HC Deb 07 May 1969 vol 783 cc437-8
21. Mr. Scott-Hopkins

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the shortage in recruitment to the infantry divisions of the British Army; and what is the difference between their peacetime and war establishments.

Mr. Boyden

On 1st April, 1969 the infantry was deficient in strength by some 2,400 soldiers. Infantry divisions do not have peace and war establishments; however the difference in this respect for each infantry battalion is about 100 soldiers. Some battalions also receive a further increment from TAVR Reservists.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that this puts us in a very grave position? This is one of our teeth arms, and to be 2,000 short is a grave situation, particularly as we lack reserves. What is he doing about it?

Mr. Boyden

The hon. Gentleman should not exaggerate the situation. In the last few weeks, recruiting has picked up.

Mr. Ramsden

If infantry divisions do not have peace or war establishments any more, can the hon. Gentleman say whether the Government are working on the basis of three companies or four companies for infantry battalions?

Mr. Boyden

It varies between the divisions at the moment.