HC Deb 07 July 1953 vol 517 cc1027-8
9. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for War if his attention has been drawn to the remarks of Mr. Justice Finnemore at the Assizes at Stafford on 2nd July, in which he called attention to the collection of weapons in the possession of soldiers stationed at Nesscliffe Camp, Oswestry; and what action he proposes to take in the matter.

Mr. Head

Yes, Sir An immediate and drastic inquiry was made at Nesscliffe Camp. A special search was carried out, but no offensive weapons were found. Apart from the two weapons used in this particular case, two coshes were found last November on waste land near the camp. Their ownership is unknown. It is an offence in the Army, as in civil life, to carry such weapons. It was, however, disclosed that a small number of ill-intentioned National Service men in the camp had formed a gang. Two of these men have already completed their service, four are awaiting trial and the remainder have been posted elsewhere. The military police in Oswestry have been reinforced and all soldiers at Nesscliffe Camp are forbidden to visit Oswestry in plain clothes.

Mr. Hughes

Had these ex-Service men any previous records of convictions? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the judge referred to the appalling collection of weapons in this camp? Is he aware that a search was conducted? What weapons are left in the camp?

Mr. Head

A thorough search was made and no weapons were found. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that the Army, and, indeed, all the Services, take boys who have had records of Borstal or previous sentences, and sometimes these boys do gang up together. It is a problem with which the Army has to cope. Oswestry has always been a rather difficult area, and there is no doubt at all there was a gang formed up. It has now been dispersed, and I hope the measures I have taken will prevent a recurrence.