HC Deb 31 July 1951 vol 491 cc1180-2
42. Mr. John Tilney

asked the Secretary of State for War what percentage of the Class Z reservists called up this year and posted to Territorial Army units have been posted to units whose headquarters are near the Class Z reservist's home.

Mr. Strachey

The information asked for is not readily available. I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Ian Harvey) and the hon. and gallant Member for Petersfield (Sir G. Jeffreys) on 26th June.

Mr. Tilney

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that without Territorial volunteers it would be impossible for a large part of the Z reservists scheme to work at all? Does he realise that certain units, one of which I visited the other day, have only 8 per cent. Z reservists from their home area; and will he see that next year the Records Office has sufficient clerks and machines to avoid that mistake happening again?

Mr. Strachey

I do not think that it is a question of the staffing of the Records Office; it is what priority is given to the different factors in the call-up of Z reservists. Last time, the geographical areas from which they came, suitability for a particular job, and all the other factors were taken into consideration; but we have been going into the question in the War Office of whether, in the event of a further call-up next year, the geographical factor should be given higher priority.

Mr. Ian Harvey

Does not the right hon. Gentleman feel that this particular information is very relevant to the whole of this scheme, and can he say why it is still not readily available?

Mr. Strachey

We should place a very considerable burden on the Records Office if we asked them to do so

Brigadier Head

To say that this information is not readily available is tantamount to saying that it had not been taken into account when these men were called up; and is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is strong feeling in many units that little or no regard has been paid to the geographical question, which is one of the most fruitful questions if Z reservists are to become permanent Territorials?

Mr. Strachey

Some regard has been paid to it, but it has not been given the highest priority.

General Sir George Jeffreys

Is it not a fact that this system is entirely contrary to the whole principle of the Territorial Army, that it should be based on local recruiting and readily available for call-up; and is it not certain that many of these men would, if they had been called to local units, have re-enlisted with the Territorials and will now be lost to the Territorial Army?

Mr. Strachey

I quite agree that from that point of view it would be very good to give this geographical factor a higher priority, but we should then have to give consideration to whether other strong proposals of the House, such as last back first in, were given a lower priority.