HC Deb 22 February 1949 vol 461 cc1675-6
27 General Sir George Jeffreys

asked the Secretary of State for War (1) what is the establishment of Anti-Aircraft Command; and also what is the strength of that command at the present time;

(2) whether all the weapons and equipment which will be required for the purposes of Anti-Aircraft Command, when that command attains its full establishment, are available at the present time; or what are the principal deficiencies;

(3) what is the establishment of the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers; and what is its present strength.

Mr. Shinwell

It is not the practice to publish information of the kind asked for in these Questions.

Sir G. Jeffreys

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware—it is partially public property—that there is a very grave shortage, amounting to many thousands of men, in the establishment of Anti-Aircraft Command; is it not a fact that the first shock of war, if it does come, must fall on that command; has not the right hon. Gentleman himself comparatively recently said that the shock, when it comes, will be sharp and sudden; and in that case is it not very necessary that something should be done to bring this command up to establishment in both personnel and equipment?

Mr. Shinwell

I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that we are looking very closely into this very important matter of Anti-Aircraft Command.

Brigadier Head

Is not the Secretary of State aware that this absolute secrecy in this respect is at direct variance with the custom in America; and that such a very tight band of secrecy serves only to alarm people instead of reassuring them, as they think that behind the smoke screen there can be little ready?

Mr. Shinwell

It is not customary to adopt in this country all the practices adopted in the United States.