HC Deb 29 October 1947 vol 443 cc868-9
48. Major Legge-Bourke

asked the Minister of Defence if he will consider reviewing the whole matter of conscription in the light of difficulties that have been visualised since the passing of the National Service Act, 1947, with a view to basing the Regular forces entirely on voluntary enlistment

Mr. Alexander

No, Sir.

Major Legge-Bourke

Does not the right hon. Gentleman consider that the difficulties which are visualised will simply mean that the Regular Army will neithet be trained nor be capable of training conscripts, and does he not think it would be better to have one division properly trained than to have seven or eight quite inadequately trained?

Mr. Alexander

I said "No" to the hon. and gallant Member's Question because at present it is quite impossible for us to foresee being able to obtain sufficient recruits for some of the Services without the compulsion of the Act we have passed. The difficulties to which the hon. and gallant Member referred today, and in the Debate last Monday night are being considered.

Mr. Scollan

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that when the Debate took place on conscription, the Prime Minister said that the policy of voluntary enlistment had not failed? Has he any reason to believe that it would fail any more now than it did then?

Mr. Alexander

My right hon. Friend may have said that in a particular reference, but I can assure hon. Members that I could not foresee at the present time getting all the men required for the Services without the operation of the Act

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member was asking for the expression of an opinion which is not in the Question put by the hon. and gallant Member.