HC Deb 17 July 1968 vol 768 c1406
12. Mr. Wall

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will give the estimated total strength of the British Army of the Rhine in 1969, 1970 and 1971, respectively.

Mr. Boyden

Recruiting difficulties and the demands of other theatres have kept the posted strength of B.A.O.R. below its establishment of about 55,000 men. We intend to make good the shortfall as soon as possible.

Mr. Wall

Can the Under-Secretary assure the House that there will be no further reduction in B.A.O.R. in the next three years? Can he reassure the House by saying that there will be sufficient R.A.F. aircraft to give these soldiers adequate air cover? Is he aware that there is grave anxiety on this score?

Mr. Boyden

We shall do our best to bring B.A.O.R. up to strength.

Mr. Sheldon

Although it made sense to have a large force in Western Germany when there was a threat, even though it contributed very largely to the German balance of payments, does not my hon. Friend agree that it makes very little sense today when there is no immediate threat and when the balance of payments disadvantage is to ourselves?

Mr. Boyden

As has been stated on innumerable occasions, it is the intention of the Government to keep B.A.O.R. up to strength; and this is being catered for.