HC Deb 16 February 1954 vol 523 cc1793-4
17. Mr. Wigg

asked the Secretary of State for War the number of divisions which Great Britain would produce in the event of another world war.

Mr. Head

We do not disclose plans for the expansion of the Army in war.

Mr. Wigg

I am quite sure that the right hon. Gentleman realises how remarkable is his reply. Is he aware that he authorised General West to give a broadcast in which General West said that there would be 40 divisions? How is it, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman cannot give the number but his nominee can?

Mr. Head

With second sight, I have brought a copy of General West's broadcast with me. General West was asked whether in the future there would be a Commonwealth division, and he illustrated the reasons why he did not think there would be one. He said that this country would produce the maximum number of divisions possible in the next war, and the figure he quoted was about the number which we had in the last war and was given as an instance of the size of the effort that is likely to be made.

Mr. Shinwell

Is the right hon. Gentleman, perhaps unwittingly, deceiving the House? Will he be good enough to read the relevant paragraph in the broadcast? Does it not clearly show that General West said in reply to a question that he expected 40 British and 20 Australian divisions would be deployed in the next war? Does it not say that?

Mr. Head

I have a copy of the text. It is rather long, but I will hand it to the right hon. Gentleman.

Hon. Members

Read it.

Mr. Speaker

Order. If it is a long statement, it ought to be circulated.