HC Deb 08 February 1955 vol 536 cc1729-31
50. Mr. Dudley Williams

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware of the probable loss to the Army of volunteer personnel in the Anti-Aircraft Command due to its disbandment; and if he will take steps to see that they are transferred to other units.

Mr. Head

We are doing, and will continue to do, everything possible to encourage and make it easy for volunteers in the Territorial Army who become surplus owing to the winding-up of Anti-Aircraft Command to serve in other units. We are setting up boards of officers locally to handle the question of transfers and, where vacancies cannot be offered immediately, we are asking volunteers to remain on our books while we find suitable vacancies.

I hope very much that the great majority of volunteers will stay on and give their invaluable service in other units. They are the backbone of the Territorial Army.

Mr. Williams

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Would he discuss this question with his noble Friend the Secretary of State for Air to see whether some of these personnel could not be absorbed in the Royal Air Force, in view of the responsibility of that Service for guided missiles in the future?

Mr. Head

We have already considered that aspect of the matter, and indeed we are doing everything we can to find every possible field in which these volunteers might serve a useful purpose.

Mr. Strachey

Can the Minister say what is to happen to the very bulky equipment which must be thrown out by this move?

Mr. Head

I think that the right hon. Gentleman will be the first to agree that that is an entirely different Question.

Mr. Burden

Could my right hon. Friend give any encouragement to the number of highly-skilled, technical, salaried men who are employed by Anti-Aircraft Command, particularly in regard to radar and prediction?

Mr. Head

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we are particularly anxious to employ them in any field where their knowledge and skill is suitable.

Mr. Bellenger

Can the right hon. Gentleman give the House some idea of the size of the problem? For example, how many officers and men are involved in this switch-over?

Mr. Head

I could give the right hon. Gentleman an approximate figure, but I would rather have notice of that Question.

51. Wing Commander Hulbert

asked the Secretary of State for War how the running down of Anti-Aircraft Command will affect the promotion of Regular officers of the rank of major, and above, in the Royal Artillery.

Mr. Head

There will be little effect on the promotion prospects of Regular officers of the Royal Artillery of the rank of lieutenant-colonel or above and captains and below. The position of majors is more complicated but we are working out how best to deal with the problem.

54. Wing Commander Hulbert

asked the Secretary of State for War consequent upon the running down of Anti-Aircraft Command, what steps are being taken to deal with the ancillary services, including the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Royal Army Service Corps and Signals.

Mr. Head

Regular units no longer required will be employed elsewhere or disbanded. The ancillary units of the Territorial Army which are to be retained in their present rôle are being selected. The remainder will be converted to other rôles or disbanded.

Wing Commander Hulbert

Can my right hon. Friend say when this process of selection will be completed?

Mr. Head

It will be completed as soon as possible, but at the moment I cannot give a date. I do not think it will be very long before I make an announcement.

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