HC Deb 19 February 1957 vol 565 cc189-90
18. Mr. Wigg

asked the Secretary of State for War what has been the total effect to date of the Regular engagement of three years with the Colours and four years with the Reserve upon Army manpower.

Mr. Hare

One hundred and six thousand eight hundred and ninety-four men enlisted on this engagement between its introduction in November, 1951, and the end of 1956. About 40,000 of these men are still serving. Some of them have already served for more than the three years for which they originally enlisted. The percentage figures of those who have re-engaged so far are already known to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Wigg

I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. I am aware of the rate of prolongation, but have he and his staff judged the effect on the Army manpower position resulting from the rate of prolongation being 5 per cent. as against his predecessor's estimate of 33⅓ per cent.? What is the right hon. Gentleman going to do about it? Is it not time to go back on the three-year engagement and endeavour to get men to enlist for four or five years, because does he not agree that so long as this engagement continues, we are condemned indefinitely to a system of National Service?

Mr. Hare

I think that this engagement has been disappointing, and I am now examining the whole question of future Regular service engagements.

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