HC Deb 14 January 1971 vol 809 cc246-50
27. Sir T. Beamish

asked the Minister of State for Defence whether he can announce further details of the proposed expansion of the Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve.

Mr. Ian Gilmour

A new Armoured Car Regiment consisting of a headquarters, a headquarters squadron and three armoured car squadrons will be formed on existing Yeomanry cadres. A further 20 unit headquarters and 77 subunits of company size for employment in an infantry rôle will also be formed.

With permission, I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT details of the locations selected for these units. Units will begin to form on 1st April.

Sir T. Beamish

I welcome that important step towards repairing some of the serious damage done to the Territorial Army by the last Labour Government. Can my hon. Friend say something about recruiting prospects, bearing in mind that the TAVR. is, unfortunately, now about 20 per cent. below establishment?

Mr. Gilmour

I am grateful to my hon. and gallant Friend for the welcome that he has given to these proposals. On the recruiting point, it is mainly the logistic units that are under strength. Infantry and Yeomanry units in the TAVR. have done quite well for recruiting, and their strength is more than 90 per cent. of establishment. An important feature of the expansion is that we shall be able to attract recruits from new areas.

Mr. Brian Walden

Will the hon. Gentleman tell the House why, when he was in Opposition, he wrote a pamphlet suggesting that the appropriate size for the Territorial Army might be 25,000, yet it appears from what he has said today that the Government are going for a target of about half that figure?

Mr. Gilmour

I never wrote any such pamphlet.

Mr. Brian Walden

It was his hon. and gallant Friend behind him who wrote it.

Mr. Gilmour

I am not aware of what figures my hon. and gallant Friend had in mind, but this is only a start, and we believe that 10,000 was the right figure for initial target.

Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

Can my hon. Friend tell the House to what extent it will be necessary to repurchase drill halls which were sold by the previous Administration?

Mr. Gilmour

When we came into office in July we held up the sale of as many drill halls as we could. We had to let go those which we were under an obligation to sell, but I hope that we can exist on the accommodation that we possess now.

Following is the information:

The following are the locations proposed for the new units (including detachments of sub-units). It is possible that minor changes may be necessary.

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