HC Deb 21 October 1971 vol 823 cc883-4
21. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Minister of State for Defence whether, in view of the improvement in recruiting, he will now reconstitute the Second Battalion of Her Majesty's Third or Scots Guards.

The Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Army (Mr. Geoffrey Johnson Smith)

As my right hon. and noble Friend the Secretary of State for Defence announced on 13th October, this battalion and three others will reform in mid-January, 1972.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

While warmly thanking my hon. Friend for a decision of surprising percipience from a Department headed by two Grenadiers, may I ask him whether he is aware that units like this and the others with which he dealt in his Answer are living organisms and that great damage was done by the disbandments and closing-down which occurred under the previous Administration?

Mr. Johnson Smith

It was because we recognised the opinions expressed by my right hon. Friend that it was decided that the four units now being expanded to battalions should not be phased out of the Army altogether and were made representative companies. I am glad that he approves of the percipience of the three Grenadiers, helped by a gunner, in the Ministry of Defence.

Mr. Concannon

Without detracting from what has been said about the Scots Guards, which I could not do, it is obvious that this is just about the only expanding piece of the Scottish economy. In view of the record level of unemployment in Scotland some of us are not surprised at the levels of recruitment there.

Lieut.-Colonel Colin Mitchell

I hope that my hon. Friend and my noble Friend the Minister of State will consider this an appropriate moment to express the thanks of all ranks and supporters of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders for this enlightened, sensible and fortuitous decision.

Mr. Johnson Smith

I am grateful to my hon. and gallant Friend and for the manner in which he has expressed his thanks.

Mr. William Hamilton

Can the hon Gentleman say whether this is the Government's major or only contribution to solving the drastic Scottish unemployment problem?

Mr. Johnson Smith

That question could be put to some other Department. However, the hon. Gentleman should recognise that on the same day that expansion of the four representative companies to battalions was announced my right hon. and noble Friend announced a £70 million expansion of the Royal Navy.