HC Deb 17 February 1972 vol 831 cc606-7
21. Mr. Hooson

asked the Minister of State for Defence what representations he has received that the depôt at Cwrt-yGollen should be retained as a Welsh focus for infantry recruiting in Wales; and what reply he has made.

Mr. G. Johnson Smith

Representations have been received from certain right hon. and hon. Members, noble Lords and civic leaders. Correspondents have been informed that Cwrt-y-Gollen will continue to act as the training depôt for the two Welsh infantry regiments. The plan for the depôt to serve four regiments, including the two Welsh, is still under consideration.

Mr. Hooson

Does the Minister appreciate that this is an issue the political significance of which in Wales might be under-estimated? The people in Wales feel that, if Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own infantry depôt, Wales should enjoy the same distinction. If the Department turns down the recommendation of the colonels of all the regiments making up the Prince of Wales's Division, this will be regarded in the Principality as very serious.

Mr. Johnson Smith

I understand the feeling that exists on this matter, and we shall give it every sympathetic consideration. The hon. and learned Gentleman will understand that in the Army reorganisation it was agreed that the divisions of infantry would each have one depôt. Exceptions were made in respect of the King's Division, one in Northern Ireland and one in England, and the Prince of Wales's Division—one in Cwrt-y-Gollen and the other possibly in Lichfield.

Mr. W. Baxter

In view of the demands for a further Polaris submarine, would the Minister now consider moving the submarine base to Wales to satisfy my hon. Friend and many people in Scotland?

Mr. Johnson Smith

I doubt whether that would satisfy the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) because we are talking not about an inland waterway, but about an inland depôt.

Mr. John Morris

Does not the Minister realise that this is the last Welsh infantry depôt? Since I recently had the privilege of taking a passing out parade there, will he accept from me that this depôt is a privilege that is highly valued by parents, who are able to visit sons, and also by the men themselves who, in the initial period in the Army, are able to get home on leave? If the depôt ceases to be the sole Welsh depôt, does he not agree that recruitment in Wales will fail?

Mr. Johnson Smith

I take note of the hon. Gentleman's opinion, and I appreciate the significance of a depôt in Wales for Welsh soldiers.

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