HC Deb 25 January 1956 vol 548 cc205-6
54. Mr. Lee

asked the Minister of Defence whether he will now make a statement about the future of National Service.

The Minister of Defence (Sir Walter Monckton)

I would refer to the reply on this subject given by my predecessor to my hon. Friend the Member for More-cambe and Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser) on Wednesday, 23rd November.

Mr. Lee

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware of the growing opinion in this country, that, in this period of hydrogen warfare, it is a colossal waste of manpower and of expense that about 200,000 young men should be called up each year and our industries be denuded to that extent? Have the reports which have appeared in certain sections of the Press been, or not been, inspired in any way by Government circulation?

Sir W. Monckton

I am not sure to what Press reports the hon. Gentleman refers, but I can certainly say that I have not inspired them.

Mr. Strachey

Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman consider, now that the Prime Minister has stated publicly that it is the object of the Government to abolish National Service in the end, that an early statement by the Government about their fuller plans is very necessary so that the Services should know where they are and the basis on which they have to work?

Sir W. Monckton

The statement which was made and elaborated in the debate which took place in the House in November stated the present position. I am well aware of what the Prime Minister said as recently as 19th January. I do not think it would be appropriate to make a further statement at this moment.

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