HC Deb 22 May 1984 vol 60 cc809-10
1. Sir John Biggs-Davison

asked the Secretary of State for Defence when he will be in a position to announce the result of the general review of the Army's initial training organisation.

The Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Mr. John Stanley)

The results will be made public over a period of some years. I expect some initial results to be announced before the end of this year.

Sir John Biggs-Davison

When two Irish cavalry regiments were moved to this side of the water, did they not lose much of their Irish character and composition? Would not the proposal to transfer the training of the Royal Irish Rangers from Ballymena discourage Irish recruitment and encourage terrorists and others who want the troops out?

Mr. Stanley

The point made by my hon. Friend has been made by other hon. Members on both sides of the House. As my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Defence Procurement said in the debate on the Consolidated Fund Bill on 12 March, we will consider carefully the representations that have been made on the matter.

Mr. McNamara

The Opposition — certainly the official Opposition—regard the raising of regiments in Ireland as an anachronism anyway. Can the Minister confirm that as a result of Major-General Groom's proposal there will be no breaking of the normal regimental and county traditions of the British regiments of the line, which is one of the strengths of the British Army in comparison with many others?

Mr. Stanley

If the hon. Gentleman is referring to the regimental structure, I can tell him that there are no proposals to alter that. I regret his earlier comment about Irish regiments being an anachronism. They have played, and still play, a very important role in the British Army's dispositions.

Mr. Wilkinson

Is it not a fact that soldiers from Ireland whose homes have been north or south of the border have made a glorious contribution to the traditions of many fine British regiments and of the British Army as a whole? Will my hon. Friend seriously reconsider the idea of bringing the Royal Irish Rangers depot to Great Britain, because they rightly belong in Northern Ireland?

Mr. Stanley

I assure my hon. Friend that we will consider the representations that have been made I wholeheartedly endorse the earlier part of his comments.

Rev. Martin Smyth

Will the Minister acknowledge that if there is a problem about the use of "Irish", Ulster has a noble tradition within the Rifles as well and we would be happy if, under the review, the regiment was so called?

Mr. Stanley

I shall not trespass on the question of regimental names, which, in my brief experience in my present past, I have found to be the single most controversial feature of the many aspects of service life.

Back to