HC Deb 06 February 1957 vol 564 cc443-4
54. Mr. Swingler

asked the Minister of Defence to what extent Regular recruitment and prolongations of Regular service have been stimulated by the pay increases granted last year; and if he will now review Her Majesty's Government's policy on conscription in the light of these developments.

56. Mr. Allaun

asked the Minister of Defence if he will state the nature of his reply to the proposal made to him by Sir Vincent Tewson, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress, urging that National Service be ended as soon as possible, and that, as a step in that direction, there should be a cut of six months in the two years' period.

Mr. Sandys

The new rates of pay have resulted in increases both in recruitment and prolongations of service. These increases, though substantial, have not yet been sufficient to reduce materially the dependence of the Forces on National Service men. Until I have had a little more time to study this and other related problems I do not wish to add anything to the earlier Government statements made on this subject. I have replied to the Trades Union Congress in this sense.

Mr. Swingler

Does the answer mean that the pay increases are not having the hoped for effect and that the Government will not be able to reduce or change the call-up because there is still a lack of volunteers? Is that the plain position?

Mr. Sandys

Perhaps the hon. Member will study my Answer. I did not say they had had no result. They have had a substantial result, but not sufficient to enable us to say, at any rate at this stage, that we can dispense with National Service, but I am examining the whole of this problem, and I should not like anybody to read into my Answer any far-reaching conclusions.

Mr. Allaun

Is the Minister aware that hundreds of thousands of families are getting fed up with the continual Government hints that they are going to cut the call-up? There have been these hints for a long time and yet nothing has transpired. How much longer have these families to wait?

Mr. Sandys

That is just the reason why I was trying to give no hints in reply to the hon. Member's Question.

Mr. Shinwell

In the Minister's review of the manpower situation in the forces will he take note of an article that appears in a daily newspaper this morning by the ex-commander of our forces in Germany, Sir Richard Gale, in which he suggests that we could reduce our forces in Germany by at least 30,000 men?

Mr. Sandys

I have not yet seen the article but, in view of what the right hon. Gentleman says, I shall most certainly read it.

Mr. G. Brown

Did the Minister say he would publish the figures on which he bases his Answer? If he did not, would he consider publishing them—the figures of prolongations and recruitment?

Mr. Sandys

I will certainly consider that.