HC Deb 24 May 1954 vol 528 cc22-3
37. Mr. Wyatt

asked the Secretary of State for War his reasons for allowing regimental anniversaries to be counted as days of local or national significance for the purpose of ordering a compulsory church parade.

The Under-Secretary of State for War (Mr. J. R. H. Hutchison)

Regimental anniversaries are occasions of importance to present and past members of the regiment and to their relatives, including the relatives of those who have given their lives while serving with the regiment. My right hon. Friend considers this to be a fitting occasion on which a compulsory parade should be held in conjunction with an act of corporate worship.

Mr. Wyatt

Will the Under-Secretary remember that when arrangements were made directly after the war for the curtailment of church parades, it was intended that they should be confined to days of local or national importance, and that the occasion he described cannot strictly be included in either category? Will he bear in mind that there is a tendency on the part of commanding officers to try to extend the number of days on which they can hold compulsory church parades, and warn them that they should not do so?

Mr. Hutchison

I could not agree with the hon. Gentleman that a regimental anniversary is not a day of local importance. Such anniversaries are rare, and are of great importance to the regiment.

Mr. Simmons

Is the Minister aware that, as an old soldier, I cannot understand this? In my day regimental pride was a thing we had, and if there is regimental pride why should there be need of compulsion?

Mr. Hutchison

As one old soldier to another, may I say that I think most of us well understand that occasions such as regimental anniversaries are times of pride to a regiment and that the men are only too glad to take part in them.