10. Brigadier Pete
asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that certain regiments of the Royal Armoured Corps have been ordered to include four troopers in their Coronation parties, the total of which is only seven other ranks; and whether, since such detailed interference with the duties of commanding 167 officers is contrary to previously accepted principles of command, he will cause the instructions to be altered.
§ Brigadier Peto
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the only preoccupation of commanding officers in this respect is that their parties should be adequately representative of the regiments, that not unnaturally they wish to include those N.C.O.s and others who have given long service, both in war and peace, to Her Majesty's late father, and that this inclusion of a predominant proportion of people who have only just joined is quite unnecessary and should not be done?
§ Mr. Head
I do not think we can accept that the four lance-corporals or troopers have only just joined. Possibly all units have some old soldiers whom they would like to have as representatives. I would suggest to my hon. and gallant Friend that on the whole, much though I admire sergeants and warrant officers, we should have a representation which represents the general proportion of ranks in the Army.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan
May I ask my right hon. Friend whether this applies also to the other branches of the Service and if so, does he not agree that the commanding officer is the best judge of who is best able to represent the regiment?
§ Mr. Nabarro
Is this not a needless and unwarrantable interference with the prerogative of a commanding officer? If he deems it desirable to send six sergeant-majors, why should not he be allowed to do so?
§ Mr. Head
While accepting the preoccupation of the hon. Gentleman with sergeant-majors, I would point out that on the occasion of the last Coronation there was a certain amount of uncertainty as to the type of representation which there should be, and it varied. Some units sent nothing but warrant officers and sergeants and others adopted a different policy. By and large I do not believe it to be a bad thing to lay down general principles.