HC Deb 29 November 1949 vol 470 cc925-6
13. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Secretary of State for War upon what basis honorary colonels are appointed; what are their purpose and duties; how many were there in 1938 and in 1948; and how many have been appointed in each of the years 1947, 1948 and 1949.

Mr. M. Stewart

Honorary colonels who are appointed to Territorial Army units have normally had a distinguished record in the Fighting Services, and are persons of high standing in the locality in which the unit serves. They are appointed for a term of five years subject to certain age limits. They are expected to help and advise the Commanding Officer on all matters affecting the unit, but they do not exercise any executive command. There were 212 honorary colonels in 1938 and 563 in 1948. The numbers appointed in 1947, 1948 and 1949 were 141, 93 and 35, respectively.

Mr. Ellis Smith

My hon. Friend has had both military and administrative experience himself. Does he consider that these appointments are any longer necessary, and, if so, will he ask his right hon. Friend to consider appointing in future only those with military experience?

Sir G. Jeffreys

Is not the Under-Secretary aware that these appointments involve no expense to the public, and that they are very much appreciated by the units concerned?

Mr. Stewart

It is the case, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman says, that these appointments do not involve any expense to the public. I think that my hon. Friend will agree that in a matter like this affecting the Territorial Army, we ought to pay a good deal of attention to the people who do the work of the Territorial Army in the locality, who have expressed the view that these appointments are of value.

Wing-Commander Hulbert

Will the hon. Gentleman agree that these officers render invaluable service to units in welfare and recruiting matters?

Mr. Stewart


Mr. Gallacher

Can my hon. Friend say if in the list of honorary colonels there is a well-known trade-unionist or a worker from the factories?

Mr. Stewart

If the hon. Member will put that question down, I will certainly do my best to answer it.