§ 14. Mr. Biggs-Davison
asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will make a statement about the strengthening of the Ulster Defence Regiment.
§ Mr. Robert C. Brown
In accordance with the announcement made in the House by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on 17th December last year, action is being taken to increase the number of full-time members of the Ulster Defence Regiment by 200 men.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
Have these five conrate platoons, of 200 men in all, been formed and are they not insufficient for the UDR to have an effective daytime presence? As for the part-time element, what has been done to keep up and add to the numbers, which show signs of having fallen off in the previous year?
§ Mr. Powell
Is the Minister aware that the 200 additional full-time men must be regarded as a first instalment of what is necessary? Will the Ministry of Defence make sure that when the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland replies to the debate tomorrow he will be able to indicate specific ways in which the recruitment of UDR men—which was generally disappointing in 1976—will be improved in 1977?
§ Mr. Flannery
Does the Minister accept that no matter how much we go on strengthening the UDR, the Northern Ireland solution must be a political one and that, although we can talk indefinitely about strengthening the security 1214 forces, in time we must grapple with the politics of Northern Ireland?