HC Deb 07 February 1956 vol 548 cc1476-7
4. Mr. Wigg

asked the Secretary of State for War the last date on which drafts joined the 1st Battalion Highland Light Infantry, 1st Battalion Wiltshire Regiment, 1st Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 1st and 3rd Battalions Parachute Regiment, before those units proceeded to Cyprus; and the numbers of men in each draft.

Mr. Head

As the reply contains a number of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the reply:

armoured units are to be retained for the support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation divisions.

10. Mr. Bellenger

asked the Secretary of State for War whethe he will make a statement on the reorganisation of the Territorial Army and, in particular, as to the formations to act as a reserve to the Army on the Continent of Europe.

Mr. Head

Commands and Territorial Associations are now considering the proposals for units of the Royal Armoured Corps, Royal Artillery and infantry and the final plan is not yet firm. With regard to the two divisions earmarked for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, 1 shall be dealing with this problem as a whole in my Estimates speech.

Mr. Wigg

Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been called to a statement in The Times on 1st February that the two divisions were the 43rd Wessex Infantry Division and the 53rd Welsh Infantry Division? Will he be kind enough to tell the House whether this statement was true?

Mr. Head

It is not part of my duty to comment on, to deny or to confirm newspaper reports. I shall be dealing with this matter as a whole in my Estimates speech and I think the hon. Gentleman would be the first to agree that for me to deal with various parts of the reorganisation of the Territorial Army piecemeal because of a Press report would be wrong in every respect.

Mr. Bellenger

Can the Minister at least tell us this in advance of his Estimates speech: will these two divisions also form part of the strategic reserve in this country?

Mr. Head

Yes, Sir.

Major Legge-Bourke

May I ask my right hon. Friend, arising out of his original reply, whether a decision has been reached about the airborne section of the Territorial Army, and whether it has been decided that the Cambridgeshire Regiment shall remain as a unit?

Mr. Head

We are very careful in sending out this list to commands to see that it is discussed with the Territorial Associations concerned. That is now taking place, and nothing is firm until we have received their comments on the proposals which we sent out. I hope that it will not be long before they are known, but I cannot comment until the procedure is complete.