HC Deb 23 June 1953 vol 516 cc1667-8
24. Mr. Gower

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will increase the opportunties available for Welsh National Service men to serve with Welsh units.

The Secretary of State for War (Mr. Antony Head)

Welsh National Service men are posted to fill all available National Service vacancies in the Welsh Guards and the three Welsh infantry regiments.

Mr. Gower

Will not my right hon. Friend agree that in this respect, as in many others, Welsh nationals do not have as many opportunities as the Scots and people in Northern Ireland?

Mr. Head

We have only three Welsh infantry regiments and we fill them with Welshmen. I do not think we can go further than that.

Mr. G. Thomas

Is the Minister aware that the best opportunity to give to Welshmen would be to end conscription and let them decide if they want to volunteer for any unit at all?

Mr. Head

I think that the hon. Gentleman had better put down a Question about that.

25. Mr. C. Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for War to what extent the Welsh language was used in recent tests to determine educational standards among National Service men recruited from Wales.

Mr. Head

Two educational tests are given to all recruits as part of the selection procedure, which is designed to put the men in the most suitable military jobs. For this reason the English language, which is used in all military work, is used for these tests.

Mr. Hughes

Is the Minister aware that the first language of most of these recruits from the Welsh-speaking areas of Wales is Welsh, and that therefore the report which was published by his education department about two months ago is completely valueless because the Welsh language was not used? Furthermore, is he aware that the figures in that report were misleading and that the conclusions in it were offensive to the Welsh people? Will he convey that to his education department?

Mr. Head

I will certainly try to find out more about the report, but the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that when we make these tests we do it to gain an assessment of what these men are going to do when they join the Army, where they have to speak English.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Is the Minister aware that these figures allege a proportion of illiteracy which no one in Wales believes for a moment? For example, in my own county we have a bigger proportion of grammar schools than any other county in the country. Will the Minister publish in the report the criterion upon which these tests are based, so that we can judge for ourselves?

Mr. Head

If the right hon. Gentleman will put down a Question, I will try to give him an answer.

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