HC Deb 09 March 1948 vol 448 cc1012-193

Order for Committee read.

3.23 p.m.

The Secretary of State for War (Mr. Shinwell)

I beg to move, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."

The Army Estimates for the coming year are based on two main assumptions. First, our overseas commitments are likely to continue for some time and, second, it would be foolish not to take precautions in order to safeguard our interests both at home and abroad. These are obligations we are at present bound to accept, but they are not in conflict with our wish to be spared the horrors of another war, and to seek, through conciliation and agreement, a lasting peace.

If history is a faithful record then, so far, war has failed in the solution of international disputes. On the contrary, the aftermath of war affords evidence of the existence of new problems which are complex enough to baffle the ingenuity of statesmen throughout the entire world. Nevertheless, while with all our hearts we long for peace, we cannot in present conditions abandon our arms or neglect our defences. We are compelled, in this period of disturbance and confusion, to take effective measures to uphold the traditions of this nation whose way of life, in spite of some defects, is well worth defending.

At the end of every war the Army has suffered a sharp decline both in numbers and in public appreciation. We shall all agree that the Army in war provides one of our main bulwarks. When it is engaged in conflict with the enemy it deserves and receives lavish praise, but with the coming of peace the achievements of officers and other ranks are overlooked, and the nation is too ready to forget their virtues. This tendency is regrettable and must be corrected. The Army in peace, although less spectacular, must not be regarded as of any less importance than in war, whilst praise for its activities should be translated into tangible benefits.

The responsibility of the Army to Parliament rests with me. Hon. Members are, therefore, entitled to ask for an assurance that monies voted for the Army are properly expended, that the troops are well trained and kept up to the highest pitch of efficiency and that their conditions of living and welfare are satisfactory. It is also my responsibility to see that the method of selecting officers is sound and their selection based exclusively on the qualities of leadership, courage and integrity. On the other hand, I owe a duty to the soldiers to see that their service will be used with the utmost efficiency and that the best possible conditions shall be made available to them. Above all, I regard it as my principal task to provide as far as possible and within the framework of world conditions, that troops will not be called upon to undertake tasks for which, in numbers and equipment, they are unfitted. It is natural that risks must be regarded as commensurate with the normal duties of the soldier but we must not play fast and loose with the lives of men.

I believe that an opinion is held in some quarters that the discovery of modern and more deadly weapons of warfare has destroyed the value of the Army. This I believe is a fallacy. Scientists may have produced weapons of mass destruction but none which so far obviates the need for fighting on land. The idea that in a future war all that is required is to press a button and that land forces are superfluous is not supported by any evidence in the possession of my Department, and it may prove dangerous for this country to rely upon any such assumption. Therefore, in my opinion, the claim is established that the Army will be required to assist in safeguarding our interests and vindicate our position as a great Power.

As can be seen, I am asking in my Estimates for a sum which, compared with prewar standards, must be regarded as substantial; but we must acknowledge that the soldier receives a much higher rate of pay than before the war and increased costs arise because we are constantly trying to improve conditions of service. Moreover, prices have increased all round, our equipment is more expensive, and the costs of maintenance are much higher than before the war. These factors, together with the large sum of36£ million on terminal charges, alongside increased manpower, account for the bulk of the Estimate. Meanwhile, we are not providing for much new equipment for the Army, and our expenditure on accommodation is restricted by shortages in material and manpower and the general financial stringency. As I have shown in my Memorandum covering the Estimates, we are still living to a considerable extent on war stocks, and expenditure may in future show some increase.

We have made provision for a maximum of 850,000 officers and other ranks on 1st April of this year, which includes those in the Women's Services. Of this number, about 132,000 will have left the Army on release, but as a man on leave is still on the Army books, they must be counted. In addition, the figure of 850,000 includes Colonial, Polish and Gurkha troops. When they have all been deducted we obtain the true size of the British Army which will, on 1st April, be 527,000. In a year's time the figure will be down to 339,000. We expect that during the year we may recruit 132,000. This will mean that in 12 months the Army will lose 320,00o men and women of all ranks. Of every five men and women now serving, three will have left in a year's time. This, of course, is bound to impose a severe strain on our administration.

During the war there was little recruitment for the Regular Army so, in order to make good the deficiency, we have set ourselves an annual target of about 48,000. In the last year, the number of recruits on normal Regular engagements was 28,00o. This was about the average annual number of volunteers in the Regular Army between the wars, but as 13,000 came forward under the short service scheme, it made a total of 41,00o. In addition, a number of men were re-engaged while still in the Army for a further period of service. This 41,000 is 2,000 more than we obtained in 1938, which was the best recruiting year before the war. When we remember that at present there is hardly any unemployment, the results from the Army standpoint must be considered as satisfactory. All the same, recruitment is somewhat unbalanced. For the Infantry and the Royal Armoured Corps it is fairly good but as regards sappers, signals and other technical branches, we have been at one time seriously short to the extent in all of over 39,00o. Steps were taken to remedy this and the deficiency has been reduced in the last six months to 33,000.

Since the end of the war in Europe 2,645,000 officers and men have been released. This has naturally placed a considerable strain on the administration of the Army, and has made it necessary to retain a substantial body of men in release centres, pay and record offices. But this year will see the end of demobilization and we must now review the position and look to the future.

The situation following the first world word is not a safe guide. The calls on the Army at the present time are not only conditioned by various commitments, but the pace and character of war have undergone a vast change in the last quarter of a century. In the past, our main permanent overseas commitment was India where we retained 60,000 troops. The withdrawal of the British Army from that area, alongside changes in the organisation of the Army which are now seen to be essential, have brought about a change which demands a complete review of our organisation and military plans. I suppose that among hon. Members who have served in the Regular Army and among many others this will cause same anxiety as to what is happening in the inner councils of the War Office. It has been necessary to reduce the number of battalions of Infantry. We have also had to make reductions in the size of units of other fighting arms, notably the Royal Armoured Corps and the Royal Artillery. It may he asked what effect these reductions will have on the efficiency of the Regular Army, and whether there is a danger that the structure will be impaired.

While I cannot describe the whole picture, I would like first to tell the House the principles upon which we are approaching this complicated subject; and it is complicated because our plans have to be laid during a period of violent change in the manpower of the Army. I have already described the run-down which will take place in the coming financial year. By 31st March, 1949, we hope to build up the Regular Army, excluding the National Service men, to a figure of about 200,000 all ranks, and it follows that during the next 12 months there must be a continuous process of reshuffling before the Army as a whole can settle down into what is likely to be its ultimate form. Our first principle is that we must not impair the quality of the Regular Army. If the Regular officer and soldier are not of the finest quality we cannot expect the National Service man during his active service or in the reserve to reach the proper degree of efficiency. However, we believe that within our financial and manpower limits it will be possible to develop the high quality of the Regular Army and, at the same time, preserve its broad structure.

We have also to produce a Territorial Army composed of trained and disciplined men who have served 12 months with the Colours. Previously, we relied upon a small, Regular, long-service Army to provide an Expeditionary Force, whilst the Territorial Army was expanded, mobilised and trained. It must, however, be admitted that the Territorial Army was not fit for battle at the outbreak of war. Many of the essentials of leadership and training were lacking. That is no reflection on the members of the Territorial Army who during the war gave such a splendid account of themselves. But in the future, should war occur, we cannot hope to gain a breathing space in which to build up and train our land Forces. The shock will be sharp and sudden. Consequently, we require a steady flow of trained and disciplined men for the Territorial Army and thus enable us to increase its state of readiness and general efficiency.

There are two other objectives which, to my mind, transcend the rest: one, to give the finest training possible to the National Service men during their 12 months' service with the Colours; and the other, which can only be achieved gradually, is to have available a small but efficient and properly equipped Regular force ready to proceed overseas at short notice in peace-time. We intend that this force, composed solely of Regular soldiers, shall not be so tied up with the Territorial Army or with the National Service men that it fails to carry out this primary task. Therefore, in place of the old system, we have adopted the conception of a National Army composed of three constituent parts; a Regular content, a National Service element, together with those who volunteer for service with the Territorial Army. We are convinced that these three parts must be balanced and, in this way, form the National Army of Britain.

The long-service, Regular soldier is required for several duties. He is invaluable because he has the skill required for the technique and also for the training of the National Service and Territorial soldiers. I am convinced that without these Regular soldiers we cannot fufil our obligations. They must be of high quality and only in the measure that they possess the capacity for training others can we hope to achieve success. As regards the National Service men, they will be essential in order to provide a substantial part of our overseas commitments, because the Regular content is inadequate for this purpose. In addition, the National Service men will also provide the bulk of the trained men who, after their year of service, will flow into the Territorial Army.

But neither the Regular soldier nor the National Service men serving with the Colours are sufficient by themselves to provide for the anti-aircraft or land defences of the United Kingdom. Adequate forces can only be found on a part-time or territorial basis, but if they are to be ready to defend the country at short notice their peace-time organisation and training must be put on a more efficient footing than was considered acceptable before the last war. Moreover, should we again be threatened by attack upon our cities and industries by weapons of mass destruction, it is essential that the maximum number of men should have undergone some training to enable them to take their part in Civil Defence.

Let us consider, in the first instance, the position of the National Service man. He will proceed to his arms basic training unit for an average period of basic training occupying 10 weeks. This is an important part of his service. He will be tested on arrival and then trained according to his knowledge and ability and, after a few weeks' training, outstanding men will go before a selection board and, should they pass, will then be sent to officer cadet training units for training as emergency commissioned officers. After leaving the arms basic training unit the National Service man will go to the unit of the active Army in which he will serve the remainder of his period of 12 months. This unit may be at home or in Germany or as far afield as the Mediterranean. In his unit he will be fitted to take his place as a trained soldier in the Territorial Army to which he will be automatically transferred after his 12 months' service has expired.

In the selection of men for each arm of the Service every effort will be made to enable him to serve according to his wishes and his ability and also according to the type of Territorial unit which is located in or nearest his home town. Therefore, when he joins his Territorial unit on release from service with the active Army, it is expected that he will continue to serve in the same arm of the Service where he lives. This will not always be possible in smaller towns and in country districts but, in general, this is the principle on which the Army will operate. Should another conflict unhappily arise, the Territorial Army must, on the outbreak of war, be able to provide for the bulk of the anti-aircraft and coast defences of e United Kingdom and the necessary reihforcements for the defence of ports and airfields overseas, together with a field force properly balanced and complete with all modern, technical units for service wherever it may be required. I must, however, emphasise that it will be essential to have a large element of enthusiastic volunteers to supply the leaders and instructors, all of whom cannot be found from the Regular Army.

It will, therefore, be seen that the Territorial Army of the future will consist both of volunteers and National Service men, and together they must be welded into an efficient fighting force under the guidance and with the assistance of the Regular Army. The Territorial Army must be assured of the greatest possible degree of co-operation so as to ensure that their training is well organised and adequate for our purpose. Our aim is to provide a permanent staff of instructors in each unit together with Regular units specially detailed to assist in training who can be made available for this task. We shall also require Regular commanding officers in those cases where suitable Territorial officers are not available, and it may be necessary to appoint a Regular second-in-command in cases where the commanding officer is a Territorial. Already a good number of valuable men with war experience have joined the Territorial Army as volunteers, and they are providing a nucleus on which we must build for the future.

The vital date is January, 1950, for it is then that the first National Service men with a reserve liability will start the flow of trained men into the Territorial Army. We shall make the most strenuous efforts before that date in order to overcome a great many of our domestic problems and to be ready to receive the National Service men with a fully trained cadre of instructors and leaders. It would be a mistake, however, to ignore the difficulties of accommodation and equipment. It is obvious that the Army in future, because of the introduction of National Service, will be larger than before the last war and it must include, as a new feature, an anti-aircraft element which must be dispersed in centres where there are no permanent barracks. We must also take account of the fact that the peak numbers of the Territorial Army, which we shall reach about 1954, will be far in excess of anything we have known before the war, and it is evident that our present accommodation will fall far short of the minimum required.

I am conscious of the special difficulties which confront the Territorial Forces associations and the commands in finding a solution for the problems of accommodation and the shortage of suitable buildings for Territorial Army centres. It must not be forgotten that the Territorial Army, in addition to the provision of drill halls and the like, requires living quarters for the staff, and the expansion of the Territorial Army enforces the need for obtaining suitable sites. This is a major problem and will require exceptional measures if it is to be solved in a reasonable time. I shall endeavour to find a practical solution, but we must have regard to our existing economic problems, and austerity standards will have to apply to this accommodation in the same degree as they apply to the civilian population, although suitable accommodation must be found if we are to get through.

In order to accommodate the Army in the United Kingdom we shall have to make extensive use of hutted camps. We have, of course, a large number of these camps in our possession—some of excellent militia type, and others of the low grade Nissen variety. Maintenance was largely neglected during the war, and because of deterioration, which is more pronounced in the case of hutted camps, substantial expenditure is necessary in order to provide reasonable standards of comfort. I regard this problem as really urgent because it must be remembered that many of our training establishments are in these camps and that the success of the National Service scheme depends very largely on providing for the men a decent standard of living.

It is unfortunate that accommodation for the unmarried soldier should vary so much in quality. Our barracks now range from the comparatively modern Sandhurst block, which was constructed in 1938, and which contains central heating and up-to-date sanitary and cooking appliances, to those that were built 200 years ago. We actually have 15 barracks housing more than 12,000 men which were built before the Napoleonic Wars. Some of them are still in use, but they have long ago been condemned and are so damp, dingy and disreputable, that we shall be left with no alternative in due course but to destroy them and erect new buildings. I must inform hon. Members that all our barracks, except the most recently constructed, require extensive modernisation to bring them up to present day standards. This programme, which is already in hand, is bound to cost a lot of money, and will have to be spread over a number of years, but it is absolutely necessary if the Army is to be attractive and men are to be comfortable.

In my view, the most urgent task is the provision of married quarters. Before the war we possessed about 16,000 married quarters. Even then, the number was insufficient, but it was possible in those days for married officers and other ranks who were unable to be accommodated in Army quarters to rent civilian houses. But this is rarely possible at the present time, and when they do, the rents charged, for the most part, are excessive. I should remind hon. Members that the age at which marriage is officially recognised in the Army has been reduced in the case of officers from 3o to 25 and, in the case of other ranks, from 26 to 21. Because of this, there is a considerable shortage of at least another 16,000 quarters and this is particularly severe in the case of officers. I doubt whether we can overcome these difficulties in the next year or two. It will take longer than that but, meanwhile, every possible step is being taken to make the fullest use of existing quarters and to build as fast as the national building policy will permit and, of course, we hope to add to our accommodation by the conversion of suitable huts.

Apart from buildings needed by the Army, we also require land for the purpose of training. This applies equally to the Regulars and the Territorials. Nobody will dispute that if we have an Army it must be trained, and that if the Army is to train it must have land for the purpose. Of course, we fully understand that in looking for land the Army must cause the least possible loss to agriculture and cause the minimum disturbance to the life of the people. But from the point of view of the Army the land must be suitable for various types of training and must be reasonably near where the troops are. Our plan is to have an area suitably placed for each command where the various arms can learn to work together in warlike conditions. The artillery must have ranges and so must the tank and anti-tank gunners. The engineers must learn to carry out their various duties, which include the execution of large scale demolitions. But for these exercises one area in each case will be enough, although it must be a big one.

We are not land-grabbers in the Army and have been most anxious to cause as little disturbance as possible and to meet the wishes of the local inhabitants in every way we can. We hope that in cases of dispute it will be possible by means of local informal meetings for the conflicting points of view to be understood by all parties so that difficulties can be removed. I was glad to hear that a successful meeting of this kind was held the other day in Brecon. This is an example of what can be done when people get round the conference table in a reasonable mood.

I must now say a word about the Women's Services. It 'is hoped that we shall have a total of 11,500 by the end of this year. Naturally, there will be many women released in the course of the year and, in order not to go below this figure recruiting must produce better results. The W.R.A.C. will offer varied employments which should suit any woman's taste. In addition to jobs such as switchboard operators, clerks, cooks, drivers and so on, there will be excellent opportunities for young women with technical or scientific interests, and there will also be interesting posts in connection with education and training. Opportunities for service overseas will continue, for example, in stations like Germany where the members of the Women's Services are an excellent influence on the troops. I understand that the men have already received them with open arms.

I am aware that much concern has been expressed about the moral welfare of the troops but improvement can only be achieved if we succeed in solving a number of problems. Unfortunately, we have not yet solved them all. Our first object is to provide healthy and stimulating occupation when the soldier is off duty. This is particularly important in Germany and other overseas stations. Many excellent clubs have been provided where the men can read, write and play games, and have food and drink in comfort. In addition to the unit canteens, there are, for example, well over 100 clubs of this kind in Germany alone. Voluntary education, lectures, discussions, films and theatrical shows are provided, and the most isolated unit can see at least two different films a week.

Above all, the Army educational scheme is intended to give the soldier an opportunity for another form of recreation when he is off duty. Students are given classes, and there are other opportunities for study and preparing for civil examinations. A man can also, if he desires, take up a specific subject, such as mathematics or biology, without having any particular examination in mind. In addition, classes are provided for those interested in handicraft, art, music and all sorts of hobbies, and there is the unit library with what is usually a good and varied selection of books. I do not pretend that all our instructors are perfect. It is not always easy to find the best teachers but, on the whole, the facilities given by the educational scheme are of a high standard, and those who wish to use them are bound to benefit.

We have also arranged for religious instruction to be given during working hours for all officers and men who wish to receive it. In fact, every encouragement, but without compulsion, will be given to chaplains and teachers to build up the right morale in all ranks. I must tell hon. Members that much depends on commanding officers and officers generally. They are responsible for seeing that the men under their command are well looked after, and that the men expect that their wishes and grievances are known and are being attended to. In the end everything depends on the man himself. All we can do is to make it possible for him to use the facilities which are provided for his benefit. After the most careful inquiry I can say that, while we must not be complacent in this matter, there is no reason for pessimism or alarm. The bearing of the great majority is excellent, although, of course, there are exceptions, but as regards the greater proportion of men in the Army there is nothing of which we need feel ashamed.

I should like to take the opportunity here to express my appreciation of our troops in Palestine. They have encountered exceptional difficulties since they arrived, and they have borne themselves with forbearance and fortitude. In a telegram, received only the other day, the High Commissioner stated that it was his considered opinion that any troops in the world today might be proud of such a record. I am sure this is a fine and proper tribute which the House will endorse. I should also add a word about our troops in the Far East. The difficulties they have to face in the performance of their duties are somewhat different, but the spirit and devotion which they show is the same. Let us send them a word of thanks.

In the six months I have been at the War Office I have tried to see as much as possible of the Army in order to acquaint myself with the problems of the ordinary soldiers, as well as their commanders. It seems only right to give most attention to those features of Army life which are not as agreeable as they ought to be. I have encouraged soldiers to voice their complaints and the officers to direct my attention, not so much to what is good, because I am fully aware that there is much good in the Army, but rather to those defects which call for early improvement. The Press have taken full opportunity of my visits, and their reports, somewhat highly coloured, seem to concentrate on those aspects of Army life which are in need of improvement. But it must not be supposed that this is the full story. Undoubtedly, the organisation of the Army has revealed defects, but on the whole it is a fine organisation, and most men are ready to acknowledge its value.

In the majority of cases the Army transforms young men into better physical specimens and finer citizens than when they entered the Service. A vast expenditure is incurred in promoting the health, physique and intelligence of the soldier, as well as equipping him for civil life. We have accepted these responsibilities and we shall not shirk them. But we must not forget that our principal task is to make good and efficient soldiers, capable of rallying to the defence of the nation if they should be required.

I shall not conceal from hon. Members my apprehension that within the financial limits imposed upon the Army we may experience difficulty in making provision for all our needs. There are many proposed reforms of a technical, strategic and social character which it is far from easy to achieve, and in the present financial stringency we are unable to proceed with the ease and freedom we naturally prefer. Nevertheless, we shall endeavour, by re-organisation, the economical use of our financial resources and the promotion of the highest efficiency, to meet our obligations in full, and to make the Army, if not in numbers, at least in quality, the finest Army in the world.

4.6 p.m.

Earl Winterton (Horsham)

It would be of little value to spend a lifetime in this House unless one sensed, or thought one sensed, the atmosphere of a particular Debate. I think that the atmosphere of this Debate is that hon. Members, on both sides of the House, feel that it is not one where great party issues arise, but that it is one in which a very serious subject is being discussed, having regard to the circumstances of the times, to which they wish to make their contribution as to how best to solve the appalling problems with which we are confronted. Certainly the Secretary of State for War, if I may commence by paying him a compliment, has initiated this Debate in an admirable and extremely serious speech; serious from the point of view of what he has had to tell us of the difficulties with which he is confronted. I wish to follow along this line, and I may have some searching questions to ask the right hon. Gentleman. He will be aware that I frequently do ask them. In fact, there was a period when he sometimes suggested to me what those searching questions should be, but that is very much of a time in the past.

I wonder whether my hon. Friend who is himself a Pressman, that what usually fills the headlines in Debates of this character is some chance remark by some hon. Member—and I may say in parenthesis that I am not attacking the popular Press, because I happen to write for it—such as: Commons criticise hair-do of Women's Services, Or M.P.'s experience as Quarter-bloke. I hope this afternoon that both hon. Members and public opinion will concentrate upon the things that really matter. They are very important indeed; in fact, they may mean the very future existence of this country.

This Debate on Army Estimates is taking place against a grim and grave background of the European situation, perhaps only exceeded by similar Army Estimate Debates in March, 1914, and 1939, respectively. There is drama, even if it is a tragic drama, in following the astonishing resemblances and contrasts between this and former years. In 1918 we were the greatest military nation in the world. Less than 20 years later, 18 in fact, our defeated foe commenced defying us with an Army enormous in proportion to our tiny force. Two-and-a-half years ago we were the third greatest military power in the world. Today we have a small force scattered about the world which can hardly be described, to put it mildly, as being in battle formation. Our former ally, Russia, has enormous military forces, probably at least equal to the Germany Army in the thirties. Although I do not want to pursue the matter today, because it is more proper in a foreign affairs Debate, I must add that her leaders use language about us, and do things to our distaste, which are on a par with the words and deeds of Hitler in the mid-thirties. If there is not drama in those resemblances and contrasts, I do not know what political drama is. Those seem to be the matters which overshadow the whole of this Debate.

This brings me to the first question I wish to put to the right hon. Gentleman. As I followed his observations, he made one reference, and one reference only, to the desirability of forming a striking force. I do not think that he said that it had been formed. I wish to say a few words on that subject from both an historical and a present day point of view. From the close of the South African war until 1914, and again in the thirties, we had a striking, or expeditionary force. It is worth stating publicly in this House that, despite statements to the contrary, it was in each case no smaller in numbers than we had promised our French allies either openly or by secret treaty to send in support of them. If it was found when used to be deficient in some equipment, so were the forces of those allies.

The Prime Minister told us last week that we were entering, inter alia, into military discussions with the Benelux countries. Lord Pakenham, in a speech in another place which I do not want to quote, used even stronger language and spoke more definitely on that subject. I submit that that obviously implies, if agreement is reached between us and those countries, commitments for this country into which must enter the question of military aid, in the narrow sense of the word military. Obviously, it must involve some giving to the common pool of military aid.

Although I do not ask for any answer on that subject today, that would seem to be the opinion of those foreign countries. Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), I have some contacts with foreign statesmen although I have not had the experience which he has had. Certainly, in the opinion of most foreign statesmen, this means some form of expeditionary force, however small. I may be quite wrong, and I may not even express the view of my hon. and right hon. Friends on this side of the House, because, as I said, this is a non-party Debate in which we are entitled to express our own opinions, but it seems to me, that this involves a complete, or at least some, re-orientation of the plans of the Government as disclosed in various statements made in the speech of the Secretary of State today. His speech was based upon what the position of the Army will be in 1950 or 1952. In any case, clearly a statement will have to be made on this matter when the discussions which I have mentioned end. It is no use going on talking loosely. We did too much of that between both wars, as I know from long membership of this House, when talking about military aid.

I must repeat the question which was not answered the other day by the Prime Minister, and which was put by my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington in the defence Debate. He stated that the "New Statesman" had said that the size of the effective fighting strength of the Army was two infantry divisions, one armoured brigade, one parachute régiment and one armoured régiment. My right hon. Friend, if I may say so in his presence, rightly drew attention to this, and asked for information from the Government on the subject. He got no reply. I say that that statement should be confirmed or denied, for the mischief—if there be mischief in it—of disclosure has been caused by the "New Statesman's" article. When a statement of that kind is made in a paper which is known to have the closest affiliations with the party in power, naturally people abroad believe that it has been in some way authorised.

One reason for the absence, or what I believe to be the absence of a striking force, and for the very small properly organised formations of the Army, is certain facts and figures which I propose to give to the House. I know that my first figures are correct because they are taken from a Command Paper. On 30th September, 1947, the male Regular strength of the Army was: officers, 24,000, and other ranks, 129,000, a total of 154,000. I leave out the odd hundreds. With the Women's Service, the total was 159,000. The net increase in the male Regular strength in 1947, according either to Command Papers or to written answers was, for the first quarter, 10,000; for the second quarter 10,000, and for the third quarter, 7,000. Assuming that the rate for the first quarter is continued, the total male Regular strength of all ranks on 31st March, 1948, should be in the neighbourhood of 170,000. I understand that the right hon. Gentleman is working up to a total of 220,000 or thereabouts, if he can get it.

According to figures too detailed to quote, which I have had prepared for me by an expert in these matters, allowing for the fact that the Navy is taking no National Service men and the R.A.F. very few, in the next year or so there will be somewhere in the neighbourhood of 220,000 Regulars in the Army and 165,000 conscripts. They are concripts in the sense of men who will do only 12 months' service. That proportion makes it impossible to produce the striking force that we ought to have, because far too large a proportion of the Regular Army, both officers and men, must be employed in training the conscripts. I do not believe that in any fighting Army in the world there ever was that proportion in peacetime. It is, therefore, not surprising, that in the Memorandum there is this phrase: Training in overseas theatres will be directed mainly to ensuring that formations are fitted in every way to carry out their occupational duties and normal peacetime duties. One of the few things in the right hon. Gentleman's speech which rather alarmed me was something he said at the beginning. I do not quite know what he meant. He said that the Army was not to be asked to undertake tasks for which the troops were not fitted. I do not know what he means by that. I do not know what are the tasks which the Army is expected to carry out at present in the event of war: nobody does. I do not want to introduce unnecessary controversy into this Debate, but before 'I leave this subject I must quote what I can only describe as the most extraordinary words of the right hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger). I may be quite wrong, but I thought he was in the Cabinet at the time that the conscripts were introduced.

Mr. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)

Not in the Cabinet, but in the Government.

Earl Winterton

In the Government. This is what he said. He confirmed everything which I have just been putting to the House. He said: But in peace time the Army is compelled to take pretty well what the other two Services leave—certainly as far as the Navy is concerned, because we have been told that the Navy is prepared to take only a token number of 2,000.… The Army is compelled to devote too large a proportion of the very limited time of 12 months to training many of this intake—the so-called illiterates and semi-literates—to read and write or to pass general knowledge examinations. At the other end of the scale they have to devote a certain period to vocational training before the men are finally decanted into civil life. In certain aspects the 12 months' period which National Service men have to serve, particularly in the Air Force, certainly in the Navy, and in certain parts of the Army—is all too short to produce that trained reserve which, so the White Paper tells us, is the raison d'être of conscription. Then he goes on to say: It might be preferable to try to work two kinds of compulsory service: first, a short period of six months for basic training, which is all that a certain class of National Service men can hope to gain in 12 months at present; secondly, a longer period than 12 months for technicians. Then, the right hon. Gentleman says: We are, of course, precluded by the National Service Act from increasing the period of 12 months."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st March, 1948; Vol. 448, C. 105.] Reading his speech as a whole, nothing could be a greater criticism—far greater than that of my hon. and gallant Friend behind me or that of my right hon. Friend on the bench beside me—of the present system of National Service than that speech of the right hon. Member for Bassetlaw, although as he said he was a Member of the Government when the scheme was introduced. This is a serious matter, which requires the attention of the Government.

I pass on from that to refer to one or two other matters. It is quite true that Regular recruiting, in many respects, has not been too bad. It is not good enough, but it has not been too bad; there is still a great difficulty, according to the Command Paper on Defence, in getting a sufficient number of men to enlist in the more technical corps. I had intended to give some facts and figures, but I do not want to detain the House, so I will not give them, but they are very interesting, and they support the maintenance of the view, which has been put by my hon. Friends on this side of the House constantly in these Army Debates, that the rates of pay and allowances for the more skilled technicians in the Army do not compare favourably with those paid to skilled workers outside. I will not trouble the House with the figures, because some of my hon. Friends, who have access to the same sources of information, will be able to give them.

I maintain that these rates are still not sufficient, and I beg the right hon. Gentle- man and the Defence Minister to give further consideration to this matter. I understand that they have had a fair amount of success, but not more than that, in inducing the trade unions, who I am sure are anxious to be patriotic in this matter, to allow these men when leaving the Army to go into a craft union, but there is still not sufficient inducement for men to join the Army and be able to feel, if they are skilled tradesmen, that they would be just as well off there as anywhere else.

Next, I come to the most urgent question concerning recruiting—the question of accommodation. It is true that not much can be done about the great majority of the old barracks for single men, but I think the War Office should press the Government generally for permission to build more married quarters. I think the provision of married quarters for the Army compares unfavourably, for example, with that for the Royal Air Force. I understand that in 1948–49 married quarters will be completed for the Army to the number of 550, and that, in the same period, accommodation for 1,400 will be completed for the Royal Air Force, and that seems to show a very considerable difference in amount. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to induce the Treasury to give the fullest possible support to what I know is his wish to supply more married quarters. I believe it is much more important today, because the soldier likes to marry young, and should be allowed to do so, because he can do it better under the present system, in the sense that while in the old days, a man could not marry because of the difficulties of pay, it is now much easier for men to marry on the strength than was the case 20 years ago, but these men will want houses, and, until they know that they can be accommodated, it will affect recruiting.

I turn from that matter to the question of the position of the Territorial Army, and here I must ask one or two searching questions. As I understand it, the growth of the Territorial Army since the recruiting campaign began on 1st May, has been as follows: On 15th June, 1947, there were 17,000 men—leaving out the odd hundreds—and 1,900 women, a total of 19,000; on the 30th September last year, a total of 32,000, and on 31st December, a total of 38,000. So far as I know, we have never been told, or been given any indication, of the desired target up to which the voluntary element of the Territorial Army is to be recruited, and I hope that, before this Debate is over, we shall be told what is the ratio of Territorials and conscript reservists. It is most important that we should know this.

Here are some more unanswered questions which I would put to the right hon. Gentleman once again. Have the Territorial Army associations, and, through them, the commanding officers of Territorial Army units, been told, even privately, what the cadre strength is to which they are to be recruited, and what is the total cadre strength of the voluntary T.A.? What is the desired proportion between the volunteer T.A. and the eventual conscripts who will come in? As an old Territorial, as a member for many years of a Territorial Army association and as one who has the honour to wear the Territorial long-service medal, it seems to me that that is of the utmost importance, to get men to join the T.A. voluntarily, because, unless a man who wants to join voluntarily feels that he is going to have comrades in sufficient numbers who are also volunteers, he will not join. He will not join if he thinks he is only one in a vast and, maybe, unwilling, conscript Army.

We are still in an experimental stage in this matter, and we still do not know whether, when the modern conscripts—and I am not saying a word against them, because they seem to be excellent young men—are called up for their annual training, they will like the job or not. It has often been said, and, indeed, jokes have been made about the matter, that the old Territorial joined for a variety of reasons, and, although I hope there was also the point of view of patriotism, there was the reason that it was like a club, where they were all friends. I have heard it suggested from both sides of the House that one reason was that they wanted to get away from feminine influence and domesticity. They had a variety of reasons for joining, but all these reasons which were actuating them had an overriding motive in that they felt they were all friends and joining a volunteer unit. How far we shall get them to join when they are going out every year into train- ing with men who may be unwilling soldiers, I do not know.

The right hon. Gentleman spoke with a little too much buoyancy about the position of these men when they had done their 12 months' training. He said there would be a steady flow of trained and disciplined men for the Territorial Army. They will, of course, be disciplined—at least, we hope so—but I find it very difficult to believe that men with 12 months' experience, under present conditions, of training for warfare or possible warfare can be described as fully-trained men.

My next question is whether, if the minimum necessary volunteer cadre has not been obtained by the time the national reservists arrive, will the deficiency be supplied by the Regular Army, and, if so, at the expense of, what other commitments? Supposing we are so far out of what the War Office regard as the proper numerical proportion between volunteer Territorials and conscript Territorials, how will the proportion be made up? Will men be sent from the Regular Army, and, if so, will they be sent at the expense of other commitments? There must, of course, be some such figure. Suppose that, in a particular unit, the nominal strength of which was 400, we had only 20 volunteers. The scheme could not possibly work if 380 12-month conscripts did their annual training in that unit.

My other two questions are these. How will the Territorial units be able to train efficiently unless they can expect to be up to establishment before 1952, the year in which the conscript reserve reaches its normal strength? Lastly, and perhaps most important of all, how can the air defence of Britain be efficient when the greater part of it depends on the Territorial Army which at present has a strength of 13,000 out of an establishment of 192,000 for A.A. Command, and when, at full strength, it comprises about go per cent. conscript reservists who will receive only one year's training? We ought to be told more of this. I suggest to my right hon. Friends on this Bench and to others in the councils of the party that the time is very rapidly approaching when we shall have to have a Debate in this House, either public or secret, about the home defence of these islands—about the whole question of A.A. Defence and Civil Defence. We certainly got very little information on the subject in the Debate the other day.

I only wish to make one or two other observations. For the benefit of those who live in foreign countries and who might be alarmed at certain things which were said the other day, I would say that, in my opinion, judged from some experience in the past and from what I have heard in the present, there is little danger of damage being done to the Army by fifth columnist Communist agitation. In the event of a major war, the Communists would no doubt be where the Fascists were in the last war—behind bars. In the matter of external forces, I wish to support the words of the right hon. Gentleman about the calm, coolness, restraint, good discipline and good humour of the young, and, in many cases, half-trained British soldiers in Palestine. They cannot be too highly praised. Faced by both Jewish and Arab terrorists, equally cowardly and murderous, whose favourite task is shooting Britons in the back and blowing up women and children, they retain the same eternal qualities of the British Service man of both great wars and before, and we are proud of them in this House. The names of those young soldiers who have fallen should be honoured like those of war casualties, and the instigators of their murders—some of the cowardly followers of the Mufti or of the unutterable ruffian Ben Hecht—should be execrated in this House and outside it.

Finally, I want to say that a highly successful Commander-in-Chief in the field—I am not referring to any particular commander-in-chief—if and when he be comes, as he frequently does, C.I.G.S., is likely, human nature being what it is, to promote the men who worked directly under him. That has very often happened in the past, and may be happening in the present. But it is the men of intellectual ability who are natural leaders and who were lower in rank in the last war, whom the former Commander-in-Chief never knew personally, who would be of the proper age to command in the next war. In the present condition of international affairs and the undoubted risks that exist, I very much hope that the men who will command our armies in the field in the next war are being brought as rapidly as possible to the top in order to avoid what happened after the last war when men of brilliance but near the age limit retained commands when it would have been desirable to bring up young men from below in order to give them commands.

There is always the danger when we have got a very strong man—the House will guess to whom I am referring—whether he be the First Lord of the Admiralty, head of the Air Ministry or the head of the Army, that the impression, often quite unjust, is given that the particular Force is too much of a one-man show, and that only those whose strategic and other views agree with, those of that particular man are promoted. I am sure that is not likely to happen while the right hon. Gentleman is Secretary of State for War. He is a man who has always had views of his own. Although he may not be aware of it, the right hon. Gentleman has two great advantages at the present time. He is the only Secretary of State for War who in my 43 years' experience in this House, or in the 45 years' experience of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition—in fact, he is the first Secretary of State for War since Cromwell, if Cromwell was a Secretary of State for War—who has not had any effective pacifist or anti-militarist opposition in this House. Indeed, all the former pacifists and anti-militarists are now most honoured Members of the Government and strong supporters of the Armed Forces. That is really a great asset because, in the old days, the Army, like the other Forces, suffered from the constant attacks made on it by the pacifists.

I am sure the right hon. Gentleman would agree with me that Colonel Blimp, who did harm to recruiting to the Army, as his inventor the brilliant cartoonist Low probably hoped he would, is quite dead. Nobody except his inventor ever draws a picture of him, and his successor in popular detestation, Mr. Spiv, may help recruiting by suggesting to a nation which still likes decency and honesty that a young man who upholds his country's honour in the Army, is infinitely preferable to the youth who lives by his wits, dressed in a flash suit, outside it. I recommend the right hon. Gentleman to make use of the fact that Mr. Spiv is an unpopular figure, and that the young man in uniform is not thought to be either an actual or a potential Colonel Blimp.

It only remains for me to say that the right hon. Gentleman has the good will of the House in his task of trying to rebuild the Army. If I may say so, with that frankness which always distinguishes me, even more surprisingly he appears to have the good will of the Army as well, to judge from observations that have been made about it. I and others on this side are very anxious, despite our political differences with him, to see the right hon. Gentleman succeed. I do not say this because of my former personal political association with the right hon. Gentleman; in fact, I would like both him and myself, though my position is a very humble one, for the time being at any rate—what may happen in two or three years' time I do not know —to forget it. I will conclude by slightly altering the words of the well-known hymn: I was not ever thus, But prayed that thou shouldst lead me on; Remember not past years.

4.40 p.m.

Dr. Haden Guest (Islington, North)

Arising out of the reference by the noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton), to Colonel Blimp, I would like to assure the House that Colonel Blimp still lives. I actually traced him recently in India; he was in retirement.

I was interested in the reference made by the noble Lord to the need for a discussion of the very important question of the defence of these islands, which, of course, is very largely a matter of passive and civil defence, but also involves the Army. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War made also a reference to that subject, and I hope he will be able to give us more information than we have had so far. And in the course of the four Debates on defence, of which this is the last, we have had a number of significant statements on this subject, and in the defence Debate reference was made to a statement by the Minister of Defence on the additional responsibilities which were to be placed on the Army. The Minister of Defence referred to the Prime Minister's announcement on 19th November last with regard to civil defence, and said that the effect of this policy was to add to the responsibilities of the Army that of providing mobile columns to reinforce the civil defence ser- vices. It would not be proper to discuss that matter in detail on this Vote, but at the outset of my remarks I should like to express the hope that we may have a Debate on this all important subject, because civil defence in these days should rank equal in status and importance with the other defence Services. In some ways it is even more important.

How closely the Army activities are related to civil defence we saw during the last war, and it is certain that the relationship of civil and military defence in the future will be closer still, because the weapons of the future will be not only those which were used in the last war, but new weapons as well. During these defence Debates the atom bomb has been referred to by a number of speakers, and its effects were more particularly stressed in yesterday's Debate on naval Estimates by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Dulwich (Major Vernon) and the hon. and gallant Member for Chelsea (Commander Noble) who spoke of his own experience of the atom bomb at Bikini in the Pacific. He referred, of course, to the naval effects of the atom bomb, but the method of destruction is the same on land.

There are other new weapons to which I should like to refer. I am speaking only from information which is available to those who choose to read it in the publications which are public property. In the United Nations, discussions on these weapons are now divided into discussions on conventional weapons and absolute weapons. The conventional weapons consist of the whole array of instruments of destruction used in the last war, such as guided missiles, rockets, "doodle bugs" and mechanical war machines of all kinds. Absolute weapons begin with the atom bomb, but they also include bacteriological warfare and new forms of chemical warfare which are stated to be more devastating in their effect than the atom bomb. With these absolute weapons large communities will be attacked and destroyed, as was the case of the atom bomb attack on Japan in 1945. These weapons are stated to make possible inter-continental wars over very long distances indeed, and are capable of destroying whole areas with all life and property existing in them.

I will not enlarge on these matters at present, but I hope we may have an opportunity of discussing them in a civil defence Debate or on some special occasion which may be provided. There is no reason for having this Debate in secret at present. It would be better if people knew what is now the common knowledge of those who are interested in these matters, and it is as well that the general public should know what are the dangers of another war. The best defence against a war is to, make people realise how very desirable it is to avoid a war altogether. That can best be done by showing how very deadly any war can be. I would only add that the atom bomb is very expensive to produce, in money, labour and materials, but bacteriological warfare is cheap. There is no defence against the use of bacteriological warfare on the ground of it being very costly or difficult to produce. The resources of a good county public health laboratory are sufficient to be used as the base for manufacturing the deadliest germ weapons.

I will not pursue the civil defence side of this matter, but I would make it clear that in any future war there must be a very much greater degree of integration between the military and civil sides of the nation's life. In some instances this integration may have to he complete. In any case, there will have to be the greatest economy in the use of scientific and technical personnel. In the Debate yesterday the hon. and gallant Member for Chelsea asked from where these highly technically trained reserves were to be obtained—a very pertinent question, and one extremely difficult to answer. The question is already being asked in one form or another all over the world where our Forces are employed today? Trained technical personnel are at a premium, and it will be very difficult to supply them in the future when National Service men begin to be recruited in January next year for a period of 12 months only. I am not opposed to this period of service. It will have the invaluable effect of creating a large trained reserve of men for the Territorial Forces. But 12 months is not long enough for the training of scientifically trained technical men and women who, if they are to be obtained at all, will have to be employed in the Regular Forces.

The association between civil and military organisations will consequently have to be very much closer. I have no general solution to this very difficult problem, but I would suggest to the House that the problem as it applies to the medical officers in the Services is an example of the difficulties to be faced, and that the method of solution of these difficulties in the case of medical officers may give guidance in other scientific and technical spheres. At present, with regard to medical officers in the Services, there is great difficulty in supplying the full quota of specialists to the Army, and a lesser difficulty in the other Services. The difficulty will be greater in 1949 because the period of service from the beginning of that year will then be one year only. In 1949 it will be possible to call up for one year's service general duty officers who, of course, do not require more technical training than they have already received, in order to discharge their duties. They may do their service in this country or, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War has said, in Germany or possibly in other parts of Europe, but it will be very difficult and, for practical purposes, impossible to make the services of these officers available in more distant theatres.

The difficulty in relation to specialists will be of another kind, because as a rule the medical officer of an age which renders him subject to calling up will not have had time in which to take the higher specialist qualifications. The same applies to many technical and scientific persons. The National Service Act allows the service of specialists to be deferred to a later age than that of the ordinary call-up, but it does not increase the time of service. This means, in effect, that the specialist who is called up will be a junior specialist, called up for such a short period that he will only be able to help in a field limited by the time and range of his responsibility. We cannot expect a man under 3o, who is called up, to be capable of acting as consultant medical officer or surgical medical officer to a division or a Command. But it is upon highly placed consultant officers that the efficiency of the medical services will depend. That applies also to other technical branches of the Services.

This is a grave difficulty which is increased by the demands made on medical manpower in other fields. I would remind the House that the National Health Service Act comes into operation on 5th July, and that this will demand an immediate increase in the number of specialists in many areas of the country. Shortly afterwards, it will also demand an increase in a number of general practitioners. Demands are also being made, quite rightly, on medical manpower for the Colonial Empire, for the Colonial Service. During and since the war it has been necessary to make a special ad hoc arrangement in two cases, one in West Africa and one in another Colony by which medical men who were recruited for what normally would have been military duty have been allocated to service in the Colonies, and that service has been accepted in discharge of their military obligations.

The expansion of civil defence, referred to by the Prime Minister in November, and several times in our recent Debates, and again today, will be another large drain on our medical manpower. Referring to this problem, the Minister of Defence mentioned the unification of the services. He said the Government had not closed the door to all forms of unification of common services within the Forces, but that for the time being he rejected the idea of unification in favour of administrative co-ordination. I trust that this co-ordination will be carried out immediately. There is no sense at all in the medical services of the Navy, Army and Air Force having three different kinds of forms on which to report the same kind of disability; it means confusion and extra sorting work when the patients get into hospital. The Services should have the same forms and, in their administrative ways, adopt the same dules.

I plead for a reconsideration of this whole question. I hope that the Minister of Defence and the Secretary of State for War have not closed their minds on this question as it affects the medical services. The demands of the services for specialists and administrative officers can, for the most part, be met only by creating a large number of regular commissions or short term commissions of five years. It is impossible to get the medical services required by the three Services discharged by men who have to serve only for one year. These demands are in competition with those for the Colonial Service and the National Health Service. And now there is civil defence.

Economy is needed and I understand that unification of the medical services of the three Services, which would help materially, would involve an economy of medical personnel of between 5 and 10 per cent.—which is a very large and important economy. I see no reason why that should not be brought about.

I have seen how the medical services of the three Services co-operated in Malta, and how they are working together in Hong Kong and other areas. During the war, most of the hospitalisation of casualties was carried out by the Army, whether those casualties were from the Navy, the Army, the Air Force, or were civilians. I suggest that there should be reconsideration of this matter of unification of the services on a big scale; it should extend over the field of civilian and industrial medicine, the defence Services and colonial needs. I trust that this will be done, and that the whole of the medical services will be co-ordinated into one service, to include the National Health Service, general and special services, and the Army, Navy and Air Force and Colonial Services. Men and women should enter these Services according to their capacities and their preferences.

I would recall to the House that during the war the whole of our big medical base for the treatment of casualties was in this country largely in the form of the Emergency Medical Service—a civilian organisation which acted admirably, and did very good work which, I think, has even yet not been fully recognised. If a unified medical service was brought into existence it would be possible to make arrangements in such a service for superannuation and pensions schemes to be completely interchangeable between one branch and another. It would give every medical man or woman in the country an opportunity, wider than anything he has had hitherto, of choosing a career. There need be no question of tying anybody down to a lifelong choice of one or other branch of medical work. Some might prefer to spend their early years in the colonies, or in one of the Services. If the medical services were unified these men and women would not be handicapped on returning to work at home; they would be on exactly the same terms as if they had done their service under the National Service scheme. This is a practical proposal, which has been discussed by many well-informed medical and military authorities. I know there are certain Service objections, partly of a sentimental character, but I believe that it would go a long way to solve our immediate problems, and would enable a considerable economy to be made in medical personnel.

What I have said applies to the medical services, but it also applies, I believe, in large measure, to scientific and technical services of other kinds. I would emphasise that inevitably there will be in the immediate future scientific and technical services of a character which, at present, are quite unfamiliar to the majority of the men who served in the last war. There are bound to be these services to deal with new weapons. In the last war we had the dispersal of of industries and the evacuation of the civilian population from certain areas. All this played a very valuable rôle in conserving life, and maintaining production and morale. The medical organisation which I have suggested will materially aid the carrying out of such a policy in future, which will be more intricate and difficult than it was last time. I do not know how far the Minister will be able to give a favourable reply to the plan I have put before the House. The plan is very much in outline, but the details can be supplied, if required, down to the last practitioner and specialist. I know, however, that the Minister has this problem very much in mind, and will give it due consideration. In these days, when a great and new responsibility may be placed upon our Armed Forces at very short notice, I would urge that our safety lies in a bold decision which will economise in personnel and make for efficiency.

5.0 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore (Ayr Burghs)

I congratulate the Secretary of State for War upon the speech with which he introduced these Estimates. He was logical, lucid, and convincing as far as he went. Except for the one criticism that he did not give all the information that we should have had, he put up a first class performance. I would like to take this opportunity of publicly apologising for a remark I made about him on the day that the announcement of his appointment was made in the Press. I had the happy occasion to address a public meeting in my constituency, and I referred to the appointment that had just been made. And I interjected, God help the Army. "I want to withdraw that remark because I believe that the right hon. Gentleman has now found at the War Office his spiritual home. No doubt, looking back upon an ineffective and unforthcoming career at the Ministry of Fuel and Power, he must now be aware of a calm and peaceful atmosphere which is much more in tune with his natural spirit.

I must plead guilty to being one of those Colonel Blimps that I have heard about in Debate. We all recognise the characteristics. I was for 18 years in the Army and, therefore, have forgotten all about it and probably did not know anything about it when I was there.

Mr. Cook (Dundee)

Hear, hear.

Sir T. Moore

"Hear, hear" says the hon. Gentleman, not knowing anything about anything, much less the Army, and my association with it. I am the only one who knows that. I am in a position to give the House the benefit of some 23 years' reflection that I have given to the requirements of the Army, also the results of listening to those who have more lately served and of hearing their very useful contributions in this House. It seems, however, a sad, and almost tragic, commentary upon the courage, endurance and self-sacrifice that was shown so recently to win the war for democracy and freedom that within three years we should be considering just the same subject—the question of making our Armed Forces sufficiently powerful and enduring to win another war for just the same purpose, freedom and democracy. We might now add survival.

I do not think that I need apologise for briefly referring to foreign policy. It is upon our scheme of foreign policy that our forces are based. If our foreign policy is strong then the force behind that policy must be equally strong. If the Secretary of State for War lays down what our requirements in the Armed Forces, and in the Army particularly are to be, that strength is consequent upon the policy adopted by those who are directing our foreign affairs. It is the job of our foreign policy to produce peace, and, therefore, to enable us to save the very great expense of such large Armed Forces as we are considering today. As peace has not been produced one can only conclude that somewhere, someone has blundered. I absolve the Foreign Secretary from blundering, because he is simply carrying out the policy of the Government. Therefore, the responsibility for our present position must be placed fairly and squarely upon the Government.

I would like to follow up what I have said with one suggestion in regard to foreign policy. A few weeks ago--I am still co-ordinating our foreign policy with the strength of our Armed Forces, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and I am going to bring in now the atomic bomb, which I think is also part of the Armed Forces—the Foreign Secretary made a speech in which he finally discarded, thank goodness, that worn-out and stupid system, collective security, and came back to the traditional foreign policy of Britain, the balance of power; that is, that no nation in Europe should dominate the rest.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)

I hope the hon. and gallant Gentleman does not proceed to develop that argument.

Sir T. Moore

I was going into the use of our Armed Forces and of our equipment in connection with the atomic bomb. I feel that the logical consequence of the present position, as was suggested by my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), would be for the Foreign Secretary and my right hon. Friend to go to Moscow and simply to say to Mr. Stalin: "Do you want peace or war? If you want peace, We shall cooperate with you to the extent of every man and woman in Britain. If you want war, we will deliver you atom bombs by air, next Tuesday." As a logical conclusion we have to face the question of how to make our Armed Forces sufficiently strong, up to date, mobile and well supplied to cope with any incident that may arise through the intransigence of our late or former Allies.

It was suggested by the right hon. Gentleman today, although the policy has already been established for 5o years, that the particular type of Army that suits our situation and our foreign policy is a small, compact, well-armed, well-supplied and well-equipped force. We may sweep the seas clear of our enemies, we may blow his cities, war potential and women and children into nothingness, but unless we have that well-equipped, well-trained and competent Army to occupy his territory, the whole victory is meaningless. The right hon. Gentleman did not give an answer to a certain question. I am sure that the House would like to have it, so possibly the Financial Secretary will give it when he replies. What is to be the duty of our Regular Army, apart from instructing conscripts, in which task a large number of them will be occupied? What is the Regular Army to consist of, how is it to be divided up numerically and what will be the form of commands at home and abroad? How will it be armed? How will it be deployed in peace so as to make it more readily available for war, should war break out? Those are questions with which I shall not deal, because I propose now to deal briefly with only two points. One is the recruitment, strength and morale of the Regular Army, and the other is the training and administration of the conscript Army.

It is, as I have said, our policy, and the right hon. Gentleman has laid it down again today, that our Army must be fairly small and compact, and sufficiently strong to carry out its job, giving support to our other two Services, the Navy and the Royal Air Force. It should also be able to co-operate and to co-ordinate with those Services in their strategic plans, but as far as I was able to follow the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, none of those requirements for our Army is being observed. And yet the other House has actually been talking as though war was just round the corner, like recovery. I complain that we are being fobbed off with vague explanations about a transitional period of development.

We are encouraged by the same platitudes about our efficiency and strength "one day." It is always "one day" —"in the autumn"—"next year" "195o." That is just not good enough; there should be no transitional period. We should not discard any strength until alternative strength replaces it. We have seen the results already in Czechoslovakia, Finland, the Balkans and Honduras. Time is no longer our ally, as used to be said before the last war; it is our enemy. What I am concerned with and, I think my hon. Friends on this side of the House are equally concerned with, is what are the Government doing to meet that enemy?

I can speak only for the Army aid from such experience as I have of it. I cannot discuss other Services; I have no experience of them and I would also, of course, be out of Order. There are certain qualifications or requirements which I think must be observed in our Regular Army if it is to be all that the right hon. Gentleman declared in his concluding remarks, which is, in my words, "a pride to itself and a pride to the country." What are the strengths of the units? The right hon. Gentleman did not say. Only the other day a Regular battalion came back to this country after 17 years' service abroad with a strength of 150. Is that the standard of other units of the Regular Army? It was not stated by the right hon. Gentleman, and I think we should know.

We saw from the Press during last week that the Secretary of State had been going round the country, as he said himself today, inspecting and examining the conditions in which both the regular Army and the conscripts are living, and he openly deplores them. That is a sad comment on the physical well-being of the Army, on which so much depends, and it is very poor encouragement to the conscript coming in from possibly a comfortable, or even an uncomfortable home —but any home to most conscripts is better than the barrack hut. Again, we all know the old platitude that a contented Army makes an efficient Army, but it seems that the Government are still only in the talking stage about making our Army content. When the present C.I.G.S. was appointed, and later when the present War Secretary was appointed, we were told a lot about the amenities and better conditions and better treatment which were going to be given to our Regular Army to make it an inviting career upon which the young man could embark. So far as I can find, little of that has actually been carried into effect.

What should be done? I have divided it into three parts. First, I think the pay must be put on general equality with that of the civilian army—that is the men in civil life, the brothers and friends. Secondly, marriage must be made as accessible as it is in civilian life. That is what the right hon. Gentleman referred to. It means suitable married quarters and it means that family allowances are necessary. That would be one of the strongest motives which would induce rapid and easy recruiting into the Regular Army. Thirdly, there must be during the period of service a selective training given to each individual, whether officer, N.C.O. or man, for the job which he proposes to adopt in civil life on his discharge. Then, that job must be guaranteed. I believe if we covered these three points in Regular Army training and in the provision for the other end of the Regular soldier's life, most of the recruiting troubles would be solved. In every part of the House we all wish to see equal pay and equal conditions.

Married quarters involve building and adjustment, but I suggest priority No. 1 should be placed on our barracks and married quarters. Further, it would be quite simple for the soldier, during his period of service, to be trained either within his unit or in a neighbouring civilian establishment as a fitter, turner, dentist, doctor or whatever it may be. This should apply to all ranks. If we take a Regular long-term engagement of 21 or 25 years, assuming the soldier enlists at 19, he is discharged at the age of about 40 or 45, the very peak of his civilian capacity, and yet at present the majority of these men are thrown on the labour market without a trade and without guarantee of a job. That must be stopped. I am perfectly sure from the speech made by the Secretary of State today that he has that very strongly in mind. If those suggestions are followed, I believe we shall get an eager, keen and contented Army and, of course, it is entirely a matter for the experienced and wise Army leaders to decide what form of equipment and armament this contented Army should have.

In the moment or two further for which I intend to speak, I want to deal with the question of the conscript and, subsequently, reserve Army. As the right hon. Gentleman almost admitted today, the Government have made the efficiency of the conscript Army almost impossible by reducing the period of training from 18 months to 12 months. That means an inevitable telescoping of training, making it incapable of being absorbed by the conscript. It also prevents the conscript from getting any kind of foreign training or experience, except on this side of Malta. There is another drawback to this problem of making an efficient conscript Army, and that is the system of calling up by age groups. This creates enormous difficulties for the officer-instructor, because he has to divide the programme of training to prevent one group impinging on another, as it must constantly do, and dislocating the training of another and preceding group. In France they have a class system and call up by yearly classes —1948, 1949, 1950 and so on. By that means there is a continued training without interference which our present conscript system naturally involves. I know it might mean tremendous accommodation difficulties. That is obvious, but once it is overcome—and it should be overcome—I believe it would do a great deal to make conscript training more effective.

I make one final suggestion in regard to the present training of one year—and t hope the right hon. Gentleman will consider this—and that is that the year's conscripts should be called up in October of each year. That would enable them to do basic training under cover in the winter for the first three months. I am happy to hear from the right hon. Gentleman that selected conscripts will be given the opportunity of going to an officers' training unit, because we all remember, in the first world war, the dreadful wastage there was in the Officers' Corps of young men sent out, for instance from the Artists Rifles, and mown down—prospective officers, who would have made such magnificent material far leadership. The second three months of the conscript's year could be spent in platoon or company training in the spring; the third three months on battalion training and exercises with larger formations; and in the last three months, to finish their year, they could go to Germany, Malta or Gibraltar, or wherever they might be suitably accommodated.

That would provide—I do not say a trained reserve—but, at any rate, a force of useful young soldiers who would have the rudiments of military knowledge, and would thus become more receptive to the later, more concentrated and specialised training they would have to receive if hostilities, unhappily, broke out. I believe that if these suggestions were carried into effect, they would vastly improve the Army as a whole. We are proud of our Army, and we should be sure that it comprises a body of young men, not only happy, but well able to save the country from possible annihilation.

5.21 p.m.

Mr. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)

I shall not detain the House for long. I do not want to take part in the general Debate, for I think it might be a little improper for me, having so lately been in the position now occupied by my right hon. Friend the present Secretary of State for War, to say much about the forthcoming year, the preparations for which, to a large extent, were based on preparations made when I was in office. I was particularly struck, however, by what the noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) said, and it is my purpose to try to extract from my right hon. Friend or from my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State some explanation of what appeared to me and, perhaps, to the House at first sight to be a great discrepancy between the Army and the Royal Air Force in regard to the provision of married quarters for officers and other ranks.

The noble Lord, if I heard him correctly, said that his information was that the Army are making provision for the completion of only about 550 married quarters during the coming financial year, whereas the Royal Air Force are making provision for the completion of 1,40o permanent married quarters. That is something which, I think, must be put in its right perspective. At first sight it would seem that the Royal Air Force, who, in the main, have much more up-to-date married quarters than the Army, are getting more from the Government than the Army are; and I cannot believe that that is the true situation. First of all, in the provision of permanent married quarters, it is the Ministry of Works who do the building. Therefore, it seems to me to be out of all proportion that another Government Department, a civilian Department, should be providing more permanent married quarters for the Royal Air Force than for the Army, who require, if anything, more accommodation that is up-to-date than the Royal Air Force.

I rather imagine that the noble Lord got his information from the Air Estimates and the Army Estimates. On comparing the Estimates of the two Services, I find that the Royal Air Force, according to the explanatory notes, are making provi- sion for the completion of about 1,400 permanent houses for airmen, and for the commencement of work on a further 1,800 married quarters for both officers and airmen. The explanatory notes in the Army Estimates state that my right hon. Friend is making provision for the completion of about 55o quarters for other ranks which were under construction at the end of one year, 1947–48, and for the commencement of further quarters, mainly for other ranks. What I ask my right hon. Friend to do is to ascertain what the true position is.

Earl Winterton

The right hon. Gentleman is quite correct. The figures that I quoted were taken from these official sources, and so there is no discrepancy between the figures I gave and the official sources.

Mr. Bellenger

Quite so, but there is a discrepancy which must be obvious to all hon. Members, for according to these figures it would seem that the Royal Air Force are making a greater provision for their airmen than the Army are making for their soldiers. I think that is entirely wrong, and I cannot believe that that is the true situation. I ask the Secretary of State or the Under-Secretary of State to tell us what the true picture is.

In connection with that, let me address a word to the noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton). He has referred to my being in the Cabinet as a Secretary of State. He was mistaken. Since the Minister of Defence was appointed, the political heads of the Service Ministries have not been in the Cabinet. Whether that is right or wrong policy, I shall not say. The Minister of Defence is there, presumably, to represent equally all the three Services, each and all of them. On the whole, I think, he does. I would make this suggestion to him, that he should look into the question of how Vote 8 of the Army Estimates and Vote 8 of the Air Estimates, which are the appropriate Votes in connection with these quarters, are presented, and see that they are presented in precisely similar form. It is difficult to obtain from these documents a true comparison between what the Air Force and the Army are doing in this connection.

For example, in the Air Estimates, Vote 8, there are two columns of figures, one being the total Estimates for new services to be started in 1948–49, and the other the amount of money to be voted in 1948–49. In the Army Estimates are two comparable columns, but, in addition, there is an extra column giving what was voted in 1947–48. From my knowledge of the War Office, I can well imagine that what has happened is that the Army started on more married quarters and completed more married quarters in the year 1947–48 than did the Royal Air Force. If my interpretation is wrong, I should be obliged if somebody would put me right.

I ask the Under-Secretary of State to tell us what is the proportion of these new married quarters for officers and for other ranks. In the explanatory notes to the Air Estimates, it is stated that of the married quarters the Royal Air Force are to build, 15 per cent. will be for officers. It is all too often forgotten that officers as well as other ranks must have somewhere to live. I quite agree that other ranks should be suitably housed, and I am sure that my right hon. Friend intends, as my predecessor and I intended, to see that they get proper housing. There is, however, a much greater shortage of housing for officers than there is of housing for other ranks, at any rate proportionately in comparison with the numbers.

As the noble Lord said, before the war it was possible for officers to rent civilian houses, and many officers did so, and drew their housing allowances. Today, that is no longer possible. Officers and their wives are not asking for better accommodation than the men are getting. For instance, when I was at the War Office, in Western Command we inaugurated the policy of converting some huts into married quarters with a life of about 10 years—rather similar to the temporary housing accommodation for civilians. We found that the officers and their families would gladly have had the accommodation provided for other ranks, even though that accommodation was only of a temporary nature. I ask my hon. Friend to tell us, when he replies to the Debate, what he is doing for the officers as well as for the other ranks. In the explanatory notes is a general statement that the further quarters to be commenced are mainly for other ranks. Although I am quite sure that something is being done for the officers, I 'think we ought to be told—as the Royal Air Force have told us about their officers—what exactly is being done for the Army officers.

My only purpose in rising this afternoon was to make those few points. There are many other things I should like to have said, especially after some of the provocative remarks of the right hon. Member for Horsham, particularly in regard to the Debate on the Defence Estimates. I content myself by leaving it to my hon. Friends to continue the Debate, having, I hope, achieved my purpose of inducing the Under-Secretary to explain what at first glance seems to be an unfortunate discrepancy.

5.31 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport (Knutsford)

As has already been stated on both sides of the House, one of the most serious problems today, both for the Territorial Army and for the Army Cadet Force, is lack of accommodation. The existing buildings, including buildings under construction, are hopelessly inadequate, not only for personnel, but for present-day equipment, which will not fit into them. Therefore, Territorial Army associations have to hire or purchase buildings for immediate use. Above all, permanent houses and buildings should be under construction now, not only to improve existing accommodation, but primarily to be ready for 195o, when the first National Service men enter the Territorial Army and start to swell the ranks.

What has been done in this respect, and what is being done now? Have detailed reconnaissances and surveys been made on the needs of the Territorial Army? Have priorities been decided according to units? What is the policy, and what is being done now? May we please be told whether accommodation will be ready for the National Service men when they enter the Territorial Army in 1950; and, if not, where are they to be put? With regard to the hire or purchase of buildings by Territorial Army associations, their hands are completely tied as no immediate offer can be made to hire or purchase without reference to higher authority. What is the result? Frequently, a Territorial Army association finds just the right type of house or grounds which would suit, say, a regiment of light anti-aircraft, or would provide an ideal site on which huts could be erected for headquarters. What happens? The ponderous procedure for hire or purchase which has to be under- taken to obtain a decision is so slow that, by the time approval has been given, other purchasers have stepped in and the bargains have gone elsewhere.

The suggestion I have to make, therefore, is this. Instead of doing nothing, which is always wrong, let something be accomplished. Why not give Territorial Army associations the right to hire or purchase on their own authority up to certain limits? In other words, let the associations get on with it, and cut out this ponderous procedure of obtaining final approval, which results only in a complete waste of time, because decisions are made too late to be of any use to anybody. This lack of accommodation obviously has a direct bearing on recruiting. How can we expect to get a sufficient number of recruits if we have nowhere to put them? How can we expect to recruit a sufficient number of experts—who, after all, will one day be the instructors for these men—if training and recreational facilities are hopelessly inadequate?

Indeed, how can we expect to get any recruits at all under the present mean scale of pay and allowances? For instance, take the scale of pay and allowances for weekend camps of less than 48 hours' duration. At present, the private soldier going on a 24-hour weekend camp receives 4s. 6d. allowances; but the trouble is that out of that 4s. 6d. he has to hand back 3s. 2d. for his rations, so that he nets is. 4d. If we add to that the scale of pay at the lowest rate, which is 4s., the private soldier receives 5s. 4d. for giving up his weekend, for giving up cricket and football matches, attending cinemas, and so on, and, above all, for giving up his home life. It is the weekend at home—if the man is lucky enough to have one—to which a man looks forward all the week while he is working, and to ask him to give up all this for 5s. 4d. is, to my mind, absolutely ridiculous. How about a nice little piece of overtime for the man who is prepared, either to teach others how to defend their country, or to learn how to defend his country? How about the same incentives being given to the Territorial Army and the Army Cadet Force as are given to other sections of our community? In all fairness, I ask hon. Members opposite: how much coal do they think the miners would hew every weekend for 5s. 4d.?

Obviously, the Army Cadet Force should be one of the main sources of supplying recruits to the Territorial Army, and, above all, for supplying the best type of recruits. I hope the House will forgive the platitude when I say that the first essential in getting a good unit is to have good officers. We all know the old saying, "There is no such thing as a bad regiment; there are only bad officers." In the Army Cadet Force it is possibly even more important to have good officers than in any other unit. In many cases we have to accept the fact that the officering of the Army Cadet Force is thoroughly bad. There are not enough officers, and many who are recruited are not of the right type. Far too many are non-commissioned officers dressed up in uniform to look like officers. Many are too old, and far too few possess any administrative ability. What on earth is the use of telling county cadet committees to be more careful about whom they select as officers when the intake is so low that there is no freedom of choice, and when in many cases committees are only too grateful to accept any recruit who begins to look like an officer?

What is the answer to this problem? How are we to attract into the Army Cadet Force more and better educated young men, with real powers of leadership? First, I suggest that the idea of joining up at all must be put into their heads in the right way. I will not develop that point; anybody who has served in the Territorial Army, or has raised any units, will know what I am driving at. The next point is that he must not be called upon to make too great a personal sacrifice. At present the personal sacrifice is too great to attract either ex-officers or people holding responsible positions in civilian life. In addition, nothing whatever is done to build up or maintain the morale of the Army Cadet Force officer. He remains literally an officer on sufferance. What is the position today? The Army Cadet Force officer is not even a member of the parent regiment officers' mess. Permanent staff instructors and drill hall caretakers treat him with scant respect, and certainly do not regard him as a real officer.

How can we expect ex-officers with medals on their chests, or fairly responsible business executives, to give up their time to train and lead cadets, and then to be treated as the lowest form of human life by N.C.O.s and caretakers, when they could equally well join the Territorial Army and be treated as real officers? This explains, to my mind, one of the chief reasons for the bad recruiting of officers into the Army Cadet Force. To sum up, one of the greatest weaknesses of the Army Cadet Force today is the numerical shortage of officers, and above all the lack of the right quality of officers. The remedy, surely, is obvious. It must be to build up the morale of the Army Cadet officers so that they enjoy at all times and in all places the same respect accorded to Regular officers or to Territorial Army officers.

May I remind the House of the big double-cross last year as regards the pay of Army Cadet officers? The officers have not forgotten it, and they never will. It will be within the recollection of the House that last year it was announced on the wireless and in the Press that Army Cadet officers would be paid during their time in camp. As a result of that, many went to camp who otherwise could not have afforded it; others gave up their holidays, and some even gave up their employment in order to attend camp. But six months later the Treasury turned round, after the camp was over, and gave it out that officers would not be paid necessarily according to their rank, but according to the number of cadets who attended camp.

What did this mean? It meant that a commanding officer might receive the pay of a major because his battalion at camp was not fully up to strength, through no fault of his own. This occurred all down the scale. And yet, these men had given up their holidays, and many had lived in camp according to the promised scale of pay, with the result that they lived beyond their means. To use an Army expression, "They were properly carted." These were the men who had commanded and trained cadets during the year for absolutely nothing. To whatever political party we may belong, I am sure we are all agreed that this was a double-cross of the "first water." It is no good the Under-Secretary saying, when he comes to reply to the Debate, in that rather smooth Parliamentary way which is very often employed on these occasions, that an agreement was reached by giving a block grant to associations to make up for it. The answer is that the grant was totally inadequate. I suggest that this sort of treatment is the very reverse of encouragement of recruiting.

With regard to accommodation, I suggest that every effort should be made to ensure that cadets have one room which they can use every night of the week as a club of their own. At the moment, in a great many cases they literally have nowhere to go, because they cannot use the wet canteens, and so on, which are provided for the grown-up private soldiers. If the Government can deal with the provision of these rooms, together with getting the right type of officer at all costs, they will go a long way towards creating an efficient Cadet Corps.

My final point is this. It is only on very rare occasions that members of the Government acknowledge the existence of the Territorial Army, or of the Army Cadet Force, in their public speeches. This has its effect in a lack of co-operation on the part of local authorities, and a general suspicion among them that the Territorial Army associations are trying to raise private armies. It is most difficult to persuade them of the urgent need to provide accommodation as soon as they can for their own men, who at the conclusion of their National Service will be entering local Territorial units. Let Government spokesmen lead and encourage recruiting, both for the Territorial Army and for the Army Cadet Force, by at least acknowledging their existence.

5.45 P.m.

Mr. Bing (Hornchurch)

I hope that the hon. and gallant Member for Knutsford (Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport) will not think me discourteous in not following immediately what he had to say in a very informative speech. We can deal with it on Vote 2. I should like to deal with the subject in a rather broader way, and to follow the technique of the noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) by asking my right hon. Friend two simple questions. My questions are: What does the Army cost, and are we getting the best value for our money? If I devote myself mainly to the first question, it is because I think that the answer is so very important if we are to place the Army in its correct position in our national economy.

When I talk about the cost of the Army I do not mean the cost as it appears on the Vote. I am referring to the real cost of the Army, not the sums of money we are being asked to vote tonight. I suggest that we should try to determine this question in three ways; first, in terms of manpower; secondly, what is the real monetary cost of the Army; and, thirdly, what is its cost in terms of foreign exchange? I am sorry that my right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) is not here, because he once used a very illuminating phrase. He said that every soldier abroad is an invisible import. Sometimes the costs of these invisible imports are not fully realised. I hope that my right hon. Friend will disentangle the figures when we come to them later on.

In the figures given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the term "military expenditure" includes expenditure by all the Services—perhaps it is a tribute to the spending powers of the Army that they get the credit for all the expenditure. In 1946, for every £10 of exports, we spent £4 6s. on military costs. If hon. Members doubt my figures, they can work them out for themselves. In 1946, the gross military expenditure was £382 million, as against a total of £888 million for exports. For this reason I think it unfortunate that we did not have the Economic Survey for 1948, which has just been issued, before the Defence Debate, because then we should have been able to see that military power is merely a function of economic strength and that defence ultimately depends upon industrial might and not on the numbers in uniform.

The first question I wish to ask is whether we can pay for our present Army commitments out of own resources. Whether or not we receive Marshall Aid, shall we, still maintain the same size Army? If we are not going to receive Marshall Aid, is there any alternative plan for a smaller Army? This is a point of some importance, because if we look at paragraph 245 in the Economic Survey, we find it stated: If we are forced, in the absence of external aid, to balance our overseas payments before our reserves are exhausted, we shall be obliged to make such drastic cuts in our dollar and gold purchases as will bring wholesale unemployment, distress and dislocation of our production and will delay far years the prospect of a decent standard of living for our people. If that is so, these Army costs, that is invisible imports, should at least make some contribution to meeting an eventuality of that sort.

May I turn to the question of manpower? One can look at this question in three ways. First, what is the actual number of individuals on the pay roll on 1st April? Secondly, what is the number of effective men who can be put in the field? Thirdly, what is the drain on the United Kingdom manpower? If one looks at the actual number of people on the pay roll, one finds under Vote A the figure of 850,000, and if one adds together the actual number of civilians who are listed in the various Votes of the Estimate, they total about 236,000. These are the people who are on the pay roll of the Services at this moment. Of course, they are not effectives. The only interest in that figure is that it gives some idea of the people employed at the moment who are, economically speaking, doing nothing. It reveals the inflationary factor of the Armed Forces. In relation to the Army, their pay is running at the rate at present of about £260 million. If one adds the other Services, the figure is about £440 million. That is quite a bit of the £1,000 million which is often given us as the inflationary gap.

We can look at this in the second way. How many men can we put into the field? Here again, we have a figure considerably in excess of the actual number of men who come from the United Kingdom. The total is in the neighbourhood of 688,000 under the command of the War Office. That is from the practical fighting point of view, the total which one wants. When we look at this from the third point of view—the economic drain on the manpower of the United Kingdom—it is much more difficult—perhaps, we can have some help on this point at a later stage from the Minister—to disentangle the figures given in the Defence White Paper. While the figures for the Services and for some of the civilians are seperate, the figures for a number of the civilians working on production are run together. If one takes the drain on the three Services of the United Kingdom manpower, that comes to 1,530,000, which is a very considerable figure. It is twice as many as are employed in mining and almost half as many again as are employed in agriculture and fisheries.

We have experienced difficulty in getting from the Minister of Defence what, in fact, are the full figures. The figures given in the White Paper still omit a number of people, for example, those people who work for N.A.A.F.I. They work only for N.A.A.F.I. because the soldier, sailor or airman is not at his usual point of distribution. We have some 33,000 British personnel engaged in that way. It would be very desirable if one could get the full manpower total of the Forces. Perhaps the Secretary of State can help in the case of the Army.

I now turn to the question of costs. What is the real cost of the Army? In the same way as every soldier abroad is an invisible import, so every penny spent on defence—a great deal of it is necessary —is an invisible overhead. One wants to know, what are these invisible overheads? We were in some difficulty in persuading the Minister of Defence to present the figures in a form which we think is most suitable. Last year, when he employed in the Ministry of Defence any military personnel, he deducted the cost of their salaries from the cost of defence. That was not a very practical method of approach. He has altered that method. But we still find, unfortunately, that while that has been put right so far as the Ministry of Defence is concerned, the principle is allowed to continue in regard to other civilian Ministries.

The Secretary of State is perfectly logical. He is asking the House for the sum he desires to have voted, but that sum is not the cost of Army defence. Page 7 of the Army Estimates gives a statement of the total estimated expenditure for military services, including the amounts provided in the Civil and Revenue Departments Estimates. These sums, which are paid for by other Departments, and which are just as much part of the Army, Air Force or Navy expenditure as any other sum, are omitted altogether when the White Paper reckons up the cost of defence. When one looks at the three Services, that item alone involves a discrepancy of £17 million.

That is not all the military expenditure which is not accounted for in the Army Estimates. We have heard much talk about the cost of civilian defence, but Civil Defence is not borne on any of the Defence Votes. It appears in the Estimate of the Home Office. Last year, the Home Office paid some £2 million for arms for Greece. That appears not as military expenditure, but as a deduction from military expenditure. It is shown as an appropriation in aid. The Foreign Office Vote carries the subsidy paid to the Transjordan Army and the Foreign Office and other Votes carry other subsidies of similar nature.

Neither is the cost of call-up, which is essentially a military cost, included in the total military cost. Let me give one other example who shows the accurate way of my right hon. Friend's accounting, and the unfortunate fact that this method has been overlooked in the Defence White Paper. It is quite correct, in the Defence White Paper, to get current military costs by deducting terminal costs. That is perfectly proper, and gives a perfectly proper answer. But so far as one can see, what has been done in the Defence White Paper is to deduct from the current military expenditure terminal appropriations in aid. If one looks at my right hon. Friend's White Paper he says perfectly correctly: The substantial appropriations in aid now being received are largely non-recurrent. But in the Defence White Paper these terminal appropriations in aid are subtracted from the current expenditure.

First, it is desirable to determine what we are expending altogether on the Army and, indeed, on the Armed Forces. Secondly, we have to ask ourselves the question: Are we getting value for our money? I would like to hear a little more from my right hon. Friend about the role of the Army. Perhaps the Under-Secretary in his reply will give us some idea of the general strategic dispositions of the Army and their general strategic plans. Finally, I would press my right hon. Friend to give us the true figure of what the Army costs. It is, after all, the most important figure which can be given in this discussion, and I hope he will give it to us.

6.1 p.m.

Mr. Walter Fletcher (Bury)

I find myself in a rather embarrassing position, an industrial oasis entirely surrounded by brigadiers. It is as a representative of an industrial constituency that I wish to say a few words. I am delighted to follow the hon. Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing), because he approached this subject rather from the same angle as I intend to do, namely, the rôle of the Army and its relationship with industry—though probably I shall not arrive at the same conclusions as he did. He talked about invisible imports and invisible overheads, and I think he arrived at an invisible conclusion.

I should like to tackle the problem from the angle, first of all, that the State now realises in a different way what it did not realise in past times, the vitally important rôle of the Armed Forces, and it does not grudge in any way at all what it is going to cost, not only in terms of money—and there I agree with the hon. Member for Hornchurch—but in terms of the loss of manpower and brainpower by industry to the Armed Forces. It believes, quite rightly, that this is the finest and best insurance that we can take out for the continuity of industry at home. It is vitally keen to know that the weapon for which it is paying and which it regards as an insurance is an efficient one, and is going to carry out the function for which it is designed.

I should like to come down to the situation in this way. It is quite obvious that unless the Army can draw the best type of voluntary recruits both for the Regular Army and for the Territorial Forces then the cement which holds the whole military structure together will not be there and gradually the structure will fall apart. Therefore, the important point seems to me to be that before a young man who is deciding what to do as his career there are two choices. There is the path which leads him to industry. There is a big pull to re-equip industry and get into industry the best young men we possibly can. In my own constituency of Bury, which is partly a cotton and textile town, there is a very big draw to get more good young people into the cotton industry. At the same time in that same town there is the depot of the Lancashire Fusiliers, a very fine regiment with a very long and glorious history behind it, which also has a pull over the young man of that district.

What is in the mind of the young man when he is making his choice? It is really a question of labour deployment: how are we going to persuade that young man to sit down and think of what he is going to do with his life and whether he is going to go into industry, or going to make a career for a considerable portion of his life with the Armed Forces of the Crown? It is the impingement on his mind of what is being done now and what these Estimates show, that will be the acid test of whether we succeed in building up an efficient Army at the least possible cost to industry. On what lines is he thinking at the present moment and discussing with his friends while he is deciding what to do with his life?

These young men can see quite clearly in industry the path that lies before them. They know, not only from their parents but from their friends all around them, what is open to them in the sphere outside the Armed Forces, but there must be in their minds at the present moment a very grave measure of doubt as to what their careers will be in the Armed Forces. That arises primarily from something very serious in this campaign of "pull devil, pull baker." I leave it to the Minister to choose whether his rôle is devil or baker in the matter. There must be a great deal in the strength of the pull that comes from the certain as against the uncertain. If those who are responsible for building up the Armed Forces are not certain in their own minds as to what use is going to be made of them, and if they have not decided and crystallised in their thoughts the real role of the Army, then that uncertainty will percolate from the top to the bottom to the mind of the recruit who is making his decision.

I believe that that is a very grave defect at the present moment. Any phrase the House likes can be used, but there is great and real uncertainty. Some of it is natural and some of it is connected with the advent of weapons such as we have heard discussed, and cannot be avoided. But there is also a wobbliness in the minds of those responsible for our Armed Forces which can be perceived, and which, when it is perceived by the possible recruit, swings him over to the other side and decides him to go in 'for another career. I believe, as soon as possible, that that indecision and woolliness should be got rid of.

What are the other factors which decide a potential recruit in an industrial area? J do not believe it is only a question of pay or of physical comfort. I do not even believe that it is only a question of married quarters or providing all the other amenities which we have heard discussed, though they are important. I believe it is something a great deal deeper, and if I may say so, finer. It is whether he will have in his mind the conviction that if he joins the Armed Forces not only is he going to do a reasonable job for himself and his future—I will come to that later on—but is doing a right job for his country as well. At the moment, as long as this uncertainty prevails, he will not have this extra impulse given to him in the step he ought to take, and in many cases will take when the uncertainty disappears, to make him into the ideal recruit that the right hon. Gentleman really wishes to have.

Let me turn to one other side. If we look at the posters which are put out, which hon. Members on both sides of the House have seen, we have recently seen an advertisement of a nice looking young fellow, with a screw-driver in his mouth, explaining to his mother the step he is taking. It is couched in that oily jargon with little snippets of slang scattered about over it, which, unfortunately, is characteristic of all Government advertisements, whether they be for food or recruits. There is an unreality about it, and phrases which no one in ordinary life would ever think of using. It is rather a poor advertisement and a psychological mistake, because it is not totally accurate. It gives a picture which the hard-headed young man—and in Lancashire we are hard-headed—knows to be not entirely accurate. It is not the life that he is going to lead in the Army; it is not the training that he is going to get; and, above all, it is not the firm and definite position with the trade unions which he is going to have afterwards.

I would recommend the right hon. Gentleman to overhaul the question of putting out advertisements not only in papers, but also in making his recruiting campaign when he overstresses the materialistic side. He must realise that the young minds of this country are such that they do not want to be lured on by half-promises and gaudy pictures of doing nothing all over the Empire. They want something much harder and much more realistic. There is no doubt in my mind that the pay question plays a considerable rôle, and the pay and amenities, including married quarters, particularly in the trades and technical sides of the Services, must be in some way equal to those in civilian life, while the training must be in every way as good. It must become known by methods which are not those of advertisement. It will be by talks about it, when young chaps come home on leave and tell their friends about it. That is how it goes round. If, when they come home on either short or long leave, they can say, "We know that we are getting the technical training we should get to fit us when we come out, whatever length our service may be, for a job in civilian life, for standing on our own feet, and receiving a job as a douceur at the end of our service," then the greatest step forward in getting the right type of recruit will have been made.

In reading through these Estimates, I felt that the insufficient amount of money devoted to supplying material and training equipment was a notable deficiency. The hon. Member for Hornchurch calculated to what extent in reality our export drive might be harmed and our production figure might be impaired, but that is a short and incorrect view. The amount of money, the amount of material and man-hours needed to bring the Armed Forces up to the highest point of efficiency in the shortest time will not make any real difference in the long run to the economic position of this country.

If the hon. Member will look at the gap between imports and exports and face the real figures over the next five years of what can possibly be done, he will see that the little bit extra needed by the right hon. Gentleman to bring into being exactly the sort of Force he was talking about today, will not make any difference to the life of anyone else in this country, but will provide the essential assurance that we continue in our present way of life. On Friday we shall discuss a Bill to provide £12 million for partly re-equipping the cotton industry of Lancashire—a very good thing, too—but when we are considering that, let us realise that a similar sum of money devoted to the re-equipment in every way, whether of the Territorial force, the Regular force, or the conscript force, is just as good insurance for our future.

The two things which the right hon. Gentleman must do are to get rid of the uncertainty which prevails about the final use of the Army, and to realise, above all, that industry is perfectly willing in all its phases—workers, management and those responsible for finance—to make this real sacrifice, but they want to see that what they will get for that sacrifice is worth it. That will only be so if there is a greater amount of money spent more quickly and rather more intelligently, and the breaking down of a good many of the inhibitions carried over from the last war.

6.12 p.m.

Mr. Bramall (Bexley)

I wish to turn the course of the Debate back to the question of incentives raised by a number of hon. Members with regard to the Regular Army, and a particular section of the Army, namely, the technical services. I hope I shall not be cutting across the plans of the Conservative Central Office, as outlined by the noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) when he indicated that some of his hon. Friends would deal with this point, if, before they have a chance of getting up, I deal with the incentives provided for the men we need to man the technical arms in the Regular Army.

I think it must be recognised that the position today is extremely unsatisfactory. The effectiveness of the Army for war will depend not only on its size but, to a large extent, on the size and efficiency of those technical arms such as the Royal Engineers, the Royal Corps of Signals and R.E.M.E., without which no force of any size can be effective. It must be fairly obvious that these arms can only depend to a limited extent upon National Service men. Naturally, the Territorial Army, with its National Service and voluntary complements, must provide its own technical arms when it comes to mobilisation, but those technical arms in the Territorial Army must be trained by Regulars from these arms. Furthermore, the technical components of any striking force we may possess must be provided solely by Regulars in these technical arms and services.

The position today, as I understand it, is that these arms are definitely starved of recruits. I will not specify a particular arm, and I will not quote actual figures, but I have it on very good authority that one of these arms is receiving only one-quarter of the recruits they require in order to bring them up to the Regular complement they need for the post-war Army. That is a situation which, whatever other considerations may enter into our calculations, we can- not possibly accept as a permanent basis. The effect will be felt not only in the Regular Army but very widely in the Territorial Army as the numbers of the latter begin to be expanded by National Service, and unless we correct this initial fault, we are in grave danger of finding ourselves with a mass Territorial Army totally unfitted for war because it is completely unequipped with the technical arms and services.

I understand that at present the individual arms are receiving a good supply of recruits, particularly the Infantry. That is what one would expect, for two reasons: in the first place, the man who becomes a Regular soldier is obviously the man who, above all else, is attracted by soldiering, and it is natural that he joins —without any disrespect to the technical arms—what may be called the more soldierly arms, the arms where he is more likely to take part in fighting in the ordinary sense.

The second point is that we have full employment today, and that means we are less likely to get recruits from the skilled men with a fairly assured future before them, and must rely mainly—though we hope less and less—for recruits to the Regular Army on the less skilled men, on the men with no particular trade or future, who regard the Army as being as good an outlet for their activities as any they may find in civilian life. It seems quite clear to me that, unless we provide some special incentive to attract the skilled man or the man training to receive that skill, we shall not have that type of man as a recruit for the Regular Army. That is borne out by the facts as we see them today.

We must, as I see it, correct this position by special incentives. That means, as was indicated by the noble Lord, that we must restore tradesmen's rates. We must face this question quickly, and I hope that the Under-Secretary of State will say something about this when he replies, and will indicate that some plans exist in the War Office for dealing with this problem. The background is fairly generally known. It is known that before the war and during the war these tradesmen's rates existed and, naturally, during the war the feeling grew up that the only man who did not get any extra pay was the man who did the fighting, which caused resentment. Particularly under the leadership of Lord Montgomery a very proper policy of the re-establishment of the Infantry took place. As far as equity is concerned, no one can doubt that this was perfectly right; no one can doubt that it was perfectly right that the soldier doing the actual fighting should be paid no less well than any other man in the Army.

Unfortunately, however, we have to look at this not only from the point of view of equity. Getting men for the Army is an economic operation, as is recruitment for an industry, and we have to be guided largely by economic considerations in framing our policies and carrying them out. It is obvious that whereas we will get, as we are getting today, for the Infantry or Armoured Corps or Artillery the man who is attracted primarily by the fighting side of soldiering, we must appeal, and appeal on a different basis, to the man who will, we hope, bring us the skill which is required. During a war, when fighting is taking place, quite obviously the front line fighting soldier should be entitled to something which might be called danger money. In wartime this problem does not arise; we have the men we want and, by and large, we can put them wherever we want them. In peacetime, however, we must face the fact that things are different. If we want men in a particular arm of the Service as Regular volunteers, they must be attracted there, so we must offer something better than the ordinary rates of pay which are offered to the ordinary soldier.

Today there is no difference; we have the one, two and three star basis for each rank, and, the rewards appropriate to those gradings within the various ranks can be obtained by any man, whether an infantryman, a R.E.M.E. fitter or a wireless mechanic in the Royal Corps of Signals. I think it is true to say, that whilst those rates of pay, including non-monetary emoluments, compare favourably with those offered in civilian life for the unskilled man, they do not even begin to compare with the type of wage which can be earned by the skilled man. In particular, they do not compare for the young unmarried man. Pay in the Army has been modified very considerably since the war in the way of higher marriage allowances, and, therefore, gives a better position to the married man in the Army; we must remember that the recruits we hope to obtain initially will be largely unmarried men.

From the figures given in the Estimates for this year it appears that a young man who attains, for instance, the rank of a three star corporal, will be receiving monetary emoluments at the rate of £173 a year, which is about £3 10s. a week, to which may be added rather more than another £1 a week for his ration allowance, making, in all, about £4 10s. or £5 a week. These are the figures for a three star corporal, a man who has obviously acquired a fair degree of skill in his particular arm of the service. We cannot pretend that £4 10s. to £5 a week is the type of wage which compares in any way favourably with the kind of rewards that such a man would command in civilian life.

Something of the same problem arises with regard to the officers of the technical branches. Today we no longer have the distinction between Sandhurst or Woolwich. All officers go to Sandhurst, although it is now called the Royal Military Academy. What is the choice with which the cadet is faced on leaving Sandhurst? He is faced on the one hand with the prospect of going to the Infantry, the Royal Armoured Corps, or the R.A., of becoming straightaway a regimental officer, gaining regimental experience—having a not too difficult life, being not too hard-worked, gaining the chance of staff appointments, qualifying for a staff college, and so on. The other choice, if he goes into the R.E. or Royal Corps of Signals, is to do another three years of extremely hard academic work, perhaps going up to Cambridge in the term times, and then having to go back and work hard in a training establishment in his vacation. This will go on for another three years, during which time his Infantry or Armoured Corps colleague has been obtaining valuable experience and acquiring some standing in his corps.

The extra rewards which are offering to the technical officer are not great, and unless he obtains a degree or an A.M.I.Mech.E. or some other special qualification—he will not receive anything extra. There is nothing comparable to the lower rate of Engineer and Signal pay which existed during the war. A man such as I have mentioned is faced with all that extra training and then, possibly, at the end of it, no extra financial reward. We know, as the hon. Member for Bury (Mr. W. Fletcher) has said, that the financial reward is not everything, but it must be taken into consideration. When we are bringing in a person to such disparate alternatives, we must give him some financial incentive to induce him to take the line which a fair proportion of these officers must take if we are to have a balanced force.

I am glad that the noble Lord the Member for Horsham mentioned the question of accommodation and married quarters. I would like to stress the importance of married quarters abroad. During the war, quite naturally, a soldier realised he had to leave his family. That should not be recognised as being the position in peace-time. The soldier is as en titled as any other man to live with his wife and family, whether at home or abroad. Going overseas is part of his normal service, but it should not mean that he will be separated from his family. In many parts of the world there are special difficulties and we have heard terrible stories about the Canal Zone of Egypt, of the long waiting list for accommodation, and of the shocking state of accommodation when it is eventually available. Probably we are there only temporarily and there is little we can do in this matter.

I do hope that when he replies my hon. Friend will be able to assure us that something concrete is being done about the provision of married quarters in those parts of the world where we are likely to remain. This is an important matter in getting a balanced view of the type of incentive which will be necessary if we are to get the officers and other ranks needed for the Army, and to get them, furthermore, into the right corps. We shall need to do it if we are to have a balanced Army.

6.27 p.m.

Mr. Niall Macpherson (Dumfries)

I do not intend to follow in detail the very interesting speech of the hon. Member for Bexley (Mr. Bramall) except to reinforce him by saying that we are all very well aware of the great number of skilled N.C.O.'s of the higher ranks who left the Army largely in consequence of the new system of pay which was introduced. There is no apparent reason why, in Services which require a very high standard of skill, we should stop at three stars. We may be able to go on considerably higher than that during peacetime in the technical Services. I would like to reiterate a suggestion which I made during the National Service Debate. I cannot help feeling that National Service recruits should be regarded as apprentices and that there is really very little reason why they should be paid at exactly the same basic levels as trained soldiers who stay on after their National Service period. It seems to me that, if a substantial rise was offered to those who stayed on in the Regular Army after completing their period of National Service, the Secretary of State for War would get a considerably higher rate of recruitment at the end of National Service.

At present military, political, and economic conversations are taking place with Western European Powers. One of the questions that must be asked is: What will be our contribution to our international obligations and to the defence of our own shores? I would like to ask the Secretary of State some questions, some of which I do not expect him to answer, but they will enable me to place my own subsequent remarks in their proper perspective. Of course, the role of the Regular Army, the Territorial Army, and the Colonial Troops has to be carefully worked out and decided in advance. In particular, the time available for the formation training of Territorial units will allow only, to put it crudely, of their learning certain tricks. It will be necessary to train them specifically for those roles.

This is very important and follows from what the noble Lord said. How many of these 200,000 of the Regular Army will be required to train National Service recruits? Are regular units to be diluted all the time with National Service recruits? The right hon. Gentleman has said that after 10 weeks basic training in the basic training units troops are to be "posted to an active unit." Does that mean to a Regular unit? If so, it means that a large number of Regular units will not be ready at any given moment for immediate service in any theatre. That must be appreciated. I would like to know what proportion of the Regular Army is to be ready for immediate service in any part of the world, and what proportion is to consist, so to speak, of formations of dilutees. The same applies to the Territorial Army.

Reference to the Estimates shows that, aside from the Indian troops, there is an increase of 87,80o to 151,000 Colonial troops, which is an increase of 72 per cent. It is indicated that those are East African, West African, Gibraltar, and Jamaican troops and Gurkhas. That means that the proportion of the colonials, again excluding Indian troops, rose from 10 per cent. to 22 per cent. That is a considerable increase. What is to be the role of the Colonial troops? Are they to be there primarily for the defence of the colonies? Are they to be regarded as wholly Territorial troops, or partly expeditionary troops, and how are they to be divided between the different colonies?

For example, I would like to know whether they are to form independent units as the Gurkhas do in Malaya and Hong Kong, or are to be grouped together in formations. Is it anticipated that they will contribute their full quotas of technical troops? Are they now considered to be capable of forming complete formations of Colonial troops for East and West Africa, as the Indian Army did? I foresee that it will be necessary to have a certain proportion of the Territorial Army reasonably ready for overseas service. The main work of the Territorial Army obviously will be to make fast our own defences and to secure that, even if we have no breathing space from the point of view of aerial attack and possibly air landings on our own shores, we can repel those attacks and so have some breathing space to enable training to be carried on for the next stage.

An attempt is now being made to raise the Territorial Army by voluntary recruitment. I wish to make one or two comments on that. If we are going to do so, obviously we must see that the voluntary spirit is really appreciated. In this connection I am glad to hear of the change of heart of the Socialist majority on the L.C.C. Of course, the consort of the present chairman has always been a very gallant supporter of the Territorial Army; perhaps he has converted his wife's colleagues. At any rate the Government have now started to praise the voluntary spirit. I cannot help feeling that it is a little late in the day, and that they have already made some grave mistakes. The first mistake was that they gave no recognition after this last war to those who were in the pre-war Territorial Army. It is all very well to say that everybody was in it together. That, of course, is true but the Territorial Army was there from the start. [An HON. MEMBER: "Before the start."] That is true, but they were in at the start, and they deserve recognition. I think it is the greatest mistake not to have issued a medal to those who were in the war from the beginning right up to the release of Group 1. Deeds, not words, are wanted, in this matter.

Far and away the best way of getting volunteers in peacetime is to give tangible and visible evidence to those who volunteered in peacetime before. I know from those in the Territorial unit in which I served. There are many active propagandists against Territorial Service among those who did Territorial Service before simply because there has been no kind of recognition of that service. Again, on demobilisation no steps were taken to tell ex-T.A. officers and men what their obligations were and no effort was made to get them to rejoin. It was reasonable to suppose that the voluntary spirit is not entirely quelled even though it met with a certain amount of antipathy during the war. If we are to get voluntary recruitment we must glorify the voluntary spirit. So far there has been no attempt to confer on the Territorial Army any glamour or prestige. On the contrary, they are more or less openly regarded as a stop-gap to cover the period until National Service gets into full swing.

It is up to His Majesty's Government to show exactly what advantages they propose to offer to those who volunteer for service in the Territorial Army; for example, under Section 3 of the National Service Act a man can enter into an engagement to serve in the Territorial Army. Must a man enter into such an engagement under that Section before he is granted an emergency commission? Are the emergency commissioned officers all to be volunteers and will the senior non-commissioned ranks be reserved for those undertaking that voluntary engagement? If that is so, what sort of a National Service are we likely to get? I am very much afraid it will be pretty well rotten with jealousy and incompetence as were some of the reserves of foreign armies at the outbreak of war where there was a somewhat similar system. If war should break out, conscripts would be kept down by the volunteers. We would be bound to have that situation and it would be a most unfortunate situation if all the jobs given to those who had volunteered under Section 3 of the National Service Act were in the higher appointments and those not prepared to put in extra voluntary service, whatever their capacity, had to serve in the junior ranks. That is a most undesirable setup which existed in some other countries and was certainly proved not the most efficient way of running a National Service.

If we are to get an efficient volunteer service we must create prestige units. I am indeed doubtful whether in fact we can successfully mix volunteers who have voluntarily undertaken what works out at 24 full days a year with those who only have to do compulsorily 60 days in six years On the other hand, if we formed a corps d'élite of volunteers it would produce a tremendous recruiting power at once. To a certain extent it has been done in the Special Air Service Regiments, and other units with special prestige can do it, for example, the "Dandy Ninth." That would have an effect to which reference has already been made. It would become the "done thing" to volunteer. As soon as we have complete units instead of mere ghosts and skeletons, it will be the "done thing" to volunteer, and it will start the volunteer spirit throughout the nation. But there must be complete units for people to see before that happens.

I would like to see the administration of the Territorial Army appropriate to a voluntary service. The technique of administration of a voluntary corps is quite different from that of a Regular corps—

Colonel Gomme-Duncan (Perth and Kinross, Perth)

Or a mixed one.

Mr. Macpherson

—or, as my hon. and gallant Friend says, a mixed one. The first thing to do is to restore the Director of the Territorial Army to the rank of Director-General and to put him back on the Army Council; and, what is more, to see that he is advised, if he is not already advised, by a board of professional and businessmen and workers who have done Territorial service, so that the orders which go out from the War Office to Territorial units are, as it were, filtered through and adapted to the needs of the civilian population which is voluntarily doing Territorial service.

I would like to see the Territorial badges reissued. I would also like to see the Territorial Regulations reissued very soon in a comprehensible form, without all those rules of the Regular Army, which are really inapplicable to a voluntary Army, such as that, for example, regarding the maximum ages at which a staff appointment can be held. Next, publicity must be handled with imagination. I consider that it would be better run by a Territorial board than by the Director of Public Relations at the War Office. I understand that a national campaign has been arranged for this autumn. Is there to be a proper publicity "run-up" to that campaign, and is the fullest co-operation to be arranged with local authorities? I have heard of an instance not far from London when M.P.s and trade union representatives spoke at a big meeting, and representatives of the employers' federation also spoke and gave an undertaking that time off with pay would be given; a telegram from the Foreign Secretary was read, and representatives of the Director of Public Relations were there. Not a single mention of that meeting was made in the national Press. Surely, if publicity were being properly handled that would have been done.

The obtaining of suitable accommodation is also essential. I hope that the Financial Secretary will bear in mind that, while the necessity for accommodation is great, it is absolutely essential to work in harmony with local authorities in order to obtain the accommodation. If the hon. Gentleman does that, he will get the right sort of accommodation for training, recreation and storage, and he will probably also get accommodation far beyond his hopes for his permanent staff instructors. If he goes out on his own to requisition anything that seems available at the moment he will end by not getting suitable accommodation in the long run, and he will also antagonise the local authorities and lose that local support on which the future of the Territorial Army depends to a large extent.

My final point concerns the formation of a Territorial staff corps. Is it not advisable to have a trained and up-to-date body of staff officers who could take their place at once in divisional and higher formations, when those staffs have to be expanded on threat of war instead of taking Regular officers, as was done so often at the start of the last war, away from their units at the moment when they are most required? I am sure that in big cities in particular there are many officers with staff experience who would gladly devote their evenings to sharpening their wits with war games or staff problems, although they are perhaps past the stage when they would wish to join ordinary units.

It is necessary to get all types to participate in the voluntary effort. It is necessary at all costs to maintain and encourage the voluntary spirit. I believe it will outlast the Militia and will triumph over the principle of compulsory service in the end, as it has done before. I wonder if the Financial Secretary can reassure the House as to the kind of assurances he is giving to foreign Powers in the light of the fact that the National Service Act runs out in 1954 and that after 1960 there will be no more compulsory service? I do not believe that our people take kindly to compulsory service, and I hope that the day will never come when this country will tamely submit to it as a normal—I say a normal—civic duty.

6.48 p.m.

Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)

I am sorry that the Secretary of State is in his present position. Only a few months ago Members on the other side of the House were attacking him with vicious virulence and demanding his removal from the Front Bench. Today, I see them trying to smother him with poison ivy. In the critical condition in which we are, the present Army is a liability left to us by Imperialism, which is quite unable to justify itself. Transport House recently sent out some instructions to its members on how to deal with the crisis. They were told that it was caused by the adverse balance of payments and that the adverse balance of payments which had existed before the war had been covered up by overseas investments and invisible exports. That was Imperialism in the period before the war, paying its way and covering up the adverse balance. It had to have an Army and a Navy in order to occupy outposts and keep open lines of communication. Most of the outposts have gone, as have the lines of communication.

I cannot understand how, in the case of Members of this House, particularly those on the other side of the House who have always made a claim to be most concerned about this country, not about a particular class—I have never believed them, but they claimed to be concerned about this country—great historical changes can take place with scarcely any notice being given to them. Why is it that someone has not drawn attention to the fact that there is now no such thing as an Indian Army, that we have no outpost in Burma or in Egypt, and that we are only precariously holding on to the Sudan?

I tried to speak yesterday, instead of today, as I was very interested in the Navy. I wished to draw attention to the fact that the British Navy has gone. There was a Navy in Britain—[HON. MEMBERS: "We are dealing with Army Estimates."] But "the British Navy" was an historic fact. The greatest Navy in the world, that controlled the seas of the world has gone, and nobody mentioned it. The American Navy now controls the seas, and the lines of communication. So with the Army. In the condition we are in, and in the crisis that faces us, we cannot maintain the Army that we have. The other day the hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) was appealing to America for dollars to maintain the Army in this country. Apparently we will still keep outposts for American Imperialism. It is continually suggested that unless we get the dollars from America, through the Marshall Plan, we are sunk—

Mr. Speaker

The question of the Marshall Plan and American dollars, and how we are going to find the money to pay for the Army, is hardly, in Order on the Army Estimates.

Mr. Gallacher

It was not I who raised it. It has been raised already today. The fact remains that the maintenance of an Army must be taken into consideration with the economic condition of the country. We are facing a situation where that economic condition is likely to become worse. The possibility of maintaining the Army, as it is at the present time, and as we have it here in the Estimates, is very remote, to say the least of it. The Minister stated that we needed a small, well-trained voluntary Army as an expeditionary force. Where is the expeditionary force to go? That question must face us when we are discussing Army Estimates, as also must the questions of whether we are capable of maintaining, or whether it is desirable to maintain such an Army as is proposed, and whether it is desirable to pass such expenditure as is contained in these Estimates. We must ask: Is there within a foreseeable period the possibility of an enemy or the possibility of war? I say here, in contradiction of all that has been said during the past week in this House and in another place, that if there is any danger of war it comes from the American monopoly capitalists and those who serve them in Western Europe. There is no danger of war from the working classes of any of the countries of Eastern Europe.

I know the attitude that has been taken up, and that has determined the minds and the outlook of many hon. Members, so far as the discussion of these Estimates is concerned. The right hon. Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) who led the Debate for the Front Opposition Bench went on talking for a time, and then hung his head and muttered something about Communists. It was muttered into the Despatch Box, and I did not catch what it was, but I know it was some suggestion that, somehow or other, the Communists were to blame for any trouble that exists. The hon. and gallant Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore) referred to what happened last week in another place, where there was a disgusting scene by panic-stricken people who saw their foundations being swept away by the onward march of the workers.

There is nothing that could in any way suggest that there is a threat of war coming from any part of Europe. I know the depths to which even this House has descended, because of the fright of some Members. When a messenger from the Lords comes here, he always addresses us as "This honourable House." Hon. Members are very proud when they hear the term "This honourable House." I think that hon. Members of this House are anxious to maintain that respect and that tradition of "This honourable House." Yet we can have a Member of "This honourable House" getting up and parading himself as a wretched, common informer and instead of being treated as a moral leper, he is applauded by Members opposite.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member must not anticipate something which is to be discussed, I gather, in the Committee of Privileges.

Mr. Gallacher

No, no. The hon. Member who got up and offered himself as a public informer is not to be discussed by the Committee of Privileges. I wish he was. But we, get that sort of attitude. Much of the feeling that exists in the minds of hon. Members, and which is responsible for their attitude towards the Army and the desire to maintain the Army and to have an expeditionary force, arises from the misrepresentation of events that took place in Europe a couple of weeks ago. The idea has been encouraged that, somehow or other, the Communists in Czechoslovakia have taken some action of an undemocratic character, that is—

Mr. Speaker

We had better come away from Czechoslovakia and get back to the Army Estimates. That is what we are discussing.

Mr. Gallacher

Mr. Speaker, let me finish my sentence—the Communists have taken some kind of undemocratic action that had created a dangerous situation in Europe that would justify the greatest possible expenditure on armaments in this country. That is the idea that has been presented in the Press, on the platform and over the radio—that there is a particular danger in Europe at the present time, and therefore it would justify any Estimates that we may have before us in connection with the Army. It is a terrible misrepresentation. [Interruption.] I must say this, Mr. Speaker, in view of the seriousness of this situation. It is a very serious situation, when Members of this House and the other House and representatives of the Front Bench, are preparing the Army, in association with other Western countries, because of what has been claimed to be an immediate danger in Western Europe arising out of an action taken by the Communists of Czechoslovakia. That is the situation we have to face.

I wish to quote something to the Members of this House in order to refute that, and to restore the calmness of their minds, if that is possible, and to show that the immediate danger is not there; that it would be desirable that we should cut down these Estimates and centre our attention, not so much on a big Army, but on an Army as effective as possible, at the least possible cost, while we try and recover our national economy. I would ask permission to quote, not from a Communist publication, but from "The Tablet," a weekly Catholic organ dealing with that particular question. "The Tablet" says: When, in the last month, the crisis was precipitated by the resignation of twelve Ministers who objected to a tightening of Communist control in the police, it was the intention of the twelve, there can be no doubt, to force the resignation of the whole Government and to secure the formation of a new coalition"—

Mr. Speaker

I am sorry, but this has nothing to do with the Army Estimates. It may be relevant to foreign affairs, but it is not in Order in this Debate.

Mr. Gallacher

I am sorry that you take that line, Mr. Speaker, because I feel that it is very germane to the question of the Army, and to the Estimates that we have before us. If there is no danger in Europe, then there is no justification for any excessive expenditure on armaments in view of the condition of this country at present.

Having dealt with that, and I hope having corrected the minds of hon. Members opposite in regard to the real situation in Czechoslovakia, I pass to Palestine. They will know better now and, when they say the opposite, they will know that they are wandering far from the truth. In regard to Palestine, last Wednesday and Thursday I entertained some mothers at the House of Commons from Clydebank. They had come to see the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood), but he was under medical attention and I deputised for him. They had come, representing many mothers on Clydeside, to see if they could get their boys out of Palestine. Our boys ought to be taken out of Palestine without any delay. It is shameful that lads should be kept there in present circumstances. It is not a question of being at war. When lads are at war they know the risks and they can take measures for their own protection; but the present situation is not only terrible for the lads but appalling for the mothers here at home.

During my travels in Scotland to speak at meetings I have met many mothers who have lads in Palestine. They never sleep at night because of it. Their thoughts are continually with the lads over there. With every fresh report they are in a state of nerves, and many of them collapse. I know of one or two cases where mothers have had strokes as a result of the terrible heartache and worry. While I say that, I also say that it is absolutely wrong for the right hon. Member for Horsham to make such accusations against the Jews and Arabs in Palestine.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member must not anticipate tomorrow's discussion. We are debating Palestine tomorrow, not tonight.

Mr. Gallacher

I cannot understand that. How was it that the right hon. Gentleman could make such a vicious attack on the Jews and Arabs? He made the attack: I did not make it. He has no right to make such an attack. It was the policy of the British Government, in promising one thing to the Arabs and another to the Jews, which started the whole evil process which is working itself out now.

There is no need, in our present situation, for us to have the Army which is proposed. There is no need for such an expenditure as is proposed in these Estimates. I am certain that if this Government would make for close association with the progressive forces in Eastern Europe as well as in Western Europe, with the progressive forces in Asia and in America—gathering around Henry Wallace and against the war policy of the big monopoly capitalists—they could reduce the Army. If the Government would do that, they could centre attention on the possibility of solving the economic crisis which can never be solved through dependence on America and the big dollar boys who run it.

7.4 P.m.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan (Perth and Kinross, Perth)

If I do not follow the representative of modern imperialism too closely, I am sure that he will forgive me. I agree with him in one thing, which is, that if we are to have an Army, we should know the object of having that Army. It is absolutely essential to have a policy. We cannot discuss the Army Estimates without feeling uncertain whether or not this Government really have any policy which would enable the Chiefs of Staff to formulate a plan to meet a given emergency. We need to have put before us far more clearly the policy of the Government in relation to the Armed Forces when we are discussing these Estimates or any other Service Estimate. I hope that when the hon. Gentleman replies to the Debate we will be given a little more information.

There is no doubt that of the three Services, whether we like it or not, the Army is still the Cinderella. The boys in blue, whether light or dark, always get the most attention. Admittedly, certain regiments in the Army get more attention than others; but that may be due to the better type of dress which they wear. I refer, of course, to the Highland Regiments. Before I come to the question of infantry, and the regiments concerned, which is a matter closely tied up with these Estimates, I suggest that we must realise one thing which is serious. It is that we have far too many civilians in relation to the number of uniformed soldiers. I will not bore the House with figures, because they are available to every hon. Member. At present I believe there is a ratio of one civilian to 12½ soldiers. That is far too great a proportion. Another point which should be inquired into, and about which I hope we shall hear something, is that some of the staffs of headquarters are far too big. In my own town, the City and Royal Burgh of Perth, we have an headquarters commanded by a most distinguished and gallant officer. We could not have a better commander. Before the war that area had a commander and three Regular officers, plus a few territorial chiefs of services such as the Army Service Corps and so on who had part-time jobs as well.

Instead of those three officers with their part-time assistants, we now have something like 6o or 70 officers who do practically the same job. I am sure that people will say that they have a job to do; but I am certain that if it could be done by three or four officers before the war, it could at least be done today by, say, three times that number. It is fantastic to have 60 or 70 officers. That is only one headquarters in one place. There must be others of which hon. Members are aware. Whether our forces are large or small, it is essential to make sure that they are made up into an effective fighting force. It is no use having tribes of so-called soldiers who are not formed into something which can fight. There is no object in having soldiers unless they are capable of doing a job. I feel certain that at the moment we are not really forming an efficient fighting force. I do not believe, as far as the Army is concerned, that we have an efficient fighting force.

The "New Statesman," whose interest in military matters is a refreshing change, has given the figure of two divisions, plus an armoured brigade, and one or two others. That may be true, but I do not believe that there are two divisions which could be put into the field today as an effective fighting force. If they could, have they got air cover and ack-ack? I doubt it very much. I hope that we shall have confirmation or otherwise that it is the intention of the Government that what soldiers they require the House to sanction shall be used in the most effective possible manner. Otherwise, this is a waste of manpower which we cannot afford in these difficult days.

Let us be frank. The period of 12 months allowed for the training of a soldier is absurd. One hon. Member referred to the fact that specialists could not be trained in a year. Neither can infantry men. I defy anybody to produce in time of peace a fully trained infantry soldier in 12 months. To try to do it is simply a waste of that man's time. We might just as well have him in industry doing a job desperately needed to be done, because we will not make him an efficient soldier in a year. In having this period, the Government are wasting manpower they cannot afford and they are failing to produce efficient soldiers. The only justification for the National Service Act, which nobody in this country likes, is that it might produce something which is efficient and effective. That cannot be done when the period of service is only 12 months.

Whatever the length of service, it is of the greatest importance that the territorial connection should be continued in this country, and that is not the territorial with a capital T on this occasion, but the linking up with the area in which the soldier lives. This is particularly of the greatest importance in Scotland, where local connections are very strong indeed. To give an example of what is going on at present which is definitely harmful to recruiting—and, after all, we do want recruits—I take the case of my own regiment in my own city, because I know most about it, though other hon. Members may be able to quote other examples. The Black Watch have been connected witth the City and Royal Burgh of Perth for 200 years or more. It has never been connected with any other place, and Perth is its headquarters. It is now reduced to one officer and six men, and the city and the county are most distressed. Apparently, in a few years' time, even the one officer and six men will disappear. Nothing could be more harmful for recruiting, and I hope the hon. Gentleman who will reply will say that he will do something about restoring the territorial connections, not only of the Black Watch, but of all the county regiments of Great Britain.

I pass on to this question of the reduction of the Infantry to one battalion, and I hope it is going to be explained tonight. Can we afford, in these days, to reduce regiments which had two, full, first-class battalions? There are certain units which could not fill two battalions, but was it right to take away one battalion from regiments which have always been able to get enough recruits for two? I hope we shall hear something about that tonight. It should never be forgotten that the Infantry is the essence of the Army. All the other arms of the Services, with their proud and splendid records, will acknowledge the fact that they are, in effect, the servants of the P.B.I., because it is their job, be they gunners, Royal Armoured Corps, or Signals, to get the men with the rifle and bayonet on to a given piece of ground and to hold it against anybody else, and nobody can do that job except the Infantryman. Therefore, let us make everything we can of the Infantry, because they are the men who will ultimately do the job, and, in saying that, it is not being in any way discourteous or running down the other arms of the Services.

There is another point on which I would like an assurance, and that is the question of welfare. I am very glad to see that the amount allotted under this heading has been reduced by something like half. Welfare is the duty of the regimental officer, and nothing can take the place of the regimental officer in that matter. Four years of welfare in the recent war very nearly lost us the war, and, if we have this immense welfare organisation set up, it means that when a man comes to his officer with trouble of some kind, the officer says, "We must give this to the welfare officer." When I joined, and, if I may say so with respect, Mr. Speaker, when you joined, Sir, we should have been horrified to hand over our responsibilities to any outside officer whatever, and I therefore hope that it is going to be restored in the new Regular Army which we are hearing about today.

Under Vote I (D, 3), I see that a sum of £510,000 has been placed for the Gurkha Regiments. Here one comes up against one of the tragedies of the British Service today. We can do no more for the Gurkhas than we have tried to do in the recent past. We cannot get away from the fact that they have been terribly let down, betrayed, and thrown over in spite of many promises. What is going to be done for them now? First of all, we see that, according to the papers, the Gurkhas are to be employed in Malaya and Hong 'Kong, The climate in those two Colonies is totally unsuited to the Gurkha, who is a hill man. I hope that has been taken into consideration, because I think that these small men from the hills and frontiers of India must be the constant care of the War Office, and I hoped that people in the War Office realise that. What of their British officers who are to be called upon to serve with Gurkha Regiments?

A letter which was issued recently by the War Office gave the terms upon which British officers who volunteer are to serve with the four Gurkha Regiments to be retained by the War Office. It is pointed out in this letter that the majority of the service of these officers will be carried out in a climate which is hot, sticky and unhealthy. It is not like India, where the Gurkha Regiments previously served, because they always served in high and healthy hill stations like Quetta, Darjeeling, Dehra Dun and others. According to this letter, there are to be no extra pensions for these officers, and here I think is a very serious thing. Previous service in the Indian Army which most of them will have, however long and meritorious, is merely to count as British service, and, presumably, the Indian element in their service is to be forfeited. I hope we shall have an answer to the contrary.

They are also to he subject to British rates of Income Tax, when, hitherto, they have been subject to the Indian rates of tax, which is a very different thing. There is, in this letter, no guarantee that the Income Tax at the Indian rate will not be added to the British Income Tax, and I would like to have an assurance on that point. There is nothing in this letter about leave or passages home and out again. Why not? It is an important thing when we send men to serve in a hot and unhealthy climate.

There is something about extra pay, including £2 2s. a week for a captain, of which about 18s. will be deducted for British Income Tax. A lieutenant-colonel, after many years' service, will have £110, a year extra after British Income Tax is deducted. His pay will then just about be equal to that of a junior assistant in the local rubber plantations near which he would be called upon to serve. Is that what is intended? If so, how does he educate his children in England, and when does he come to see them? Is he being treated like this because the War Office thinks that, as it is all voluntary, he does not have to do it unless he wants to? Surely, the Government must see that some of these things will have to be taken into account, for in some cases a man's father and grandfather may have served in these regiments, and they ought to be restored to such a state as that in which they were found in the old days. It is loyalty which will prevent some of these people going out. Is it the intention of the War Office to depend upon them, and, if so, why do they not reward them?

The War Office should think on how much is going to depend upon these Gurkha battalions, which will be the link between this country and the great Dominions in the Far East. Is it right that we should have the officers and men underpaid and living in a really bad climate? It is bad for the morale of the officers, and the morale of the officers, is the morale of the regiment. They have been fine regiments in the past, so why reduce them to this pitiable condition, to which they will be reduced unless something more generous is done for them? We do not ask for excessive remuneration, but only for generous treatment. These men are to do a difficult job, and this suggested provision by the War Office is niggardly, mean and unworthy.

I ask the Minister to think again, and to tell the House whether this great country of ours—and it is still a great country—really intends to treat its loyal servants like that. I do not think it does. I am afraid it is obvious that, in the past, I have not had a great deal of respect for the present Government, but I hope they will believe me when I plead for the British Army, and for the Gurkhas who are now to be part of it, that I do so entirely free from any party bias. If they will consider the points I have raised, at least I and my hon. Friends on this side of the House will always back them up, much as we disapprove of their other policy. I am talking of something about which I know. These are worthy men who are surely entitled to the support of a great and generous country.

7.21 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton (Brixton)

The hon. and gallant Member for Perth (Colonel Gomme-Duncan) made a very moving plea on behalf of a small but, none the less, important section of the military Forces of the Crown. I hope he will forgive me if I do not pursue that particular aspect of the matter because I wish to draw attention to a wider consideration, namely, the relationship between, and the integration of, the three somewhat diverse elements of which the military Forces are now composed.

First, there is the Regular Army; secondly, the Territorial Army; and, thirdly, we have coming along what might be described as the National Service intake. I appreciate the difficulty of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War in devising plans for the future because he is having to juggle with three different objects of dissimilar size and shape, and out of them he has to conjure up something which will provide this country with an adequate defence Force. He is also faced with the dilemma that the period of National Service provided for under the National Service Act will, in due course, produce a maximum number of potential soldiers with the disadvantage that we have a minimum number of trained men now.

Previous speakers have referred to the need for further recruitment to the Territorial Army. I would like to support their plea. Our experience during the past 10 months shows that, at the moment, we have less than one-third of our required strength. The primary object of the National Service Act is to provide a trained Army Reserve. Its training is to be carried out by the Territorial Army. My fear is that this reserve of National Service intake will, so far as I can foresee the future, never be fully absorbed into the Territorial Army. Drafts will come in, and they will drift out again in varied stages of efficiency. They will require the attention of Regular Army personnel who already have far too much to do without having to undertake this wretched job of licking into shape National Service men and turning them out at the end of 40 weeks in some sort of shape acceptable to the Territorial Army unit which is going to be so fortunate, or unfortunate, as to have to take them on. It will only be 40 weeks, because we must remember that the first 10 weeks of their service will be spent at a training unit after which they will be posted to particular arms of the Service.

The fact of the matter is that the inducements offered at the moment to National Service men, or to anyone else, to volunteer for a Territorial Army engagement are quite inadequate. I feel that a grudging and unwilling reservist who is pushed into what may be considered his appropriate T.A. unit is not going to pull his weight in that unit. There is much to be said for providing some really effective inducement to men to join the Territorial Army, and, as far as we can, to divest the Territorial Army of the responsibility for handling men who do not want to be in it.

Can the National Service man continue to be trained in the appropriate Territorial Army unit, as envisaged by my right hon. Friend when he opened this Debate this afternoon? He admitted that there are going to be difficulties in the way. It is quite obvious that, in certain parts of the country, there will not be a Territorial Army unit in the position to provide the man who has completed his 12 months' service under the National Service Act with a continuity of the training he received during his last 40 weeks of National Service.

We know—and I think my right hon. Friend will be the first to admit it—that the technical corps of the Army at the present time are so short of Regulars that they cannot absorb any more National Service men. The Navy and the Royal Air Force have been rather more fortunate than the Army because, as far as possible, they have divested themselves of the responsibility of taking any National Service men. The problem is to increase the inflow into the Regular Army and into the Territorial Army from the National Service men, or from their particular age group.

I wonder whether my hon. Friend in his reply would give the House some indication of the percentage of recruits to the Regular Army who are coming direct from civilian life and from the National Service intake, respectively. I hope that these figures will be given to the House because, in my view, they represent a very unsatisfactory and disquieting state of affairs. I am sorry that I cannot give them, but they were given to me in confidence, and it may be that if I did so I should be infringing some security consideration. The problem which is causing many hon. Members on both sides of the House some degree of anxiety is the fact that as the weapons of war become more and more complex, it will be more and more difficult and will take longer and longer to train the individual sailor, soldier and airman. When we relate that consideration to the manpower that is going to be placed at our disposal as a result of the National Service Act we are up against a very difficult situation.

I voted in favour of the principle of National Service because I think it is one which all hon. Members on both sides of the House ought to support. Originally, it imposed compulsory service at the age of 18. Whether we like it or not, and no matter what our views are upon the subject, it is unfortunate that the introduction of compulsory National Service in peacetime, however necessary, has considerably and adversely affected recruiting in the Territorial Army. A young man waiting to be called up is unlikely to join; he will say, "I am going to wait until I am called up under the National Service Act." The further delay which is to be imposed by deferring the age of call-up from i8 years to 18 years nine months eventually will have an even more deplorable result. The National Service Act, unfortunately, is not working out as satisfactorily as some of us hoped, because the prospect held out in the White Paper on Defence in the paragraph dealing with the deferment of the age of call-up, means that we are diminishing and delaying the building up of a reserve striking force.

The National Service intake is being constricted to fit the number of Regular soldiers who will be available to train those men, and that responsibility for training is being placed on the Regular Army, in addition to the very heavy commitments which it is called upon to discharge. This means that we are trying to build up some kind of reserve on an uncertain and fluctuating basis depending upon the number of recruits coming into the Regular Army, the speed with which recruiting for the Territorial Army will proceed, and the number of men who will be absorbed into the Forces under the National Service Act. What I am afraid of is that we shall fall between not only two stools, but half a dozen stools in trying to do all these things at once.

Perhaps I may make a concrete suggestion which I do not think will prove on consideration to be so fantastic as it may seem at first sight. Instead of delaying the National Service call-up as we intend to do, we should speed it up by providing the young man of 18 with two or three alternatives in the following order of preference; first of all, we should offer to the young man of 18 the concession that, if he volunteers on a four-year engagement in the Territorial Army forthwith, he is exempted from the 12 months service under the National Service Act. It is a moot point on which different views may be held, but I submit that a young man voluntarily joining the Territorial Army on a four-year engagement will be of much more use to us in the short-term and in the long-term than a young man who has been pushed into the Army under the National Service Act, turned out at the end of 12 months, and then pushed into the Territorial Army.

Secondly, in order to encourage recruiting, if on consideration my right hon. Friend accepts the suggestion I have made, it might be possible to count service in the Cadet force towards the four year Territorial Army engagement. In that way we should get a closer link-up between the Cadet force and the Territorial Army which quite a number of hon.

Members on both sides of the House have advocated. For those young men who do not wish to volunteer for the Territorial Army there is always the power, on which my right hon. Friend can fall back, of calling them up under the National Service Act. Only the other day my right hon. Friend said that a man can volunteer for the Territorial Army not less than one year before he is called up under the National Service Act, but as soon as he is called up or the day before he is due for call-up under the National Service Act he is discharged from the Territorial Army.

Would it not be better to allow that man's service in the Territorial Army to continue, thus to reduce the burden on the Regular Army, and provide a reasonable flow of recruits or stimulate a further supply of recruits for the Territorial Army from those people who otherwise would be called up under the National Service Act and who would prefer to embark upon a four-year engagement with the Territorial Army rather than be called up? The economic advantages to the country and to students who are embarking upon their professional studies need no elaboration in this House.

If my right hon. Friend will consider this proposal he will find that it contains many features which will be of benefit to the Regular Army and the Territorial Army. As far as I can see, it will not require any legislation. He will not have to ask the Leader of the House for Parliamentary time, because the National Service Act already provides that by Order in Council the Government can impose a period of 12 months' National Service or such shorter period as His Majesty may by Order in Council appoint. The power is already there. If my suggestion that a man should be permitted to undertake a four-year Territorial Army engagement is not acceptable, then call up the man for 10 weeks, let him do his basic training and then let him go on to serve in the Territorial Army. In that way we should reduce the pressure; we should not have to delay the call-up of men under the National Service Act, because the sole reason for pushing the age back and making the call-up age 18 years, 9 months is because the Regular Army as it is now constituted is incapable of dealing with and training this influx of National Service men.

The reason for my intervention in this Debate was to put forward that suggestion. I think it will help all three elements out of which we are trying to form some kind of military force in this country. The hon. and gallant Member for Perth referred to the large number of officers who apparently were having to do the same work which was done by a small handful in the years before the war. When we examine the recruiting figures for the Territorial Army which were submitted to the House the other day, we find that that position is magnified, because the statistics show that in the Territorial Army at present we have one officer for four other ranks. That is a ridiculous and fantastic state of affairs. In the War Office at present the number of military personnel on 1st April, 1948, will be 2,432 as compared with 2,697 in the last year. Those are a few points on which I think my right hon. Friend ought to give some further information.

In conclusion, I urge my right hon. Friend seriously to consider my proposal. It would be unreasonable of me to expect him to give an answer tonight, but I would remind him that the concensus of opinion among officers in the Regular Army is that they will not be able to do anything with these young men when they get them during the 40 weeks that they will be at their disposal. I hope that my proposal will commend itself to those who are concerned with the serious responsibility of providing this country with an Armed Force—a difficult task in which I know they have the good will and support of hon. Members in all parts of the House.

7.41 p.m.

Mr. Keeling (Twickenham)

I beg to move, to leave out from "That," to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof: new efforts should be made to apprise ex-Service men and others eligible and their employers of the national need of recruits for the voluntary nucleus of the Territorial Army, to improve the conditions and amenities of service therein, and to strengthen the links between Territorial units and the community. As the Secretary of State for War said, we are trying to recruit for the Territorial Army a voluntary nucleus of leaders and instructors to teach the National Service men, when they start arriving in the Territorial Army from 1950 onwards. The figures recently published show a very grave state of affairs, so grave that it ought not to be—and, so far as I am concerned, will not be—a party issue. I hope that in the same spirit the right hon. Gentleman, if he cannot accept the Amendment for the technical reason that we should never get you out of the Chair, Mr. Speaker, if he did, will say that but for that he would accept the Amendment. There is nothing the right hon. Gentleman said with which I disagree, except that I think he was sometimes a little too optimistic.

Last Tuesday, the right hon. Gentleman gave figures which showed that after eight months' recruiting the strength of the Territorial Army, this voluntary nucleus, is only 7 per cent. of the establishment. Of course, that establishment includes provision for the National Service men who will be arriving in two years' time. We certainly do not want to get 100 per cent. of the establishment today, but undoubtedly we want a much larger percentage than 7 per cent. My right hon. Friend the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton), and my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. N. Macpherson), asked what percentage is desired, and I hope we shall get an answer to that question.

In the first two months after recruiting began, that is to say, for May and June last, we got 20,000 recruits. The Secretary of State's predecessor apologised for that figure at the time, saying that we could not expect to get many when the summer was just approaching. Yet for subsequent months the figures are far worse. The rate of progress has not been faster as he hoped for, but much slower. From the figure of 10,000 per month in May and June there was a fall, in the next three months, to 3,800 per month. In the following three months, October to December, the figure was 2,300 per month, and I understand that this year we have not recruited, so far, more than 1,000 men per month. What hope is there of completing the essential nucleus in time, or indeed at all? If we do not get the nucleus soon, then, when the National Service men start arriving in large numbers, there will undoubtedly be a breakdown, especially as many of these men will find themselves in a Territorial unit the weapons of which they know nothing about, mainly because of the lack of balance between the strength of one arm, for instance A.A., in the whole-time Army and the strength of that arm in the Territorial Army.

But that is not all. Many of these Territorial units are A.A. units, and they are, therefore, front-line units from the outbreak of war. As the right hon. Gentleman said, the bulk of the Anti-Aircraft Command in the United Kingdom will be found by the Territorial Army and, as we were told the other day, they will also have to provide mobile columns for Civil Defence. Despite this, the strength of A.A. Command, as of the Territorial Army as a whole, is only 7 per cent. of establishment. That is a terrible weakness, and it is quite obvious that if we are attacked the number of A.A. guns which can go into action will be very small. As the Prime Minister said only last week, there will be no breathing space for "Ack Ack"; no aggressor would be likely to give us a year's grace, as happened in the last war.

Last Friday, the right hon. Gentleman said that recruiting figures were not unsatisfactory. I think that must have been a slip of the tongue; what I think he meant to say was that they were as good as could be expected, considering that six and a half years of war have blunted the edge of the volunteer spirit and remembering the comfortable popular belief that so long as we have compulsory National Service volunteering is unnecessary. I submit that a strength of only 7 per cent., with the rate of recruiting dwindling in a few months from 10,000 to 1,000 per month, is not only profoundly unsatisfactory, but is exceedingly alarming. Unless there can be a rapid improvement there is a serious danger of officers and men leaving long before 1950. There is also the certainty, unless there is a rapid improvement, that the National Service Act passed last year will be a fiasco. I do not say that the position is irredeemable, but it hangs by a thread.

How are we to get the extra men required for this voluntary nucleus—and women too, for women are now combat A.A. troops, and are wanted for every other command? From the nature of things, because a young man goes automatically into one of the Services at about the age of 18, the Territorial Army has to rely for its voluntary nucleus mainly on the veterans of the last war. But there are two other sources for recruits. One is men who were in reserved occupations during the war—and it must be a source of satisfaction to the Minister that a certain number of miners are volunteering, although I am told that they find Army rations very small after what they have enjoyed as miners.

Mr. Shinwell indicated dissent.

Mr. Keeling

I am told that that is a serious cause of complaint in the North. The other source is men who are willing to join the Territorial Army before they do their 12 months' full-time service. How are we to get these three kinds of recruits to volunteer? Last year's recruiting campaign failed badly, as the figures show, yet I believe that if an appeal is made in the right way, by the right people, we can get the men.

I want to make briefly some suggestions to the Government. We must arrange for speeches and broadcasts to be made by our leaders, both of the Government and of the Opposition. The speeches should be made on every suitable occasion, and the broadcasts should be made at the peak periods and not only at slack periods. As my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Knutsford (Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport) said, we have had very few Government speeches mentioning the Territorial Army at all. Those that have done so have contained no firm pronouncement that, although there is the utmost need for production, time must be found also for Territorial training. There has been no clear-cut call for recruits. Moreover, when speeches have been made, as my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries pointed out, there has been very poor publicity. Take as an example the speech which was made last Friday by the Prime Minister. The B.B.C. and most of the Press did not mention what the right hon. Gentleman said about the need for recruits. All they mentioned was what he said about the possibility of war. On such an occasion a Press conference ought to be held, and the B.B.C. ought to be asked to give prominence, in the national interest, to the need for recruits.

Employers and trade union leaders should be pressed to join in these appeals. Employers must not only allow their men to join the Territorial Army, but they must actually encourage them. Trade union leaders at factory meetings could achieve much. I understand that, although there has been great delay in getting trade union leaders to co-operate, it is now a fact, and I am very glad of it, that most of the recruiting committees contain trade union representatives. A good deal could be done by assembling employers and trade union officials round a luncheon or dinner table. This method is even better than a conference table. Before the war, several Lords Lieutenant actually held these luncheons, which were, to my knowledge, a very great stimulus to recruiting. I do not know whether funds are placed at the disposal of Lords Lieutenant. I believe there is a fund available in the Territorial Army Association, but I would like to know whether it would be adequate for-such a purpose.

If posters are to be used at all they must be improved. There is that poster of a man putting on his uniform while his civvies are shown in the background upon a chair. The poster might equally mean a man putting off his uniform in readiness to put on his civvies. Indeed I am told that this poster is widely known in the Territorial Army as the Austin Reed poster. I am told also by advertising experts that the British public have had so many posters thrust upon them that they have now become allergic to them.

As to films, they are usually, in my view, made upon wrong lines. They show either training or action. The recruit whom we are seeking to attract is usually an ex-Service man who knows all about training and battle. He has been there. He has had his bellyfull. The only kind of film which is likely to be effective is that which appeals to patriotism. Such a film might depict the forerunners of the Territorial Army—the general levy, the train bands, the militia, the yeomanry and the volunteers, and it might show the immortal deeds of the Territorial Army during the 40 years of its existence. Or a film might tell the story of the local regiment, its glorious history and traditions. In many Territorial units there is a very strong local and even family tradition which could be turned to good account.

What should be the keynote of the speeches, the broadcasts and the films? They should appeal first, to a man's reason: The more we are prepared the less likely we are to be attacked. Secondly, they should appeal to the spirit of service and should bring home to the potential recruit that the country needs him to defend the things in which he believes. If they received the right inspiration men would respond to the call of national danger, as they did when they were asked to join the Home Guard. The spirit is still here, as it was in 1940.

I said just now that one source of recruitment is the young man before his call-up. The hon. and gallant Member for Brixton (Lieut.-Colonel Lipton) said that such a man did not want to join before his call-up. Actually, he is not allowed to. He cannot be recruited by the Territorial Army if he is liable to be called up within 12 months. Why should not that period be shortened? A man who had spent even six months in the Territorial Army would be a better soldier when he came to do his 12 months' whole-time service. It would be a good introduction to Army life. Such a man would have a good influence on his comrades. Moreover, he would be likely to take more willingly to his further Territorial service, and perhaps he might decide to be a volunteer of the Territorial Army, with greater obligations and greater rewards. The hon. and gallant Member for Brixton suggested that four years' Territorial voluntary service should exempt a man from the 12 months' service, and that it would not be necessary to alter the Act. I am certain, however, that if such an arrangement were made the rush to join the Territorial Army as a volunteer and so escape the 12 months' service would be so great that the National Service Act would become a completely dead letter.

Let me now say a few words about conditions of service in the Territorial Army. There are a few, but only a few, grievances which are discouraging recruiting. They could be easily removed, at no very great expenditure. There is the grievance of the weekend camp pay, to which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Knutsford referred. If we want recruits, the rules must be a little more generous. There is the vital question of leave for camp. A very large proportion of the population now get holidays with pay and want to take their wives with them on their holidays. They ought not to be expected to spend their ordinary holiday in camp. Many employers give extra leave, often with pay. All honour to them. Some of them show a better example than some local authorities and than some socialised industries. Other employers—we have to face the fact—cannot afford to do so. They find it very difficult to spare the men. Recruiting is undoubtedly languishing as a result.

What is the remedy? Every employer ought to be told officially how many of his men are wanted for the Territorial Army. The average proportion would probably not be more than 5 per cent. Every employer ought to be asked to give extra leave within that limit, and to make up the difference in pay between the Army pay and the ordinary pay. At the same time, he ought to be invited, if he so desires, to send in the bill to the Government for the amount. This question of leave for camps must be solved. The appeal made last year, first by the Prime Minister and then by the Joint Advisory Council of employers and men, has failed, and the only alternative is for the Government to pay.

Refusal of petrol is a grievance. If an officer or man goes straight from his work to his T.A. unit he must use his car to save time—and he is allowed to do so. But that really means using his car from his home to his office that morning, and I am told permission for that is being refused. If the Government want recruits they must be reasonable in such matters. In addition, officers should be treated a little better. Men get an annual bounty of up to £8 for regular and efficient service. Officers do not get it. Why should there be this differentiation, especially as officers, on an average, attend more drills than the men? Commanding officers, again, have to put their hands into their pockets, especially in social activities when striving for recruits. They get an entertainment allowance of 2s. 6d. a day, which is enough for one drink but not enough for two. I suggest it ought to be increased.

Not only ought grievances to be redressed, but there ought to be special privileges for the volunteer nucleus of the Territorial Army, not so much as a direct inducement to join but as a recognition of the Territorials' service to the nation. As the Secretary of State said, and as my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries said, praise for activities ought to be translated into tangible benefits.

I make the following suggestions for the consideration of the Government. First, why not give the Territorial Army volunteer one free railway warrant every year for himself, his wife and his family? It is very important to enlist the sympathy of the wife. Secondly, why not give the Territorial a driving licence for half-a-crown instead of 5s.—an inexpensive gesture but, after all, he often uses his car for duty. Why not give him free admission, or at half price, to such entertainments as Olympia, not only when he is in uniform as at present, but when he is in civilian clothes, if he wears the badge which the Secretary of State announced today was being re-introduced? Why not encourage local authorities also to give lower rates to Territorials for entrance to such things as swimming baths and tennis courts? Finally, I ask the Secretary of State if he will not use his influence with the Minister of Food to exempt the Territorial Army from the rule limiting dinners to 100. Such dinners have undoubtedly recruiting value, and there is no increased consumption of food. It is quite evident, however, if the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to say so, that the Minister of Food does not care a "tinker's cuss" for the Territorial Army.

Now, as to amenities. We cannot expect recruits unless we have proper drill halls. It is quite clear from the Secretary of State's speech that he is alive to that, but it is also clear from the reply he gave in a written answer yesterday that nothing is being done to provide new halls. That is a very serious matter indeed and it is clear that by 1950 when, as the Secretary of State said, the Territorial Army will begin to grow to proportions far larger than ever before, proper accommodation for training will be totally inadequate. The hon. and gallant Member for Knutsford dealt with that at length and I will say no more.

The last part of my Amendment asks that the links between Territorial units and the community should be strengthened. Thank God that the days have gone by when at an Armistice Day celebration a Territorial detachment was not allowed by the local authority to appear in uniform, or when the parson, addressing Territorials in church, called them butchers and warmongers. Positive steps are still needed, however, to identify the Territorial Army with the community. I suggest that on every public occasion, official, social, or religious, the Territorial unit ought to be given a place. As my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries said, every effort ough to be made to increase its prestige.

Lords Lieutenant should be asked to bring the importance of this recognition to the notice of all official bodies. After all, the Territorial Army is based on its local connections. Its roots are firmly fixed in local soil, and it can draw inspiration as well as recruits from local sources. I am happy to say that a very good example was set last Friday by a Socialist Council, the London County Council, at a reception they held to meet representatives of the London Territorial Army of all ranks. The Prime Minister was there, my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) was there, and the Army Council was there—all there to do the Territorials honour. The Territorial Associations include many kinds of local representatives—representatives of local authorities, of local education authorities, of employers' associations and of trade unions. All of them can help if they are given a lead, as they were given a lead last Friday. Very much depends on employers and trade unions and also on Members of Parliament.

Another link with the community is through the churches. For 400 years the articles of religion of the Church of England have said that it is lawful for Christian men to serve in the wars. I am quite sure that all the churches can help recruiting if they are asked.

I will sum up in a few sentences what I have said. The strength of the Territorial Army is dangerously low, and unless it can be rapidly increased it will be unable to train the inflow of men coming in from 1950, while A.A. Command is at present far too weak to resist air attack. Appeals for recruits should be made by the highest in the land, by employers, and by trades union leaders, and they should be pitched in the highest key—that of duty. Grievances should be redressed, especially the matter of extra leave for camp. Amenities should be improved, especially those necessary for training, and much more money should be spent. Lastly, the country must recognise its obligations to the Territorial Army and its duty to support it.

8.9 p.m.

Mr. Sidney Shephard (Newark)

I beg to second the Amendment.

I am sure that hon. Members on all sides of the House have been impressed by the reasoned case put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Keeling). It was a speech devoid of party politics and it was intended to be—as indeed it was—constructive and helpful. I thought when the Secretary of State opened this Debate that he showed a very obvious knowledge of the difficulties of the Territorial Army. I thought he was very restrained, too. When he talked about those barracks that were built before the time of Napoleon I thought he was going to have a crack at this side. However, he restrained himself. But I gained very little assurance from his speech that the problems of the Territorial Army would be overcome by D-Day, which is 1st January, 1950. I am a member of a Territorial association. In that capacity I come in contact very frequently with commanding officers of Territorial units, and, naturally, they tell me their problems. They feel—and they have every reason to do so—that we are not making sufficiently rapid progress in the laying of the foundation of the new Territorial Army. The Prime Minister, the Minister of Defence, the Secretary of State for War have all stressed at meetings recently how vital it is that the organisation should be on a sound footing during the next 18 months. Yet, at whichever side of the problem we look—whether at accommodation, weekend camps, equipment, recruitment—the results at the moment are miserably poor. We have very little cause for optimism.

Let me take the question of accommodation first. That, at the moment, is the nightmare of every commanding officer. In his Mansion House speech, of which, I am sure, the Secretary of State will not need reminding, he said: I must say, with the utmost emphasis, that unless we find a means of dealing with this problem of accommodation we shall not be ready for the National Service man when he is due to enter the Territorial Army in 1950. That leaves us very little time, and we must, therefore, regard this matter of accommodation as one of extreme urgency. We all agree with the right hon. Gentleman that it is a matter of extreme urgency. What actually is being done about it at this moment? I am given to understand that the estimate for accommodation in the Territorial Army is something in the region of £50 million, and that the Army Council rather hoped that this year they would get at least £3 million. It was obvious that we could not expect the whole programme to be put in hand immediately, but one would have expected a little more than the miserably small sum provided. There is no work on drill halls of permanent construction. The only accommodation which is to be provided is either temporary accommodation or civilians' buildings converted.

Of the Vote, £500,000 is provided for married quarters. It is a start. It is for 200 houses for officers and zoo houses for the permanent staff. Yet even that provides only a quarter of the requirements, and all these officers and staff instructors will be wanted in total. It is not a matter of only a quarter of them coming in at the moment, but of the whole lot coming in. That is a matter which the right hon. Gentleman should keep in mind. Of the remainder of the Vote, £400,000 is for additions to existing Territorial Army headquarters and hutments; £550,000 for the purchase of land and buildings; £120,000 for rented land and buildings until such time as permanent buildings are available. If the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Arthur Greenwood) were here, he would describe this as "chicken feed."

I am not sure, and I should like to know, who decides the order of priority. I put a Question down yesterday to the Minister of Education, asking how much is being spent on new schools, and the sum is over £12 million. Where are we in the matter of priorities? Do schools come before defence That is a matter which, I think, should be seriously considered by the Cabinet. I do hope that this question of accommodation will be kept constantly under review, and that in the building plans there will be a scale of correct priorities.

The name "drill hall" is a bit old-fashioned nowadays. It is out of date. It conjures up visions of barrack squares and squad drill. It has no relation at all to the duties of the present-day soldier. I hope that the Secretary of State will put his staff to the job of trying to think of a better name. He might, perhaps, start a competition for suggestions of a better name, and offer a prize for the winning entry. Will he also do something to improve amenities? He is trying to bring into the Territorials today volunteers, married men, with comfortable homes; and he is asking them to go into drill halls practically devoid of amenities, with only cold rooms, no baths, concrete floors. It is a big temptation for a man to stay at home and not join the Territorials. I hope that we shall have some action taken to brighten up the drill halls. I do not want them made into picture palaces or places of that sort, but there is much that could be done to make them more comfortable. I am quite certain, were they made more comfortable, that that fact alone would have a good psychological effect.

I turn to the subject of the volunteers. Again I quote from the Secretary of State's speech at the Mansion House. He said: The Territorial Army until 1950 will be composed of volunteers, and then when the National Service intake comes along the volunteers will be essential to assist in their training. No doubt, definite assurances will be required before we can evoke sufficient enthusiasm to induce a large body of volunteers to offer their services. What does the right hon. Gentleman mean by "definite assurances"? Is he going to offer something to the volunteers? I have not heard of it up to now.

At the moment, as things stand, the volunteer is at a tremendous disadvantage compared with the National Service man, as he will be when he enters the Territorial Army. When the conscript has done his year of service and joins the Territorial Army, he will be able, if he so wishes, to do the whole of his six years' training at the annual camps. He may never see a drill hall, and he may never see a week-end camp. What about the volunteer? He is to be expected to spend two or three nights a week at the drill hall, and he is to be expected to go to week-end camps, and also to the annual training. What is he going to get out of it? What are the inducements the right hon. Gentleman had in mind when he spoke of those "definite assurances"? I should like him to say whether he has in mind some scheme of incentives for these men.

I was rather interested in the remarks of the hon. and gallant Member for Brixton (Lieut.-Colonel Lipton). I would not go as far as he did, but I would go part of the way with him, and say to the man who has done his 12 months' service, "Now we will give you the choice of four years as a volunteer or six years as an ordinary Territorial." That would be a far better method than the one the hon. and gallant Gentleman suggested. As my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham said, if we carried out his suggestion there would be very few of the National Service entrants.

In order to encourage volunteers, will the Secretary of State consider some form of bonus payment to ex-Service N.C.O.s who have seen war service, who are badly needed as the nucleus of the Territorial Army? Territorial associations are allowed to spend a certain amount of money on publicity, and many of them do. On what do they spend it? Very often they entertain the civic heads at big cocktail parties, but that sort of propaganda does not bring in one recruit. How much better it would be if that money could be utilised by Territorial associations in paying bonuses to the men they want, the experienced ex-N.C.O.s, to start this great movement.

That brings me, finally, to publicity, and the need for an understanding between the Territorial Army, the civilian population and industry. As I came through the market place of Nottingham yesterday, the bands were playing, speeches were being made, and buses were decorated. It did not take me long to find out what it was all about: it was the Silver Lining Campaign. That is the type of propaganda we require to create enthusiasm for the Territorial Army. In my opinion, we need first-class public relations officers; people who will go round the factories and canteens and address the workers. I hope that employers will be invited to give a guarantee that they will make up the man's pay while he is at his annual camp. I understand that the Government have set a lead in this respect, but I do not know—and I do not think anybody knows yet—whether that applies to nationalised industries. Perhaps we may hear about that during the Minister's speech.

One last aspect on industry and its relationship to the Territorial Army concerns the reserved occupations. Today, many a man thinks, "Well, I am in a reserved occupation and it is no use my joining the Territorial Army." Some of the finest war N.C.O.s have taken that attitude, yet they are the very men we need at the moment. We do not want them for the next war; but we do want them to train the men who will be wanted for the next war. I hope some publicity will be given, so that these men know that they are needed. I hope that as a result of this Debate there will be a stimulation of interest throughout the country in the need for a patriotic and efficient Territorial Army.

8.25 p.m.

Major Haughton (Antrim)

In supporting this Amendment I should explain that in Northern Ireland the situation in regard to conscription and recruitment is different from that which obtains in other parts of the United Kingdom. There we are setting out to recruit a home force of volunteers, and to maintain it voluntarily. The provisional establishment is 9,550, and I am glad to say that already, before the commencement of the main advertising campaign, we have passed the 1,000 mark. I mention that because I want to correct a misstatement which appeared in the Press on 3rd March, that in Northern Ireland we were short of our establishment by 9,175. That is erroneous, because the Territorial units in Northern Ireland were formed only in September, and several of them were formed some months later. That delay was due entirely to a fact emphasised by the Secretary of State for War himself: lack of accommodation.

Territorial associations in Northern Ireland have had to start from scratch. The buildings in the six counties in all but two cases are temporary hutments. We have a few Works Department buildings, which have been loaned temporarily to the Territorial Army; but drill halls—a term, the deprecation of which I am inclined to share with the hon. Member for Newark (Mr. S. Shephard)—and buildings of any kind, are at a premium; and, rightly or wrongly, not all the halls in the villages and towns of Northern Ireland are suitable for the purpose, which should be non-partisan and entirely above politics. Fundamentally, our problem over there is the provision of buildings and accommodation, which is epitomised in the single word "cement"—and probably timber, too, but cement is the chief diffi culty. The Government of Northern Ireland have not control over its supply.

In introducing his Estimates, the Secretary of State explained more than once in the course of his speech—upon which I should like to compliment him, because it struck me as being very sincere, which got down to the very roots of the problem, and in which I thought he was particularly happy—that the problem was one of construction, and the necessary materials. Belfast suffered terrific destruction during aerial bombardment. Southampton and Portsmouth were both subjected to heavy bombardment, but judged by the perhaps not wholly accurate criterion of the number of deaths caused by those bombardments, Belfast has suffered tragically compared with even those other cities which also suffered. Before the war the only Territorial units we had were the 188 A.A. Heavy Battery, the 102 Heavy A.A. Regiment of the Royal Artillery, and the Antrim Fortress.

The Minister told us that in the six months during which he has been in office he has travelled a good deal and inspected a great many establishments all over the country. Tonight I issue to him the most cordial invitation to come over to Northern Ireland, where we are trying to raise close on 10,000 men for his great force. We may not be able to show him very much in that humble establishment which serves as our headquarters, in which I have the honour to be particularly interested. I can guarantee, however, that in that tin hut he will not be harassed by any N.A.A.F.I. manageresses, because we have no N.A.A.F.I., and that we shall be able to give him plenty of potatoes, because they are unrationed, and buttermilk too if he likes. He will find that there is keenness and determination to reach our target. We have issued an appeal to employers to back us up and to give all the facilities they can. The right hon. Gentleman's presence over there will support us in the appeal which, I think, will be most generously met. It is not only the employers but the leaders of the trade unions who should encourage people to go to camp and do their training. I conclude by asking the Secretary of State to come over and see us.

8.32 p.m.

Mr. Vane (Westmorland)

When the right hon. Gentleman began to speak about the Territorial Army, I thought that he would tell us something of sufficient importance to make the Debate on this Amendment largely academic. The noble Lord was right when he described the right hon. Gentleman as speaking too buoyantly about the Territorial Army. All of us associated with the Territorial Army are very concerned at the low rate of recruiting which we attribute entirely to what we consider to be the false decision, which led to National Service men joining with the voluntary territorials to complete their reserve service after completing their full-time service. I am very disappointed that we did not have any statement in regard to a change of policy, because it is very widely known that the present policy is extremely dangerous and is leading us into deep failure. Admittedly the few recruits who have joined the Territorial Army are all of very good quality.

I have the honour to be connected with a regiment which has always had a good recruiting record and the Territorial brigade of which has probably the highest strength of any in the country, but I have an extract here from a local newspaper published in the north-west of England, which shows the latest recruited strength of a number of regiments in Cumberland and Westmorland. I will quote only two regiments to show how deplorable is the present situation. The present strength of a field regiment of the Royal Artillery is 35. I do not know the present war establishment of a field regiment of the R.A., but I do know that it is many times 35 Secondly, the all-rank strength of an infantry battalion is shown as 55. No one can be but dissatisfied with results of that kind after nearly a year of desultory recruiting for the new Territorial Army. What are the reasons for this slowness in recruiting? First, I suggest that there is the apathy of war weariness which is bound to come after a war. Many men who would otherwise have joined the Territorial Army have seen active service and reckon, rightly perhaps, that they have had enough. Then there is this question of facilities. It is true that our old drill halls are not so comfortable as they were. A lot of our furniture has disappeared with the various wartime tenants of those halls. It has been represented that they are old and bleak, but perhaps they would be less bleak if there was a bigger fuel ration for heating purposes.

Then there is the question of drill halls being shared by several units, which is a most uncomfortable and unsatisfactory situation. If the right hon. Gentleman thinks fit to change their name, I would suggest "Armoury," which is an historic Army word, as a good substitute. I was told last week that when local associations are seeking new sites on which to build drill halls they are bound by some regulation which limits the area of the site to 1½ acres. With the variety of new weapons, the necessity to provide facilities for sports and the need to establish married quarters, it will be seen that it is impossible to do very much on a site of this size.

I am not going to speak much of the lack of lead given by certain nationalised undertakings. In the County of Durham, the Coal Board is probably the largest employer, and those associated with the mining industry have provided the largest number of excellent men as recruits for the regiments in these districts. Earlier today, the right hon. Gentleman spoke of one week's holiday without pay as being an inducement to miners to join the Territorial Army. I do not think that that is enough. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will make representations to his late friends to see if something better cannot be done.

On the question of mixing volunteers and National Service men, we can in future depend on something like four National Service men to every volunteer in the Territorial Army. The National Service men will approach their duties in an entirely different spirit from the way in which these duties have been approached by Territorials in the past. It means too that during the next few years we shall not be able to carry out any realistic training at all. We hope to try to recruit a cadre of something like one quarter of our strength and to have it completed before the first intake of National Service men, so that all our instructors will have settled down and will have had time to gain confidence. But we shall be training skeleton formations for years, with the result that men who have had experience of full battalions will not be attracted.

I am not one of those who believe that the days of the voluntary part-time soldier are gone. I believe that there is plenty of room for these men, but we want a new organisation which will give National Service men units of their own, and a Territorial Army of volunteers. The right hon. Gentleman was speaking at an important meeting in London only last week-end. If he is correctely reported, he said: we shall not have breathing space should war unhappily occur again. I suggest that as far as the Territorial Army is concerned no breathing space will serve our ends, so long as we have to build up an organisation which experience in the last year has shown to be utterly false, and which provides no sure foundation for the rebuilding of a Territorial Army.

8.40 p.m.

Mr. William Wells (Walsall)

I should not wish to introduce an unduly controversial note into the hitherto pacific and friendly atmosphere of this Debate, but I cannot help feeling that the hon. Member for Westmorland (Mr. Vane) has introduced an underlying assumption which, in my opinion, is either very unfortunate or false, or possibly both. He has criticised the decision to mix the volunteers of the Territorial Army with the National Service men, who are, from time to time, absorbed into it, and he says that maybe, from this wrong decision all the subsequent ills have flowed.

Mr. Vane

Or many of them.

Mr. Wells

Or many of them. He says that from that fundamental false decision, which must be altered before the Territorial Army gets into a healthy state, all those ills have flowed. That line of argument can only be justified ff we assume an entirely different background for the whole organisation of National Service, or if we take the view which the hon. and gallant Member for Carshalton (Brigadier Head) took during an Adjournment Debate before Christmas, when he said that the whole National Service scheme was ill-conceived, and that what was required was not to train the National Service man to be part of the fighting forces, but to give him a very little basic training and then prepare him to help with the civilian organisation of the country in a military capacity when the emergency arises. If that sort of line is taken, it seems possible to have the sort of Territorial Army which the hon. Member for Westmorland envisages.

If a National Service scheme is envisaged where there are to be a large number of young men drafted out of the full-time forces, then it follows that there must be somebody to train them, but who is there to train them if, as I gathered from his speech the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) would agree, the resources of the Regular Army are to be very fully strained indeed to carry out their present commitments. If there is added on to those commitments the sole responsibility for training the National Service man, it seems to me that the present provisions of the Regular Army, already perilously short, would be hopelessly and permanently inadequate.

Earl Winterton

The hon. Gentleman has not been in the House all the time that the Debate has been in progress nor during all the time that my hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland (Mr. Vane) was speaking. If he had been here, he would have known that my hon. Friend's idea was not a new one, but was used by at least two hon. Members on the other side of the House.

Mr. Wells

I am sorry about that, but from whatever side of the House that argument emanated, I should disagree with it. It seems to me that a Territorial Army can only be useful if fitted into the framework of the present organisation of National Service, and it does not seem to me that these suggestions put forward by Members opposite would enable it to be so framed. I am glad that the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Keeling) proposed this Amendment, and I believe no subject can be more important in the context of the present Debate than that of the recruitment and conditions of the Territorial Army.

I was a little discouraged by a report of a speech made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War. My right hon. Friend is sometimes reported by the Press with more colour than accuracy, and I am not at all clear that the report as I read it was an accurate one. I did read in one report that my right hon. Friend said that one of the most decisive limiting factors in the recruitment of the Terri- torial Army at the present time was the shortage of equipment. If that is so, I find it hard to understand why, so soon after a great war, there should not be enough equipment to satisfy all the legitimate needs of the Territorial Army.

Enough has been said from both sides of the House about the importance of the future accommodation of the Territorial Army and I would only say that I welcome the statement in his Memorandum in which the Secretary of State says that compulsory powers will be taken where necessary to provide accommodation. I am sure that in some cases, but only in some, it is not possible to get the kind of accommodation required—good and easily accessible—without recourse to compulsion of some kind, and I am glad that the War Office has come round to that view.

There are two points of detail, one of which has been raised before in a slightly different form, to which I wish to draw the attention of my right hon. Friend. The first is the question of the weekend allowances. I agree with what the hon. and gallant Member for Knutsford (Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport) said about that point earlier in the main Debate, but I believe that one major injustice under which many Territorial soldiers operate at present is that the whole weekend allowance is only payable where the man does a full 48 hours' attendance. I do not know whether it is a major deterrent to joining the Forces or not, but I am sure it is a wrong which should be righted. It seems at first sight illogical to suggest that a 48-hour allowance should be given for 36 hours' attendance, but one has to face the fact that, although the five-day week is worked in factories, it is not worked in offices on the whole and is hardly ever worked in shops. Therefore, men working in shops and offices who join the Territorial Army can only comparatively rarely do the full 48 hours' attendance, and to do justice to these people and to give them an opportunity of doing a fairly full course over a week-end, provision should be made for them to be able to come early in the afternoon and to get the full allowance.

The other question is in connection with the enrolment of National Service men coming out of the Forces now into the Territorial Army. It would be helpful if a short pamphlet, purely informative in its content, could be issued to those men telling them what the Territorial Army is doing, how to enrol in it, and generally to give them the picture of Territorial Army activities. I welcome the opportunity given by this Amendment to raise this important subject in the Debate, and I hope that in the early future the Government may give a clearer, and a somewhat more encouraging lead than has been given so far to recruiting for the Territorial Army.

8.19 p.m.

General Sir George Jeffreys (Peters-field)

Whatever other differences of opinion there may be on this subject, I think we shall all be agreed that this is a matter of the utmost importance, especially in view of the Government's announcement that the Territorial Army, unlike the pre-war Territorial Army, has to be ready for service at the very beginning of a war, immediately on mobilisation. It is common ground that in spite of all efforts, and in spite of a fair measure of publicity, the recruiting has not gone ahead and is, in many cases, now almost at a standstill. It is sometimes forgotten that it is not youths who have never served who are now wanted, but men who have served and who are trained and experienced and are suitable for work in the cadres into which the National Service men will be formed after their year's continuous service. Those experienced men whom we hope to recruit not unnaturally feel that they have done their bit, but also, having experience, they scan very carefully the conditions under which they are asked to serve.

I think an opportunity was missed when the Territorial Army units at the end of the war were placed in what was euphemistically called suspended animation, and when Territorial soldiers were demobilised. I do think that units might have been kept in being, primarily for social purposes, with the local drill halls as unit clubs. Many men might have been kept in touch with their old units of the Territorial Army under such conditions and might have been willing, on the reformation of the Territorial Army, to put in some further service. Although in some cases, through local initiative only, some touch was kept with the demobilised men, nothing was done at that time by the Government, and in most cases the men drifted away and lost touch with the Territorial Army and with their units. When the time came to re-raise the Territorial Army, it was not easy to regain touch with these men.

In the circumstances, in order to get volunteers of the right sort, it was necessary to offer inducements, and inducements with no "ifs" about them. To experienced men, who were certain to examine closely every condition before committing themselves to enlistment, those inducements were really necessary. They had to be plain and simple and have no "ifs" about them. Yet, to begin with, it was proposed that Income Tax should be deducted from training allowances and bounties. Even though the late Chancellor of the Exchequer did, in time, withdraw this and made bounties and allowances tax free, suspicion was undoubtedly created in many men's minds, and harm resulted. Territorial officers were treated ungenerously, as was mentioned, I think, by my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Keeling), as regards motor mileage allowances. Again, although this also was eventually rectified, some harm was done and confidence was shaken in the conditions that were being offered. It is far better to be generous from the outset and to offer conditions with no ifs of any kind. We should not attempt—as the attempt was made, I think, by the Treasury, or, more likely perhaps, by that outpost of the Treasury, the finance branch of the War Office—to make niggling and irritating, and often quite unnecessary, economies.

For other reasons also, Territorial recruiting has not gone well and all units are short in varying degrees of the trained men necessary to form the cadres which are so badly required. I recently called upon the recruiting committees of the Hampshire Territorial Army Association, of which, until the end of last week, I was Chairman, to submit reports with recommendations and proposals for improving the existing unsatisfactory state of affairs. I have seen a number of reports, and will quote some of the suggestions and points made in them. The first was lack of a definite lead on policy or direction on the part of the Government. My hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham mentioned this point, and suggested that there should be a lead not only from Government leaders but from Opposition leaders. I am quite sure that the lead is required not only from the Territorial branch at the War Office, but from Members of the Government, from leading soldiers—not young energetic and possibly brilliant staff officers, but leading soldiers—prominent persons in the counties, and from both sides of this House. Further, a definite policy, clearly stated, is required.

Particularly is this the case—and this brings me to the point which is made universally and has been quoted tonight—in regard to the question of extra leave to attend annual training and the liability of employers to pay employees during their time in camp. On one hand, employers are urged, with the manpower at present existing, to produce more, and still more. On the other hand, they are pressed to release men for 14 days in camp, in addition to 14 days holiday with pay. I am informed that 14 days holiday with pay puts up the employers' pay roll by the equivalent of 4 per cent. per annum. I would not like to say how much would be added by 14 days' camp leave with pay but it would be an appreciable addition.

In addition, officials of a certain Ministry concerned with production, not the War Office, have, it is said, put pressure on employers threatening to cut their supplies of materials unless there is an increase in their production. In certain cases they have specifically said that employers have no business to let men go and in that way endanger the amount of production which might follow. All this is too much to ask of employers, particularly small employers. The Government are setting a very good example by making up the pay of their employees whilst they are in camp. But it should not be forgotten—I am sure the right hon. Gentleman does not forget—that it is not that the Government are personally generous in this matter; they are being generous at the expense of the taxpayers. Some employers are doing the same thing, and brewers are helping in that respect. Perhaps production in that case is not so important as it is in others. The Government must announce a firm policy in regard to other employers. It is not enough merely to give invitations, or to make suggestions.

The policy should be that the 14 days' annual camp should be compulsory for the Territorial soldier, and for his employer, including the local authorities, and that the balance of the Territorial soldier's civil pay should be paid not by the employer but by the Government. That is to say, whether the man works for the Government or for a private employer, the taxpayer should make up the cash balance. Surely that is fair dealing? I say the cash balance because there ought to be no deduction made because the man gets, shall we say, lodging, which may possibly be on the floor of a tent. It should definitely be the cash balance without any deductions for such matters as that. This matter of leave and pay for camp is of really vital importance. Every practical Territorial officer, every member of a Territorial association who has gone into the matter, at once picks upon that as the big question. Neither the men nor the employers quite know where they are. A definite ruling by the Government is required. I suggest that it should be what I have already proposed, namely, that the taxpayer should make good the cash difference between the pay which a man gets for camp and what he receives in his employment.

Next amongst the points which adversely affect recruiting is the lack of suitable accommodation, about which we have heard something tonight; and also the state of disrepair of some buildings—I am far from saying all, because a great deal of repair has been carried out, and in these days it is not easy to get repairs done. There is also the lack of amenities in some of the buildings. As was mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland (Mr. Vane) the amenities were, in many cases, better before the war. Drill halls were put to all kinds of uses during the war, not necessarily military uses, and an appreciable quantity of their contents disappeared in some mysterious way.

The difficulty in regard to unsuitable accommodation was much accentuated by the change of units from one arm of the Service to another, such as the commonest change that has occurred recently, the change from infantry to anti-aircraft. It is obvious that what might be a useful infantry drill hall would be much less use- ful if it had to contain a heavy antiaircraft gun. On the other hand, I suggest that new premises might be acquired in more instances than has been the case. In the quite recent past, new premises have been acquired for such various public purposes as approved schools, remand homes and mental hospitals, all of them no doubt important objects. But are they more important than accommodation for the Territorial Army? Repairs at least can be effected, and in many cases have been. Amenities if lacking can undoubtedly be provided, and ought to, be provided.

There has been delay in providing equipment, and there has been a lack of up-to-date equipment. That is another frequent complaint. It is far from being universal, but there are cases in which equipment has been lacking, or in which there has been delay in providing it, and there are cases in which up-to-date equipment, especially technical equipment, has not been provided. It ought to be possible to rectify that matter. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will agree that there must be a vast amount of equipment in store after the last war. Lack of that equipment creates a bad impression among those who join the Territorial Army and it deters our trained soldier recruits, if I may coin the phrase, who know very well what is required, from joining the Territorial Army.

As has been mentioned by at least one other hon. Member, the incidence of National Service has, to some extent, lessened the volunteer spirit. Some men do not altogether like serving mixed up with compulsorily enlisted men. To counteract this, definitely better conditions as to pay and status ought to be given to volunteers than are given to the National Service men when they come to the Territorial Army. Incidentally, all are agreed that 60 days' training in six years will be quite inadequate to make these partially trained men efficient soldiers, particularly if they have to be trained to be non-commissioned officers, or specialists of any kind. These trained men whom we are trying to enlist are apt to say: "Is it worth while joining up and trying to do the job of training these partially trained men which we know cannot be done properly in the time allowed?"

In many cases there has been a disregard of local and unit sentiment in such matters as nomenclature, location, and other matters of a local nature. These things are all of tremendous importance in the Territorial Army. For instance, an infantry battalion, very likely with a good record, that has a considerable local connection, and is well liked and well known in the locality, may suddenly become the 999th H.A.A. (M) Regiment, R.A.T.A. Those figures and letters mean absolutely nothing to the local population, and, in many cases, they do not mean very much to the soldier. Yet the War Office made very considerable difficulties and delays, which I am glad to know have just been resolved—but only just, the letter was only received the week before last—saying that it was approved that the old name of the unit might be included in the long title, in brackets at the end. It is only a matter of allowing a little printers' ink, which does not cost very much, to add "The nth Battalion of such and such a Regiment," in brackets.

Why was there so long a delay in a matter which makes such a lot of difference in sentiment, in local connection and local tradition? If that had been allowed more quickly it might have made a considerable difference to recruiting. I believe that the actual, practical reason why the War Office capitulated over this was simply and solely that they had airily stated, to begin with, that, no doubt, the funds and property of a converted unit would be handed over to the new unit. But they forgot that, in this connection, the properties were, in almost all cases, in the hands of trustees, who were quite unable to hand them over to somebody else unless the name was perpetuated, at least on paper. Those matters are now settled, but they all delayed recruiting, and were in the face of local sentiment. Would it not have been very much better to take the advice to begin with of the Territorial associations, who know what they are talking about?

Then there were objections and long delay from the War Office, goodness knows why, in connection with the unit which sprang from the old county Yeomanry. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that that is the oldest of the auxiliary forces in the country. Objection was taken to the words "Hampshire Yeomanry" being put in brackets at the end of a very long Artillery title. I think that difficulty has been surmounted, but these things delay matters. The War Office were flying in the face of local sentiment. We need local sentiment, which costs nothing, to help us to raise this new Territorial Army. I do not criticise the scheme. We all want it to succeed. We may or may not have thought that it was ideal at the start, but it is obvious that we are committed to it. Hon. Members on this side of the House are as anxious for its success as the right hon. Gentleman opposite and his hon. Friends can possibly be.

I suggest one variation which I suggested last year. A certain amount of volunteering should be allowed for the Territorial Army, apart from the volunteering of essential trained men, for the purpose of forming the necessary instructional cadres. I suggest that such persons as students, apprentices, and others who may be handicapped by having to go away for a year's continuous service, might be allowed to volunteer for the Territorial Army. I recall the difficulties of training before the war, and I suggest that such students and others should be compelled to do the ten weeks' continuous elementary training which every soldier must do on call-up. It is comparatively easy to teach a reasonably intelligent man the slightly higher forms of military knowledge if he has got over the earliest steps of elementary training; but it is difficult when one has to try to teach him to run before he knows how to walk.

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will go into some of the suggestions which I and other hon. Members have made tonight. Most important of all are the questions of leave for camp and of pay for camp, over and above holidays with pay. If those questions are fairly faced and if not an invitation, but a direction on the lines I have indicated, is given, I believe that a great deal of good may be done and a great deal of help will be given to recruiting.

9.14 p.m.

Colonel Dower (Penrith and Cockermouth)

The right hon. Gentleman is in a fortunate position tonight. I am sure that he has been impressed by the fact that Members in all parts of the House are making their speeches co-operatively, putting forward suggestions—some of which he will be able to knock on the head—with a keen desire to make a success of dealing with the difficulties and problems with which the Minister is confronted. Another noticeable thing about this Debate when compared with the Debates which took place in 1935 and 1936, is that not one hon. Member whom I have heard has succeeded in making this into a party question in any way whatever. We all hold certain views on this subject, and perhaps some differ from others, but we are all determined to do our utmost to make the Minister's task as light as it is possible to make it.

Having listened to a number of speeches today, I think that the right hon. Gentleman's principal difficulty will be not in arguing with back benchers on either side of the House, but in being able to stand up and battle with his own colleagues in the Government. He has to impress upon them that his responsibility is a terrible one, as the last few weeks have shown, and that it is one that should receive top priority. He has to be prepared to battle to get that priority amongst his colleagues in the Government.

Suggestions made here today are really the substances of grievances which are felt among the Territorials, and I feel that, if the right hon. Gentleman will go through this Debate carefully and note all the suggestions that have been put forward, he will realise, unquestionably, the major difficulties which recruiting for the Territorial Army has reached today. Questions of accommodation, training and equipment have been discussed, and one hon. Member opposite has said that he could not understand why there was no equipment. We know the reason, because we want up-to-date equipment, and, if we have a Territorial Army and other people coming in to be trained, and the first thing they are told is that they are working very hard but that the weapons they are using are already out of date, there could be nothing more damping to their ardour.

I am told that, when men are demobilised by the Services, they are given particulars of the T.A. and are told where they can join, but why cannot something be done about petrol? Whenever I write to the Minister of Fuel and Power, he always writes back a charming letter and I think that about 50 per cent. of the cases I have taken up have been successful. I suggest that he should show some consideration towards these T.A. officers who work very hard and who need to use petrol for military training in the evenings. Of course, they should get an allowance.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

They are getting it now.

Colonel Dower

I am very glad to hear it. We have a number of hard-working Territorial officers and N.C.O.'s who have spent a great deal of midnight oil in preparing for these National Service men when they come in, but, as far as I can see, the National Service men never need turn up at an evening drill at all. If so, what are the Territorials going to do? Are they to train one another or sit and watch one another? It seems to me that the National Service men must be under some obligation to attend in the evening for training of some sort or another; otherwise, the Territorial cadre will never need these men. It is quite impossible to train a vast number of men unless one knows something about them. That is a very important point. While wishing the Minister all the best in this marriage of the Territorial scheme with the National Service scheme, I think that those of us who do soldiering from time to time should make it clear that there must unquestionably be evening drills which the National Service men should attend, as well as the annual camp.

I am told that a big recruiting campaign is to start in the autumn. If that is to be successful, we must make summer training a success, because, if that fails, and if the people who attend summer camps are given a bad impression, it will soon be common knowledge. Therefore, the summer camps should not be skimped in any way, and those who attend them should be able to tell their friends what an excellent time they had, not only from a training point of view, but from a good fellowship and a sports point of view, a with that colour which is so necessary, and which has always been one of the main features of Army life in the past.

When this campaign begins, let it be on the highest level. Has not the right hon. Gentleman any influence with the B.B.C., or with the Press? Perhaps he has not; they do not seem to have been very good friends with him in the past. At any rate, he must know friends of his who have the necessary influence, and I sincerely hope, seeing what has been happening in foreign affairs during the last few months and weeks, that the Press, even with the modest amount of paper at its disposal today, will consider the defence of this country as something of news value. I hope that the authorities will not only enlist the support of the Press and the B.B.C., but also that of Members of Parliament. I say in all sincerity that-I do not think that Members of Parliament are doing their duty. I think that Members in the House at the moment are doing their duty, but the large number of Members whom I saw leaving two hours ago, are not very interested in the matter. Every hon. Member, no matter what his party may be, in his speeches up and down the country—not necessarily at political meetings, but at public functions in which he may be taking part—should say a good word for the Territorial Army and should do his utmost to help recruiting in every possible way.

I think I have already covered all the points which have not been mentioned before, but I want the right hon. Gentleman to realise that we are backing him in this matter, and that it is up to him. He has been well known for his bellicosity in the past. When he believes in a thing, he stands up for it, and sometimes he has almost appeared to fight for it. When it comes to a question of scrapping for what happens to be in the till, he should get in first with both hands.

9.24 p.m.

Sir Harvie Watt (Richmond)

Many speakers have stressed various ways in which recruiting for the Territorial Army might be improved at the present time. While I do not dissociate myself from such suggestions as a big poster, or Press or film campaign, or even the Secretary of State for War himself using his influence with the Press or the B.B.C., I do not believe that those agencies by themselves will have any great or appreciable effect on recruitment. In my view, the best recruiting agent for the Territorial Army is the Territorial soldier himself. Provided he can be assured of three things, I think he will bring in his own friends to the unit.

In the first place, I think we must consider the amenities and social life at the drill halls. That point has been mentioned by many other previous speakers and I will not continue it, because I know that the Secretary of State is giving very careful attention to drill halls and their amenities. The second point is the question of training which has also been touched upon very fully by other speakers, but which I do not think can be stressed too much, because men joining the Territorial Army do not join it just to belong to a social club. They are joining out of a deep-seated patriotic purpose. They want to feel they are really doing a job, and they will soon be very disappointed and disheartened unless they are being trained in modern equipment and with first-class methods.

Another way also in which we should make the Territorial a good recruiting agent is through the camps, a point which has also been touched upon by previous speakers. Camps are of vital importance. I understand that this year many units are not having ordinary unit camps but are having attachments to Regular depot regiments. That certainly is so as far as many of the technical units are concerned, and I stress the importance of these camps with Regular units. The administration must be of the highest order, in the way of hutments, equipment, tents, cooking and so forth, if we are going to leave the Territorial soldiers with pleasant recollections of the camp. I have been told that many of the A.T.S. may be asked to sleep six in a tent with palliasses. I hope that is not true. It would have a very detrimental effect on the recruitment of girls. I hope they will not have more than two to a tent and, perferably, will have beds to sleep on. If these matters can be arranged as they should be, with all the other adjuncts which have been mentioned, recruiting for the Territorial Army will go up by leaps and bounds.

There is one other matter I should like to mention and that is that at the moment young men are not joining, or are not being allowed to join, the Territorial Army; and that means they do not get into the habit of going to the local drill hall or becoming, accustomed to the traditions of the local Territorial Regiment. Before the war, there was a considerable number of young men of the age of 17 who were allowed to join the Territorial Army. Indeed, there were also boys of 16. I know there may be a conflict of opinion here between the Territorial Army and the Cadet movement, who are also pressing for that older age-group of boys to serve in the various Cadet battalions. If a young man could spend at least a year or 18 months in the Territorial drill hall of the unit in his own locality, before his National Service, he will, when he comes out of his National Service period, be attracted to the drill hall, not just because he may have to do Territorial soldiering or any other kind of soldiering, but because many of his friends will be there. He will have met them before being called up for the Army. If those points can be considered—I know they are being considered by the Secretary of State—recruiting to the Territorial Army will be very much better than it is at the present time.

9.29 p.m.

Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)

I should like to deal briefly with a suggestion put by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Penrith and Cockermouth (Colonel Dower), who argued that a greater allowance of petrol should be given to the Territorials. Over and over again, especially at Question Time, we hear complaints, especially from the Conservative benches, of the people who cannot get petrol. I have been looking very carefully at the Army Estimates, and I see that in them—

Mr. Speaker

We are not discussing the Army Estimates at the moment. We are discussing an Amendment, which deals with the Territorial Army and nothing else.

Mr. Hughes

Should I be in Order in returning to this matter at a later stage?

Mr. Speaker

When we have dealt with the Amendment and are again debating the Army Estimates generally.

9.31 p.m.

Mr. John Morrison (Salisbury)

I want to make one or two brief and, I am afraid, only disjointed remarks because I want to be quick, as I know that there are others who want to take part in the Debate. I speak as one who served in the Territorial Army before the war and as a member of a Territorial Association now. It is obvious that the numbers in the Territorial Army are not as good as we could have hoped, and we all hope that they will improve. The first problem, however, in this connection which faces the Territorial Army Associations, who have to make the Territorial Army ready to receive the National Service men by 1950, is that of accommodation. Most county associations have indented on the War Office for money with which to provide new accommodation, reconstituted accommodation, and land on which to erect the buildings.

All over the country there are camps, some still in the possession of the War Department, others that have been handed over to the Ministry of Health, some that have been handed to the Ministry of Works, and some in the possession of the Air Ministry. They are being knocked about by wind and weather and suffering much casual damage. If they were set in order, or if new, alternative camps could be laid out in the places where they are wanted, in place of those which are not, they would provide accommodation for training purposes, and accommodation for vehicles. It is important that the Territorial Army units should have accommodation for vehicles, for the modern mechanised army has a great many more vehicles and armoured fighting vehicles than a prewar army had.

I want to thank my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Keeling) for having brought this Amendment before the House, and I want to emphasise what was said by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Petersfield (Sir G. Jeffreys) regarding the important matter of giving employees pay and time off to go to camp. I shall not go into the matter, because my hon. and gallant Friend dealt with it adequately. I emphasise it, and say that it is a matter exercising the minds of those responsible for the Territorial Army at the present time. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Richmand (Sir H. Watt) said that men joined the Territorial Army for patriotic reasons. In the main they do, but social needs do play a very considerable part, and some provision should be made to meet them.

There is a matter which has not been mentioned in the Debate at all, and that is that many units which had not drill halls or accommodation before the war are seeking accommodation now, and are having great difficulty because they have no furniture and equipment for canteens and the Territorial clubs. I ask the Secretary of State, what has happened to all the furniture that N.A.A.F.I. had in the war? Could not that be distributed to Territorial units, that they may equip their premises, and make pleasant social gatherings possible after drill and work? Will the right hon. Gentleman make a clearer statement regarding camps in the coming year and beyond? As most of the men at present in the Territorial Army have been through the war, could not camps be held at the seaside?

At the moment not more than 100 people are allowed to attend a dinner but I should like the Territorial Army to be permitted to hold dinners for all the men in a unit. If a unit consists of 120 men, it is very hard on the 20 who cannot attend merely because of the regulations laid down by the Minister of Food. I hope that the Secretary of State for War will consult his right hon. Friend about that. A volunteer Territorial likes to have a blue patrol evening walking-out dress, and if other people see men in that uniform, it would act as a great fillip to recruitment. I know the difficulties of cloth, but I hope that the Minister will consider that question. I would ask him to encourage, as far as possible, the work of the Army Cadet Force, and those who are responsible for it.

All my life I have lived next to Salisbury Plain, part of which is in my constituency and part in that of my hon. Friend the Member for Westbury (Mr. Grimston). It is used for training the Regular Army, and at times the Territorial Army, and I have noticed various branches of the Army continually wrangling, to a certain extent, about which branch should have which part of the Plain. Never, since I can remember, has one tree been planted on the Plain. This may seem a rather inappropriate point in this Debate, but in future wars, even more than in the last war, cover of various sorts will be needed. We need it now, be it for training purposes or for concealment in the event of war, and I hope that the Secretary of State will consult with the Minister of Agriculture, and have a few trees planted, even if they are to be destroyed in exercises.

9.37 P.m.

Colonel Lancaster (Fylde)

My hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Keeling) has performed a useful service in moving this Amendment and enabling hon. Members on both sides of the House to voice their views on various factors affecting recruitment to the Territorial Army. I do not propose to cover any of the ground already adequately dealt with by other hon. Members. In but a few moments I wish to deal with this problem from the point of view of the officers and men who join the Territorial Army, on the assumption that they do so to fit themselves eventually for war. After all, the intention and purpose of the Territorial Army is that its members, in one capacity or another, should take part in any future war. If I deal with this in any personal sense, it is because the views I express are born of my own experience.

Every officer aspires, not unnaturally, to command his unit, and his ambition is to command his unit in action. If he is to have a reasonable prospect of achieving that ambition it must be made possible for him to fit himself for the task, because the responsibility falling on a commanding officer is out of all proportion to that which falls on any other member of a unit. With the outbreak of war and mobilisation, the intake of the necessary officers and men to complete the complement of the unit, and the provision of equipment and training new personnel with the weapons of the unit, there is little or no prospect, if the unit goes overseas within the first four or five months of war, of that commanding officer fitting himself to command his unit in the field. If he has been fortunate enough to have carried out one or two battalion exercises, that is probably the limit of his experience. Formation experience will not be a possibility. Divisional exercises will have been out of the question. The result is that in the overwhelming number of cases the test proves too severe, and experience in the last war proves my case.

I went overseas with a Territorial division, and on our return every formation commander and almost every battalion and regimental commander was relieved of his command. It was no reflection on these individuals. The fact was that they had never been given a full opportunity to learn their very difficult task. That was not an isolated instance. I believe it is on record that no officer commanding a Territorial unit at the beginning of the war who was in action remained in command for so long a period as two years. That may seem a very sweeping statement. I believe it is on record that one or two did rise to the ranks of brigadier at the early stages, but in the overwhelming majority of cases they were unable to stand that test. That they were ideal material to perform that task, if properly trained, is indisputable. The fact that countless men from civilian life, and countless Territorial officers, in due course rose to great eminence, shows that there was nothing wrong with the material, but it shows that peacetime training did not fit commanding officers to command these units in action.

The right hon. Gentleman hinted that there might be some scheme by which Regular officers would be the second in command of these units. That, I think, is too inflexible a system. I should like to see a link between the Regular units and the Territorial units, not only with officers taking part in the annual camp, but at exercises and T.E.W.T.'s., and identifying themselves with the localities from which the Territorial units spring. In that way I believe that it will be possible for an experienced officer from the affiliated Regular unit to take over command of a unit without causing undue dislocation. Territorial commanding officers would be given, by courses and attachments to Regular units in the field, an opportunity to gain experience vitally necessary if they are to take charge of the lives of hundreds of men in action. Without this experience, I consider that the task of the Territorial officer is an impossible one.

If this system were adopted, there would not be the heartburning when individual commanders are asked to give up their units and go on these attachments; a commanding officer could come back after six or nine months and assume command, and if his unit had gone overseas he could take his turn in acquiring command of a battalion or regiment in due course. Under that system, a commanding officer would be afforded the opportunity to fulfil his ambition to command his unit in action. The alternative is that of taking the unit into action without the necessary training, and through no fault of his own being deposed and for the rest of the war carrying out some possibly important duty but certainly not the one that fulfils his ambition.

That brings me to the second point I want to make, that of the association of the officer and man with his territorial locality—territorial in the sense of the small "t." I am referring to that part of the country from which he springs, which may comprise a village or a street in a town. The links of the man with his own locality is a real thing, and I would urge the right hon. Gentleman to do all that lies in his power to see that that aspect of the matter is reconsidered. Throughout the last war it seemed to be the intention of the Adjutant-General's Department at the War Office to break down the battalion local affiliations. Time and time again action was taken which could have had no other purpose. All hon. Members who have experience of the Territorial Army realise the immense difficulties with which the authorities are confronted in time of war by way of supplying troops from a particular locality from which the territorial unit springs, but action to which I have referred went far beyond that. Very often when there were men at the depot trained to be sent forward to a unit, for some reason which was not explained those men were passed over, and men from another part of the country sent in their stead.

Earl Winterton

That happened also in the 1914–18 war.

Colonel Lancaster

As my right hon. Friend says, that was something which happened in the former war. I believe it strikes at the very root of the Territorial movement. Until there is a firm assurance from the Government that it is not their intention, if another war should break out, to carry out that same policy, it will have a deterrent effect on recruiting.

I remember my own experience in the matter where I learned my first lesson about it. When we came back from Dunkirk we had had heavy casualties, and I was sent an immediate reinforcement of 150 men from the Norfolk Regiment. My regiment was the Sherwood Foresters. I decided that rather than break up those men throughout my battalion I would as far as possible maintain them as a separate unit. I formed them into separate platoons and they remained in those platoons in various companies until the end of the war. I appointed officers to those platoons with the specific instruction of identifying them as far as they could with the area from which the men came in Norfolk. That action on my part repaid me one hundredfold. I am convinced that those men were better soldiers, and they created a sense of competition within the battalion. They were known as "the Norfolks" from that day forward. What had been borne on me was something to which more often than not the authorities had turned a deaf ear.

Time and time again I found myself receiving recruits, either officers or men, who had no connection whatsoever with the regiment with which I was serving, and at a time when I knew those officers and men were available. The excuses put forward by the authorities were more often than not peculiar. I remember that one time we were going abroad again and my battalion had to be completed at the last moment. I received a number of men from various parts of the Army and I made what complaint I could. In the event we did not go abroad, but it was necessary, about two months later, to send me some further recruits. There must have been in the minds of the authorities some recollection of the nuisance I had made of myself on the former occasion. On that occasion we had been quartered in Berkshire, our next locality was Yorkshire, and I was sent 20 men from the Berkshire Regiment. I inquired mildly why I had been sent these 20 men from the Berkshire Regiment, and the answer came, "You are very keen on Territorial Associations."

One other example. Just before I gave up my command in the summer of 1942, I had to send away 200 men and 12 officers as reinforcements. No one likes seeing either men or officers go after one has served with them for two or three years, but these things have to be. What on this occasion made the blow the more bitter was that my 200 men went in one direction and my 12 officers in another. I had spent the previous three years teaching the men to look to their officers, and the officers to look to their men, and it seemed to me wrong that, if reinforcements were required, that should occur. I made my complaint in the matter but did not seem to make any headway when, just by chance, with a few hours of this happening, I was rung up by a commanding officer from the other end of England who said, "Do your know what they have done to me this time?" I said, "I can well imagine." He said, "I have just had to send as reinforcements 200 men to one unit and 12 officers to another." We had exchanged officers and men! I rang up my commander once again who said, "On this occasion you can get through to A/G." The answer from them was not that they were sorry there had been a mistake but, "If you feel like that, we will have them exchanged." There seemed to be no recognition on their part of their fault, and that these men and officers not only had been trained together, but that they had a real and profound sense of their association in the Territorials.

I do not expect the right hon. Gentleman to deal in detail with the points I have mentioned, which are born of my own experience. We have to look not only at the immediate future and at all the points hon. Gentlemen have raised in regard to existing problems: we have to look further and visualise the situation which will occur if war breaks out again. The ambition of the Territorial is to serve in war in the unit with which he has local and territorial associations, and nothing should be done to break that down. I hope that, as the right hon. Gentleman continues to serve in his office, he will use his authority to see that some clear statement is made in regard to the intentions of the War Office and the Government in this matter and to allay the doubts which I know permeates the whole of the Territorial Army.

9.54 P.m.

Mr. Shinwell

My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, with his usual competence, will deal with the major points which have emerged in the course of the general Debate, and presumably, if the general Debate is continued, he will address himself to the further observations which fall from the lips of hon. Members. I content myself with the Amendment which is placed on the Order Paper by the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Keeling). Before I address myself to the points that were mentioned by him and by other hon. Members, I should like to say that I fully appreciate the friendly spirit of co-operation that has been displayed in the course of this Debate. Indeed, at several points I was almost overwhelmed by the chorus of praise, and I wondered how far that would impair my well-known reputation. One has to be careful in these times.

As hon. Members have said, the issue before the House is not one of a partisan character. On the assumption which I ventured to make in the course of my speech this afternoon, that we must take appropriate measures, if necessary, if occasion should demand it, in order to safeguard our interests, clearly, there can be no party interest involved: there is a common goal. I agree that the question of the precise function of the Territorial Army within the framework of the National Army is of fundamental importance. Hon. Members who did me the honour of listening to my speech this afternoon will have noted that I tried to build up the conception of a properly balanced and fully integrated British Army. That conception is of a Regular content, with the National Service element and supplemented by an enthusiastic band of volunteers who enter the Territorial Army. Just as it is impossible to promote the strength of the British Army without the assistance of the Regular content, and as we believe, because of our existing overseas commitments, of National Service men, so we are profoundly convinced that in order to provide the proper balance we must have volunteers for the Territorial Army. On that issue there is general agreement.

It has been suggested that I have been unduly optimistic in the view expressed about the present state of the Territorial Army. I could retort quite easily by saying that hon. Members opposite, at any rate some of them, have been unduly pessimistic. The fact is that I was not complacent at all, nor do I intend to be complacent, because I fully recognise the fact. Undoubtedly, recruitment for the Territorial Army has been too slow. That is admitted. I dislike indulging in commonplaces dealing with facts that are hackneyed and familiar to everybody, but I am entitled to say that we must have regard to the circumstances, in particular to the fact that only a couple of years ago we emerged from a long and devastating war, and that, in consequence men were war-weary, as, indeed, the nation was war-weary. Having taken account of these facts, along with the other factors which I shall mention, we must agree that only the most profound sense of patriotism and keenness for soldiering, on the part particularly of men who served in the last war, would have induced them to enter the Territorial Army as volunteers. I want to pay them the tribute that is owing to them. It is a remarkable fact that if one delves into history a long way back, back to the Wars of Succession—

Colonel Dower

When was that?

Mr. Shinwell

If the hon. and gallant Member is particular, I will give the precise date. In the language you, Mr. Speaker, use on certain auspicious occasions, "for the purposes of greater accuracy" I have committed it to writing. In the Wars of Succession, 1702 to 1713, there was, as happened after every war since that time, a sharp decline in the numbers of the British Army. In the war I have just mentioned, which lasted some years, the highest strength of the British troops at home and abroad was 70,000. When the war came to an end in the year 1714, it dropped to 22,000 and in subsequent years—the Spanish Wars and the war with France followed in close succession—the number of men voted for the Army, guards and garrisons was 49,000, and in 1750 it had dropped to 20,000. If hon. Members are interested in the figures, which relate to almost every war in which the country has been engaged since 1702, they can obtain the information in the Library by applying to the Chief Librarian.

Earl Winterton

Would the right hon. Gentleman allow a friendly interruption? This excursion, or incursion, into history is quite interesting, but what precisely has this to do with the Territorial Army, since there was no Territorial Army in the days in question?

Mr. Shinwell

I am really surprised at the right hon. Gentleman. He usually manifests a keen sense of humour, but for the moment it has forsaken him. My point was quite valid, because one of the arguments adduced as indicating alarm and despondency in relation to the recruitment of the Territorial Army, was the numbers of men who had enrolled. I was pointing out—and this is the validity of my argument—that after every war, because of war weariness, and a number of other factors, men are disinclined to enter the Army, and of recent years the Territorial Army, and the numbers are reduced.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

They remember the war.

Mr. Shinwell

It does not matter what they remember, I am dealing with the facts, and speaking objectively. At the same time, I do not under-estimate the difficulties. Because I am conscious of the difficulties, since I have arrived at the War Office, I have gone about the country quite a lot and visited drill halls, as they are called—I am not responsible for their nomenclature; we might find some other designation—and anti-aircraft sites all over the country in the various commands and in London in particular quite recently. I am bound to say that much of what I saw I intensely disliked, and it troubled me a good deal.

The other day, in a speech I said that only the best was good enough for the Army. I am certainly not taking the second best if I can avoid it. Indeed, we have no right to ask men to enrol in this or any other Service, unless we are ready, having regard to the circumstances, to provide them with the very best conditions. That is the principle underlying the whole of our efforts. I do not underestimate the difficulties. I am fully aware of what is happening in the country—the paucity of accommodation, the lack of modern equipment, the difficulty in acquiring sites, the lack of compulsory powers, which is a matter which I am attending to at this moment in order to acquire buildings. And also the difficulties of the Territorial Association in obtaining properties, because they are in competition with industrial firms and others and being asked to pay excessive prices. I am aware of all these factors. Nevertheless, I want to say that some units are doing remarkably well.

Last week, when I was in Northern Command at Durham, I visited a unit there where there was a guard of honour. I did not ask for the guard of honour, any more than I asked for the outriders. The hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) will appreciate that point, since he raised it on a previous occasion. I found that the guard of honour consisted entirely of miners and were a fine looking group. So far as I know, they were not encouraged to appear and present themselves because they had been offered some petty concession. They were there because they believed in the Territorial Army, and that is the only reason why they should be there. If they did not believe in it then they ought not to have been there. They are no good to us unless they believe in it. When I visited that particular drill hall I found everything in apple-pie order, and the equipment excellent. Above all, the officers in command were as keen as could be. That is vital and fundamental in this matter.

I visited some of the units round London and precisely the same thing is happening there. It is true they are not up to establishment, but they do not expect to be. Indeed, it would be very dangerous for us if we were to encourage men to come in at the present time in the face of the lack of accommodation and equipment I am not sure whether we can accommodate many thousands more in camp this year. I am not fully informed on that matter. Therefore, we must proceed cautiously. I shall not use the word slowly. We must proceed cautiously, with some measure of prudence; otherwise we shall disappoint a large number of men, and that is the last thing we want to do.

I have been asked what were the definite assurances mentioned by me in a speech the other day. These are the definite assurances: We have got to make a real effort to provide the accommodation required. Look at the situation around London. Some of these halls have been blitzed. We cannot simply demolish what is left and erect new buildings, just like that. It takes time, it makes a drain on the materials and labour available to the whole country. There is competition for labour and materials. Some hon. Members have suggested that we should give Territorial accommodation A.1 priority. I am sorry, but we cannot do that because we have to concern ourselves with the accommodation needs of the Regular soldiers, including the married personnel, and we must have regard to the National Service intake that will be coming along. All these factors have to be taken into account.

An hon. Member raised the question of how much we were spending on accommodation. I am not satisfied that the figures which I am about to give are ample or adequate. Nevertheless, they are in excess of what was spent in the previous year. I mention merely by way of illustration that it is proposed to spend in payments to Territorial and Auxiliary Forces associations for buildings, ranges, etc., £2,460,000 as against £1,055,000 in the previous year. That is an advance, and if I had £10 million at my disposal I could not spend it because the labour and materials are not available. Therefore, I must proceed cautiously.

Mr. S. Shephard

Why is it that this priority is so low down in the list? Why can the Minister of Education spend more on schools than the right hon. Gentleman can spend on the Territorial Force? Surely if defence is to be taken seriously far more than this £2 million will have to be spent.

Sir H. Watt

There are still some drill halls which are requisitioned. A statement was made the other day that they would soon be derequisitioned, I think all of them by the end of this year. Could the right hon. Gentleman speed up that derequisitioning?

Mr. Shinwell

I am doing my best in that direction. The other night I visited a drill hall on the outskirts of London. I found it was in the possession of another Ministry. Just as other Ministries are doing their best to make me derequisition properties which they say belong to them, I respond by saying, "I want you to de-requisition property which belongs to me." It is a bargain, and we will see how we get on. I will do my best in that direction. As for the order of priority, it is not for me at this time to embark upon general Government policy. That must be raised on another occasion. This is the amount of money available to me. I want to spend it as rapidly as possible and to the best advantage.

The hon. Member for Twickenham raised a number of points relating to grievances. He asked a question about weekend pay. I am 100 per cent. in favour of what he said. I saw the anomaly at once when it was pointed out to me. To deny men who cannot proceed to camp for weekend training until mid-day Saturday the few shillings to which they would have been entitled if they left on Saturday morning appeared to me to be absurd. But these matters cannot all be adjusted at once. They have to be related to other factors, but I have the point in mind.

On the subject of leave for camps, all I can say is that hon. Members cannot ignore the fact that if we insist that industrial firms and those in charge of socialised industries should, in addition to the holiday leave with pay, provide an additional week with pay, it is bound to affect production. Let us not deceive ourselves. It is bound to affect production. We have to choose between the adverse effect on production and whether to step up Territorial recruitment at this stage. I am happy to say that a large number of industrial firms are prepared to take the risk. As regards the decision of the National Coal Board, which has been referred to in the Debate and which was mentioned during Question time this afternoon, it is not for me to approach the National Coal Board, but I have no doubt that they will take note of what has been said. It may be that they will reconsider their decision, but I cannot say. It is not for me to advise them.

Mr. Keeling

I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman has really dealt with the suggestion, which was that when men are allowed by the employer to go to camp, the difference between the Army pay and the ordinary pay should be paid by the taxpayer, if the employer so requested.

Mr. Shinwell

I heard the point made by the hon. Member himself and by several other hon. Members. That is a matter of which I take note. It is impossible for me to make a firm commitment at this stage. It is a matter that would have to be very carefully considered by the Government as a whole. On the subject of petrol, all I can do is to advise hon. Members who are affected to approach the Department primarily concerned in the matter. As for free railway warrants, reduction in the fee for driving licences, and half-price entertainment, really I think that the hon. Member for Twickenham was asking rather too much. If we go on in this way, a large number of other people who feel that they are entitled to concessions will come along, and then we shall not know where we are.

Let us consider how we can constructively approach this problem with a view to, at any rate, a partial solution. We cannot expect a complete solution within the next 12 months or even two years. It has been suggested that we should step up our publicity, that we should have appeals from high quarters, influential people, V.I.P.'s and the like, with broadcasts and so on. I agree with the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir H. Watt). These appeals may be made, but they may not have the precise effect desired. As he said, the best appeal is to have the keen enthusiastic volunteer who inspires his comrades who have not yet enrolled. If they believe that it is worth while, they will induce the other fellow to come along, but they must be convinced that it is worth while.

How are we to convince them? First, we must have the right accommodation. The permanent personnel associated with Territorial Army units must have proper quarters. If we have a situation something like this—and I have had some experience of it recently—where several of the permanent staff associated with Territorial units live several miles away from the units, or if we have cases where accommodation is found for the man but his wife and family live in the country, obviously that affects the morale of the people concerned. But when we can house them near the unit, when they are happy and the amenities are good, they will try to bring other people in.

We do not necessarily require exclusive social clubs. That is not the purpose of the Territorial Army, although I agree that it is an advantage to have a good club with proper amenities. If we have the right amenities and all the other favourable conditions, the men are happy and they will try to attract other people. That is the best form of publicity. At the same time, we must widen our appeal. Recently I attended a meeting at the Mansion House, to which reference has been made, where I had to make a speech. After the meeting I found two trade union representatives, the chairman and secretary of the London Trades Council who were interested. I think that they were members of the City of London Association. What better? This matter of the Territorial Army must not be the exclusive property of any particular section of the community, but, having said that, we have to complete the implications of what has just been said.

Reference was made by some hon. Members—I do not complain about it, I can understand it, but I must say something about it—to using influential people, and asking the Lord Lieutenant of a particular county to use his influence. I have recently had to consider the appointments to Territorial Associations, and I have had a look at them. We cannot, all the time, have the same people running the show unless they are of use to us. We do not want people with highly-coloured names. We do not even want people who have territorial connections, unless, because they possess territorial connections, they are keen about the Territorial Army and will pull their weight. It may be better to have the most humble people in the county who are keen and enthusiastic volunteers than to have people with high-flown names who, constructively and for our purpose, are of little value. That is how I look at it.

I must leave the remainder of these points, because time is getting late, and I must deal with the real substance of the problem before I sit down.

Colonel Dower

Will the right hon. Gentleman use his influence with the trade union leaders, who, after all, are very important people where the Territorials are concerned, to take, if possible, a more active part?

Mr. Shinwell

In all the lists which I have recently seen drawn up, I have inquired very carefully to find out how many trade union representatives there were. I find that in almost every Territorial Association there are trade union representatives, but, in some cases, they are not active. I shall do everything I possibly can to make them more active, but there must be no patronage or snobbery. We cannot have anything of that sort.

I must now deal with the real problem. What is it? Hon. Members have referred to the difficulty of integrating the volunteer Territorial with the National Service reservist; that is to say, the volunteer who comes in of his own volition and the man who, having Served 12 months as a National Service man, is automatically transferred to the reserve. Hon. Members ask me how they are going to mix. I beg hon. Members to understand that this problem is not new. We thought about it at the War Office quite a lot. The assumption that men will not mix because one is a volunteer and the other is a reservist—in the reserve because he was a conscript—is not worth contemplating, and, indeed, it would be serious if there was any substance in the suggestion.

If hon. Members had noted what I said in the course of my speech this afternoon, they would have heard the observation that the man who came into the Territorial Army after having served 12 months as a National Service man, will, so far as practicable, and particularly in the large centres, be associated with the Territorial unit in his own home town in the place where he lives. Who are these men? They have worked alongside the volunteers; they have gone to school with the volunteers. They probably belong to the same families. Is it suggested that they are not likely to mix, and that we cannot integrate them? That is absurd.

I beg hon. Members not to assume that the Territorial Army volunteers are to be built up into an exclusive club, socially or otherwise. That is not its purpose. At the same time, I beg hon. Members not to—quite unwittingly, I am sure of that—stigmatise the National Service man because he happens to be a conscript. But that is precisely what emerges from what has been said. The enthusiastic volunteer is a very fine person; we accept that. The fellow who has been compelled under the National Service Act to serve 12 months, and who is then automatically transferred to the Territorial reserve, is just as fine a fellow. At any rate, we hope so, and we are certainly going to proceed on that assumption.

That is all I want to say except for this. The hon. and gallant Member for Antrim (Major Haughton) was good enough to invite me to visit some of the Territorial units in Northern Ireland. I will gladly avail myself of that invitation, although I was a little depressed to hear him say that the only liquid refreshment there was buttermilk. I hope he will cause his friends to reconsider the matter.

Major Haughton

I promise to do that.

Mr. Shinwell

In that event, I shall be glad not only to visit Northern Ireland, but any other part of the United Kingdom where there are Territorial units, subject to the time at my disposal, with or without liquid refreshments.

Before I sit down, may I mention a point which emerged in the course of the Debate, and which is very important. It is in reply to several hon. Members who wondered what was going to happen at the T.A. camps this year. We have come to the decision that there will be eight days for any person who volunteers to go. The best training areas will be selected, although not necessarily at the seaside. Hon. Members are aware that we are having great difficulty with property owners, agricultural interests, and so on, because we are acquiring land some of which is near the sea. Therefore, we must go to the very best places, subject to the objections that are likely to be raised. Full Army pay and allowances, plus rations for the duration at camp, will be received by the volunteers. Training—this is very important; it is in reply to many of the questions that have been posed—will be carried out with the help of the Regular Army who will send training teams to the Territorial Army camps.

It is along those lines that we intend to proceed. I do not pretend that I have replied to every question that has been raised, but I again give hon. Members the assurance that we are fully aware of the difficulties, and that we shall do our very best in the course of the next few months, and particularly in the autumn when our campaign opens, to increase the number of Territorial volunteers in the United Kingdom.

10.29 p.m.

Brigadier Head (Carshalton)

I only wish to intrude on the time of the House for five minutes, because this is a subject we have raised many times in the past. I must confess that although the right hon. Gentleman's answer has been delivered with all his accustomed skill, and although he has probably reassured certain elements in the House, I must confess that he has not entirely reassured me on this subject.

The right hon. Gentleman complained about the number of bouquets which had been thrown to him today. I am sure he will understand if I do not add mine. It seems to me that this is a very serious position indeed, because, unless this voluntary recruiting for the Territorial Army works, the National Service scheme will fail. The right hon. Gentleman has told us about his many difficulties, but let me remind him that all those difficulties and troubles were known at the time this scheme was adopted. Today he has a new scheme and he has to make it work. Three times in the last two years we have listened to this subject being debated, and I am getting to know the speeches in reply fairly well.

By and large, the substance of the right hon. Gentleman's speech this afternoon has not differed very much from the previous ones. He replied on the same lines. Great tribute is paid to the keenness of the men who volunteer. Agreement is expressed with the views on this side. One or two slight indications of possible action are then outlined, and he ends with a statement of the very considerable difficulties that lie ahead. I agree with all that, but I say that unless these difficulties can be put right and unless the scheme can work, it is going to be the biggest waste of time and manpower the country has ever undertaken. If voluntary recruiting does not work, the results will be appalling. You will not have an Army and you will waste a lot of young men's time.

The right hon. Gentleman said he did not think he would get things right for two years, but the time is getting very short. It has been going on for 12 months and progressively during that time the Government have been expressing more and more anxiety. I regret that that anxiety was not expressed a little earlier and a little more done at an earlier time. I say to the right hon. Gentleman that I have the greatest fears about this recruiting. If it does not come off, the whole thing will fail, and I believe he should very seriously examine the matter now, because if his doubts and fears, expressed tonight, come true, either it will mean he will have a bigger Regular Army altogether or else the whole scheme will fail. If that should happen it will be not only a disaster to our defence, but a national disaster, and an appalling waste of manpower.

Mr. Keeling

Before I ask leave to withdraw my Amendment—

Mr. Shinwell

I should have mentioned, if I may, that so far as the terms of the Amendment are concerned, I am in full agreement.

Mr. Keeling

I thank the right hon. Gentleman. I should like to ask him, before withdrawing my Amendment, to give an assurance that all constructive suggestions, including those he has not had time to mention, will be carefully considered, and the decisions communicated to the hon. Members who made them.

Mr. Shinwell

I give the assurance that they will all be looked at, but hon. Members will not take it amiss if I do not reply to every one. I shall do my best to do so.

Mr. Keeling

On that assurance, I beg to ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question again proposed.

10.33 p.m.

Mr. Wyatt (Birmingham, Aston)

I apologise to the House, after a very interesting Debate on recruiting for the Territorial Army, for returning to the main theme of the Army Estimates. There are two particular aspects with which I should like to deal. First of all, what do these Estimates show us to have as an Army? And is what we have got as an Army organised in the best way? The second one is, apart from the internal organisation of the Army, whether or not the Army is distributed economically so as to get the maximum effectiveness for the minimum force.

I will start with the internal organisation. I am very disturbed, on reading the Army Estimates, by the thought that the British Army is reverting to its customary state of heavy over-insurance and top-heavy organisation. It is getting far too many troops behind the lines and becoming ponderous and semi-immobile. Although we have at the present moment some 534,000 soldiers more in the Army, and it is still over double the size of the pre-war Army, we can at the moment only produce, as a striking force, two infantry divisions, one parachute brigade and one armoured regiment. Quite independently of anything which has been said in the "New Statesman," I am con- fident that is the case. I am certain that we cannot produce more than that as an effective striking force. I would be glad if the War Office could deny that but I know the Under-Secretary cannot give a denial without departing from the strict truth.

I agree that difficulties of demobilisation and the transitional period account for a great deal of the lack of effective striking force, but it is absurd that there should be such a discrepancy between the size of the Army and its striking force. Even before the war, when the Army was less than half its present size we could put at least five divisions into the field. It shows that there has been no attempt whatever to reorganise our Army on modern lines, or to learn the lessons of the recent war. During the war we had three million men in the Army, and we could only, at the best of times, produce 30 divisions out of them. The Germans had five million men, and as many as 290 divisions at one time; and they never had less than zoo divisions. That is a far greater proportion to the number of men involved than we had. I suggest that we ought to learn from the German method of organising an army, and that we might evolve some methods of our own, because, although we defeated the Germans, they had incomparably the best army fighting in the last war. This shows a great failure to develop our own ideas and to copy the effective examples of others.

The German army achieved a much higher effectiveness and economy of manpower because it rigorously cut its overheads. For instance, it centralised its supplies much further back, and this saved some 50 per cent. of the carriage of supplies and of vehicles, and of the men needed to move those supplies. They also used semi-military units for administration behind the line, a practice which we should be trying to develop. But they gained primarily by reducing the size of their infantry division from nine to seven battalions. That is a point with which I would like to deal in a few moments. They had smaller divisions because it was found the smaller divisions were just as effective, that they were more easy to manœuvre, and achieved the same results.

Then, in 1942 the German, army reduced the size of its fighting companies to 80 men, against our fighting companies of 120 men, and achieved the same results with fewer casualties. I see that an hon. Member opposite is indicating disagreement; but if he looks at an article by Colonel Purdue in the United States Infantry Journal he will read the categorical statement that the American army could have saved 50 per cent. of its casualties if it had not had so many men in the forward fighting units and had kept more in reserve, as the German Army did. That is the way in which we ought to be trying to re-organise our Army, but I do not think the War Office is doing anything about it.

Another thing which could easily be done is to re-organise the control of a division so as to cut out the three somewhat superfluous Brigade Headquarters. I served at Brigade Headquarters, and also at Divisional Headquarters, so I have no particular malice against one or the other. I think we could cut out the three Brigade Headquarters, with a considerable saving of men in each division, and allow the Divisional Commander to control a smaller division of some seven battalions, directly with the aid of a deputy.

Corps headquarters are often absolutely useless. In a battle a corps commander will never willingly give up a division when there is a desire to build up another corps. The headquarters itself is an enormous one. During the last war it was the size of the average infantry battalion. Those men would have been very useful in the front line. An Army commander could easily control some five or even seven divisions direct himself. One has seen quite clearly during the war this appalling increase in the links in the chain of command, and it was something which worried the present Chief of the Imperial General Staff. It worried him so much that he created a special regiment—the Phantom regiment—to keep him informed of what was going on. He was separated by so many links of command from the battle that he was without information and lost the power to manoeuvre quickly.

It is vital that we should try to reorganise our Army along those lines; but even if it is not done, the target which the War Office has set itself is unlikely to be fulfilled. There are some doubts about recruiting enough volunteers for the Territorial Army. Next year, when we are to have 345,000 men in the Army, only 100,000 are to be conscripts, so there must be a Regular Army of 245,000; but we have only 145,000 now. We recruited 28,000 men last year, plus 13,000 on short-term engagements, and at that rate we are not going to have 200,000 men in the Army by the end of the year. It is disturbing, too, to learn that many of the men being recruited are not of the potential N.C.O. standard, but of the S.G.3 or S.G.4 standard, who cannot be N.C.Os.

Since each of the men in the Regular Army is to take his turn in training the Territorial Army, the matter is serious, and I suggest that the pay code is one of the troubles. It looked good by war standards, and seemed to work out well, but it is not attracting the right type of man. We cannot afford to put up the rates of pay for Regular soldiers, by increasing the total amount paid out at the present time, but we can effect a differential rate. The money paid to the National Service man ought not to be at the same rate as that of the man following the Army as a career, and I see no reason why a Regular soldier, for the first 16 months should be in the same position as a National Service man. This makes him join up for a trial period as a National Service man. But at the end of one's first year in the Army, one reaches one's lowest ebb in appreciation of Army life, and the result is that a man tends to say "I am opting out." We have to do the same sort of thing for the tradesmen. There is going to be a very serious position, as the Secretary of State for War said this afternoon; we are not getting enough men for the technical arm at the moment.

So much for the internal arrangements of the Army—the actual structure of the Army. What about the things which might be done to get more effectiveness out of what we have got? Is the Army distributed in an economical way so that it can get the maximum effectiveness for the minimum force. Our Army is the largest, and the most expensive arm we have. We have lost the services of the Indian Army, and that makes a considerable difference, because we used to use that Army from time to time when the occasion arose to deal with troubles in the Far East and Middle East. But we have 150,000 Gurkhas who are available for service outside India. It will mean that even next year our Army will still be double the size it was pre-war.

Mr. A. R. W. Low (Blackpool, North)

Surely the hon. Member has made a mistake in regard to the number of Gurkhas. His Majesty's Government have concluded a new agreement in regard to them, about which they have told us nothing. It is Gurkhas plus Colonial troops.

Mr. Wyatt

I only glanced at it. Yes, it says, "Colonial, etc., and Gurkha Troops." In any case that is a substantial addition to the strength of the Army we maintained before the war. I wonder whether that Army is not rather too large for our present purposes, and for what we can really afford. The reason why we have this badly organised, ineffective, sprawling Army is because of the state of mind of Ministers which can be put down to the spirit of compromise at the moment in His Majesty's Government.

In the first place the Army is much too large for policing duties; on the other hand, it is not sufficiently well organised and is far too small to act as a serious deterrent to any potential enemy which we might have. We all have one nation in mind when we think of a potential enemy, and it would not be a deterrent to that potential enemy that we have an Army the size that we have. Instead of having a small Army which could be effective we have a sprawling Army, too big for our requirements. The War Office have forgotten the maxim of a most distinguished general, Frederick the Great, that he who attempts to defend everywhere is weak everywhere. That is the position into which we have now got.

The present structure of the Army is based on the old conception of defending our Commonwealth, including the Middle East and the Far East, without any change of strategy or realisation that around the Empire and Commonwealth the conditions have changed during recent times. The most appalling mistake is that we are trying to do the impossible. We are trying to defend on exterior lines. We are trying to defend the United Kingdom by troops in Germany and in the Middle East, by the same method, we have troops dotted around in Greece, the Suez Canal zone, Cyprus, Transjordan, Aden and so on. The history of military strategy clearly demonstrates that there cannot be defence on exterior lines unless there are vastly superior numbers, and we have not got vastly superior numbers. By keeping these soldiers in the forward, outward positions we are asking to be forced to withdraw them ignominiously one by one.

It is much better to concentrate all these troops in one area in each of these centres. That means we could then operate on a system of interior lines, which puts us in a position in which we could advance or threaten to advance instead of having continually to retreat. By having our forces concentrated in any particular area local trouble can be dealt with by the very knowledge of our presence. Our potential enemy, by reason of such an arrangement of our forces, is placed in a position of uncertainty as to what our exact intentions would be at any given time, whereas as at present our scattered forces can be pushed back one by one. That I believe is the best possible reorganisation which we could undertake. It would take far too long to go into this matter in any greater detail, and as I have still something more to say, I do not want to keep the House any longer.

But this, I believe, is the basis for the reorganisation of our dispositions throughout the Empire. I disagree entirely with the views of my hon. Friend the Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) who implied in the Defence Debate last Monday, that we ought to get rid of most of our military commitments and hand them over to the Americans as we can no longer afford them. I do not believe that to be the case. I think that by a more drastic reorganisation, and by a more effective and economic use of the forces at our disposal, we could concentrate ourselves in vital areas and maintain ourselves independently of the Americans, and not allow them into areas from which we would prefer to exclude them. We must take a realistic view of what we can do and what we can cover.

It is quite clear that the Suez Canal route nearly killed us in the last war. Our tremendous efforts in defending it committed us to maintaining a large force in that area. It is true that we drew away a large force of the enemy, but we did cling to the belief too long that we would be able to use that route between this country, the Dominions of Australia and New Zealand and India. In the next war the Suez Canal is completely out. One atom bomb or sabotage could put it out of action. We must therefore concentrate on perfecting the route round the Cape. We must realise that this is what we have to do and we must base our troops on African bases. Africa is far more important to us than the Suez Canal or the Middle East. It is far more important than the hypothetical defending of oil in the Middle East. I think we could have a far more effective series of bases in Cyrenaica, Sudan and Kenya.

I see that in the Memorandum by the Secretary of State there is in paragraph 57 something about a store holding area being built in Kenya. I would have liked to have heard more about this area in Kenya, how it is getting on, what is being spent on it and what have we got there? I think we should also try to develop our route by road and rail between Kenya and the Sudan. If this was done we could take our troops away from Transjordan, Iraq, Cyprus and Greece, these dotted and dangerous outposts which only act as irritants and temptations to the Russians. We could put between ourselves and the Russians a desert, which is a much more effective form of defence [Laughter]. Hon Members may laugh but the desert was used as a form of defence with great success by distinguished generals during the last war.

Colonel Wheatley (Dorset, Eastern)

The hon. Member mentioned a railway between Kenya and the Sudan. Would he give some indication where it would go? Does he realise the geography of the place? Has he never heard of the southern region of swamps?

Mr. Wyatt

I believe there is already a small railway there, and there is a possibility of getting a road between Kenya and the Sudan. But it is absolutely vital to regroup our forces now along these sort of lines. If we do not do that then the Empire to which hon. Members opposite are devoted and to which hon. Members on this side are equally devoted, although perhaps not in exactly the same way, will begin to crumble, or increasingly crumble, step by step and quickly diminish. The same sort of thing applies to our position in Germany. It is absolutely useless to maintain troops in Germany as a deterrent to the Russians because the Russians could sweep us away in a few days.

By all means let us use Germany as a training ground for a few soldiers and have a few policing duties, but let us keep our striking reserve in the United Kingdom and make no attempt whatever to defend Germany from the Russians. We cannot do it unless we arm the Germans again. I do not suppose anyone in this country is prepared to take that step. It would, in fact, be an effective form of defence but it would have certain political implications. However, it would be a great mistake to leave our troops committed in an area where we could not relieve them. Our task in these circumstances would be to protect our own shores with our own very inadequate National Service Army which we are now building up until help arrived from elsewhere because we could not send out an expeditionary force in the circumstances. And the same sort of regrouping can be applied also to the Far East, though perhaps it is not necessary to do it so drastically there because I think we have a reasonably adequate force to deal with any trouble there. But the Government are still being remarkably squeamish in making claims on the Dominions to provide troops which may be required in the protection of these communications.

We have to give up this present bluff and concentrate our troops into effective fighting units and see that they are effectively concentrated in the areas that I have mentioned, so that they may be a danger to someone and not a laughing stock which can be knocked over. I understand that Mr. Stalin's method, when assessing the fighting strength of another nation, is to inquire how many divisions they have and when his friends in the Kremlin tell him that the British have two divisions, as they no doubt did long ago, he probably does not feel that it is necessary to deviate from his particular line in any direction. But, if, when he asked how many divisions there were, he was told that we had some seven or eight divisions effectively placed in strategic points and that his military adviser did not quite know what we would do in any given circumstances then, perhaps, he might be inclined to think of us as being more dangerous than our present very weak and flimsy structure would lead him to suppose.

At the same time, our industry would be in a better position to maintain such a force and the strength of the country as a whole would become more formidable in military terms. There is still plenty of time to reorganise along these lines. War is not imminent at the moment. If it were imminent at the moment we could not put up a fight in it with our present Army. At the moment we could not offer any sort of deterrent to anyone in any area, but if we reorganised we could offer a serious deterrent and could fight well in an emergency until help came. We would also be making an army more realistic in proportion to our economic strength. We would have a better chance of operating a balance between America and Russia and maintaining our present independence in peacetime from both of them.

11.0 p.m.

Mr. Hugh Fraser (Stone)

I think that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Aston (Mr. Wyatt) got many of his facts and figures wrong. He referred at some length to the overplus of Colonial troops and of Gurkhas. I think that if he looks at it more carefully he will find that in what he was referring to he misread his paper even more than he thought he had done. He was referring to troops who are attached to the Army as hewers of wood and drawers of water. His original contention falls to the ground and—

Mr. Wyatt

I did not say that we had too many of them but was very glad to see them there. One of the points was that we should develop some military units for use behind the lines.

Mr. Fraser

I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman could not make his argument clearer to me and I will deal with some of the other points he raised later on. Now, I think it is my task to complain to the Financial Secretary and not add my bouquet to those already cast so lightly into the lap of the Secretary of State for War from all over the House. What I would complain about chiefly is that it is very difficult for the House to draw any conclusions as to how this money is being spent. The Secretary of State for War and all the Defence Ministers under the aegis of the Minister of Defence preserve this passionate pursuit of top secrecy—top secrecy "spinning the higher the fewer," which means, as far as we are concerned, the higher the demands for money and manpower the fewer statements of exact position of troops, exact categories and exact equipment. I really think that it has got to a pitch which is beyond reason—this secret-mindedness pursued by the Defence Minister. It is almost impossible to tell how money is being spent. It is almost impossible for any hon. Member in this House to judge correctly what is happening. If more facts were given to us as in 1936, 1937 and 1938, we would not, on the one hand, make speeches such as the hon. Gentleman has just made; and on the other, we could face our problems more seriously.

I seriously believe that it is the height of absurdity for the Defence Minister to believe that any opponents or enemies of this country are not able to obtain from their own secret service channels these facts which in the past used to be revealed to Members of this House. It is fantastic to believe that unless full authoritarian steps are taken the spy system or various research departments of an enemy Power cannot glean with great ease these facts which used to be made available to Members of this House at the time of the Defence Estimates. It is really almost impossible to carry this absurdity further than it is being carried at the moment by the Army Estimates we have to deal with today. I think when the right hon. Gentleman speaks about the need, or the possibility, of increasing or reinforcing the recruitment of the Territorial Army there is no question, on looking back to 1938, that one of the chief causes for the rapid increase of recruitment both to the Territorial and Regular Army was that it was then made clear how serious our military position was.

I think really that the Minister's speech today has not, in any way dissipated the doubts which existed in my mind and in the minds of more distinguished hon. Friends of mine on this side of the House. We have had really little from him in the two speeches today which added an iota to anything that has been known. All that we heard is that the strength of the Infantry and of the Royal Armoured Corps will have to be further reduced and that only a part of the Regular Army can be regarded as an expeditionary or striking force. It was said, in addition, that the demands and equipment provisions for the Territorial Army will only, with the greatest difficulty, be met. Far from calming our doubts, I suggest that the Minister's speeches tonight have only exacerbated them and made them more serious. I think what his first speech confirmed was this: that the great run-down of the British Army has been too slow and ill-timed, and what is happening is that in this year, with the cumulative effects of last year added, the run-down will produce something approximating to chaos.

We are not only in a crisis year at home—we are in the first year of a deepening European crisis which is also the chaos year of the Armed Forces, and especially of the Army. In the two years ending April, 1949, something like 2 million will have to have been passed through the cadre of the Regular Army. The Minister said this year that three or two out of every five men in the Army will have to leave it. I think the House and especially hon. Members on this side have been left with the impression that the chaos time and the crisis are to be co-incidental. I think he has done nothing to reassure us that the Regular Army is not in danger either in regard to its efficiency or on account of the very large intake of conscripts which it will undoubtedly have to have in proportion to its proper strength. We know there has been a reduction from the intake, which should have been 150,000 to 100,000 a year. Even so there remains a proportion of two to one, and I really believe, as the hon. and gallant Member for Carshalton (Brigadier Head) pointed out, there is very considerable danger on account of the time our Regular soldiers will have to spend in training conscripts, in helping Territorials and on being seconded or loaned abroad.

I believe that all that will endanger the strength and the striking power of the Regular Army to an extreme degree. In fact we have to face the fact that the Regular Army might become not so much a striking force as a series of Army schools. A danger may be emerging that the next war will be lost on the playing fields of Catterick and in the drill halls of Luneburg. That point has not been anywhere redressed by the speeches the Minister has delivered. We question the adequacy of the training which conscripts will be given when they are in the Regular Army on their way to the Territorials. On that point again, I do not think we have been reassured.

Finally, we have not been reassured that the country can pay for and maintain properly this huge Army which is to be built up by 1954. We have to face the fact that although the Minister made promises to the House last year, he cannot reassure the House that the Territorials shall be issued with armament equivalent and as good as that issued to the Regular Army. We are dealing with armament and equipment which is partially obsolescent and is becoming obsolete. In the next six or seven years we shall have to equip a million soldiers with the most up-to-date armaments in the world. We question very much whether that is a physical and an economic possibility; whether this has been properly considered in relation to all the economic factors which so vitally affect our strategic commitments. We have seen, again, that fear emphasised by the speech from the Minister this afternoon when he spoke of the difficulties of providing housing and accommodation. How much more difficult to re-equip a million men.

We hive a picture of an over-strained, and I believe, an under-trained Army being built up. It is not the well coordinated, cohesive, integrated picture which has been built up by the Minister. I very much fear that we will have to reconsider the whole thing most carefully before 1949, and certainly before 1950. I myself have no very constructive suggestion to make except to say that I do approve of National Service. I believe that the conscripts could be combined in a civil defence organisation which could deal with A.A. and civil defence, as, after all, happened to some extent in Germany. The Minister talked of a break-up in the Regular forces and accepted the idea that it was impossible for the Regular forces, which will be largely occupied with the training of others, to be drawn upon for an expeditionary force. The Minister admitted that a special force would be set aside inside the Regular Army to act as an expeditionary force. He is admitting that in present circumstances it is extremely difficult to produce a striking force. Cannot he set aside more units by keeping the conscripts separate from the Territorial and Regular Army? I believe that we may be forced eventually to do that.

It is not only on this question, and the passion for secrecy which has swept the Government benches, that I query what has been said. I believe that the Defence Ministers are showing not merely an aspect which seems to be one of sealed lips, but one which might almost be described as blindfoldedness. I believe that defence in its broadest aspect, not merely of this country, which is the metropolitan Dominion, but the question of the basis of our defence in the world, with the Colonial and Dominion interests involved, is overlooked. The Americans often talk of their "hemispheric defence." They have held conferences on the subject. The Prime Minister says that it is impossible to convene a conference for the defence of a more complicated area than that of North and South America. Today the only reference that has been made by the Secretary of State for War was to the fact that some 60,000 troops have moved out of India. There was no question, no remarks about our Colonial forces. The Colonial forces, I must point out, are different from those forces referred to as "Colonial, etc." The Colonial forces are made up of men who had a brilliant and glorious war record. There is no need for me to speak about the two V.Cs. which were won during the recent war by a Fiji Islander, and an African; no need to talk of the part taken by the King's West African Rifles in the Somaliland campaign; of the West African Frontier Force; of the West African and East African help to our forces in Burma and elsewhere on a large scale.

We have asked on repeated occasions from this side of the House: What is the attitude of the Minister of Defence to be on the question of the Colonial troops and their employment? He was asked in March and August last year, and before then. The answer in these Estimates seems to be that the amount of money for their pay and allowances is cut this year by £120,000. While we have seen far too slow a run-down of our forces at home, in the Colonial forces we have seen far too quick a run-down. We have seen in Africa a run-down from 379,000 to 87,000 in two years. I hope we shall be given some information, about those forces. It is idle to say that the Gurkhas will help to replace those Colonial troops. The Gurkhas, whom we have the privilege of having as soldiers employed by the Crown, are not and cannot be regarded as a net gain; they are units saved from the military wreck which was the Indian Army. We have the great questions to resolve of the distribution of our Colonial forces, and of the extremely complex system of our Imperial defence. These questions ought to be answered.

I have not time tonight to deal with all the variations and facets of the problems. I want only to ask one or two questions about our forces in West and East Africa. They are extremely important points. The hon. Member for Aston said Africa had become an area of vital importance to us not merely because of new dangers, because of the loss of our bases in the Middle East and in India, but because it is becoming, and must become, an area of vital economic importance to us, equivalent eventually, possibly, to what we have lost in the Dominions of India and Pakistan. During the war there were forces there; a great force was built up; and there was set up at Mombasa a powerful base for operations in the days of S.E.A.C. We want to know what forces there are there today. It seems absurd that these forces could have been entirely reduced. Last summer we were told—by the then Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, I think it was—that we had one operational division in East Africa and one operational division in West Africa. I question whether those divisions are operational today. I question whether, if they are operational, they are a sufficient force for the defence of so vast an area so vitally important to this country.

It is not sufficient merely to increase the number of the "Colonial, etc.," troops. Incidentally, I think that it is an intolerable insult to call anyone "et cetera." The point is that there should he built up an East African corps, a force capable not merely of defending the area hut, if need be, of fighting outside it. Looking back on the history of the King's African Rifles and other regiments, I express the hope that it will be possible that these troops can be used outside the area, provided they are used in a climate as warm as their own. I really believe the time has come for a more imaginative approach to Africa. If it is to be the Utopia which many Members opposite said it is to be, the continent which will be largely responsible for the continued greatness of our future, we must see that its self-defence is helped and matters put on a grander and more Imperial basis. As the hon. Gentleman who is to reply will know, there is at the moment an arrangement—a good one and I hope it will continue—which began in the war that instead of the Colony, the War Office pay for the upkeep of local Colonial forces, whilst the Colonial Governments make contributions by way of appropriations in aid to this country.

The question of self-defence and self-finance must be considered in the new light of the economic commitments of this country. I know that before the war in Kenya there was some displeasure because troops in Kenya and paid by Kenya had to carry out garrison duties against the fear of Italian invasion from Somaliland and Abyssinia which was an Imperial commitment. That sort of thing should not recur. There must be increased recruitment of troops in this area. Africa must become to us something of what India once was in wealth and strategic importance. It is magnificent in material. We should regard it from the military point of view not as an area for exiled Britons, but as an area in which officers can gain experience, not in short engagements of one or two years, but on the basis on which officers used to join the Indian Army. That point of view needs to be carefully worked out. There are mutual advantages to Europeans, ourselves and Africans which are hound to occur. For a continent which is developing towards democratic self-government the training of character and technique and educational facilities offered by the Army can be of immense advantage, as most hon. Members know.

In conclusion, I believe we must in this day and age take an over-all look. We must not think only of the 45,000,000 people in these islands, but of the population of this metropolitan Dominion and the 60,000,000 people in the Colonies of a population together of nearly 100,000,000. In a defence system of immense complication and immense variation, the brunt of some things must fall on us, especially on the economic and production front. The machine must not break down completely by over-straining the central forces and under-manning the periphery of the defence area. This is the question I ask the Government tonight. Will they look at these things broadly? The colonial world cannot redress the balance of the old, but if we try we may avoid the involuted spiral of economic disaster in which all will perish, our military forces and this country as well.

11.24 p.m.

Mr. Emrys Roberts (Merioneth)

Since the general Debate was resumed, there has been much gloom and despondency in the speeches. The last speaker could not see any light anywhere. The only thing of which he seemed to approve was the National Service scheme. I thought that was the one thing which most hon. Members thought had, in fact, broken down, as some of us expected it to do. I wish that the hon. Member for Aston (Mr. Wyatt) was in the Chamber. His was an extraordinary contribution. I was surprised to hear him uphold the myth of the super-efficiency of the German Army. I thought the publication of Milton Shulman's work, "Defeat in the West," which has become a classic and is studied at the Staff College, had disposed of that myth. I do not think there is any evidence for the assertion that the German Army was in any way superior to the British Army during the war when the British Army attained comparable strength in numbers. The evidence is that there were far more muddles and lack of responsibility at all levels, and a lack of strategic planning, in the German Army than there was in the British Army. Having prepared for the next war in terms of the last, and having pleaded in favour of concentration, the hon. Member proceeded to disperse his forces round the shores of Africa to contain the Russians. If that is to be our method of dealing with Russian aggression, the sooner we leave these islands, the better.

Having treated the general question in this way, the House will forgive my turning to a special subject. I have not spoken before because I was unfortunately absent during the speech of the Secretary of State for War; but I have atoned for that absence by being in the House for six and a half hours in succession. I am a member of a nation which is martial in spirit and peaceful in purpose; I am one of the representatives of the Welsh nation. The extraordinary thing is that, although from every part of the House fears have been expressed about the potential striking force and efficiency of the Army, there is more evidence at present of the activities of the Army than in any pre- vious time of peace. One has only to be at any large railway station on a Sunday night to see as many troops as he could see during the war. One wonders, sometimes, if there has been any large-scale disbandment and demobilisation.

The activity of the Army—and unwelcome activity—is nowhere more apparent than in Wales. I am afraid there is a growing alienation of the War Office from the people of Wales which should not exist, and that that alienation is the fault of the War Office. It has developed in two directions. It need not exist, and it can be dispelled. To his credit, the Secretary of State for War tried to take steps to dispel one cause of alienation; but having taken one step forward, he halted rather lamely, and no one knows just where he stands at the moment.

My first point is the huge disparity between the demands of the War Office for land in Wales and its claims in Scotland and England. I know that the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) will regard me with some scepticism when I say that there is more scope for the War Office to take land in Scotland than in Wales. I have made the point on previous occasions. The War Office wants 105,000 acres of land in Wales, and that is a far higher proportion than is asked for in England or Scotland. It is 3 per cent. of the land in Wales, but in England the proportion is only 2 per cent., and in Scotland less than 1 per cent. The Secretary for War, in his second speech tonight, said how happy and successful his visits to the Territorial Army at various places had been. On 22nd January, he met Welsh local authorities at Shrewsbury, and I doubt if he could recount the same tale of happiness and pleasantness all round at that meeting.

There is a strong determination throughout Wales—and it is evident among every party—that the demands of the War Office must, somehow, be reduced. I would like this matter to be looked at tonight from two aspects. There was, at that conference, a demand for the global figure to be reduced from 105,000 to 50,000 acres. The right hon. Gentleman, with his usual felicity of phrase, said that the demand was ludicrous, but said nothing about investigating the possibility of reduction.

There was also the demand for the spreading of War Office requirements more fairly over the British Isles. I must say that we were not impressed with the argument that the climate was not fit for the training of troops in Scotland because it rains there, but as my hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey (Lady Megan Lloyd George) pointed out, it sometimes also rains in the middle of a war as well. I should like to be assured that this demand for an investigation into the possibility of spreading the training areas northwards is being considered. If one looks at a map of Wales, and then one of England and Scotland, with the training areas scattered over them, one sees more and larger dark spots on the map of Wales; one sees that there is no comparison between the Welsh parts and the other parts.

Another matter which is creating alienation of feeling is the treatment of Welsh units, and this is a subject on which I spoke in the Debate on the Army Estimates last year. I also tried to catch Mr. Speaker's eye during the discussion on the Amendment on the Territorial Army. The point is that certain battalions of the Royal Welch Fusiliers have been disbanded and I think that they have been replaced by anti-aircraft units. I understand that certain Staffordshire units have been fitted into the Welsh Division. If the War Office would give an assurance that there would be a Welsh division or a Welsh regiment, and assure us that all Welshmen, whether Regulars or Territorials or National Service men would, if they wished, be posted to a Welsh division, it would go a long way towards dispersing that feeling of alienation, which I regret has grown up. This is a reasonable request. Large numbers of Welsh-speaking Welshmen feel out of place in the atmosphere of the Army. I conclude by summing up in this way. If the War Office would look again at this global figure for land and the question of a Welsh unit for Welshmen, they would go a long way towards dispersing that alienation. There is a strong feeling growing up amongst all parties and all local authorities that will survive and militate against the relationship between our countries unless what I suggest is done. Such a feeling would cripple the efficiency of the British Army for many a long day.

11.35. p.m.

Colonel Wheatley (Dorset, Eastern)

At this late hour I do not intend to detain the House for more than a few moments, and I will confine my remarks to one point only. It concerns the Amendment which was proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Keeling), and which has been disposed of. However, I was not lucky enough to catch Mr. Speaker's eye earlier, so that I should like now to make a few remarks about the Territorial Army. We all know how difficult it is at the moment to get young men to volunteer for the Territorials. They take the point of view that they will wait until their call-up for service as conscripts. Therefore, we must turn to the ex-Servicemen of the last war. There are a great many of these banded together in various old comrades' associations—the ordinary county regiment old comrades' associations, and the associations of the Royal Artillery, R.E.M.E., R.A.M.C. and so on. They have great difficulty in finding places in which to meet. If the War Office would encourage units in charge of drill halls to let these associations use those halls for their meetings and social gatherings these old soldiers would be a great reservoir of potential strength for the Territorial Army. If they are allowed to use the canteens and clubs of those drill halls they will mix with the men of the units, and it will be found that they will volunteer for the Territorial Army.

I would ask the Under-Secretary to turn his attention to the question of the charge to be made to the old comrades' associations for the use of these halls. At present the county Territorial associations who are in charge of the maintenance of the halls are inclined to put their fees up too high for these organisations. If they were charged some nominal sum it would be in the interests of the Territorial Army. I would prefer to see them charged nothing at all, and permitted to go there by arrangement with the unit in charge of the hall. If the Under-Secretary would give this point his attention, he could get ex-Servicemen who would be potential N.C.O's. for the Territorial Army.

A great deal of difficulty will arise about non-commissioned officers in the Territorial Army. Who are these noncommissioned officers to be—the young man who has done a year in the Regular Army, or the recruit who has volunteered for the Territorial Army? If these older men, who have seen service for four or five years during the war, are secured, they will make first-class N.C.O's., and that will relieve the Regular Army from having to undertake that job. If the Under-Secretary will look into this matter, I feel quite certain he will get their help.

11.40 p.m.

Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)

I know that it is rather late, but we must remember we are being asked to sanction £305 million of the national money. After listening to the speeches in these Debates, we should not light-heartedly consent. I have listened very carefully to four Defence Debates—those on Defence, on the Air Estimates, on the Navy Estimates and this one today on the Army Estimates. I have listened very carefully to the experts on war, who have had vast experience of two wars, and now I am more convinced than ever that we should refuse to vote this sum of £305 million for the Army Estimates. We were told by the hon. Member for Stone (Mr. H. Fraser) that the expenditure of this sum was a practical and economic impossibility. I entirely agree. We cannot saddle ourselves with this expenditure of £305 million and all that it means, and with the waste of manpower that it will cause, without facing economic disaster. I submit that during the next 12 months we shall see a complete bankruptcy of our military and foreign policy and we shall have to face as a nation, the absolute need for a complete change of ideas on international policy and on life.

We have had running through all these discussions the same note, namely, that we cannot defend this country in the old way. The story was begun by the hon. Member who led for the Opposition in the Defence Debate. He enunciated the theory of dispersal which was submitted by the hon. Member for Stone. We can no longer defend this island and must disperse our forces through the Commonwealth. We must adopt a strategic policy of concentrating our armaments industry in Canada. There have been various theories that we should make our strategic bases in Kenya and other parts of the Empire. I want to know how it is to be possible to disperse the industrial population of these islands in all parts of the globe. What will happen to the large industrial centres of western Scotland? Or to Lancashire, to the Midlands and to the heavy industries of this country? It may be that the military experts and strategic Chiefs of Staff may be able to deploy themselves to Winnipeg or Kenya or somewhere else, but if this policy is carried out the industrial population will be left helpless to face the atomic bomb.

The Secretary of State for War seems to be quite convincing. I have a great respect for his industry and his capacity as a Minister, but I am sorry to see that he has arrived at this cul-de-sac as Minister for War. He elaborated with great patience and skill this question of organisation, and there is no doubt that he has mastered the intricacies of the subject. But what is the preparation to be for? Whom are we going to fight? We are to be asked to go on the recruiting platforms and urge young people to join the Territorial Army. We are to ask them what? To fight against the Russians. We are to call for recruits to join this organisation to fight a war on the assumption that we are going to fight against our Allies of the last war.

I do submit that when the Secretary of State for War comes along with his theoretical disquisitions on organisation and comes to deal with military policy, and when he goes on to the recruiting platform in his capacity as Chairman of the Labour Party, he will find a strong opposition inside the Labour Party itself. We know quite well that among the working-class organisations there is absolutely no enthusiasm—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)

All this is entirely out of Order and has nothing whatever to do with the Estimates.

Mr. Hughes

I was trying to develop a point about the Territorial organisation, but I will leave it. I want to deal with a few other points arising out of the Estimates.

I take first the subject of petrol. On page 109 of the Estimates we are told that there is a bill of £60,860,000 a year for petrol, fuel, oil and lubricants, and I suggest that at a time when from these benches there are so many demands for an increase of the basic petrol ration, that sum can be much better spent than on the Armed Forces. Then I should like the Under-Secretary to give us some information about the expenditure on the Polish Army. In these Estimates, I see that the Poles are to cost us in the next financial year£4,295,000. This sum is for 10,000 officers and 20,000 men. One hon. Member quoted the figures of the relation of officers to men in the British army, and he said that one officer to four men was absurd, but here we have one Polish officer to two men. How long are we to continue to spend money on the Polish Army and on Polish officers who will, sooner or later, have to adapt themselves to the uncomfortable fact that they have got to work? How long is it to continue?

The hon. Member for Merioneth (Mr. Emrys Roberts) dealt with the question of land in Wales. He was rather inclined to get rid of his troubles by suggesting that there should be less land acquired for the War Office in Wales and more acquired in Scotland. I wish he had been present this morning in the Scottish Grand Committee from which there came—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

It is not permissible for the hon. Member to relate what happened in the Scottish Grand Committee.

Mr. Hughes

I apologise. I only wish to point out that from all parties in Scotland, whether they be Liberal or Conservative or Labour, there is the strongest opposition to the plans of the Secretary of State for War to acquire land in Scotland for military purposes. When I raised this question before, the right hon. Gentleman said I was acting as a sort of irresponsible person and that I did not speak for anybody, but he must see that the strongest protests are coming in from the various authorities in Scotland. Land is being acquired in Scotland for the purpose of military training. We are told that it is for tank training and gunnery exercise. I do not know how far, in the light of what we have heard in this Debate, the tank is obsolete. We hear from the military authorities who sit on these benches quite a different story from the authorities who sit on those benches. An hon. and gallant Member has told us that bayonets are simply obsolete, and today we have heard from the hon. and gallant Member for Perth (Colonel Gomme-Duncan) that the bayonet and the infantry are indispensable.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

What I said was that we have to realise that the infantryman, with his rifle and bayonet, is the chap who has to sit on the bit of land we want to hold. I did not say that the bayonet was everything.

Mr. Hughes

There were others who had no confidence in the bayonet at all.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. Member appears to be conducting a private war.

Mr. Hughes

I submit that I am perfectly in Order, and I want to deal with the important point raised by the right hon. and gallant Member for Perth. His theory is as we need the Infantry to hold the position, we need this new Army which, incidentally, we have not got and are not likely to get, as an army of occupation somewhere, not in Kenya but on the Continent of Europe somewhere. Are we to think of the possibility of holding Russia by an army of occupation with bayonets? I submit that if we face up to the realities of modern scientific warfare, the military experts are all lost; that the layman's guess is as good as theirs; that we are spending vast millions of national money and wasting our economic resources, instead of putting it into the country and changing our international policy, realising that the days of British Imperialism are over and done with; and that we have to set out on a new path and build a new world.

11.52 p.m.

Mr. Fitzroy Maclean (Lancaster)

I will not venture to follow the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) in his very spirited and enjoyable bayonet practice. But there is one other aspect of modern warfare which I would like to touch upon very briefly. Few people, I think, foresaw the important part that small-scale raiding operations would play in the last war. One was inclined to think that the cataclysmic clash of modern armies would leave little scope for the small unit operating on its own. In fact, small bodies of troops, and even solitary individuals, operating on their own behind the enemy lines played an important and even a decisive role in most of the major theatres of war. The reason for this, I suggest, was that the last war, unlike the 1914–18 war, was essentially a war of movement. Furthermore, after the initial Axis successes, which our opponents did not always have the time or resources to consolidate, we had an enemy, who, while strategically on the offensive, was tactically very often on the defensive, and that, of course, is an ideal situation for irregulars to exploit.

It is difficult without special knowledge, which I do not possess, to speculate with any degree of accuracy as to the tactical character of any future war, although, on present form, what our American Allies used to call the "overall strategical conception" is, I think, clear enough. But I see no reason to doubt that opportunities for effective operations on enemy-held territory by small, highly skilled, highly trained bodies of men will once again present themselves. In particular, it is worth noting in this connection that modern weapons and installations, for all their destructive powers, are themselves often highly vulnerable to well-planned and well-executed surprise attacks. It is, therefore, with feelings of pleasure and relief that I see that provision is made in the Estimates for the maintenance of the Special Air Service Regiment which so distinguished itself in this respect in the last war.

In this, as in other respects, the Estimates are not particularly revealing, and I sincerely hope that adequate provision has been made for the recruitment and training of this all-important unit so that in the event of war the necessary cadres may be there in readiness. When I first joined the Special Air Service Regiment in the Desert at the end of 1941, it numbered half a dozen officers and about 30 other ranks. We made our parachute jumps from Wellington bombers borrowed on their off-days from the R.A.F. station next door when they were not required for bombing operations. At that time we had the distinction of being the only British parachute unit in the whole of that Middle Eastern theatre of war. Indeed, the fact that the Special Air Service Regiment ever came into existence and its successes in several theatres of war, were in the first place largely due to the initiative and enterprise of one subaltern of 25.

Unlike hon. Members opposite, I am all in favour of individual enterprise, but here, I think, is a case for planning, and extremely careful planning, in advance and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see that the provision of units of this kind, adequately trained on an adequate scale, is never again left to chance. When I say that in little over a year one of my brother officers drawing, I think, a captain's pay, destroyed with his own hands, and a certain amount of high explosive, over 100 enemy aircraft on desert airfields, I think that he will agree that he is getting very good value for his money. The fact that on his occasional visits to Cairo this officer did a certain amount of damage to some of the more obstructive members of the Corps of Military Police should not, I think, count too much on the debit side. He was, it may be added an Irishman.

It has been argued that small-scale raiding can equally well be carried out by small detachments from larger and less highly specialised formations. I do not agree. To my mind, not only is a far higher degree of specialisation needed but a special type of man is required for such operations. Some men are happier when they go into action as part of a larger unit or formation; others prefer to go in on their own or with half a dozen others. It is, above all, the latter type which is needed for units like the S.A.S. Regiment. I feel confident that amongst a nation which has never been lacking in the qualities of adventurousness and enterprise, there will always be plenty of volunteers for work of that kind.

11.59 p.m.

Mr. Swingler (Stafford)

I hope the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. F. Maclean) will forgive me for not following him into the field in which he has such a distinguished record. I rise merely to ask two simple questions or to clarify two simple questions which have arisen out of this Debate. The first is to return the attention of the House to the question of men in the National Service scheme on which I had the opportunity of saying something in the Defence Debate. There has been a great deal of talk about the prospective breakdown of the National Service scheme, and if there is anything which sets the beginning of such a breakdown, it is the raising of the calling-up age in the next two years as announced in the Defence White Paper. The responsibility for that lies with the Army because it is the Army next year, in 1949–50, which is going to take practically all the National Service men.

It is, therefore, the situation in the Army which has apparently made necessary the step taken by the Government to amend the Act and raise by 1950 the call-up age to 18 years 9 months. I would like to know what will be the situation in March, 1949? From the figures given in the Army Estimates and the Defence White Paper, what ratio between Regular soldiers in the Army and the National Service men is required in order to avoid this amendment? I do not believe, as some hon. Members do, that this situation is inevitable. If the facts were to be given, and we were told just what ratio the Army require, what additional numbers have to be raised, we still have a period of 12 months in which to produce a solution.

The noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) gave some figures on this question. Unfortunately I cannot, from my own calculations, quite agree with the figures he gave. No doubt an explanation will be given by the Under-Secretary. As I make it out, there will be 345,000 in the Army at 31st March, 1949, of which 218,000 will be Regular soldiers and 127,000 National Service men. I am not sure whether these figures agree with those of the noble Lord, but I had an idea that they were different. Those figures are at the present rate of recruitment. What is the ratio required in order to deal with the whole National Service intake? That is what we want to know. Then we could know what steps need to be taken in order to prevent this change in the National Service scheme which may have a great deal of danger to it. Surely it must be possible for the War Office to say what training personnel are required for a given intake of National Service men?

What is the Manpower Economy Committee in the War Office doing? I do not think that we have heard sufficient of it in this Debate. There have been the usual complaints from both sides of the House about the swollen headquarters and civilian staffs as disclosed in the Defence White Paper. In response to representations, all the Service Departments set up manpower economy committees, and since then we have not heard the results of their investigations and what recommendations they have produced.

Earl Winterton

Regarding the previous point of the hon. Member, I have looked up my notes and find that my figures were almost exactly the same as his. I would support his appeal for a clear explanation on this matter because it is the only thing which matters in this Debate.

Mr. Swingler

I am very glad to be able to agree. I was not able to follow the figures given by the noble lord at the time. I hope that we shall have a definite statement from the Front Bench, if the situation on which the noble lord and I agree is correct, as to the definite ratio required, and what additional number of Regular soldiers are needed. I hope that the Under-Secretary will also say what results have been produced from the researches of the Manpower Economy Committee which deals with complaints about swollen staffs in certain respects and the tail wagging the teeth of the Army.

12.5 a.m.

Mr. A. R. W. Low (Blackpool, North)

Like my noble Friend the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton), I was glad to hear the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Swingler), who studies these things very carefully, put exactly the point which has worried all of us on this side of the House, and which my noble Friend put again in this Debate—the ratio in the Army between the National Servicemen, on the one hand, and the Regular volunteers, on the other hand. Indeed, as I listened to the right hon. Gentleman's speech yesterday, it did occur to me that the excellent principles which he stated, principles which appealed to the whole House, were principles which we on this side of the House, certainly, and many hon. Members on the other side of the House, have always believed in as principles on which the Army should be founded. When, however, he came to talk of the National Service scheme as the basic structure for the Army, I felt the same doubts as I felt during the last year, the same doubts which my noble Friend mentioned earlier and the same doubts which my right hon. Friend the Member for War- wick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) mentioned the other day in the Debate on defence.

Before I reach the main points I want to put to the House, I should like to say a word or two about two speeches to which we have listened in the last few hours. The hon. Member for Aston (Mr. Wyatt), whom I am glad to see back in his place, really astounded me with some incredible errors of strategy, geography, tactics and organisation. It seemed to me that he had been doing too much sitting in the armchair. The hon. Gentleman, we know has had experience in various formation headquarters, and from time to time his contributions in the "New Statesman," and in other newspapers in which he writes, are quite excellent; but I do not think he was up to form at all tonight. In his talk to us about internal and external lines, he seemed to become very confused, because in some way the line which included Greece and Palestine was—

Mr. Wyatt


Mr. Low

— more external than the line which included Cyrenaica and Kenya and the Sudan. I do not know what he was talking about, but in the particular form of warfare he may have been talking about, the only way to get internal lines is to establish yourself in Siberia.

Mr. Wyatt

Will the hon. Gentleman allow me to intervene as he did not understand what I was saying? I thought that possibly he, having been a brigadier, and other hon. and gallant Gentlemen opposite who are or have been brigadiers, would understand what I was saying. I meant precisely this, that if we regroup our forces in any particular area so that we have them concentrated in the centre of that particular area, we can operate in that area on interior lines instead of, as in the whole of the Middle East, having outposts based on such places as Aden, Crete, Cyprus, and so on. We should then be working on interior and not exterior lines.

Mr. Low

I see it a bit more clearly, but the hon. Gentleman is still dotting things about, and dotting them in different places. I would say to anybody who agrees with him—if there is anybody who agrees with him—that what he said did not take into account at all the idea of Western Union. It left that out of account. If the hon. Gentleman reads what he said he will see he will have to modify it.

I should also like to refer to what my hon Friend the Member for Lancaster (Mr. F. Maclean) said about the Special Air Service Regiment. I hope that the War Office are paying attention to these excellent units, not only the Special Air Service Regiment, but the other units which proved themselves during the war, and which, if the full benefit is to be got out of them in the future, must be kept going now.

Now I can come on to the points I wish to make. First, a general point. Though the right hon. Gentleman's speech seemed to me excellent in principle and aim, I think it is the duty of the House to compare those excellent principles and aims with the solid facts which we know and the estimates which we have before us. Though I know he has these excellent aims, which we all have, about accommodation and recruiting, to make the life of the soldier enjoyable and beneficial, if we are to have a really good Army after this, we must get back to the realities of what the position is today and what it is likely to be in the course of next year covered by the Estimates. It is with that in mind that I come to certain details.

First of all, organisation. There is only one thing the hon. Member for Horn-church (Mr. Bing) said with which I agreed. He made the point that he would like to know what the rôle of the army is. That has not been stated to us clearly. Look at the White Paper on Defence; as I pointed out to the Minister of Defence last week what he said in the White Paper on Defence of this year on the rôle of the Army really did not add up to anything at all. But unless one has quite clearly in one's mind what the role of the army is, it is going to be very difficult to criticise anything done in these Estimates.

I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman a question about organisation. He said that infantry battalions were to be reduced again. Last year they had come down to 91. I understand that they have already gone below 91 and that possibly they have already been reduced to about 70, one battalion per regiment. Does the right hon. Gentleman's state- ment that they are to be further reduced mean that they are to become below 70 in number? Because that is almost exactly half the number of infantry battalions we had in 1939, when hon. Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen are only too fond of saying we had a hopelessly small Army. I would refer to what the hon. and gallant Member for Perth (Colonel Gomme-Duncan) said about the importance of the Infantry. So long as there is not a press-button war, most hon. Gentlemen will agree that the Infantry will retain their great importance.

The next thing is a favourite subject of mine—the relation of the teeth to the tail. Last year, by what I believe to be a slight indiscretion, the right hon. Gentleman who occupied the position of Under-Secretary of State at the time, told us that there were 2¼ tails to one tooth in the present Army. I have examined again the 1939 Army and, so far as I can find out, there were 5½ teeth to one tail. That is a tremendous swing over. What is the position today? I cannot be satisfied, and I do not think my hon. Friends are satisfied, with an Army which has so many tails to one tooth. There is something very wrong. I would remind the Minister of what the Leader of the Opposition said about the Navy when he spoke—how important it was to comb the tail. I should like to have some information about the relationship of tooth to tail.

The third point under this head is this. The right hon. Gentleman referred, for the first time that a Secretary of State has done so since the war, to the necessity of having a striking force as a reserve. I am sure we were all glad to hear that. When the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor was in office, he was never able to give us that satisfaction, though he was extremely hard-pressed for it. How long is it to be before we have such a striking reserve; how long is it to be before the right hon. Gentleman can say about the Army what was said about the Navy by the Minister of Defence the other day—that the Navy components of a task force could be sent out from this island in ten days or less? That seems to me to be of the greatest importance to hon. Gentlemen in this House, whose job it is to see that money is properly spent and that we have a proper Defence Force.

Let me pass on from organisation to equipment. That is a subject which is seldom discussed in the Debate on the Estimates, but I treat it as of the greatest importance. The Memorandum of the Secretary of State says that stocks are becoming depleted. This is the time when hon. Members of this House should concern themselves about the quantity, as well as the quality, of the equipment available to the Army. It is no good having masses of reserve men unless there is also an equivalent amount of reserves of equipment, weapons and vehicles. It is no good trying to persuade us that we are strong in the Army because we have a manpower reserve, unless the equipment and vehicles are available for the men who are called up.

Let us look at the figures. Last year, on warlike stores we were to spend £36 million. But we find from the Supplementary Estimate, that we under-spent that figure by £14 millions. That £36 million which was to be spent last year was said by the then Secretary of State to be the minimum essential. In other words, we spent £14 million less than the minimum essential. This year, we are to spend £30 million on warlike stores. We may take it that of that sum £14 million is immediately necessary to make up the figure of last year. That means £16 million of further expenditure this year, and we find from the Defence White Paper that of that figure, £13 million is to be spent on maintaining vehicles—old vehicles—in the Army. That leaves approximately£3 million—and £3 million only—to be spent on warlike stores; as it were, new expenditure, for this year. It may be right; but I would like an assurance from the hon. Gentleman who is to reply, that everyone is quite satisfied that we have all the equipment which we ought to have for a striking reserve, for the occupation armies, for the training of the men who are being called up, and for the young volunteers who recently have joined the Regular Army. I would stress once again that a man without a weapon is not a soldier.

New weapons are, I understand, a subject in which the right hon. Gentleman is personally interesting himself. As I think Lord Chatfield said in a Debate in another place some time last year, the word "research" was used in earlier days as an excuse for not providing the necessary equipment for all three Ser- vices so that training could go ahead. I hope that is not happening now. I understand from the words used in the Memorandum of the Secretary of State, that we have now reached a stage from which we can go ahead with production following the latest research. But I would remind the House that after an excellent idea has been thought up by these men in the research departments, and has been approved for production, it takes a great deal of time before that weapon gets into the hands of those who are to use it. Many hon. Members may remember the history of the six-pounder gun. This was approved in 1938, but was first used in the desert in 1942—four years later—and then it was used, alas, by people who had not had long enough to train with it.

I mention that because I am not altogether happy about the equipment of the Army. We are, I think, short of jeeps; I do not think any more are coming from America, but anybody who served in the Army during the last war knows that it would be very difficult now to get on without something like the jeep. Are we coming ahead with production of anything like the jeep in this country? Again, something has been mentioned about the new tank, but we do not know how much is being spent on tanks because expenditure on mechanical vehicles is lumped together. We should have these figures separately, as I recall it used to be given in the Ministry of Supply Estimates. Perhaps I may say once again that I am glad to see that the Minister is interesting himself in the new weapons, and the House may be as interested as I was when I opened my "Daily Herald" one morning and was informed that there was a "Shinwell rocket." The first thought which came to my mind was one of delight that this really was a new weapon and not a new form of rebuke from senior members of Government Departments. I hope that it will not have the same boomerang effect as the rebukes have had.

May I pass now to the subject of manpower? A great deal of this Debate has concentrated on the importance of recruiting volunteer personnel for the Regular Army and the Territorial Army. I will not refer again to the Territorial Army, which was adequately covered in a special Debate, but the various factors which affect recruiting to the Regular Army should be remembered. There is no one all-powerful factor, but we should consider individual points. If one put up the pay that, I agree, would not supply the answer to all the difficulties; if one provided all the accommodation which has been asked for, or settled, finally, with the trade unions that a tradesman on leaving the Army with high qualifications would immediately get his "ticket," that would not by itself give the answer. Separately, those things would not remove the difficulty, but, taken all together they amount to something very important.

I think we may have been right in treating the volunteer army as an undermanned industry and we may, therefore, be justified in raising some of the rates of pay, particularly for the tradesmen. The recruiting position of tradesmen is something in which the right hon. Gentleman is particularly interested at the present time. We should appreciate that the pay rates for the Army were settled in 1945, when wage rates, as a whole, were 15 per cent, lower than they are today. The pay code was based on the average wages applicable at that time, and they have risen considerably since then. Moreover, and I think that the War Office knows this, the comparison then was the wrong comparison. It was made between the average Army pay and the average civilian pay, which takes no account of the higher earnings available to skilled men. If the right hon. Gentleman is frightened to put up the Army pay I would remind him, as I did his predecessor, that in the United States the pay of other ranks has been increased since the war by between 20 and 50 per cent., and the pay of officers between 10 and 20 per cent. The pay code here shows that the overall pay of other ranks has fallen by 1½ per cent. since 1945.

I am afraid that I am taking up considerable time, but I will hurry on. As regards the building programme, I hope we will have an answer to the point by my noble Friend the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) and the right hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) as to why it is that apparently the R.A.F. are so much better off in the matter of building plans than is the Army. It is well recognised that the Army's quarters are older than those of the R.A.F. and that the Army is to expend at least as much as the R.A.F. I am not attempting to minimise the importance of the R.A.F., but I do not see why the soldiers should live in less comfortable quarters or have fewer married quarters than the airmen.

Let me introduce one new point here. A little time ago the rations in all the Services were reduced in order to bring them closer into line with civilian rations. Would the hon. Gentleman satisfy the House if he can that the comparison has been properly drawn? Is he quite certain that the soldier has the same opportunity as the civilian of getting the same amount of food? Is he quite certain that by reducing the amount of meat and certain other things in the ration he is not putting a greater demand upon the purse of the soldier? I should like to remind the hon. Gentleman that just before the rations were reduced the amount of meat and certain other items for N.A.A.F.I. were reduced, and the reduction took the form of a reduction per head rather than an overall amount? If the hon. Gentleman is doubtful about that he should consult an answer which the Minister of Food gave to me not long ago.

To sum up what is at the back of my mind about the present position, I certainly have a feeling of anxiety. I know the right hon. Gentleman has not been long in his present position. I feel this anxiety that the demands of the present are pulling against the demands of the future, and the demands of the future are pulling against the demands of—

Mr. Wyatt

The past.

Mr. Low

The hon. Gentleman really does not understand my argument. It seems to me that the Army's future was decided when the international scene was less dark and cloudy than it is today. Therefore, they took a long view and concentrated all their plans on a period eight or 10 years distant. Everything was sacrificed for an efficient Army after a period of seven or eight years. Now the position is different for all three Services. The demands of the present should weigh more heavily in the balance. I see nothing in these Estimates or in any statement by any right hon. Gentlemen to indicate that the demands of the present have been made to weigh more heavily. We can see examples of this by the state of our antiaircraft defences. Look at the miserable amount of men whom we have immediately available for that purpose in the Territorial units. It may be said we have a lot of trained reserves, but is there an organisation to collect them up?

Mr. Shinwell

Oh, yes.

Mr. Low

The right hon. Gentleman says, "Oh yes," and I will accept that, but we should have been told about it. It would help us to appreciate the situation more fully. The next example is that of equipment. We have not really provided, or taken any steps to provide, ourselves with equipment for the immediate future. I would say that on present plans we are not going to have up-to-date equipment for four or five years at least. The same thing can be said of the striking force. It is quite clear that there is no striking force available immediately unless plans have been changed completely. Finally, on the figures given by the hon. Member for Aston and some gentlemen who write in the "New Statesmen," it would appear that we are short of organised formations. This seems to be out of tune with the statements of the Government in another place, in this House and outside at public meetings, about our present international policy.

It is extraordinary that from the facts which are told us that the Army is made out to be so weak. We are getting concentration on the appalling difficulties, the number of men to be released this year—three out of every five—and the emphasis has been on the lack of formations, the absence of reserves, the difficulties of antiaircraft defence and the lack of equipment production. These are all statements made by the Government or their supporters. I simply do not believe that the Army is as weak as it is made out to be. My right hon. Friend made the same point earlier in the Debate. Cannot we be told something about the strength of the Army? We know that two and a half years ago we had one of the best armies in the world, the best in quality; we know that these men have gone back into civilian life and might be available at short notice again; we know that there is a good deal of equipment available, but we get the emphasis put all the time on the things that are bad. Let us have from the hon. Gentleman today something to reassure us.

I would like to pay my humble tribute to the Army wherever it may be, either overseas or at home. My right hon. Friend did it at the beginning of this Debate, and I would like to close on this note, and remind the House, though I hate giving figures, of the appalling casualties that are being suffered by those brave men who are in the Army in Palestine. Since November—I saw this on the tape today—76 men have been killed and 193 wounded. That is an appalling sacrifice, a sacrifice that is perhaps some measure, but some measure only, of the strain and anxiety and the demand for courage which has fallen upon the men who are serving there. I suppose that wherever the Army is there is a certain strain, but there is nothing to compare with the position of those who fight for us in Palestine.

The right hon. Gentleman is quite rightly concentrating on trying to give the soldier and officer confidence that they have the support, not only of himself but of the people of the country as a whole. I wish him well; I am sure we all do in that task. I hope that he will remember the lesson warning him against making promises he cannot fulfil, the lesson given by his own C.I.G.S., who has pointed to things, and it was assumed they would be put right quickly. We on this side of the House will give him all the support in his fight against the financial men to get just conditions for the men in the Army.

Perhaps I can close on this note and reiterate what has been said that we on this side of the House do feel a certain anxiety about the state of the Army and about the future plans for the Army. We feel that anxiety very largely because we have not been given all the information for which we have looked. We have, perhaps, got a little more each year but we have still not got all the information for which we look. But though we feel that anxiety, we were glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman pay the tributes that he paid and make the statement of the aims that he made in his speech earlier today.

12.35 a.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for War (Mr. Michael Stewart)

My noble Friend the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) early in this Debate expressed the hope that it would concentrate on serious points, points of substance and that in any reporting it might receive from the Press emphasis would be given, not to trivialities, but to points of real substance. I think it is true that throughout the whole of this long debate hon. Members have followed his exhortation and the example he set himself, and which earlier had been set by my right hon. Friend. We have had a prolonged discussion, nearly every part of which has turned on some point of real and vital importance. It is true that occasionally the Debate did tend to go rather wide and some hon. Members, particularly, if I may say so, my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), tended to concern themselves with points which would have been more appropriate in a debate on foreign policy or a defence debate than to a Debate on Army Estimates. Some points have, therefore, been raised to which the House would not expect me to reply.

Naturally, very great emphasis was laid on the main question as to how is the Army organised; what is its real cost to us and what is it for, what is its function? On the question of its real cost, the hon. Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) made what I was bound, to regard as an over-ingenious speech in which he demonstrated that the mere money figure in the Estimate could not give a complete picture of the cost of the Army to the community. That, however, can be said of any estimate of any Department. One can always by ingenious accounting point out that there are certain tasks done by one Ministry which are, in fact, services to another Ministry and one can pursue that kind of chasing of accounts indefinitely. Indeed, if the Government, in the figures they present, were to do that job completely what would there be left for the ingenuity of the hon. Member for Hornchurch to accomplish?

But there is very natural anxiety on the part of many hon. Members. It has been expressed by the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Swingler), among others, in the use which the Army makes of the manpower which it subtracts from the country's human resources. May I speak, first of all, of the Manpower Committee to which the hon. Member for Stafford referred. That committee found itself working at a time when the Army was, in any case, run-down and where it would not have been a wise direction of its work for it to have looked continually at particular units and formations and to have said, "This ought to have been so much less immediately" when the mere process of running-down would solve the problem which they were examining. The committee, therefore, quite rightly acted on certain main principles. The committee conducted an examination into a system whereby establishments are considered and determined. It considered in detail the work of the administrative units and of training establishments. It has made on these topics a number of recommendations which are now being implemented.

Unless it should be suggested or feared that this is merely an assumption or that the War Office is giving itself a testimonial, I should mention that this committee was helped in its work by people from outside, from industry, from the banking world, from commerce, and the trade union world. It is going on with its work and is now making a detailed investigation into the soldier's day, and what use is made of his time in various types of units. I would ask the House to believe, then, that we are alive to the question of getting the best value out of the manpower which we take from the nation. The question was raised by the hon. Member for North Blackpool (Mr. Low) of how we divide this manpower between what is roughly described as "teeth" and "tail." Well, the answer at the moment, one may make a swift generalisation, is that it is about a fifty-fifty division between what is popularly called "teeth" and what is popularly called "tail." [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman says, "A great improvement." When I looked at the report of last year's Debate it was not clear to me what exact interpretation should be placed upon my predecessor's remark regarding the ratio of "teeth" to "tail" or whether it was a ratio of "teeth" to the whole. At any rate, the position is now a fifty-fifty division between the two.

Brigadier Head

I apologise for this intervention, but it is very important to all of us. The hon. Gentleman said that it is fifty-fifty "teeth" to "tail." Does he mean by "tail" people in khaki, headquarters units, and that the "teeth" are the fighting units? We would like to know for the future.

Mr. Stewart

No. I am using roughly the same classification as was used by my predecessor last year—Infantry, Royal Engineers, Royal Artillery and the Royal Army Corps. I do not consider that the terms "teeth" and "tail" give anything like a true picture of the problem. Those who are not "teeth" are not merely "tail." They are, without disrespect to the "teeth," the brains of the organisation without which the "teeth" cannot function, and it is a natural tendency with increasing mechanisation of warfare for the proportion of the "teeth" to become less than was the case in previous decades and previous centuries.

Now, if we turn from the question of what does the Army cost us to the question raised by so many Members, "What is its function?" I think it will have become clear by now to hon. Members that the conception we have is that the function of the Army is to provide a defence for the United Kingdom, which means not only defence against invasion, but defence against aerial attack, assistance to forces engaged in civil defence, and, further than that, to provide for the protection, and, as need may arise, the reinforcement of garrisons overseas. I would remind the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher), who seemed to find in any mention of garrisons overseas the figure of imperialism, that the concern of this country with certain places overseas springs from the solid and inescapable fact that this country is vitally dependent for certain supplies on overseas routes.

Whatever may be the political relationship between this country and parts of the Commonwealth and Empire, the vital concern of this country with the defence of certain areas on the map remains a plain fact of economics and geography, and beyond that, as has been said, the function of the Army is to provide a striking force. Some hon. Members have asked: "Where will that striking force be used?" I submit that that is an idle question. We might go around all the persons responsible for the provision of armies, great and small, in the world and ask them the question: "Against whom will your force be used?" and they will reply, I think, as I have replied. It is an idle question, it is an attempt to make a prophecy into the future. Who would have attempted in 1918 to foretell in what place or in what circumstances our forces were to be used in 1940 and the subsequent years?

If the Army is to perform these functions we shall very naturally be concerned with its organisation and, therefore, the chief emphasis has been given to the relation between the Regular content and the National Service content of the Army.

Earl Winterton

It is, I think, important to make clear that this question of the striking force might quite likely form the subject of the conversations taking place elsewhere. I think the hon. Gentleman should make it plain that it is not ruled out that that striking force would form part of our military commitments.

Mr. Stewart

The noble Lord will not expect me to trespass into the spheres of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs; but surely it is a little platitudinous to say that we are interested in the military commitments, because military strength would be one of the things under discussion: that follows inevitably. We are concerned with the relation between the Regular element and the National Service element in the Army. It is not possible to state consistently the proportion between the two. It depends partly on the nature of all our overseas commitments. Again, if there were some change in the economic circumstances of the country or the political situation in the world as a whole which caused us to find a greater—or less—intake of National Service men we would need a greater—or less—supply of Regulars to train them, but not necessarily a greater supply of Regulars for other purposes.

The proportion between the Regular and National Service content does not remain constant. It is affected by the size of the Army as a whole; but I want to assure hon. Members, including the noble Lord the Member for Horsham, the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore) and the hon. and gallant Member for Brixton (Lieut.-Colonel Lipton) that the decision that has been taken on the call-up for National Service men was not taken hastily or without very carefully considering the alternative proposals, such as those put forward by the hon. Member for Stafford. I think it is unwise for some hon. Members to talk as if we were on the verge of a breakdown of the National Service scheme. I do not believe there is any evidence to justify that accusation.

Mr. Swingler

This is an important point. Surely it is now possible to state how many Regulars are required in order to train an annual intake of 150,000 National Service men? Surely, it is possible to give an annual figure—that a certain number of Regulars in Britain are required for the purpose of training 150,000 or 170,000 National Service men in one year?

Mr. Stewart

I cannot add to what I have already said on that point. Some of the suggestions made by hon. Members were perhaps not very far wide of the mark; but, as I have suggested, the proportion between the two in the Army is not a rigid and invariable thing.

There is one other point made by the noble Lord the Member for Horsham to which I would like to refer—his suggestion that we should give great weight to the importance of advancing comparatively young men of proved ability. That brings to my mind the suggestion made by the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. F. MacLean) that we should bear in mind the importance of the Special Air Service Regiment and the part that can be played in it by people of exceptional and individual temperament. It seems to me that there is something in common between these two suggestions. It is a warning to us. We shall do our best to heed and remember that great achievements in the military field are often the work of comparatively young people, of people of unusual temperament. It is extremely important that when one is a member of a great disciplined body the working of that organisation does not rule out possibilities being open to young and able persons.

Earl Winterton

What should be avoided—and I put this point particularly to the Secretary of State—was what happened in the 1914–18 war to a certain hon. and gallant Member of this House —I have no authority to give his name—who was a Major-General at the age of 39 at the end of the war. He was demoted, like so many others and did not become a Major-General again until 13 years later because people were put in who, in the ordinary course of promotion, would have held those posts. I am convinced that the same sort of thing is going on today.

Mr. Stewart

The noble Lord's fears that the same sort of thing is going on today are, I believe, groundless. I have already said that the point he has made is one which is valuable and which we shall bear in mind.

If we are to have this national Army with its regular National Service element we are pledged to give great weight to the question of recruiting, to which so many members referred. The hon. Member for Bury (Mr. W. Fletcher) criticised a particular recruiting poster. I noticed that although he criticised it, the poster had evidently stuck very firmly in his mind, and from the nods of agreement of other hon. Members it was a poster very familiar and remembered by them. All of us like to feel that we are a superior type of person not affected by seeing and reading advertisements. That is an illusion with which many like to flatter themselves. We think that they are intended for the less intelligent person, but since everyone had noticed and studied that particular advertisement I cannot think it merited the strictures imposed on it. I believe this question of getting a sufficient volume of voluntary effort and good heart for military service is undoubtedly partly a question, as so many hon. Members have said, of pay, and partly a question of making the nation realise that the task being done by the Army is an immensely worth-while one, and he who voluntarily chooses to enter it, chooses an honourable and vital public service.

We cannot fail to notice, my right hon. Friend and I, the great emphasis and weighty arguments advanced on the question of pay, particularly in regard to our difficulty in managing recruitment in the more technical arms. It is because recruitment is difficult, chiefly in these areas, that the recruiting posters and advertisements at the moment do tend to concentrate more particularly on the men whose interest is a technical one. We may have to consider, if the plans and emphasis change, whether some new type of appeal would not then become appropriate.

The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Knutsford (Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport) made special reference to the position of Army Cadet Force officers. I do not think it is necessary for me to say more than that I listened with great attention and considerable sympathy to what he was saying of the need to provide them with a proper status, and we shall give that problem the most careful attention. The same is true of the remarks made by the hon. and gallant Member for Eastern Dorset (Colonel Wheatley). He had a reference to the Territorial Army. The House will, I think, agree that it would not be proper for me now to go over again any of the arguments that were mentioned and which very properly fitted into the Debate on the Amendment concerning the Territorial Army; but it is solely because the Territorial Army has been already so fully dealt with by hon. Members speaking to the Amendment, and by my right hon. Friend in reply, that I do not propose to touch that subject further myself.

Let me say a word now as to the position of Colonial troops. The hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. N. Macpherson) raised that question, with particular reference to the numbers in the Army. The increase this year is mainly due to the increased use of what are, in fact, labour companies owing to the evacuation of British troops from certain areas. On the long-term policy, with regard to Colonial troops, that is now the subject of consultation between the Colonial governors and the commanders-in-chief. The hon. Member for Stone (Mr. H. Fraser) appeared to emulate a Shakespearean military hero, Ancient Pistol, in that in effect he came to saying: I speak of Africa and golden joys. The Government are by no means unaware of the necessity and the desirability of developing East and West African troops. One difficulty, of course, is that their whole educational background, the background of their community is so profoundly different from that of this country; and if we are thinking of creating a formation which could serve in any part of the world, to the members of which the King's Commission could be granted, we are obviously planning something which takes us some considerable distance into the future. However, all these matters of the financial relationship between the Colonies and the Government here are now under consideration, particularly since the tour made by the Chief of the Imperial General Staff some months ago.

With regard to Gurkha troops, I think we were all moved by the remarks made on that subject by the hon. and gallant Member for Perth (Colonel Gomme-Duncan). We have good reason to believe, however, that he was in a state of unnecessary anxiety on the point of the health of the Gurkha troops. We have not found, from the service they did during the war, that the service now proposed for them will be dangerous and unhealthy for them. They served in India in both plain and hill country. It is true that the climate of Malaya, as hon. Members know, has unattractive features, but that is true, of course, for British as well as for Gurkha troops. On the question of the British officers with Gurkha troops, I do not think the hon. and gallant Member will expect me at this hour to go into detail on every point he raised. I should, perhaps, mention, however, that although there is no additional Indian Army element, Indian Army service does count towards ultimate pension. Also, arrangements will be made about passage home. It was that point about passages home that struck me, when the hon. and gallant Member raised it, as one of the major interests that the officers serving with the Gurkha troops would have.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan rose

Mr. Stewart

I would ask the hon. and gallant Member not to press me. It is very late, and I have a good many points to answer yet.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

The hon. Gentleman has only touched on this matter.

Mr. Stewart

I realise there are a good many financial points on that particular question, but I have not overlooked them. I shall, as with other points that hon. Members have brought forward, pursue them after the Debate. I think the hon. and gallant Member will find that we have not neglected them.

It was also the hon. and gallant Member for Perth who referred to the possible weakening or destruction of the territorial connection between regiments and countries. It is unavoidable in the reorganisation that has been undertaken that the territorial connection will become a bit vaguer and looser. The Army will be associated with the places on the map on a much larger scale and not on the more intimate county scale to which we have been used in the past. I do not see how it can be avoided in view of the greater mechanisation of the Army. That is one of the difficulties in meeting the point of the hon. Member for Merioneth (Mr. Emrys Roberts) with regard to putting Welshmen in Welsh units. In the case of National Service men it would be frankly impossible to do that and maintain a proper balance between the different corps. I may remark that possibly one of the advantages of National Service is that it enables men to meet people from other parts of the United Kingdom they would not meet in the ordinary course of their lives. I would be the last person to say or do anything to hurt the feelings of people in Scotland or Wales— [An HON. MEMBER: "Or England."]—or England —a very necessary addition, which is too often forgotten in this House. I hope hon. Members will recognise that it is undesirable to be too parochial in these matters.

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Stewart

I beg hon. Members not to press me on these points. May I turn from questions of organisation to what one might call personal questions. The hon. and gallant Member for Ayr Burghs spoke of the need for the resettlement of the Regular soldier. The Army educational services are providing through Army educational centres and colleges and contacts with the civilian educational services and with some of the civilian Ministries appropriate provisions for resettlement. We are now in process of making a special branch to apply that to the Regular soldier and we have had help in preparing these plans from the Ministry of Labour and National Service.

The hon. Member for North Islington (Dr. Guest) referred to the special problem, of which he himself has particular knowledge, of the Medical Service in the Army. I must say quite frankly that there is a shortage of specialists. It is extremely difficult to see any immediate remedy for it. It is part of the shortage of medical specialists from which the Army is not by any means the only sufferer. It is important, therefore, that we should make the best use of the specialists we have. An investigation to which the hon. Member for North Islington was himself a party did come to the conclusion that we are acting rightly in that respect. As he suggested, we could possibly obtain further economies by measures of co-ordination between the Medical Services of the three Defence Services. A recently appointed Committee is already working on that problem and I hope it will help to provide a solution.

Another matter affecting the personal welfare of the soldier is the question of rations raised by the hon. Member for North Blackpool. We are satisfied, having considered it most carefully at the time the changes were made, that we are not asking the soldier to accept anything more than a reasonable sacrifice, in view of the position in which civilians and the whole country are placed. Hon Members will realise that with regard to accommodation and food, we are continually having to weigh up the claims of the Services with the claims of other parts of national life. It is extremely important that the nation should never get into the habit of feeling that the Army is the obvious section of the community to be expected to make sacrifices, or to put up with inferior food or accommodation. Conversely, it is important that we should never create a position in which the public at large look at the Army with envious eyes as a kind of privileged class, remote from the difficulties and anxieties troubling the rest of the community. We are searching for the proper middle path between these two dangers.

If I may turn now to matters concerned with the provision of buildings, stores, and equipment, I would like to say that there we must be chiefly concerned with the problem of married quarters, which was referred to by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger). We may complete in this year as many as 600 married quarters, all of which are for other ranks. But we hope, also, to start 500 for other ranks and some 200 for officers. We are not completing as many this year as the Royal Air Force, partly for the reason that the Royal Air Force started building rather more rapidly after the war than the Army did, and partly because we have to put a certain amount of our resources into the modernisation and conversion of quarters. I have made it my business to visit a number of Army married quarters which, like the barracks, range from those built in 1938 to those built before the Crimean War. Some progress can be made, and is being made, in the work of modernisation and improvement. The hon. Member for North Blackpool was particularly concerned about equipment.

Mr. Bellenger

Will the hon. Gentleman permit me to say that I do not think that is a sufficiently complete answer. In so far as new building is concerned, am I right in understanding that the Ministry of Works carried out that work? Surely, in allocating the amount of new building as between each Service, the Minister of Defence could at least see that each Service gets a fair proportion. The hon. Gentleman has just said that because the Royal Air Force got off the mark quicker than the Army—and I understand that they made their plans during the war—they should now have the benefit of having more new building than the Army.

Mr. Stewart

My original answer gave the number to be completed this year by the Army. I also mentioned the number of quarters which we hope to start for officers and for other ranks. I ask the House to believe that we do regard all of our building commitment as having a greater claim than any other; it has a more immediate relation to recruiting and to the problem of making the Army more attractive.

Earl Winterton

The question of married quarters is most important—

Mr. Stewart

I do recognise the importance of this matter.

Earl Winterton

Surely, the hon. Gentleman will give way.

Mr. Stewart

I ask the noble Lord to remember that I have already given way on several occasions during this speech, and I have so much to which I wish to refer. I do not think I can add more to what I have said regarding married quarters. I want to refer to the general points on the matter of equipment which were raised by the hon. Member for North Blackpool. He asked whether we were quite satisfied on the question of Army equipment. I would answer that when one considers the need for new design, new weapons, the difficulty, as he himself pointed out, of getting the production that we would like, and the fact that if this country were to pursue a course which provided an abundance of equipment for the Army, the risk of upsetting the whole national economy would mean that we were throwing away the substance for the shadow. We feel that the decision we have reached represents a right balance of all these conflicting considerations.

The hon. Member for South Ayrshire raised the point about equipment and asked about the consumption of petrol, oil, and lubricants. I can tell him that this is very considerably less this year than it was last year, and it is noteworthy that the decrease in consumption is greater than the decrease in the numbers of the Army over that period. In other words, not only has there been a reduction in the Army, but there has been a genuine economy as well.

The question of the land used by the Army was raised by the hon. Member for Merioneth and I would ask him to consider this. When the Army has to acquire land, it has to be land which is within reasonable reach of centres of population; it has to be land which is suitable to the needs of the Army for training; it must not be land which is a "beauty spot" or likely to become one, and it must not be good agricultural land. Does the hon. Member now ask that we must have further conditions; that all parts must be equal? But subject to the hope that he will not press that point I will tell him that, so far as is possible, we are prepared to discuss all these questions of land with the local authorities or the local representatives on the spot.

May I now pass to another matter? One solitary reference was made in the Debate to the Poles, for whom the British Army is responsible, and who figure in these Estimates. I can assure the hon. Member who raised that subject that it is not an exaggeration to say that the end of this particular piece of administrative work is now in sight. Some one hundred thousand men have gone into the Resettlement Corps, and rather more than two-thirds have gone into productive work in this country, or to their own country, or have emigrated to the Dominions and other parts. Many of the remainder will be readily available soon for productive work.

Important as is this work, and important though it has been, there have been other duties, such as administrative work for prisoners of war, and the carrying out of certain medical work not strictly within the province of the Army. All these duties have been "loaded" on to the Army, if I may use that expression, but they have not been given undue prominence in this Debate. After all, the person for whom my right hon. Friend and myself are mainly responsible is the ordinary British soldier on whom the whole nature of policy and statecraft ultimately depends.

I would refer, in conclusion, to the question of the functions of the Army. One of the most moving parts of the speech by the hon. Member for Bury was where he asked us to consider, in recruiting publicity, putting before the young man thinking of joining the Army the question of the honourable duty which he would render to his country. Sometimes in time of peace, when the Army is apparently standing still, it is not always appreciated what is the nature of the constructive work being done. Hon. Members will recall the tributes paid to British troops when they came back from Indonesia—tributes paid by representatives of all parties at variance among themselves, and who had looked with hostility on the idea of those troops being in those parts. There were the tributes paid to British troops from Burma. Much can be said of British troops wherever they are stationed; and wherever British troops are, there is a source of encouragement and some kind of guarantee to those who are law-abiding people that they will be able to go about their lawful concerns and enrich the world in its present difficult times. The British Army can, without any exaggeration, be regarded as a constructive force in the world, and as one of the springs of its recovery.

When we are voting these Estimates and considering what we are going to get for the money, we must remember the great services, which I have described, that have been rendered by the British Army everywhere. The British Army in the end means the ordinary British soldiers of all ranks, who serve sometimes in circumstances which are tedious and sometimes, as in Palestine, in circumstances that are ugly and dangerous, and which bring with them not the normally expected dangers of war but treachery and violence. We may apply to the person, whose welfare and work we are, after all, discussing tonight, the lines which were applied to him as describing his entrance into the first World War: His shoulders held the sky suspended, He stands, and earth's foundations stayed.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Before the hon. Gentleman sits down will he explain to the House, to Scotland, to Wales and to England, how mechanisation can possibly affect the territorial connection between the soldier and his enlistment into the Army? May we have an answer?

1.18 a.m.

Mr. Driberg (Maldon)

In the last few minutes of his very able speech, my hon. Friend touched on several matters which are secondary, but none the less, as he said, of great importance and interest. He referred, for instance, to his Department's care of prisoners of war. I am one of those who believe that we have no moral right to keep these prisoners here all these years after the war is over; yet it is one of the miracles of this pragmatical nation that so many hundreds and thousands of these Germans are being sent back to Germany with a new conception of the way that a society ought to be run, as a result of what they have happily learned in this country, thanks to the enlightened administration of the War Office under my right hon. Friend the present Secretary of State and, if I may pay a real tribute to his predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Basset-law (Mr. Bellenger), who started the various concessions more than a year ago, at Christmas in 1946.

Another matter, also a secondary but important one, which my hon. Friend referred to was the question of Colonial troops. He referred rightly to the necessity of considering what he called their "community background." I hope the War Office is watching this very carefully, because this may obviously become increasingly important year after year: drastic and speedy changes in "community background" are going to occur in connection with the great food production schemes now in train in Africa, which will no doubt form part of the subject of next Thursday's Debate in this House.

My hon. Friend started his speech by saying that the Debate had dealt mainly with questions of substance rather than of detail. I want to raise a special point of detail which is not without importance, since it affects the welfare and the demobilisation of perhaps 1,000 or more men at present stationed in the Middle East. It is a matter on which the House has so far been inadequately informed.

It was raised at Question Time today, and at Question Time a fortnight ago. It is the question of the deferment for two months of R.A.S.C. clerks in age and service group 67. When this was raised two weeks ago, Questions were asked about it—and this, I think, shows that a good many people have been concerned—by five hon. Members, the Members for Taunton (Mr. Collins), Colchester (Mr. Charles Smith), Hitchin (Mr. Asterley Jones), Huntingdon (Mr. Renton) and myself. On that occasion my right hon. Friend circulated in Hansard a statement which, while not actually denying that this deferment was taking place, put it in these words: The Commander-in-Chief in the Middle East may find it necessary to defer the release of certain individual clerks for short periods. It is not yet possible to say exactly how many men will be involved."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th February, 1948; Vol. 447, c. 1752.] My right hon. Friend gave that answer on 24th February. Yet it was almost three weeks earlier, on 4th February, that an order had been issued in the Middle East saying: It has been decided that D.O.V."— and I take it that this means Deferment Operationally Vital— for two months must be applied to all Clerks G.D., R.A.S.C., and Clerks T.M.T., R.A.S.C. of A/S group 67. Three weeks before my right hon. Friend said that the Commander-in-Chief may find it necessary to defer the release of certain individual clerks for short periods, it had been officially promulgated from G.H.Q., M.E.L.F., that all clerks in that group were to be deferred for two mouths. The order from which I have just quoted does add an explanation of the deferment and it is only fair that I should quote this explanation, although I am afraid it is couched in the usual jargon: This decision has only been taken"— it states— after every method of bridging the gap between the commitment and the requirement has been examined. Most major units have been screened for potential clerks, and, where possible, these have been posted either to clerks' appointments or establishment on to the School for training. It will be appreciated that if large-scale transfers were made the gap might be filled, but the major units would be seriously depleted of a number of essential men. To deplete them too seriously would be unacceptable operationally, particularly in Palestine. Then this explanation goes on to say: The War Office have provided us every available clerk in the U.K. who can be spared for this theatre and the decision to D.O.V."— I have already explained that I believe this to mean Deferment Operationally Vital, though there is another school of thought which maintains that it means Deferment Other than Voluntary; the verb "D.O.V." at least provides a new entry for the lexicon of the hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. H. G. Strauss)— the decision to D.O.V. was not taken until they"— presumably the War Office— had accepted the fact that D.O.V. was inevitable. That explanation may be, on the face of it, fairly reasonable, but I am afraid that it does not quite square with the facts which I shall trouble the House with in a few moments. I feel particularly that the Secretary of State on 24th February, nearly three weeks later, should, perhaps, have been in a position to give us a little more information about this mass, or group, deferment, because it is not only the men in Group 67 who are concerned. The Order—this again, my right hon. Friend did not really indicate in his answer—goes on to say: It is almost certain that D.O.V.2 months will have to be applied to at least A/S Group 68, and possibly to subsequent groups. It seems to me that this group deferment is, in a sense, a breach of the whole principle on which the age-plus-service scheme was based; for, when that scheme was first presented in the last Parliament, and on repeated occasions since when it has been discussed, it has always been explained that deferment of release would be very occasional and would take place only in the case of individual specialists, essential key men, and so on. So far as I can make out, this deferment affects something like 400 men at present, and something like 300 men in each subsequent group which may be deferred. I therefore suggest that my right hon. Friend, if he will be so good, should look again into this matter urgently, and see what can be done to modify this apparent breach of the whole principle of the age-plus-service scheme.

A second aspect of the deferment, also important, was raised at Question Time today—the question whether in fact this mass deferment is really necessary: the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt), who asked the Question, Number 32, asked my right hon. Friend why a particular soldier, one of the clerks in this group, had been deferred for two months when in fact he has not been employed as a clerk at any time since the middle of December, and is now working as the assistant of a C.Q.M.S. who is in no need of an assistant."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th March, 1948; Vol. 448; c. 998.] I am rather afraid, from the letters I have had from the Middle East, from constituents and others serving there, that the case referred to in the Question is not unique. The hours of work that many of the clerks in this group are at present serving do not suggest that there is an acute shortage of clerks. I am informed that at G.H.Q., M.E.L.F., the hours of work for clerks are 38½ a week, spread over six days. Naturally this is agreeable and convenient to every one when conditions are normal, but if this is one of the factors causing deferment, then, surely, these hours should be increased to enable all clerks to be released at the proper time. For example—and this is a suggestion from a constituent, writing from the Middle East—three clerks working for 38½ hours a week could be reduced to two clerks working for 55 hours a week, if necessary. It is true that not every unit in the Middle East employing R.A.S.C. general duty clerks only works them for 38½ hours a week, but in those that do work these short hours, this principle could surely be applied.

There are other unfair aspects of this situation. There is unfairness as between clerks and other personnel in the same age-and-service group. For instance, personnel in age-and-service group 68 at G.H.O., M.E.L.F., have been advised that they will leave M.E.L.F., prior to demobilisation, between 10th and 15th March—that is, in a few days' time; yet R.A.S.C. clerks in this group, which is subsequent to the group about which my right hon. Friend has not yet been able to tell the House very much, group 67, have already been warned that they will be deferred for two months after that. That is one unfairness. Another unfairness is the fact that at G.H.Q., M.E.L.F., technical clerks and R.A.S.C. clerks are employed in the same office, doing the same work; yet the R.A.S.C. clerk must be deferred because he is considered "operationally vital" while another kind of clerk, at the next table, doing the same work, is allowed to go home.

Mr. Speaker

I must point out to the hon. Member that he is discussing matters which are purely Committee matters, and it has been ruled from the Chair, and I rule now, that these are matters for Committee and not for discussion now. The hon. Member had better direct himself to matters which are rather less in the nature of Committee points than he is doing at the moment.

Mr. Driberg

With great respect, Mr. Speaker, one is grateful, as one always is, for your Ruling. I am also extremely grateful to you, if I may respectfully say so, for having deferred it for so long, since I have now almost completed all that I have to say. I will, therefore, end by hoping that my right hon. Friend will realise the serious disappointment that this matter has caused to some hundreds of men and to their families, and that he will try to clear it up as soon as possible, in their interest, and to give the House the full information to which the House is entitled.

Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.

Supply accordingly considered in Committee.

[Mr. HUBERT BEAUMONT in the Chair]