HC Deb 02 March 1948 vol 448 cc199-201
42. Brigadier Thorp

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will grant permission to the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers to wear full dress on the occasion?of their receiving the Freedom of Berwick-on-Tweed.

43 and 44. Major Tufton Beamish

asked the Secretary of State for War (1) whether he is aware that the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers are to receive the Honorary Freedom of Berwick-on-Tweed on 21st April, and of Newcastle-on-Tyne on St. George's Day, and that permission to wear full-dress uniform on these two occasions has been refused in spite of the fact that full-dress uniform is available at the regimental depot for the band, the colour parties and the escorts; that this refusal has caused great disappointment to the regiment and to the general public in Northumberland, and if he will now reverse this decision;

(2) on what grounds it is laid down in A.C.I.'s and confirmed in Northern Command orders that full-dress uniform is obsolete and may not be worn by Army personnel even on special ceremonial occasions for which it was appropriate before the war.

Mr. M. Stewart

Prewar pattern full dress is now obsolete, in consequence of the decisions taken on postwar dress for the Army. It would be quite inappropriate that an obsolete pattern of uniform should be worn on a regimental and public occasion.

Major Beamish

Is not the Minister aware that if permission were granted for this uniform to be worn—and it is in the possession of the regiment—it would not involve any charge whatsoever on the public, and would have the effect of turning a drab ceremony into a most colourful one of great recruiting value, and may I appeal to the Minister to look further into this and to give some more sensible reason for this ruling?

Mr. Stewart

The issue is not one of expense, but that the uniform is now obsolete, and it is felt that on those grounds it would not add to the recruiting value.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

It the full-dress uniform of the British Army is obsolete, how is it that the Household Cavalry were put into it for the Royal wedding?

Mr. Stewart

The prewar full dress is obsolete for the whole Army, except the Household Troops, for whom its wear is in abeyance. The future dress of the Household Troops has yet to be decided.

Mr. Gallacher

Is the Minister aware that in Committee upstairs there was a solemn decision taken that wigs in the courts were traditional and desirable, and if wigs are desirable, what is the matter with the fusiliers' uniform?

Major Beamish

In view of the failure of the Minister to give any adequate reasons for this ruling, and the disappointing nature of his reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.