HC Deb 13 July 1955 vol 543 cc1904-5
2. Mr. Swingler

asked the Minister of Defence if he will take steps to reduce the period of National Service.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

I have nothing to add to what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and I said on this subject in the debate on 28th April.

Mr. Swingler

Are not the Government proposing to bring forward any programme for the reduction of the conscription period? Are we to take it that the Minister is perfectly satisfied with the present position; or what measures will he take to reduce this burden?

Mr. Lloyd

If the hon. Gentleman will read again what took place in that debate, he will see the very good reasons that were put forward for not taking action in the matter at the present time.

Mr. Shinwell

What possible reason can there he now for not agreeing to this request? Have we not reduced our commitments substantially? [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Has the international situation not improved, according to the Government's own estimate of the situation? Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speech."] Mr. Speaker, there is only one person in this House who can prevent me from speaking, and that is yourself. Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the West German Government have now decided, in the sphere of conscription, on a period of eighteen months? Why should our men serve for two years?

Mr. Lloyd

I invite the right hon. Gentleman to consider again the arguments that were used in April. I then reaffirmed the Government's undertaking, and our desire, to reduce this burden as soon as and as much as possible; but it is a question of timing.

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