HC Deb 02 December 1952 vol 508 cc1260-1
9. Sir I. Fraser

asked the Secretary of State for War to make a statement on the progress of recruiting for the Home Guard.

Mr. Head

By 15th November enrolments totalled 23,288. In addition, 20,623 men had joined the Reserve Roll for enrolment in an emergency.

28. Mr. Baker White

asked the Secretary of State for War when he will make known to local headquarters the system of operation of the Home Guard Reserve Roll.

Mr. Head

This has already been done, and I think that all Home Guard units are aware of the importance, particularly in the case of cadre battalions, of preparing for war-time expansion.

42. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for War, in view of the substantial expenditure of £835,000 on the Home Guard, to give further details of how this money has been spent.

Mr. Head

Of the £835,000 which I gave as the cost of the scheme to date, £520,000 has been spent on pay of permanent staff and on unit administration; £127,000 on accommodation and furniture; £80,000 on travelling expenses and subsistence allowances and £106,000 on clothing.

Mr. Hughes

Is not the Minister aware that this is an enormous sum of money to spend on a scheme which has had such meagre results? Is he further aware of the strong criticism of this scheme in the Conservative Press, and that one of the Tory evening papers has said that the Home Guard would be better employed on the allotments? Would not the right hon. Gentlemen consider delegating some of the duties of the Home Guard to the Boy Scouts and the Girl Guides?

Mr. Head

This formation would, in the event of war, fulfil a most important duty, and I think that some of those who criticise it in the Press and elsewhere would be the first to deprecate a lack of preparation if such an event occurred.

Mr. Shinwell

But is the right hon. Gentleman aware that so far as the majority of people on this side of the House are concerned there is no criticism of the Home Guard principle as such, but that our criticism has been directed to the premature creation of the Home Guard and the absence of effective preparation and planning?

Mr. Head

When the Home Guard Bill reached its Third Reading in the House, I was given very strong assurances from hon. Members on the Front Bench opposite and elsewhere that they would support it to the utmost and would help recruitment to it in their constituencies. I have had nothing like that support, I regret to say, but rather the reverse, and to that extent I am disappointed.