HC Deb 20 June 1956 vol 554 cc1402-3
5. Mr. F. M. Bennett

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what Soviet proposals for a reciprocal reduction in the present two-year period of national service in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Great Britain were included in the recent disarmament talks in London.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

Recent Soviet disarmament proposals, including the letter of Marshal Bulganin of 6th June to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, have not suggested any "reciprocal reductions" in present periods of national service.

Mr. Bennett

Would not the Foreign Secretary agree that the Soviet's continued maintenance of universal military conscription in their country is a factor well worth taking into account in considering the pressure from certain quarters of the benches opposite for a further cut in or the ending of our own period of National Service in response to unspecified, uncorroborated and uncheckable Soviet assertions of reductions in their armed forces?

Mr. Lloyd

I think the period of service in the Soviet forces is two years but that the majority serve for three years.

Mr. Robens

Has not the Minister of Defence already indicated that he hopes to abolish conscription before the Government's term of office is over?

Mr. Lloyd

Questions of that nature should be addressed to the Minister of Defence himself.