HC Deb 26 March 1957 vol 567 cc959-60
32. Mr. E. Johnson

asked the Secretary of State for War how the number of generals, lieutenant-generals and major-generals, respectively, now employed at the War Office compares with the number of those ranks employed there on 1st March, 1939.

The Secretary of State for War (Mr. John Hare)

Two generals, seven lieutenant-generals and nineteen major-generals on 1st March. 1939, compared with three generals, five lieutenant-generals and thirty-two major-generals at present.

Mr. E. Johnson

Can my right hon. Friend explain the reason for that increase? Even if it is merely that there are far too many generals on the Active List, are there no bowler hats amongst those surplus stores of which we read?

Mr. Hare

In reply to the first part of my hon. Friend's supplementary, the Army, of course, is now almost double its 1939 size. As to the second part of his supplementary, I have already given the House, the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) and others an assurance that I have every intention of getting down these appointments to the minimum necessary.

Mr. Shinwell

Now that the right hon. Gentleman has admitted that the War Office is cluttered up with a super abundance of generals, what does he intend to do about it? He has given the House an assurance that he intends to do something about it, but how long will it take? Is he going to jettison some of these unwanted generals?

Mr. Hare

The right hon. Gentleman gets very hot and cold over this. There is one general more than in his day. I have every intention of doing what I can to reduce the number.