HC Deb 15 July 1966 vol 731 cc1904-21

11.30 a.m.

Mr. Turton

I beg to move Amendment No. 35, in page 7, line 46, at the end to insert:— Provided that where he is called out by virtue of section 6 (1) of this Act, he shall not be liable to sene for a period exceeding six months. This is our first major difference of opinion on Report. I want to explain the general position. Volunteers will be liable to be called up under Clause 5 in a time of great national emergency. They will still be liable to be called up under Section 25 of the Auxiliary Forces Act, 1953, again when they are required to defend their country. They can also be called up under Clause 6 when war-like operations are in preparation or progress. In the White Paper the Government define that contingency further by saying that there is no intention to call them out under this liability unless major military operations are in progress or appear to be imminent and when a serious situation affecting vital national interests has arisen. Those are the three contingencies.

There is also the position within the volunteers of the S.A.V.R.—the "Ever-Readies"—who are called out, not by Queen's Order, as the volunteers would be, but at the Minister's discretion. Their liability is limited to a period of six months.

When the Bill was introduced no period was stipulated for call-up under Clause 5 or Clause 6. It was argued on both sides that it was a mistake not to have some limit within the Bill to the period of call-up. This is particularly important so that employers of volunteers should know what their obligation is when they are willing for a man to join the volunteers. It is also important for the self-employed volunteer to know the nature and extent of his liability.

The Minister met some of these complaints by tabling an Amendment to Clause 10 limiting the periods of call-up to 12 months. This is satisfactory, certainly for any call-up under Clause 5. I cannot visualise somebody who has been called up under Clause 5 in a time of grave national emergency saying after 12 months, "I must stop now, because I have served my 12 months". This did not happen in the course of the last war with the Territorials.

As to the third grade of call-up— when war-like operations are in preparation or progress I had always thought that this was a short-term emergency. I therefore suggest to the House that it is only right that the volunteers should have, as the "Ever-Readies" have, a limit to their period of call-up.

In Committee the Minister defended his attitude on this question by saying that the volunteers would be called up by unit rather than by individuals, that it was right to have a six-months' limit to the liability of the S.A.V.R., but that as volunteers would be called up on a unit basis this was not applicable.

I do not believe this to be a correct argument. If Clause 6 call-up is used, I very much doubt whether the majority of the call-up will be by unit. I believe that it will be by sub-unit or by individual. It must be remembered that the volunteers are not merely infantry volunteer units. Whether it is call-up by unit or by individual, it is very important that their limit of liability should not be greater than that of the S.A.V.R.—the "Ever-Readies".

The White Paper draws this picture of what will happen in the case of call-up under Clause 6: … it will be laid down in departmental instructions issued by the Defence Council that no member of the Army Volunteer Reserve other than Special Army Volunteer Reservists will be called out for warlike operations until full use has been made of Section A of the Regular Reserve … I hope the Minister will correct me if I am wrong in interpreting this to mean that, in a short-term emergency, the first thing to happen will be that the "Ever-Readies" will be called up at the Minister's discretion. Then, if the "Ever-Readies" cannot deal with the position and if it tends to boil over, Section A of the Regular Reserve will be called up. Finally, the Minister will, by Queen's Order, call out the volunteers.

If this is a correct interpretation of how a Minister will exercise his responsibilities under the Bill, it is important that the last group to be called up, namely, the volunteers, should not have a longer liability for call-up service than the first group—the "Ever-Readies".

Let us consider a battalion in which "Ever-Readies", Section A Regular Reservists, and volunteers are serving. As the "Ever-Readies" will have been called up first and as their liability is limited to six months, they will be gone after six months. The period of service of the Section A Regular Reservists, who will be called up before the volunteers, will expire before that of the volunteers. If the Queen's Order procedure is used under Clause 6 to call out the volunteers, an employer will know that the last people to return to his factory will be the volunteers. This is unsatisfactory.

If a real national emergency arose as provided for in Clause 5, nobody would want to bother about the extent of the liability. After all, the Territorial Army hitherto was committed for indefinite lengths of time directly on a Proclamation. There was no trouble in the last war. We did not think in terms of 12 months or six months then. We are not talking about that. It is a mistake to have even that 12-month period under Clause 5. We are dealing with the narrow problem of Clause 6. As the Minister knows—we have exchanged words about this—the Territorial Council is not happy at the present state of the 12 months period. A number of the members of that Council believe that the right period for the volunteer is six months. We want to get as much good will for the volunteers as possible. I believe that this is the one real barrier to good will both amongst employers and to a certain extent amongst those who are responsible for the Territorial Army. I ask the Minister to think about this very carefully.

I apologise that this is a starred Amendment. It was drawn co my attention late last night that the Amendment that I had tabled on this point was too wide and that it would have brought in others than the volunteers. That is why it has been altered. Nevertheless I beg the right hon. Gentleman to think carefully about this matter. I am not happy at the attitude of some employers to the new provisions of the Bill. Neither am I happy at the amount of publicity that the Minister has given to those provisions. There has been far too much obscurity. Therefore, if the Minister were to give way on this Amendment and make it clear that the limit of liability for the volunteers would be six months, I believe that it would do a great deal to enhance the popularity of these volunteers and encourage their recruiting.

Colonel Sir Tufton Beamish (Lewes)

My right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton), who has a very long experience of Territorial soldiering, has put the arguments for this Amendment very clearly, succinctly and persuasively. All I want to do briefly is to reinforce some of his arguments about which we feel strongly on this side of the House.

We feel that if the need for reservists for a long period of active service overseas were so great that it was necessary to fall back on T. & A.V.R.II and call men up either as individuals or as units for 12 months, the emergency would be so serious that Clause 5 procedure ought to be invoked. This, as I see it, is the nub of the argument, although there are subsidiary arguments. There is thus no need under Clause 6 to call out T. & A.V.R.II. for more than six months.

Suppose circumstances had arisen in which all available "Ever-Readies" had been called out and in which the section A Regular Army Reserve had been called out as well, and that things were getting pretty serious. Say 15,000 to 20,000 men had been called out in this way from the Regular reserve and from the "Ever-Readies", things would then indeed be pretty serious, and it seems to us that if it ever became necessary to call out considerable numbers of the Territorial Army volunteer reserve, such a serious situation would have arisen to call them out for a period of even six months that surely Clause 5 procedure would have to be invoked.

I find it very difficult indeed to imagine any circumstances in which it would be necessary to call out men in the T. & A.V.R.II. under Clause 6 procedure other than as individuals. I recognise that this might be possible because certain people might be key people who would be fitted into key posts. My right hon. Friend talked about the possibility, of which the Minister made quite a lot of play at earlier stages of the Bill, of having to call out T. & A.V.R.II. as units under Clause 6 procedure, but I am not very impressed by this argument because if the time really came when so many Regular and volunteer reservists had been called out that it was necessary to call on whole units of T. & A.V.R.II, then surely there would be a serious national emergency and Clause 5 procedure could be invoked.

11.45 a.m.

My right hon. Friend has drawn attention to the fact that the "Ever-Readies", as I call them for simplicity, have only a six months liability in any one year. So far as we know—and I think the Minister will agree—the system of calling up "Ever-Readies" works very well. Six months proved a reasonable time for them to go out into a very hot climate and take part in what amounted to active service operations in Aden. I realise that they were called out as individuals. That is why I am making the point that if it were necessary to call out individuals of T. & A.V.R.II under Clause 6 procedure, this would be understandable. But I do not see how certain circumstances could arise in which any Government would want to call out whole units of T. & A.V.R.II for this long period under the Clause 6 procedure.

I know all about the acclimatisation arguments which have been put forward, and I do not want to repeat the arguments that have been advanced previously. I know about the importance of specialised training, things like jungle warfare, and that sort of thing. But I feel that these arguments, which are outweighed to some extent by the great speed of modern air transport, are really arguments which apply much more to the calling up of whole units for service in difficult circumstances than to the calling out of a certain number of individuals.

There is no doubt about the degree of disruption to industry and the consequent hostility of employers which might arise if large numbers of T. & A.V.R.II were called out in something which amounted to less than a national emergency. Any Government would want to avoid this. The Minister has said that it is most unlikely to be necessary to call out members of T. & A.V.R.II. He has called attention to the fact that they would come after section A of the Regular Reserve and after the "Ever-Readies". He said that it would be a serious affair if we had to call out T. & A.V.R.II units. That being the case, we find it very hard to understand why so far he has not been prepared to build into the Bill a six months limitation under Clause 6 procedure, knowing all the time that if it was required to fall back on a longer period for T. & A.V.R.II he could invoke Clause 5.

Surely, in those circumstances a serious emergency would have arisen. He has said that it would be a serious affair to call out members of T. & A.V.R.II. This means national danger. It surely means Clause 5 procedure. It would mean that we were all in trouble, and this is something which the Territorial soldiers are the first to accept. When there really is a national emergency their liability is virtually unlimited.

For understandable reasons. Mr. Speaker, you did not call an Amendment to do with the actual wording of Clause 6. and I would therefore be out of order in referring to this beyond saying that the circumstances in which the Minister has this power to call out members of T. & A.V.R.II for up to 12 months are very vaguely defined indeed —simply that they are liable to be called out for permanent service in any part of the world when war-like operations are in preparation or progress. We realise that it is hard to think of any moment since 1945 when warlike operations have not been in preparation or in progress. This emphasises the great importance of limiting the period to a reasonable one.

Therefore, we feel that there are powerful arguments for limiting to six months the length of time at a stretch for which a member of the new volunteer reserves can be called out, qualified as it is by the 12 months aggregate in Clause 10(3). That we fully accept. I hope therefore that when the Minister or Under-Secretary replies, we shall hear that he has had second thoughts and feels able to accept the Amendment.

Sir Richard Glyn (Dorset, North)

I do not want to waste time by repeating the arguments so well put forward by my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish), but one aspect of this matter has been greatly stressed. That is the effect of the Clause as it stands on employers whose cooperation is vital to getting the new T. & A.V.R.II to function properly.

I do not think any worthwhile Territorial—virtually any Territorial—has any objection to having an unlimited liability under Clause 6 as well as Clause 5. He has always had an unlimited liability once he has been called out. He has never had a limitation put on the time and he would be the last to ask that we should insert one, but employers look at these things a little differently. They see that cases of national danger are dealt with under Clause 5 and that Clause 6 deals with circumstances of warlike operation which, as my hon. and gallant Friend pointed out, would apply to almost any time in the last 20 years.

Employers also notice the sequence of call-up. First, the "Ever-Readies" would be called up with a limit of six months and, secondly, the Section A Reservists for a limit of 12 months and the T. & A.V.R.IIIs would be called out with no limitation whatever. Employers are wondering what would happen when the "Ever-Readies" were sent home after their six months and individual members of T. & A.V.R.II were called upon to replace them. The volunteers are very willing to go, but the employers have doubts.

They also think perhaps that under the Clause as drafted the Section A Regular Reservist would be returned after 12 months and the "Ever-Readies", having been returned, and that this would tend to militate against the return of the T. & A.V.R.II Employers have a nasty feeling that perhaps the T. & A.V.R.II reservists would perhaps have to be kept for a long time because the other forms of Reserve have a statutory right to be returned after a limited time. It would be a tremendous help in convincing employers that they should not make difficulties about their employees joining or remaining in the Territorial Army, particularly the T. & A.V.R.II, if they could be treated on something of the lines suggested by this Amendment, or if some other time limit could be inserted in the Bill. This is a very important point.

Colonel Sir Harwood Harrison (Eye)

I wish to reinforce what my hon. and right hon. Friends have said. I do so all the more because I was not on the Standing Committee. Having listened to the arguments in the House, I cannot see why the Minister cannot either agree to the Amendment or say that he will do something about making in another place a provision on these lines. Sometimes in this House and in the country we expect too much of our volunteers. The Minister cannot conceive of a situation in which he would want these men for more than six months; therefore why should that not be written in the Bill?

There is always the risk of a situation arising which is not clarified and in which there is the temptation for a Minister to continue to draw on the good will of the volunteers. Without making any great political point of it, some of us on this side of the House are worried about defence matters. Some speeches by hon. Members opposite, no doubt very sincerely made, advocate a reduction in our forces. If this happened and such a situation arose there might be all the more pressure on the Minister of the day to draw on these Territorials. Therefore I cannot see why the Minister cannot give a pledge in regard to the six months period.

Mr. Reynolds

If I may, I shall deal with one or two points before going into the general argument on this Amendment. The hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish) referred to the fact that the Army has been involved in warlike operations ever since 1945. I entirely agree that the Army has been involved in what he and I call warlike operations since 1945, but the Law Officers advised many years ago that the majority of the things the Army has been doing which this House and the soldiers themselves would call warlike operations are not legally warlike operations which would justify calling up the reservists about whom we are talking. Internal security has been the main problem for the Army, particularly for infantry battalions, but that is not warlike operations within the meaning of this Clause and they would not allow the Government to use these powers for calling up volunteers.

While it is correct to say in laymen's terms that the Army has been engaged in warlike operations, those operations have not been of the type which would allow the Government to call upon volunteers.

Mr. James Allason (Hemel Hempstead)

Will the hon. Gentleman give the legal definition of "preparation for warlike operations"?

Mr. Reynolds

I can say quite definitely that it would not be the preparation for the type of. operation in which the Army has been engaged for most of the time since 1945—Suez and Korea yes, but not, for example, internal operations in Aden.

The right hon. Gentleman suggested that there might be a situation in which first "Ever-Readies" could be called up, and a month or so later the T. & A.V.R.II, and then five months later the "Ever-Readies" might be back home again but individuals in T. & A.V.R.II would still have to soldier on. I can assure hon. Members that that would not be the case. The "Ever-Ready" gets his £150 bounty for a much higher liability and can be called out at any time by the Secretary of State for six months. But he is a member of the T. & A.V.R. as well, and if his unit is called out under Clause 5 or Clause 6, when he may have finished his liability as an "Ever-Ready", he would still have his general liability as a T. & A.V.R.II volunteer and would be held under Clause 5 or 6. I am not saying that would happen, but it could happen if he were a specialist or his job had not been finished. One would not wish to keep him a moment longer than necessary if there were not a job for him to do. Although I do not say that there would be any circumstances in which that would happen, it should not happen that an "Every-Ready" could be back at the bench in the factory before another man who had a lesser liability.

I cannot accept the claim that one can always invoke Clause 5. I do not think it follows automatically that because something has gone on for which the warlike operations procedure can be invoked, and because it has gone on for five or six months, it is a Clause 5 emergency. There could be something happening 7,000 or 8,000 miles away which might make it necessary to have certain T. & A.V.R.II units, some of which are logistic units which fit an order of battle and might be required if a number of Regular teeth arm units had to go into operation; but I would not say that in these circumstances we could invoke Clause 5.

Before the publication of the White Paper and of the Bill the Government had conversations with the Council of Territorial Associations, the Confederation of British Industry and the T.U.C. on the question of the liability of men to be called up and the length of time they could be expected to be retained. For a number of reasons which I explained in detail in Committee, which were also gone into on Second Reading, it was finally decided not to put a limit on the period of the call-out. To some extent, this was the result of a misunderstanding at the beginning about what the limit might mean. Some people thought that it meant a 12 month "Ever-Ready" liability, which was never the intention. It was agreed, however, by all three organisations consulted, and by the Government, not to put an actual limit on call-up.

12 noon.

During the Second Reading debate, some hon. Members opposite—and also a number of Government supporters, I think, although I am not sure about that —thought that it might be a good idea to have a limit, so when the Bill went into Committee I again asked the three organisations for their views. I must stress that these organisations did not come to me and say, "We have had second thoughts, and would like to discuss the matter again". Because I had been told that the subject would be raised in Committee, I said to them, "This matter will come up in Committee—have you any second thoughts, or different views now from those you had on the previous occasion?".

As a result of those consultations, the Council of the Territorial Associations said that it would be satisfied to have a limit, but did not commit itself to what that limit should be. The Council said, quite rightly, that that was a matter for the Government in the light of the operational requirement. The T.U.C. and the Confederation said they had no objection to a limit, but I stress again that the initiative for a second consultation came from the Government, and was not a result of the other organisations suddenly asking for a change.

The Amendment would cause difficulties in quite a number of circumstances, particularly for operations East of Suez. It would take some time to call up T. & A.V.R.II units, register them, and issue them with kit. In the majority of cases, they would have to undergo further full-time training before they could be committed to the operation. After being sent to the area, they would, in all probability—depending on the time of the year and so on—probably need a period of acclimatization before going into any sort of action. They would probably also need some training appertaining to the particular theatre of operations. The unit having been sent out, would later have to be brought back and disbanded before the six months was up, so that, outside Europe, the effective period would be only four months out of six. Therefore, while the Amendment refers to a limit of six months, it would mean that the unit would be effective and able to be used for a period of perhaps only four months. If the action was still continuing the unit would then have to be replaced by another in order to comply with the suggested six months' limit of service. That would place an unnecessary burden on those conducting the operation. It would, in all probability, mean that one would have to call up another T. & A.V.R.II unit, if it existed, and disrupt the careers of twice as many people as would be the case under the 12 month liability provided in the Bill.

On those grounds, therefore, I cannot accept the Amendment. In Committee, however, the right hon. Gentleman made his main case for a limit—then of four months, and now for six months—by saying that he thought it crucial for recruitment into the T. & A.V.R.II. On Tuesday and Wednesday of last week I visited some Territorial Army units in camp at Sennybridge and Dartmoor. I talked individually with about 200 soldiers, non-commissioned officers and officers in two 25-pounder artillery regiments from the Newcastle area. The vast majority of those men were volunteering for the T. & A.V.R.II. Only one man out of the 200 to whom I spoke said that he could not do this, because his employer was not happy about the scheme. However, in the course of my conversation, I found that his employer was not happy about the Territorial Army in any case, which meant that even without this change the man would have been leaving the Territorial Army when his engagement ended later this year.

One regiment had about 180 men in camp of whom about 36 were not eligible for transfer to the T. & A.V.R.II on grounds of age, and so on. That left about 144 individuals who were to be asked to give notice of their intention. When I was there, just after the end of the first week in camp, 130 of them had been interviewed and asked their intentions, and 129 of them had signified their intention to try to join a T. & A.V.R.II gunner unit that was being formed in the area. One man had indicated a wish to join a T. & A.V.R.III gunner unit that was being formed there. This may have been an exceptional case, but I can assure the House that in the country as a whole one finds evidence that in the vast majority of cases we shall have no difficulty at all in filling all the vacancies, even allowing for the 30 per cent. overbearing in the first year in T. & A.V.R.II units.

Mr. Turton

But has the hon. Gentleman spoken to 250 employers? That is the difficulty. The men all want to try to join, but it all depends on the employers.

Mr. Reynolds

Perhaps I did not make myself clear. With one exception, all the 200 men with whom I talked replied "No", to the question, "Is there any difficulty with your employer?" Only one man replied "Yes", but on further questioning him I found that his em- ployer was in any case being difficult about the Territorial Army. All the others maintained that there was no difficulty at all with their employer.

I do not say that there is no difficulty in all cases. One or two cases of difficulty with employers were brought to my attention in Committee but, as I have said, the Government and the nationalised industries have set a lead by saying that they will give their employees the same facilities for joining the T. & A.V.R.II and T. & A.V.R.III as they now do for membership of the Territorial Army and the Army Emergency Reserve.

I am sure that the vast majority of employers will follow that example by allowing their employees to join, though I know that some employers are being rather more difficult about the T. & A.V.R.II than about the Territorial Army. I am having informal discussions in the next week or two in order to see if we can find a way round. We shall do our utmost to make sure that employers are fully aware of their employees' liability, and if any employers, large or small, want further information about the liability involved and about the amount of time required for training the men, I hope that they will get in touch with the Ministry of Defence or will write personally to me. I will see that they get all possible information.

I am sure that only a minority of employers will be difficult. As is inevitable in a major change of this sort, some employers will think that it is time to get out. That would probably have happened, no matter what the change was. If any hon. Member knows of any employer who may be refusing facilities to his employees I will be very grateful if he will tell me when I shall see what action can be taken. if any employer has doubts and will write to me personally, I shall be only too pleased to provide all the information necessary.

I want to repeat that the invoking of this provision—and the hon. and gallant Member has quoted me as saying this in Committee—would be for something very serious. No Government would invoke it lightly. They would, in any event, have to be sure of the opinion of the House, and would have to bear in mind its effect on the economy and on individual careers. It is not a decision that any Government would take lightly. Further, if it became necessary to engage in military operations in any part of the world, I repeat that we would first use the Regular soldiers who were in that part of the world. They would be reinforced if required by other regular soldiers and units from that theatre or the United Kingdom. If it were necessary to get further individuals we have the "Ever-Readies", who get £150 a year for being available when required. It may well be that we shall from time to time have to make use of them. Then there is the Regular Reserve Class A.

I repeat that there is no intention of calling out the T. & A.V.R.II units or sub-units until we have used all those other forces suitable for the job which has to be done, including the Class A of Regular Reserves. Thus, the T. & A.V.R.1I units will be the third line of reserve. But once we have called them out we cannot be fettered in having to look over our shoulders at the calendar no matter what the operation, no matter what its extent, knowing that we have to get these men back to England within a short period of six months and replace them by others.

The period we lay down in the Clause is reasonable and I remind the House that the men will not necessarily be held for 12 months. They will be held for the shortest possible time but we must have the 12-month period in the Bill to enable us to plan properly and to enable any operations in which they are called out to be conducted efficiently.

Mr. Powell

The Clause is one on which the Government have already had important second thoughts. As it first stood, there was no specific limitation upon the length of service. As the Bill comes back to the House, there is written into it, where Clause 6 procedure is concerned, an aggregate limit of 12 months' service of this kind during the period of engagement. I do not think that anyone doubts that that represents a very important modification of the Clause, and I would be very surprised if anyone doubted that it represents a very wise modification.

It is fortunate that there is still opportunity for more mature consideration of the Clause as it stands because we on this side believe that, if it reaches the Statute Book in its present form without any limit less than 12 months upon a single period of service for the volunteer reservist under Clause 6 procedure, the Government will be making a grave mistake. They will be risking damage to the future viability of the volunteer reserve for the sake of what I would regard as an exercise in unrealism.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) said that the situation which would result in volunteer reservists being called out under Clause 6 procedure was of the nature of a short-term emergency. I believe that that is a wholly accurate appreciation. There are, broadly, two types of case in which the Government have said that they envisage that Clause 6 procedure would be applied to the volunteer reserve.

The first is the N.A.T.O. simple alert. Let us consider that for a moment. It is a situation in which it was thought necessary to call up volunteer reservists, individuals and particularly units, in order to bring up to war strength the formations which we have upon the Continent of Europe. It would be a situation in which major steps would be in progress to put the forces of the Western Alliance upon a war footing.

1 seriously submit that it is virtually inconceivable that such a situation should remain static for a period of more than six months without either being resolved, as one would hope, or else escalating further. I do not detect from the arguments which the Government have used in this debate or at previous stages that they seriously regard the N.A.T.O. commitment as the one which would require a volunteer to serve for more than six months under Clause 6 procedure. We should very soon be under Clause 5 procedure, I am sorry to say.

So we come to the remaining case, that of operations outside Europe which fall under the description of the … war-like operations …. in preparation or progress. For the purpose of the Bill we have no precedent under this head. We are called upon to use our imaginations for, although there have been two instances, we are told, since the warlike operations liability was first put on the Statute Book at the end of the century, when it has been used—in China in the 1920s and Palestine in the 1930s—surely neither of those situations is such as the Government would regard as involving the necessity to call out the T. & A.V.R.II.

12.15 p.m.

We are assured that they would not be called upon either as individuals or as units until all the reservists at higher readiness had already been exhausted, until all the troops available had been used and pulled in from other theatres, until the "Ever-Readies" had gone and subsequently if necessary put on a Clause 6 basis, and until the Class A Regular Reserves had been absorbed.

So we have to envisage a situation outside Europe so serious that everything available has already been pulled into it and in that case we have to send out individuals and units of the T. & A.V.R.II. What we have to consider is whether it is realistic to suppose that, having done that, we would be able to go on in that situation for more than six months without other steps of a very different character having to be taken.

I must say that we find that extremely difficult to envisage. We find that possibility so remote that we cannot believe that, for the sake of it, it is wise to resist a specific limitation to six months upon any single period of service which the T. & A.V.R.II might be called upon to render under Clause 6 procedure.

In begging the Government in their remaining opportunities to think again and yet again about this, I would ask the Minister of Defence for the Army to remember that he has not only to consider the launching of the new force. We were very interested to hear the figures arising from his personal researches. We are all very anxious that this period of transition to something which we do not believe matches the need, should nevertheless be successfully accomplished, that we should launch the new force with the best chances of success.

But it is not the commencement of the work but the continuing of the work for years and perhaps decades ahead which will be the test of the rightness of what we want to do. I am sure that there is a tremendous desire amongst those in the Territorial Army now, whatever doubts or criticism they may have, to get the new force successfully launched. In a sense the Minister has it most easy now. He will never have it so good again in recruiting the new volunteer reserves. When the present disposition to keep the unit going in some form at any rate, and to keep the spirit of the old Territorial Army is forgotten, it is in the long grind, year after year and decade after decade, of recruiting men in the new circumstances and on the new basis that these questions will be asked by employers. It is then that their doubts will have to be overcome and it is then that I fear that, if the Minister does not further modify this Clause, he will find that, for the sake of an almost inconceivable contingency, he has lamed those whose duty it will be in future to keep this force up to strength and to maintain its recruitment. That is why we on this side of the House feel that it is right to have a limit for the single period of service for the volunteer under Clause 6 written into this Clause, and I ask the Government, who have already modified their decision on this matter, to modify it once again.

Mr. Reynolds

By leave of the House, when we had the Second Reading of the Bill and the debate on the White Paper, the right hon. Gentleman at one stage appeared to be envisaging massive conventional war in Europe, a possibility which virtually nobody else accepts. After his remarks now about the possibility of a N.A.T.O. simple alert and not being required for more than six months, I agree with him that it is most unlikely that people would be required under Clause 6 for a N.A.T.O. simple alert, for they would either be very quickly put under Clause 5, or fairly quickly back in their jobs at home again.

The right hon. Gentleman gave the impression to some extent that by the time T. & A.V.R.II units went out, almost everything else we had would have been committed—everything in the theatre and everything in the United Kingdom and so on. I would like to clarify that by adding the word "suitable", because many of the units are specialist units of one kind or another.

Amendment negatived.