HC Deb 17 July 1968 vol 768 cc1401-3
8. Mr. Buchanan-Smith

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what further representations he has had regarding the future of Scottish regiments; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Boyden

My right hon. Friend and I have received three deputations since 3rd July.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

Has the hon. Gentleman used the time since Monday to reflect on the tremendous strength of public feeling in Scotland, particularly as reflected in the House on Monday? In view of this, is he prepared to reconsider his decision, or is it absolutely final?

Mr. Boyden

The Ministry of Defence is given to much reflection. On the second part of the question, if the hon. Gentleman is referring to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, my right hon. Friend made a statement during the debate which offered the possibility of amalgamation or disbandment.

Mr. Gregor Mackenzie

Is my hon. Friend aware that, in common with many other Members for industrial constituencies, I have had no representations at all on this subject, and that among those who have feelings on it are many who would much prefer the disbandment of one regiment to the scrapping of two in the shape of amalgamation?

Mr. Boyden

I do not follow my hon. Friend's language in the second part of his question. As to representations, he has made representations to me in the corridor.

10. Mr. Monro

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will now make a statement on the future of the Scottish infantry regiments.

27. Mr. Dempsey

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if, in view of the further representations he has received regarding the future of Scottish regiments, he will now make a statement about his plans in this respect.

Mr. Boyden

I have nothing to add to what I said in the debate on Monday.

Mr. Monro

Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the fury aroused in Scotland by the speech of the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) about the Argylls on Monday? Will he come to the House and make a full statement completely refuting those unworthy allegations?

Mr. Boyden

My right hon. Friend is making a thorough and speedy investigation.

Mr. Dempsey

Is my hon. Friend aware that, as Scotland has made its contribution to the defence cuts, there is a certain feeling that there is need for a Scottish contribution to the United Kingdom defence forces? Will he, therefore, assure us that Scottish regiments will play an important part in this new United Kingdom defence force?

Mr. Boyden

Indeed, yes, Sir.

Mr. Brewis

But surely there is no need to start an investigation over events which took place a year ago. As the officers and men of the Argylls cannot reply, and the hon. Gentleman is in a position to reply for them, will he categorically deny the statements made by the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell)?

Mr. Boyden

My right hon. Friend will make a statement before the Recess. These things happened some time ago, and it is necessary to consult all the parties engaged in this operation.

Mr. Dalyell

May I welcome the permission given by the Ministry of Defence to Colonel Mitchell to reply to Mr. Chapman Pincher? I warmly welcome this. But is my hon. Friend aware that these matters, like others in this field, should be determined by one criterion only—whether there is a credible operational requirement?

Mr. Boyden

Of course, that is one of the matters to be considered.

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