HC Deb 22 November 1955 vol 546 cc1245-7
17. Mr. Wigg

asked the Secretary of State for War the enrolled strength of the Home Guard, separate figures being given for officers and other ranks; how far enrolments are continuing, pending the promulgation of the date of stand-down; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Head

Ten thousand, one hundred and twelve male and 45 female officers; 25,016 male and 1,266 female other ranks. I have already told the House that I will make a statement at the earliest opportunity.

Mr. Wigg

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this measly result has cost the country nearly £3 million? Does not he think it is about time that he resigned. in view of the abject failure of yet another aspect of his policy?

Hon. Members


Mr. Head

If the hon. Member wishes for an answer, I would say, in regard to the first part of his supplementary question, that the service of these men has been invaluable in strengthening our whole pattern of defence, and I think the House should be grateful for their loyal service; in regard to the second part of the question, if I ever thought of resigning—if the hon. Gentleman told me to do so it would make me less likely to.

Mr. Wigg

In the interests of the Army, may I therefore plead with the Secretary of State for War not to resign?

28. Mr. Swingler

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will now make a statement about the future of the Home Guard.

Mr. Head

No, Sir.

Mr. Swingler

Is it true or not true that the Home Guard is to be disbanded? Surely the right hon. Gentleman has read the reports? Is he not aware of the intolerable frustration of those who are left carrying this unfortunate baby of his? Surely he has an obligation to them, in view of the widespread reports about this, to make a statement straight away?

Mr. Head

I have told the House that I will make a statement at the earliest opportunity. I am aware that the Home Guard is most anxious that it should know about this matter as soon as possible, but I am not sure that its frustration is really as great as that of the hon. Member.

Mr. M. Stewart

Has the right hon. Gentleman made up his mind whether this force is to be disbanded or not? If he has, can he not tell us?

Mr. Head

As I have already explained, this question forms part of a reconsideration of the whole question of home defence, including the Territorial Army, the Home Guard and the Civil Defence plan. It is a most complicated subject, and we cannot arrive at a sudden decision in a matter that covers such a wide range.

Mr. Attlee

The right hon. Gentleman says that it is a very complicated subject. One matter was mentioned by his hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. R. Bell), on which his Department has already spent four and a half years. Does the right hon. Gentleman think that this subject will take as long?

Mr. Head

The last announcement made by the right hon. Gentleman's Government concerned a matter which is not the subject of this Question, but if he likes to discuss the matter with me I think he will agree that under the present system of government it appears to be very nearly insoluble. I think that the right hon. Gentleman found the same.

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