportions prevailed throughout the anti-aircraft units; and, if not, what was the general proportion of 3.7 guns and incompletely equipped guns, respectively?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

For the reasons I gave it would not be advisable to add to the statement which I made.

Mr. Ede

Will officers of the Territorial Army who believe that the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman represents the maximum he was able to do, be threatened with the Official Secrets Act if they publish statistics in regard to their own units?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

I have too high an opinion of Territorial Army officers to think that they would publish such statistics.

Mr. Davidson

Does not the Secretary of State for War recognise that many of these officers place the interests of the country before petty squabbles such as the Minister is involved in?

33. Mr. Davidson

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is satisfied with the rate of progress being made in the establishment and the efficient equipping of anti-aircraft units in Scotland?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Davidson

Is the right hon. Gentle- man aware that he and the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) are the only Members of this House who are satisfied with the progress?