HC Deb 16 February 1954 vol 523 cc1795-6
19. Mr. Wigg

asked the Secretary of State for War the number and composition of the proposed Bermuda garrison; for what reason it is being established; and the movement and annual upkeep costs involved.

Mr. Head

Two hundred and fifty men of the infantry and supporting services are being sent to Bermuda at a cost of some £25,000. Their maintenance will cost about an extra £100,000 a year. The garrisonis being re-established to help maintain the British position in the Western Atlantic.

Mr. Wigg

Does the right hon. Gentleman not agree that this is absolutely disgraceful at a time when this country has no strategic reserve, and that to send out even only 250 men at the whim of the Prime Minister is to expose our weakness and to do our defence policy no good?

Mr. Head

I think that 250 men in Bermuda can pay a very good dividend in keeping the flag flying there.

Lord John Hope

Is any part of the cost of this garrison to be met by the Bermuda Government?

Mr. Head

In view of their anxiety to have such a garrison and their generosity in the past, I am sure that we shall not be disappointed at what they contribute.

Mr. Bellenger

What induced the Secretary of State to withdraw the garrison in the first instance? Has he been overruled by the Prime Minister in reinstating this garrison in Bermuda?

Mr. Head

These matters have to be considered on their merits, and this garrison was sent back.

Mr. Shinwell

Is it not true that the only merit in sending these 250 men to Bermuda was to please the Prime Minister after his visit?

Mr. Head

If the right hon. Gentleman goes on like this, I shall have to accuse him of having got hold of a "leak."

Mr. Wyatt

Is not this another instance, exactly the same as that of the rifle, of the Prime Minister overruling the War Office?