HC Deb 15 February 1955 vol 537 cc167-8
12. Mr. John Hall

asked the Secretary of State for War when he expects to be in a position to make a further statement about the future of units in Anti-Aircraft Command.

Mr. Head

When the decision to reduce Anti-Aircraft Command was made, immediate discussions were started between the War Office, Anti-Aircraft Command, Home Commands and Territorial Army Associations to consider the many and conflicting claims of Territorial units regarding survival, amalgamation or alternative roles. Because very many of these units had long traditions and strong claims for survival, particular trouble was taken to ensure fairness to all and, consequently, discussions have taken some time. We are trying to preserve the identity of as many regiments as possible, but of necessity a considerable number will have to be disbanded. The full plan is almost completed, and I hope to be able to make a statement very shortly.

Mr. Hall

Is my right hon. Friend aware that we shall look forward to the future statement with great interest, because at present many of the Territorial units are rather concerned about their future, which is having a bad effect not only on the morale of existing Territorials but on future recruitment?

Mr. Head

Yes, I am aware of that, and I am glad, too, that the keenness of the Territorial Army is evinced by the very strong letters which I have received on this subject.

Mr. Bellenger

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what are the numbers involved in this switch-over? I had hoped that he might have answered this Question with Question No. 6, on the same subject, which I did not hear Mr. Speaker call.

Mr. Head

The right hon. Gentleman is trying to anticipate a Question which he put down but missed. The numbers show that about 30 per cent., by and large, will remain in their previous role, and the remainder will all be affected.

Major Legge-Bourke

Will my right hon. Friend allow the regiments on which a decision has definitely been taken to know the result without waiting until the final list is complete?

Mr. Head

I thought very carefully about that but, on the whole, I believe that such a step would be unwise. If this information is let out piecemeal, those who know at once may feel pleased but others may well be aggrieved. Therefore, we have decided to make the release simultaneously.

Mr. Wigg

If the Government find that they will not require the part-time service of National Service men as a result of this change, will they introduce a Measure to amend the National Service Act?

Mr. Head

The question of part-time service needs no amendment to the National Service Act, as the period of part-time service is purely at the discretion of the Government.