HC Deb 17 July 1968 vol 768 c1424
39. Mr. Powell

asked the Secretary of State for Defence for how many regular infantry battalions in 1973 he is now planning.

Mr. Boyden


Mr. Powell

Will the Government, if not now at any rate in the course of the forthcoming debate, indicate the line of reasoning by which they have arrived at 46 battalions as being the correct size for the British Army in 1973?

Mr. Boyden

I am sure that my right hon. Friend will, but I would have thought that it was very clear from the Defence Statement.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Is my hon. Friend aware that Field Marshal Lord Montgomery has assessed a reasonable number of infantry as 150,000? Are not the Government arranging for 40,000 more? Is it not time that the number was reduced to the level suggested by Lord Montgomery?

Mr. Boyden

Lord Montgomery occasionally talks to me about these things; I must talk to him about this.

Mr. Ramsden

Will the hon. Gentleman undertake that in the forthcoming debate a statement will be made by the Government relating decisions on the strength of the Army and the Air Force to defence considerations and not purely financial considerations?

Mr. Boyden

Defence considerations and financial considerations are inextricably mixed. It is very difficult to get that lesson into hon. Members opposite.