HC Deb 20 July 1960 vol 627 cc465-6
7. Mr. Holland

asked the Secretary of State for War whether it is the intention to replace the 25-pounder gun with the 105 millimetre pack-howitzer; and by what year it is estimated the changeover will he completed.

Mr. H. Fraser

The pack howitzer will replace the 25-pounder gun in the parachute light regiment next year, and in three other regiments a year later. Beyond that, the replacement programme is under consideration. A self- propelled 105 mm. gun is also being developed to take over some of the rôles of the 25-pounder.

Mr. Holland

Would my hon. Friend agree that three essential things for a modern Army are mobility, flexibility and fire-power? Would he also agree that the 105 millimetre pack-howitzer has advantages in all these three spheres over the 25-pounder? In these circumstances, does he not think that the adoption of the howitzer in place of the 25-pounder should be expedited?

Mr. Fraser

I could not go all the way with my hon. Friend on that. Of course for airborne and light rôles I agree that there is great advantage in the new air-portable howitzer. We are pleased that we are getting that. Beyond that there are certain rôles for the 105 mm. self-propelled gun, and developments on that are going very well.

Mr. Shinwell

Does the hon. Gentleman know of any modern Army using the 25-pounder? Is it not completely obsolete, and does not this demonstrate that our Army, on which we are supposed to depend, is badly equipped?

Mr. Fraser

No, Sir. I think that it is still an extremely effective weapon.