HC Deb 11 March 1964 vol 691 cc412-3
11. Mr. Lipton

asked the Secretary of State for War to what extent the reorganisation of the British Army of the Rhine will reduce the number of British troops in Germany.

Mr. Ramsden

In the long term, not at all.

Mr. Lipton

Has the right hon. Gentleman taken note of the fact that only yesterday H.Q. B.A.O.R. announced that three infantry battalions were to be withdrawn from Germany by the end of the year? When are the Government to abandon the arrant humbug of pretending that we shall ever be able to keep our promise to have 55,000 British Service men in Germany? Is it not time to make a clean break, to come clean and withdraw our men from Germany altogether?

Mr. Ramsden

We had hoped to complete the reorganisation without a temporary reduction in B.A.O.R. strength, but, in view of the need to provide against possible commitments in other overseas theatres, this is now impossible. It remains our object to reach a strength of 55,000 as soon as we can, dependent on recruitment and commitments in other overseas theatres.

Mr. Shinwell

Is it not a sensible act on the part of the Government, for which they deserve congratulation—which may be unique—that they have decided to withdraw some troops from Germany where they are not engaged in active operations or doing anything useful? Will the right hon. Gentleman inject them into the Strategic Reserve? Is it the intention, if troops are withdrawn from the Rhine, to send any more to Cyprus? What is to happen about Cyprus in view of the delay by the United Nations in creating the peace-keeping force? Are our men—some of them boys—in Cyprus to continue to bear the brunt of the trouble there? What is to happen to them?

Mr. Ramsden

That is another question. The House and the Government share the right hon. Gentleman's concern that arrangements for the peacekeeping force should be speedily concluded.

Mr. Paget

Whether it be good or bad, is not the operation in B.A.O.R. broadly speaking an exchange of infantry for support troops in approximately equal numbers?

Mr. Ramsden

That is true as regards the long-term outcome of the reorganiation.

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