HC Deb 24 November 1965 vol 721 cc481-2
1. Mr. Younger

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what forces he has immediately available for home defence, other than the Territorial Army; and what is the present strength of these forces as a percentage of their war establishment.

The Deputy Secretary of State for Defence and Minister of Defence for the Army (Mr. Frederick Mulley)

About 230,000 Regular personnel of the three Services are at present stationed in this country, from whom forces could be made available for home defence. The numbers and composition of such forces would depend on circumstances.

Mr. Younger

Does the right hon. Gentleman not agree that most of these forces are not immediately available owing to other duties? Would he not agree that they are too small and too under strength to make any effective contribution to our home defence? Finally, would he not agree that if he is to discharge his responsibilities to defend our civilian population he will require to keep a substantial proportion of the Territorial Army as a home defence force?

Mr. Mulley

We have given, and are giving, a great deal of thought to this point, but we do not believe that an attack against the United Kingdom is likely and we cannot afford to pay the heavy premium that preparation against any contingency would cost us. I do not feel that it is necessary to have units for which there is not an operational need.

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