HC Deb 29 October 1957 vol 575 cc167-82

9.50 p.m.

Mr. Gerald Nabarro (Kidderminster)

Mr. Speaker, I seek, on the Adjournment, to switch from the economic and financial matters that we have been debating to the subject that you were kind enough to allot to me a few days ago. The subject I raise is derived from the White Paper "The future organisation of the Army" —Cmd. 230, presented to the House only a few days before we rose for the Summer Recess. Unfortunately, there was little or no opportunity to debate that White Paper within the broader issues of the reorganisation of defence arrangements and policy.

A great deal of distress has been caused in many counties in England, Scotland and Wales by the proposals in connection with the cap badges of the county regiments. I seek to draw the attention of the House only to a relatively narrow section in paragraph 12 on page 3 of the White Paper, which reads: In order to establish a sense of common loyalty and unity, all regiments in a brigade will wear the same cap badge. The Army Council will now consult with Colonels of Regiments about the nomenclature and insignia of the amalgamated regiments and of the brigades. In common with a large number of other county regiments, the Worcestershire Regiment is gravely affected by this suggestion——

Mr. Frederick Gough (Horsham)

What about the Royal Sussex? I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way and I will not keep him for more than a moment. I noticed that he had put down for the Adjournment debate only the Worcestershire Regiment, which is one of the most famous of the line regiments, with its motto of "Firm." I hope that it will stand firm. But I would say that there is also the Royal Sussex Regiment, and a regiment with which my family is concerned, the Royal Irish Fusiliers, of which the Chief of the Imperial General Staff is a member.

Mr. Nabarro

The 35th of Foot, the Royal Sussex Regiment, is no doubt possessed of a regimental history comparable with that of the Worcestershire Regiment, but I sit for a Worcestershire constituency and I raise the matter of the Worcestershire county regiment's cap badge because much of what I have to say applies in principle to all those county regiments which are to have their cap badges submerged, irrespective of regimental traditions and the long history of many of these badges which are being worn by officers and men, in some instances stretching back into history for three hundred years.

The Worcestershire Regiment's cap badge was brought into general use as long ago as 1773. It has been used, therefore, for a period of approximately 184 years, and followed only by a matter of eighty-odd years the first raising of the regiment in 1694. It was known as Farrington's Regiment of Foot. later converted to the 29th Regiment of Foot, named the Worcestershire Regiment, and the similarity of the Worcestershire Regiment's cap badge to that of the Coldstream Guards was based on the fact that Colonel Farrington, who raised the regiment, was himself a colonel of the Coldstream Guards.

Of course, most county regiments can claim some special distinction in respect of their respective cap badges, and all will desire to retain it. I plead a special case for the Worcestershire Regiment, but that may apply equally in other contexts to several other line regiments. The Worcestershire Regiment has served successive sovereigns for 250 years, maintaining throughout a very close link with the County of Worcester. In fact, it is said in the county that the great majority of the officers, warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and men of the regiment, have been recruited within the county's boundaries for as much as 180 years past.

It is certainly the case today that the overwhelming majority of men serving in the Regiment are recruited from the county. They express a special preference to serve in their county regiment. They believe that there is special lustre and pride associated in serving in that regiment, and I believe that the emblem of ail regimental tradition and pride is the regimental colour in the first instance, and secondly the regimental cap badge worn by all ranks.

This proposal to replace the regimental cap badge by a brigade badge, save only in the instance of the Brigade of Guards, has been very badly received all over the United Kingdom. It is not only a question of one regiment, the Worcestershire Regiment, and of the people who live in that county making stern protests on this issue; it has been brought to my notice from nearly every county in England that the same considerations apply and that the matter has been treated by the War Office with a little less regard for regimental spirit and tradition than should have been shown by senior officers who, I believe, were employed behind the scenes to make their recommendations in this matter.

The particular cap badge of the Worcestershire Regiment has been compared by many in the county with the position that is evidently to obtain with the Brigade of Guards and to which the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) referred, somewhat disparagingly, I thought, in a speech that he made on defence matters on 31st July last. He is right in one respect, that evidently the Brigade of Guards had been singled out for some special treatment. He said: …I associate myself with the protest of a senior officer who wrote to me that once again the Brigade of Guards have been given a special privilege. I had the pleasure of broadcasting with the hon. and gallant Member for Worthing (Brigadier Prior-Palmer), and he was not surprised when I observed that the Guards were keeping their cap badges while the poor old county regiments were losing theirs. Having made my protest on behalf of the Worcestershire Regiment. I think that the Secretary of State's policy on this matter is right. We certainly do not want to have these arguments across the House. We would not get very far that way.—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st July. 1957; Vol. 574, c. 1352.] I am not quite sure what the hon. Gentleman meant by that. I am not sure if he supports retention of the Worcestershire Regimental cap badge or not?

Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)

What I mean is this. I understand the War Office's difficulty, and if in fact they are to substitute a brigade tradition for a regimental tradition, then clearly there is a great deal in what they said. At the same time, I would have thought that, as the hon. Gentleman said, there was need to pay more careful attention to the reactions in particular areas.

Mr. Nabarro

That seems to me to be a singularly equivocating intervention.

Mr. Wigg

If the hon. Gentleman had studied the subject a little more carefully he would not have talked the nonsense that he has already talked. While there is violent protest from the Worcesters, there is practically no protest from the Staffords. When the hon. Gentleman says there is protest all over the country, he is talking arrant nonsense.

Mr. Gough

May I intervene? The hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) is quite wrong. I mentioned the Royal Sussex Regiment, but I have also had letters from the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and from a large number of other ex-officers. True. I have only had letters from ex-officers, but I know it is a fact that amongst these regiments this thing is felt most bitterly.

Mr. Nabarro

The hon. Member for Dudley is evidently ill-informed in these matters. He is not the only ex-Regular soldier serving in the House at the present time; many of us have contacts with county regiments in all parts of the United Kingdom, and I know that what I say about the Worcestershire Regiment is generally the ease with all county regiments, whether it is the Sussex Regiment, the Dorset Regiment with the proud motto "Primus in Indis" on its cap badge, whether it is the back-and-front cap badges of the Royal Gloucestershire Regiment or the cap badge of any other county regiment. It applies to practically all of them. I think that the War Office has had less than usual regard for regimental pride and tradition in this matter.

It being Ten o'clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Wakefield.]

Mr. Nabarro

For my part. I cannot understand why it is necessary to abolish the cap badge in favour of a brigade cap badge while saying that some form of regimental patch or regimental shoulder flash or mark of that kind may be embodied on the regimental soldier's uniform elsewhere. It seems to me that that is exactly the reverse of what all of us wish to see. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] It seems to me that the greatest efficiency and the greatest regard for regimental spirit and esprit de corps could be achieved by allowing county regiments to retain their own individual cap badges in their present form, and the brigade nomenclature worn in the form of a shoulder flash or patch.

Alternatively, and we had an admirable example from a senior officer who is generally supposed to have been a principal protagonist of a corps of infantry and of the elimination of individual regimental names on the basis that we have understood them during the last few years —namely, Field Marshal Lord Montgomery, who set quite a fashion in the last war by wearing two cap badges in his beret. I see no reason at all why the brigade badge and regimental badge should not be worn side by side in the cap, or the beret, or whatever is the headdress of each regiment, which would give exactly the sense of uniformity which is evidently required to serve the interests of the brigade formation while at the same time satisfying all the regimental traditions to which I have alluded, and allowing each of these regiments to retain its own badge.

What I want to say, with the greatest regard for my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State, is that it seems to me that the reply sent from the War Office to protesting bodies in this matter was a trifle curt, peremptory and even ham-fisted. I do not think that it is necessary for the War Office to behave in this way. I think the War Office could have expressed itself a good deal better. This is what the Secretary of State has circulated to nearly all the complainants in all parts of the country: Mr. Hare regrets that, although he has much sympathy with the feelings of regiments over this step, there can be no question of its being reconsidered or abrogated. The reasons which impelled the Army Council to take this decision were long and earnestly considered. I repeat the words, there can be no question of its being reconsidered…". It seems to me a trifle dictatorial. The final arbiter in this matter should be the House of Commons and not the War Office. The War Office presented its proposals in the White Paper for the future organisation of the Army. As far as I know it was not a dictat; it was a matter which should have been debated by the House. Many controversial points in the interest of the Service and the public interest should have been weighed and considered by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen in all parts of the House. Evidently Parliamentary time made it difficult for such a debate to take place before we rose for the Summer Recess, but a good deal of Parliamentary time is available between now and Christmas to bring this matter under close scrutiny.

While, no doubt, it is desirable that the colonels of the respective regiments should consult with one another—that is, the colonels of the Cheshire Regiment, the Worcestershire Regiment, the North Staffordshire Regiment and the South Staffordshire Regiment, which are to form the Mercian Brigade—on this matter of the cap badge and endeavour to reach the highest common factor of agreement, there will be one point on which they will all founder, if I know the colonels. That point is, of course, that they will each demand the retention of the insignia and the cap badge of their own county regiment, and on that there will be no reconciliation whatever.

Does my right hon. Friend pre-suppose that the colonels who are discussing this matter should resolve that the new badge common to the brigade shall be a compendium of the existing badges? Is it suggested, in the case of the Mercian Brigade, that the North Staffordshire regimental cap badge, the South Staffordshire regimental cap badge, the Cheshire regimental cap badge and the Worcestershire regimental cap badge shall be arrayed in a line as part of one composite badge, or a compendium of all existing county cap badges? If that is not suggested, how are we to reconcile this extraordinary difficulty which confronts the colonels of the regiments?

My hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir P. Agnew) can thank his lucky stars that he is a retired naval officer having worn a single badge, a single Crown and anchor, all his life, and is not confronted with the extraordinary problem with which we are confronted in debating this proposal.

Sir Peter Agnew (Worcestershire, South)

Although, as my hon. Friend rightly says, I have worn only one cap badge, I feel just as strongly on this matter of the Worcestershire regimental cap badge, because I know my constituents are very exercised about it and are anxious to preserve the regimental tradition intact.

Mr. Nabarro

I am very grateful to my hon. Friend. Of course, my hon. Friend sits for a large part of the county, South Worcestershire. I sit for a large part of the county, Kidderminster. I should say that between us we sit for the greater part of the county. I am very glad we are directly in opposition to the hon. Member for Dudley who poured such derision upon our desires to retain the Worcestershire regimental cap badge.

I want to put an important point to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State about the effect upon recruiting. It will be difficult enough for my hon. Friend and his right hon. Friend, in the period between now and the next General Election and after that, to recruit enough Regulars for the 14 brigades of infantry and one parachute brigade without putting additional difficulties upon the shoulders of those responsible for recruiting matters. Not only are there to be the disabilities to which I have alluded this evening, but there is to be the removal of the regimental depot from the county, other than a small nucleus staff, which means that Norton Barracks, Worcester, which has for 70 years been the headquarters of the 29th and 36th Regiments of Foot, the Worcestershire Regiment, is to be taken outside the county area and put in some town which may be thirty, may be fifty, may be seventy miles away. It may even be in Cheshire. It may even be in Staffordshire.

There are other counties between Worcestershire and Cheshire. We may even find that the brigade depot of the new Mercian Brigade is at Church Stretton in Shropshire, or alternatively we may find it as far away as Leek in North Staffordshire, a matter of over a hundred miles away from Worcester. What is that going to do to recruiting for the county regiment?

For what has always been a source and centre of regimental pride and tradition within the county has been the regimental depot, nearly always to be found in the principal town of the county. Hence the depot of the Gloucester Regiment is in Gloucester, the depot of the Worcestershire Regiment in Worcester, the depot of the Royal Hampshire Regiment in Winchester, the depot of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in Warwick, and so on. The removal of the regimental depot to some foreign part —for the man who wants to serve his county regiment regards places in any other county as quite foreign to his own military interest and traditions —is going to have in future a very damaging effect up recruiting. Therefore, we add to the difficulty of the cap badge the difficulty of the regimental depot, and to a lesser extent we add, of course, the fact that the county regiments are to lose a particular object of pride and affection in the form of their own regimental bands. There is to be one brigade band, and Worcestershire and other county regiments will evidently lose their own regimental bands.

I suggest that this proposal in connection with the cap badge, along with the other matters I have alluded to, will have a gravely detrimental effect upon recruiting, and difficult as it is already to contemplate where sufficient Regular recruits were to come from for the 14 infantry brigades and the one parachute brigade by 1960 or 1961, I suggest these additional difficulties may well make the task nearly impossible.

I now want to say something about the inconsistencies of what my hon. Friend is now proposing. Under the re-organisation of regiments, the Worcestershire Regiment will be put in the Mercian Brigade. Mercifully, the regiment is to retain its identity and is not to be amalgamated with any other regiment. The Regular battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment will have the brigade cap badge, but the Territorial battalion, that is the 7th Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment which has its headquarters in Kidderminster, will continue to wear the Worcestershire regimental cap badge, and so will the Army cadet and school cadets within the county. Therefore, we are denying to the Regular battalion of the regiment the right to wear its own county regimental cap badge so long hallowed in the tradition of the county and we are continuing to allow the Territorial battalion of the regiment and the cadet units to wear it. That seems to be quite incongruous and insupportable, and I hope that an arrangement will be made to end that invidious distinction.

I twitted the hon. Member for Dudley about the Brigade of Guards. I feel quite as strongly as he does about this matter. I see no reason whatever why the Brigade of Guards should be considered superior to the 60th Rifles, who are losing their cap badge, to the Rifle Brigade who are losing theirs, to the Royal Hampshire Regiment who are losing theirs, to the Royal Warwickshire Regiment who are losing theirs, to the Worcestershire Regiment who are losing theirs, to the Royal Sussex Regiment or to all other county regiments who are losing theirs.

Mr. Gough

I should like to point out, as an old Rifleman, that it is very important to remember that the Rifle Brigade cap badge is part of its battle honours.

Mr. Nabarro

I quite agree. My hon. Friend is steeped in regimental tradition. He will know that both the 60th Rifles and the 95th The Rifle Brigade carry no regimental colours and that inscribed on their cap badges are their battle honours. I do not know what my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary will propose. He cannot advocate regimental colours for these regiments. That would be more damaging to tradition than the removal of the cap badge. I am saying that there is evidently preference and discrimination in favour of the Brigade of Guards.

Who did it inside the War Office? Was it a majority of Guards colonels who managed to bludgeon the colonels of county regiments into accepting a position of inferiority? Although it means an unhappy association with the hon. Member for Dudley—one of the rare occasions when we shall be associated with one another—I intend to press that if this preference is to be given to the Brigade of Guards in the retention of its cap badge, an equal preference shall be given to regiments of the line.

Mr. Arthur Moyle (Oldbury and Halesowen)

I wish the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) would not look so sceptical when he looks across to these benches. There are at least two hon. Members on this side of the House who are in sympathy with his case, and if they had had an opportunity might have expressed themselves in his support. They are my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley), an old Worcestershire Regiment man of the last war, and myself.

Mr. Nabarro

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Oldbury and Halesowen (Mr. Moyle). He must settle his differences with the hon. Member for Dudley, who disagrees with us, but we are now in a majority in the county. My hon. Friend the Member for Bromsgrove (Mr. Dance) supports me, and so do my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South, the hon. Member for Oldbury and Halesowen, and a late sergeant of the 7th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment, the hon. Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley). I am grateful to these hon. Members for forming a majority supporting the county regiment and placing the hon. Member for Dudley in a minority of one.

Mr. Wigg


Mr. Nabarro

I have given way twice already.

Before I conclude, I want to make clear the great volume of support which there is in the county of Worcestershire for what I am pleading this evening. The Worcestershire County Council has sternly expressed its support for my views upon the retention of the cap badge, the Kidderminster Borough Council, the Stourport-on-Severn Urban District Council, the Worcestershire Regiments' Association, the Old Contemptibles Association, Worcester Branch, the Worcestershire branches of the British Legion have all expressed support. In fact, practically every Service and ex-Service representative body in the county is supporting the plea I am making this evening. Now I will give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Bromsgrove.

Mr. James Dance (Bromsgrove)

All I wish to say is that not only do I support my hon. Friend, but I also represent quite a large portion of Worcestershire. I can assure him and my right hon. Friend, the Under-Secretary of State for War, that every word said this evening is fully supported by the whole of my constituency.

Mr. Nabarro

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. We are doing well in the county. We have only a minority of one, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dudley.

Mr. Wigg

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. There are certain matters which are carried beyond a joke. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) knows perfectly well that what he is saying is untrue. If he had come here on 31st July and given me support, we might have been able to change the War Office decision. What he has done is to wait, then to make capital out of it, and then to try to misrepresent me.

Mr. Nabarro

I am sorry, but that could not be a point of order. Mr. Speaker——

Mr. Wigg

I got it in.

Mr. Speaker

It did not look like a point of order to me.

Mr. Nabarro

The hon. Gentleman the Member for Dudley said clearly in July: I think that the Secretary of State's policy on this matter is right."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st July, 1957; Vol. 574, c. 1352.] In other words, he favours the scrapping of the Worcestershire regimental cap badge. I do not. I have made my protest tonight in the strongest terms——

Mr. Wigg

Three months too late.

Mr. Nabarro

I have been supported by other county Members except only the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dudley. I hope that the plea which I have addressed to the House tonight will cause a recantation on his part during the passage of the next few weeks.

10.17 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for War (Mr. Julian Amery)

I have listened with respect and attention, as I always do, to the arguments which my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) has deployed with his usual skill and force. He and I have been associated in defence of a number of minority causes in the past, of which I think we have reason to be proud. Therefore, I hope that what I say will reconcile the apparent gulf between our opinions this evening.

I am grateful for his intervention. It gives me a chance to put on record in greater detail than has hitherto been possible the reasons that have led the Government to their decision on the cap badge, and the process by which that decision has been reached.

Under the Cardwell system which prevailed until the last war the infantry was organised in regiments, each two battalions strong. One of these battalions was usually stationed at home at lower establishment; the other overseas at higher establishment. It was the duty of the home battalion to furnish the overseas battalion with the extra officers, N.C.O.s and' other ranks it might require, to provide necessary reliefs, and to make good such gaps as arose from accident or posting to extra-regimental duties.

Under this system the individual as well as the unit could expect a proper balance between home and overseas service. There was no cross-posting, except between the two battalions—that is to say, within the regiment.

The war and its aftermath transformed the structure of the infantry. It left us with regiments only one battalion strong. On top of that, the international situation obliged us to keep a much larger proportion of the Army overseas than we had before the war. The strain on the infantry was further increased by the growth in modern times in the number of extra-regimental duties to be performed. With regiments only one battalion strong, these things inevitably led to cross-posting on an unprecedented scale and I doubt whether even the old Cardwell system could altogether have avoided this. We might well have had to go to a three battalion regiment to enable officers and men to make their career without any cross-posting at all.

I do not know whether even my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster realises how far the evil of cross-posting has gone, and I am sure that the country at large has very little idea of the extent of the problem. So may I give one or two examples? The East Lancashire Regiment was recently brought to higher establishment for service overseas. Of its 800 other ranks, 144 were posted from the Manchester Regiment; 100 from the Lancashire Fusiliers; 50 from the Border Regiment and 100 from the King's Regiment. Thus, nearly 50 per cent. of the regiment's manpower was drawn from other regiments.

That is an extreme example, but by no means an isolated one. The Cheshire Regiment, for example, was built up to go to Malaya to a strength of 668 other ranks. Of those, 110 came from the North Staffordshire Regiment and 125 from the South Staffordshire Regiment. That represents a cross-posted clement of between 30 and 40 per cent. of the total strength of the battalion.

The effect on individual officers and senior N.C.Os. has been almost as far-reaching. It has been by no means unknown for an officer to be posted to as many as four or five different regiments in the period since the war.

I say nothing tonight of the effects of cross-posting on units or individual morale, nor of its impact on the problem of recruiting. I want to draw attention on this occasion only to one aspect of the problem. What happens when an officer or man is cross-posted? What is the mark—the outward and visible sign —of each cross-posting? As hon. Members will know, every time a cross-posting takes place the officer or man concerned has to change his cap badge. My hon. Friend and others inside the House and outside have dwelt on the psychological shock and morale effects of forcing a man to change his cap badge. But this has been happening for years and as long as regiments are only one battalion strong it is bound to continue.

In 1947, the so-called Group system was introduced in an attempt to mitigate the evils of cross-posting. Under this, cross-posting was limited to regiments drawn from the same general area. The Group, however, has remained a rather amorphous entity. It has hardly developed a corporate spirit of its own. In particular—and the point is significant for our debate—it left officers and men under the obligation to change their cap badges each time they were cross-posted.

The reorganisation of the Defence Forces announced in the White Paper earlier this year left the War Office with a choice. We could have solved the cross-posting problem by reducing the number of infantry regiments to 20 or 25, but bringing each regiment up to a strength of two or three battalions. From the point of view of administration and training there may have been something to be said for the solution, but we decided against it because we believe that it would have taken the heart out of the British infantry. The infantry is rooted in the regimental system. Its territorial links, its recruiting appeal, on which my hon. Friend dwelt, even its fighting spirit are bound up inseparably with its regimental traditions. We decided, therefore, to keep in being as many regiments as we could. I have no doubt that our decision was right, but it meant that each regiment could be only one battalion strong. The problem of cross-posting was, therefore, left unsolved—or, rather, it would have been left unsolved but for another decision which we took and which has commanded general assent. This was the decision to transform into brigades the rather amorphous regimental groups, in which regiments had previously been associated.

The brigade is to be responsible for the depot and all cross-posting is to be within the brigade. Senior officers and N.C.O.s will find their chance of promotion on a common brigade roll. The brigade is thus to have definite functions to perform, and while in no way superseding the regiment, it must clearly command a common loyalty and develop a corporate spirit.

This brings me to the crux of our controversy tonight. This is the further decision to give symbolic recognition to the new rôle of the brigade by transferring the cap badge from the regiment to the brigade. The natural question which my hon. Friend asked tonight was: "Why choose the cap badge? Why pick what has been pre-eminently the symbol of regimental tradition? Why not have common flashes, or common collar badges?"

There are two main answers: I hope that my hon. Friend will agree that they are simple and compelling. We chose the cap badge, first and foremost, because in the inevitable cross-posting resulting from the one-battalion system—sometimes amounting, as I have said, to 40 per cent. of a battalion—it was precisely the cap badge that had most often to be changed. We wanted to put an end to what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has described as an appalling indignity for any man, that is, to have to take off his cap badge when posted from one regiment to another."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st July, 1957; Vol. 574, c. 1426.] We were determined to put a stop to this and, instead, to give a man a cap badge which he would keep for his whole Army career.

The second reason only reinforced the first. The decision to amalgamate thirty regiments of the line meant that thirty cap badges would have to be changed anyhow. Would it really have been wiser to have produced fifteen brand-new cap badges and then left the officers and men concerned to change those cap badges at each cross-posting, that is to say, almost before they had come to recognise them, let alone to feel an affinity or affection for them?

Mr. Moyle

Without gainsaying at all the main contention put up by the War Office, for the life of me I cannot understand why organisation cannot make it practicable, within the brigade, to give symbolic significance to the importance of county traditions in relation to county regiments.

Mr. Amery

The answer is quite simple. We are saying that every other embellishment or distinguishing mark apart from the cap badge shall be retained by the regiment. Only this one mark, which in any case the officer, the N.C.O. and the man has to change again and again, are we transferring to the brigade.

My hon. Friend referred to the position of the Brigade of Guards. The essential difference here is that three of the five Guards Regiments will remain two-battalions strong. The problem of cross-posting does not therefore arise for them. The Welsh and Irish Guards, it is true, are only one-battalion strong. Throughout our reorganisation, however, we have avoided breaking national boundaries within the Kingdom. We have in no brigade English and Scottish or Welsh and Irish regiments together. We thought it best to apply this same principle to these two Guards regiments.

I want to make one other point in the time that remains to me. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I take full responsibility for the decision which has been taken, but I want to make it clear that this issue was not a thing which was thrust on the Army by Ministers or civil servants, or even by the legendary theorists on the General Staff. It was one of a number of recommendations proposed for the infantry by a representative cross-section of infantry officers of varying ranks drawn from all the different regimental groups in the Kingdom.

We are clear in our minds that this decision was right, and that is why I am afraid that I can hold out no hope that it will be reconsidered. We are fortified in this decision not only by the professional advice that we have received but by the attitude to our proposals of the Army as a whole. The great majority of serving officers and men have accepted these proposals and agree that they are right.

Two brigades have already submitted their design for a cap badge, and I understand that another half dozen have reached agreement on the design they intend to recommend to us. We hope to have all the recommendations to hand by the end of the year.

We share the regret that many will feel at parting with regimental cap badges. But we do not doubt that the new brigade cap badge will provide inspiration to those that wear it just as the regimental cap badge has clone on so many famous fields in days gone by.

The Question having been proposed at Ten o'clock and the debate having continued for half an hour, Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.

Adjourned at half-past Ten o'clock.