HC Deb 28 March 1939 vol 345 cc1871-3
26. Mr. Medlicott

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, with a view to giving a measure of military training upon a voluntary basis to a substantial proportion of the population, and having regard to the fact that Territorial Army units all over the country have waiting lists of intending recruits, he will recommend that the establishment of the Territorial Army be increased to 2,000,000 men?

The Secretary of State for War (Mr. Hore-Belisha)

The suggestion envisages an increase in establishment to over eight times the present establishment of the Territorial Army, and would involve an enormous increase in the permanent staff, in training equipment and in building drill halls. His Majesty's Government have certain proposals under examination.

Mr. Medlicott

Having regard to the uncertainty of the strategic requirements of the immediate future will my right hon. Friend give consideration to the question as to whether some such substantial increase is necessary, if only on the ground that there is safety in numbers.

Mr. Hore-Belisha

Yes, Sir, I have said that I will consider this matter.

Brigadier-General Clifton Brown

Does my right hon. Friend realise that training for the Army is very different now from what it was before, and is more intensive, and that in peace time these reserves will not be able to train properly?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

I quite agree with the first part of the question of my hon. and gallant Friend.

30. Major-General Sir Alfred Knox

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of recent events, he will consider increasing the number of divisions in the Regular Army?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

His Majesty's Government have the question of manpower under review.

Sir A. Knox

Does my right hon. Friend not realise that until our Army has been placed upon an adequate footing the attractions of an anti-aggression pact are very small to all those small peace-loving Powers about which we hear so much?

Mr. Lipson

When will my right hon. Friend be in a position to inform the House of the result?

32. Lieut.-Colonel Macnamara

asked the Secretary of State for War the present strength of the Regular Army, the Territorial Army, less anti-aircraft units, and the reserves available for the Regular and Territorial Armies, respectively?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

As the answer contains a number of figures, I will, if I may, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the answer:

Total strengths of the Regular and Territorial
Armies and Reserves.
(i) On 1st March, 1939.
Regular Army 204,287
Regular Army Reserve 139,312
Supplementary Reserve 35,037
Territorial Army (less anti-aircraft units) 137,201
(ii) On 1st January, 1939 (latest, available figures).
Regular Army Reserve of Officers 9,340
Territorial Army Reserve of Officers 6,829
Lieut.-Colonel Macnamara

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, should circumstances arise necessitating the throwing in at once of all the 500,000-odd men we can mobilise, there will be no reserve to fill the gaps that will immediately occur; and what steps are being taken to provide for that eventuality?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

It is a little difficult to deal with a matter such as that in reply to a question. I did deal with it at some length on the Army Estimates.

Sir Joseph Nall

Is it not a fact that there is no reserve for the 12 Territorial divisions of the field army which were announced recently, and will my right hon. Friend take an early opportunity of informing the House how those divisions are to be reinforced?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

I did deal with that matter in my speech on the Army Estimates, but the proposals which I then made were not, of course, final.

Sir A. Knox

When will the right hon. Gentleman's new scheme be ready?

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