HC Deb 18 December 1968 vol 775 cc1366-7
20. Sir Ian Orr-Ewing

asked the Secretary of State for Defence in what overseas territories British infantry, including Gurkhas, are still serving.

The Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Army (Mr. James Boyden)

As well as West Germany and Berlin, British infantry units (some of which are Gurkhas) are serving in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, the Persian Gulf, Cyprus, Libya, Malta, Gibraltar and British Honduras.

Sir Ian Orr-Ewing

The hon. Gentleman appears to have left Mauritius out of the list, and no doubt there are places in the Caribbean where they are serving. It does not seem to be a comprehensive list. Does not even that list prove that on the 66 occasions when British forces have been concerned since the end of the Second World War, it is the infantry which is so often essential for the preservation of peace? Therefore, is it wise to go on with the rapid run down of these forces?

Mr. Boyden

Yes. The present arrangements are perfectly satisfactory for dealing with this situation, including Mauritius.

Mr. Rankin

Can my hon. Friend tell the House the exact strength of British forces in Hong Kong and their purpose? Is it to defend Hong Kong against American naval vessels in Victoria Harbour or against any attack by China?

Mr. Boyden

It is not customary to reveal the exact strength of forces in places like Hong Kong.