HC Deb 27 February 1951 vol 484 cc1904-5
37. Sir G. Jeffreys

asked the Secretary of State for War what is the distribution by corps and departments of the 168,700 officers and other ranks described as non-fighting elements of the Army.

Mr. Strachey

It would not be in the public interest to give a numerical analysis. But these officers and men are employed on such duties as the supply, service and maintenance of fighting troops, including medical, dental, educational and pay duties, the manning of base organisations at home and overseas, and on training.

Sir G. Jeffreys

Does the right hon. Gentleman seriously expect the House to believe that it is not in the public interest to give particulars of these men, about whom the Minister of Defence has already made a statement, and is it not very detrimental to the fighting reputation of the Army to know that such an enormous proportion of men are non-fighting elements? Will the right hon. Gentleman reconsider the question of giving particulars, and is he taking any steps to comb out these non-fighting men?

Mr. Strachey

I most seriously maintain that the security authorities take the view most firmly that any answer which tended to give the order of battle of the Army as a numerical analysis would be most undesirable. That is their settled view, and I should be loath to overrule them on such a matter.

Mr. Eden

Would the right hon. Gentleman try to reconsider this? If he cannot give any great detail, it surely should be possible to break down these figures into some details. It really is not an order of battle—it is an order of non-battle, unfortunately.

Mr. Shurmer

Would my right hon. Friend, in the first instance, take away as non-combatants all the batmen to the generals and other officers?

Mr. Eden

The hon. Member has raised a very interesting point. Could we have that breakdown, and all the rest of the breakdown also, of the figures?

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