HL Deb 25 June 1930 vol 78 cc127-9

My Lords, I should like to ask the noble Lord the second Question that stands in my name on the Paper.

[The Question was as follows:—To ask His Majesty's Government whether they are now in a position to state whether the War Office have reconsidered the situation with reference to the proposed reductions of permanent staff instructors in the Territorial Army, to which attention was called in this House on 26th March last, and, if so, whether it has been found possible to make any modifications in the scheme of reduction proposed.]


My Lords, this follows upon a previous Question asked by the noble Lord and the answer is this. The establishment of permanent staff instructors of Territorial Army infantry battalions has been reconsidered and certain minor modifications have been approved since the date when this question was last discussed in your Lordships' House. These modifications will result in the reductions of instructors being somewhat smaller than would have been the case under the original proposals. General Officers Commanding-in-Chief have been invited to review each case in which a reduction of establishment is involved and to inform the Army Council of any case in which special treatment is desirable in view of local conditions not already known to the War Office. Reductions which were accepted under the earlier proposals will be equally subject to review. The precise number of instructors on the new establishment cannot be given until the review is completed. I will provide the noble Lord with a copy of the recent official letter dealing with this subject.


My Lords, I think that the reply given by the noble Lord is satisfactory, and I hope that it will be adhered to. The trouble with the Territorial Forces is that these extraordinary orders that come out at odd moments are the things which seriously affect recruiting. I very much regret that my noble friend Lord Templemore, who is now commanding a battalion, was unable to proceed with his Question. However, he has done the groundwork, and I am very glad that an answer of this kind has been forthcoming. In my own case, I was commanding a battalion last year. We were all informed that this year was to be Territorial year, and that every assistance was to be given to the Territorial Army to perfect itself. It was a bad beginning to start on March 26 and notify us that two of our permanent staff were to be withdrawn. I can assure your Lordships that that sort of thing does harm to recruiting. These scare announcements that come out give us an idea of uncertainty. I beg that that sort of thing may not be brought forward again. I was delighted to hear what fell from the noble Lord now the Under-Secretary of State, whom I congratulate. I hope that his further efforts will bring forward satisfactory answers in the way that he has begun to-day. May we always hope for a satisfactory answer from the Territorial point of view from the Under-Secretary for War.


My Lords, may I say one word? This subject was raised in your Lordships' House some months ago. At that time I think that all noble Lords who sit behind me agreed that we had a very unsatisfactory reply from the Government. The debate that took place then I think has done a considerable amount of good because it has at any rate caused the Government to look into the whole matter again, and we have received the reply which has been addressed to your Lordships by the noble Lord opposite. But he does not go very far. He told me some time ago in answer to a Question that there was to be no saving this year at all on the original scheme, but that a certain sum, I think it was £16,000, would be saved next year. He now tells us that there will be certain, I am sorry to say that he said, minor alterations in the original idea, but that a very careful review of the whole scheme would be undertaken by. General Officers Commanding-in-Chief and that their recommendations would be acted upon. I hope they will be acted upon in the fullest sense of the words.

I would also commend to noble Lords opposite and to the War Office the words which have fallen from my noble friend Lord Vivian, who has a very wide acquaintance with the subject. I trust that when we raise this question again, as we shall do, we may 'have a fully detailed reply and that it may be considerably larger and more detailed than that so far given. We take to-day's answer as an earnest of what we may expect, the promise of the noble Lord that the whole thing will be reviewed. We trust that it will be reviewed in a very liberal sense, and that the hardships and handicaps which noble Lords who command Territorial battalions and units mentioned during the last debate will be remedied and met.


My Lords, very authoritative opinions have been expressed by officers in command of battalions, and that, no doubt, is the most interesting point of view of all. But I would point out also that many of us who have served in the Army are serving in Territorial Associations. If the Territorial Force is not to receive adequate backing from the Government, we shall begin to ask ourselves why we should give up our time to serve on these Territorial Associations. On the zeal 01 the Territorial Associations depends the efficiency of the Territorial Force.


My Lords, with the leave of the House, I want to say one word with regard to the remarks that fell from the noble Lord, Lord Vivian. I want to say that any reply given by me and any orders given by me will be strictly adhered to. There can be no question about that.

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