HC Deb 07 November 1950 vol 480 cc745-6
11. Mr. Edward Heath

asked The Secretary of State for War the total number of British divisions in existence on 1st January, 1945, and how many of these were operational as opposed to training formations; and the same figures for the Indian Army at the same date, and those for the British Army today.

Mr. Strachey

On 1st January, 1945, there were 28 British divisions, of which 22 were operational. The Indian Army contained 14 divisions, of which 12 were operational. There were, in addition, in each case, a number of non-divisional formations. The British Army today contains the equivalent of 6½ Regular divisions, all operational. An additional three Regular divisions are now being raised and the number of Territorial Army divisions will be brought up to 12.

Mr. Heath

As there has recently been some ill-informed criticism in the United States Press as to the contribution of this country to the Allied effort in 1945, will the Minister do his best to see that the information service there gives the widest publicity to the information he has given in his answer?

Mr. Strachey

Yes, but, of course, this is by no means fresh information.

Brigadier Smyth

Will the Minister consult his right hon. Friends with a view to trying to resolve the tragic and bitter dispute with regard to Kashmir which is preventing the forces of Pakistan and India from making any contribution to imperial defence or to the United Nations, as they did in 1945?

Mr. Strachey

That is a very different question.

Sir Ralph Glyn

In his answer just now the Minister referred to so many divisions and a half division, and said that three divisions were being added. Is he going to make up the remainder of the half division?

Sir Herbert Williams

What is half a division?

Mr. Strachey

A half is part of the whole. The British Army today contains the equivalent of six and a half divisions.

Mr. Low

Will the Minister say exactly what he means by "the equivalent" of a division, because nine separate battalions and a few separate field regiments may be taken as an equivalent but, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, they are not the equivalent of a division when they are separate and not organised.

Mr. Strachey

It may be convenient to have forces not organised in divisional formation, as, for example, the forces going to Korea at the moment, as the hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well.

Sir H. Williams

Is it half a division when three Liberals vote for the Government?