HC Deb 05 June 1951 vol 488 cc805-6
34. Brigadier Clarke

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will postpone production of the.280 rifle in view of the shortage of raw materials and the fact that more than adequate stocks of.303 rifles and ammunition exist in stock.

Mr. Strachey

No, Sir.

Brigadier Clarke

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that this is the right time to change over from the.303 rifle, in view of the shortage of manpower, the shortage of materials and the fact that this rifle is a very good one and we have it in very good quantities in this country—about the only thing we have in good quantity?

Mr. Strachey

Yes, Sir, I am satisfied about this rifle. The present one, although a good one, was introduced in 1902, and the time does come when it is necessary to replace obsolescent weapons by more up-to-date weapons.

Mr. A. R. W. Low

Will the right hon. Gentleman agree that the most important consideration here, out of a great many considerations—standardisation and shortages of manpower and materials are two important ones—is for the infantry soldier to have the best weapon available, and will the right hon. Gentleman get on and produce that weapon as quickly as possible?

Mr. Strachey

I have very much more sympathy with that demand than the other.

Mr. E. L. Mallalieu

Will my right hon. Friend take note of the fact that this is the third time the Opposition have attempted to deprive our men of the latest and best weapons and equipment?

Mr. Duncan Sandys

Can the Minister say whether the Dominion Governments are adopting this new type of rifle?

Mr. Strachey

It is too early to say that.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Will the right hon. Gentleman take note of the fact that the childish and ridiculous suggestion of the hon. and learned Member for Brigg (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu) has no relation whatever to the facts?

Mr. Speaker

We cannot continue this throwing of bricks from one side of the House to the other.

Brigadier Clarke

Will the Secretary of State ensure that both kinds of rifle are not in issue at the same time?

Mr. Strachey

Of course, the new rifle cannot be produced in sufficient quantities to equip the whole Army in one month or anything like it.