HC Deb 24 July 1957 vol 574 cc389-91
2. Mr. Lipton

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will now make a statement upon the amalgamation of county regiments.

7. Mr. Sharples

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is now in a position to announce details of Army, reorganisation.

Mr. John Hare

The broad principles of the reorganisation were announced yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. Details are set out in a White Paper which will be available in the Vote Office at four o'clock.

Mr. Lipton

Would the right hon. Gentleman say why the publication of this White Paper on the amalgamation of regiments has been deliberately postponed until four o'clock, with the result that we cannot put any Questions to him at present and will not be able to put any Questions to him at all until about Christmas? Will the right hon. Gentleman also say whether if the Royal Prerogative is involved in these changes, the details will be placed at the disposal of Parliament so that we shall have an opportunity of discussing them, whenever that may be?

Mr. Hare

I suggest that the hon. Member looks at the White Paper. I do not think his allegation that I have delayed in producing it is very fair. I have endeavoured in every way to speed up the provision of the White Paper in order that it should be available to the House today so that if hon. Members on either side of the House felt that there was a need to discuss these proposals they would have plenty of time to consider their action and discussion could take place next week.

Mr. Sharples

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the regimental authorities have been brought into consultation in these changes?

Mr. Hare

The regimental authorities have been informed of what the changes are.

Mr. Strachey

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that these are very important changes which involve the whole structure of the Army and that, in view of that, the Government should provide Parliamentary time to discuss them before we adjourn? After all, this is a very big matter and—I am sure through no fault of his—the timing has been such that we have not even an opportunity of putting Questions on these points. Therefore, some time must be provided before the end of next week in which the House can deal with the matter.

Mr. Hare

I suggest to the right hon. Member that that is a matter which could very properly be pursued through the normal channels.

Mr. J. Griffiths

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, as this is an important Government decision, the Government themselves do not recognise the importance of providing their own time for discussion of these matters?

Mr. Hare

I suggest that that too should be discussed through the normal channels.

Mr. P. Williams

In view of the need for Parliamentary discussion, can my right hon. Friend say when the changes will become effective?

Mr. Hare

I should be grateful if hon. Members on both sides of the House would have a look at the White Paper. I think that, when they have seen it, it will be possible to decide whether or not discussion of the proposals is necessary.

Mr. Strachey

Will not the right hon. Gentleman agree that, just because it is impossible to discuss these things before we have seen the White Paper, he should represent to the Prime Minister that the House needs an opportunity to debate it? Surely it is not difficult to have a discussion of this matter during next week?

Mr. Hare

I shall certainly see that the Leader of the House is informed of what has just transpired.