HC Deb 26 July 1960 vol 627 cc1290-1
Mr. Dugdale (by Private Notice)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will make a statement about the Government's decision to send a battalion of the Duke of Wellington's Regiment to Kenya.

The Secretary of State for War (Mr. Christopher Soames)

This battalion is being moved to reinforce the element of the Strategic Reserve in Kenya.

Mr. Dugdale

Will the Secretary of State give a categorical assurance that on no account will this battalion be placed at the disposal of the Government of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland?

Mr. Soames

The purpose of the Strategic Reserve is to be placed in such a way that it can act with the greatest speed according to the decisions taken by Her Majesty's Government.

Mr. Paget

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that if troops are to be used in the Rhodesias there are a good many of us who would he extremely thankful to feel that they were responsible to him and not to the Government of Rhodesia? Can he tell us Why this has happened so suddenly? Why have people suddenly been withdrawn from their leave? Is the emergency in Kenya, in the Rhodesias or in Katanga? Clearly, there is some emergency.

Mr. Soames

The purpose of the Strategic Reserve is that it should be available to be moved quickly. I think that the House is glad that it can be moved very quickly once the Government take the decision that units of it should be moved. The bulk of the Strategic Reserve is in this country, but there is an element of it—two full battalions—in Kenya. The decision was taken by Her Majesty's Government that we should reinforce that element which is in Kenya. Once that decision was taken, the Strategic Reserve moved very rapidly.

Mr. Strachey

Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that the battalion is not being moved in connection with the internal situation in Kenya? Is he aware that if, unfortunately, there has to be work in aid of the civil power in Africa, we very much prefer that it should be done by a British Regular battalion rather than by locally-raised forces from the white population in Africa?

Mr. Soames

The object of the move was to reinforce the Strategic Reserve in Kenya. It has nothing to do with any troubles in Kenya itself.