HC Deb 12 March 1958 vol 584 cc401-2
11. Mr. Lipton

asked the Secretary of State for War how many generals are employed in the War Office; and what was the number last year.

Mr. Soames

Forty, the same as last year.

Mr. Lipton

How does the right hon. Gentleman explain why, with all the cuts and the closing downs and the redundancies, the number of generals at the War Office is still the same? When will he tackle this rash of generals and bring about a proportionate reduction in that particular range of the stratosphere?

Mr. Soames

In fact the reorganisation and reductions in the Army impose a greater rather than a lesser burden on the administration in the War Office. There is, however, a plan for the gradual reduction of the staff of the War Office, and there will be a reduction in the number of generals during the current year.

Mr. Strachey

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that, whilst during the transition that may be so, the numbers should in the end come down in proportion to the reduction of the Forces, which is considerable?

Mr. Soames

Certainly they will come down in the end, but we are entering into the second year of what the right hon. Gentleman calls the transitional period. As to the proportion by which they will come down, I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree with me that it is important to keep a sound promotion structure in the Army.

Mr. Bellenger

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that last year when I put a similar Question to his predecessor the House was given the impression that he would reduce that number? In fact, I think he almost gave an undertaking. Does the right hon. Gentleman seriously mean that he will reduce the establishment of senior officers of major-general rank in the War Office, because it is obvious that there is every opportunity to do so now that the Army is being cut?

Mr. Soames

Yes, Sir. The numbers will be reduced over the period of years of the run-down of the Army.