HL Deb 28 October 1948 vol 159 cc92-148

4.26 p.m.

Debate resumed (according to Order) on the Motion moved on Tuesday last by Lord Amwell—namely, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty as followeth:

"Most Gracious Sovereign—We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the most gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."


My Lords, in rising to speak on the debate on the Address in reply to the gracious Speech from the Throne, I wish in particular once again to refer to the position of the Territorial Army. I do not think that any one of us who has taken a part in this campaign now for nearly two years, with all the big guns that have been brought to bear this month, can be very satisfied with the result, and I hope, with all my heart, that when the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, replies on behalf of the Government, as I understand he is to do, he will be able to give us some heartening news. But my own view, having gone round this country, is that our campaign is not meeting with the success we should wish. We were told by Lord Montgomery only a few weeks ago that unless the Territorial Army was up to strength in a year or eighteen months' time, we should be sunk. That is a very serious statement. There are one or two points I should like to make, and when I make them I ask the noble Lord who is to reply not to think that I am in any way trying to criticise the Government on this matter. It is far too serious for that, and all of us—I am sure I shall be joined in this by many other noble Lords—want to do our best to make the Territorial Army a success.

I am informed that within the last few days a conference was held by a very senior general officer, and present at that conference were all the commanding officers of Territorial Army battalions in a certain area. He informed them as follows: "Your efficiency as a C.O. will be judged by the number of recruits you obtain." If that statement is true—and I have no reason to doubt it—then it shows the grave ignorance of the position which exists in this country at the present moment. If it is not true—and it is quite easy for the noble Lord to find out if it is or not—it should be denied at once. For two years the commanding officers, the brigadiers and the staffs in the Territorial Army have done their utmost, day and night, to get the recruits. Why should they now be judged as to their efficiency by a senior officer in the War Office on the grounds that they cannot get recruits, when, to begin with, we know that more than one drill hall has been occupied by a Ministry other than the War Office?

Having said that, I would like to turn to what has happened in the last fortnight. The campaign started off with a great blare of trumpets. There was a tremendous fanfare. Some curious people in the City joined in, they tell, me—Communists or something of that kind. Of course, they were known as Socialists during the war, and they were responsible for a great deal of noise. We are told by the Press that the only area in the whole of this country that has achieved anything is the Western area, where I understand they have recruited something like 40 per cent. of their strength. What is the position in the rest of the country? I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, when he replies, will be able to give us some heartening figures, but at the moment the national blast seems to have stopped. Another point: we see very few posters about. I have just returned from Birmingham. When I was there yesterday I seized an excellent opportunity, which presented itself to me, of being taken round that My hosts did not know of my object, but what wanted to ascertain was whether in Birmingham they are better off for posters than we are. I discovered that they are not; posters there, also, are few and far between.

I have given notice to the noble Lord of certain points which I intend to raise, in the hope that he may be able to give us a reply upon some of them. May I preface the first by saying that, in this connection, I have every sympathy with the War Office? They have to look at their pyramid for promotion and relief of their various officers, yet in the very middle of this campaign brigadiers and Staff officers who have come to the end of their two years of duty with the Territorial Army are now to be replaced by complete strangers. These strangers, of course, will know nothing of local colour and nothing of the general picture in the areas. In consequence, they will have to start from zero. This is the plea which I make to His Majesty's Government—will they please reconsider this matter? I am well aware that we, as Territorial officers, cannot ask the Regular Army to upset their pyramid. That, I am the first to admit. These distinguished officers have rendered tremendous service to the Territorial Army. They have not spared themselves, as I know. They have always done their utmost throughout the country to help Territorial commanding officers. But surely, in the extraordinary circumstances, we may ask the Government that these Regular officers could be given an extra six months duty until we are at least partly across the stream. That is my first plea.

May I turn now for a few moments to the absorbing topic of buildings? I know that all these subjects have been discussed by the Territorial Council and the Territorial Associations and, no doubt, by everyone in the War Office, the Secretary of State, and so on. Nevertheless, they present urgent problems. From the moment that an association gets a chance of buying a site or a building, a great deal has to be done: surveyors have to make their various estimates; then the matter has to go to Command (I could never understand why it was necessary for such matters as this to go through Command), and finally it reaches the War Office. Grave delays, not unnaturally, are caused, and in many instances sites and buildings are lost because the local association has not been able speedily to take the chance of purchasing them. I would put forward this suggestion. Would it not be possible, from the moment when a building or a site comes under consideration as suitable, for the Government to apply a "stopper," so to speak, on its disposal, until confirmation or otherwise of the proposed acquisition is given by the War Office? That would at least ensure that the option on certain sites and buildings was kept in being for some time. I know there have been instances where communications to the War Office—some of them by telephone—have not elicited a very prompt reply, and, in consequence, various sites and buildings have been lost. If a little more latitude were to be given to associations I think the position with regard to buildings and sites would be very much easier than it is at the present moment.

I come next to the question of pay. As your Lordships are aware, owing to the lack of Regular officers to take positions as adjutants, non-Regular officers were brought in, on a permanent basis, at a salary of £700 a year. This amount has been found to be inadequate. His Majesty's Government are well aware of that, because the Secretary of State for War has now issued a letter saying that if these adjutants can find civil work, and provided that their commanding officers will allow them to take on a civilian job, they may do so. That surely is an admission that these officers are not receiving sufficient pay. What commanding officer of a Territorial unit is going to say that his adjutant has sufficient time, in these difficult days, to take on a civilian job? It is putting a great responsibility on the commanding officer. And what does it come down to in the end? It comes down to this—that the Treasury will not pay for the excellent service which is rendered by adjutants to Territorial battalions. I earnestly hope that His Majesty's Government will give this subject a little attention, and see whether something cannot be done to tide us over for the next year or, better still, for eighteen months. I hope they will consider very seriously the possibility of giving a substantial increase in pay to these non-Regular adjutants.

Next, I wish to turn to the question of bounty. Let me say at once that I am very grateful that the bounty has been increased from £8 to £12. But I would remind your Lordships, and the Government, that the rôle of the Territorial Army now is a totally different one from what it was in the old days. In days gone by, we expected to pay for our fortnight's camp. And we had a very good time. To-day, we are to be instructors; we are to be specialists. Surely these specialists should be adequately paid. The present bounty of £12 means that they are out of pocket. The skilled worker, whom we want to take into the Territorial Army, loses money when the rate is only £12. Why not make it a flat rate of £20? I know that the noble Lord who is to reply on behalf of His Majesty's Government will say: "It would be necessary to get permission from the Treasury," and so on. The point I want to make to the noble Lord is this. If His Majesty's Government really mean business with this Territorial Army scheme—and I am sure they do—are these skilled workers to be treated as skilled workers—in plain language, as instructors? If that is the case, surely they should be paid more than the present rate, even if it meant that they had a little over at the end of the year instead of being, as at present, out of pocket.

I want to touch for a few moments, if I may, on the question of publicity. We are living in extraordinary times, and a great change is taking place with regard to the Territorial Army. Anyone who attended the opening of the Parliamentary Session on Tuesday must have been tremendously impressed by the way in which the troops turned out to guard their Majesties. But I looked in vain for any suggestion that the Territorial Army should have been asked to take a part in providing the guard. I do not know whether it is possible for representations to be made to His Majesty on the subject of whether a Territorial guard should take its turn in guarding the Royal Palaces. What a wonderful thing it would be if this were allowed! How proud the City, and London generally, would be if they knew that their Territorials were playing such a part! I am convinced that the Territorials would put up as good a show as any Guards Battalion, were they given the chance; but they have not been given the chance.

As a final point, let me come to the question of the new posters. I was at a preview of the new posters, and I must say that they found two remarkably good-looking young men for them. I am told that these are the men we do not want. I may be wrong but, on the face of it, these seem to be the men we do want. But in this poster, for some curious reason, the artist has elected to put a row of medals. Frankly, in the old days we did not join the Territorial Army for medals—although when medals are being handed out, I think the Territorial Army has been badly treated; were refused the 1939–1945 Star. Underneath the row of medals in the poster are the words, "Join the Territorial Army"; but the artist quite forgot that there is the Territorial Decoration and Efficiency Medal. These have been left out altogether. I am pointing this out to the noble Lord to emphasise what we on this side have been suggesting for years—that a serving officer in the War Office would never have allowed such a poster to go through.

I put forward these few ideas with the sole intention of trying to persuade the Government at this vital moment to listen to what the associations are asking for, to support the commanding officers of Territorial battalions and not to judge their efficiency by the number of recruits they secure, because that would be quite absurd. Lastly, I put these ideas forward in the hope that the Territorial Army will reach the numbers which I admit they are not reaching at present.

4.43 p.m.


My Lords, I welcome the opportunity given us to discuss once more the question of the Territorial Army and particularly the question of the present recruiting drive. At this very moment I think it is difficult to take into consideration the national recruiting drive which has just started. It is much too early to consider what the real effect of that will be. But one thing is already clear: there has been no rush to join the Territorial Army. I do not, however, think that it was intended that there should be. We have said that we want 4,000 a week for the whole period between now and the end of March. I would like to apologise straight away, because I am afraid I am going to be critical of the Government. I feel that sooner or later I have to be, and perhaps the sooner the better. I want to see whether we are on the right lines, whether what the Government have done since the reformation of the Territorial Army some two years ago to the present day, plus the recruiting drive they are now carrying out, is sufficient to get all the recruits we need between now and April of next year.

No one can be satisfied with the numbers we have in the Territorial Army today, amounting to only 56,000. Has what has been done in these two years been an incentive to join the Territorial Army? The first thing I must touch upon is the question of the bounty. The noble Viscount has just stated that he wants to see a rise up to £20. I am not quite in agreement with that. I do not think that the bounty is purely a reward for joining the Territorial Army or a reward for going to camp. What I would rather see is a bounty based entirely on efficiency, and I put my top figure much higher than that of the noble Viscount. I want to see a figure of something like £1 a week for those who reach the top stage of efficiency, and by that I mean the equivalent of an instructor of gunnery in the Royal Artillery. At the same time, I would ask that this bounty should be given to officers as well as to other ranks. We must remember that the future officers are coming from the National Service men. If they give up non-commissioned rank to become commissioned officers they immediately lose their £12 and the boys who are doing that now just cannot afford it. So may we please have these bounties for officers as well as for other ranks, and may we have them on a sliding scale, with a bottom figure of £12 or possibly more, rising to a total of £50, still, I hope, free of tax? I do not think it is going to cost as much as people make out. The top scale will be achieved by only very few. I think the scheme would increase the competition necessary as an incentive to those in the Territorial Army. The Government have done one thing for the Territorial Army in raising the bounty from £8 to £12, but that is all.

What have they done about petrol? They say that if there is no other way of getting to a drill hall, then attendance at Territorial drills can now be counted as an "essential purpose." Surely a little more generosity would have been a good investment. Let me give one example. If an officer goes to camp and wants to take his wife and children and put them in a neighbouring hotel, he has to use the whole of his basic to do so, because camps are generally a long way off. Could the Government not have given enough petrol to let him have a fortnight near his family while in camp? That is one suggestion, and there are many more. There is the question of permanent staff. One rise in pay has been granted to what are called industrial workers—that is, cleaners and people who do manual work—but there has been no rise at all for the clerical staff, whose pay is still well below the normal standard. We cannot get the right type of person for this job. One or two of them remain, out of patriotism, well knowing that they could go elsewhere into an ordinary civilian job and get better pay.

Next there is the question of the new registered Reservists scheme. I do not know what success that has achieved throughout the country. In my own regiment, I have had one application only. I know from talking with people in the Old Comrades' Associations that they thought it was a magnificent excuse for not joining the Territorial Army itself. They appeared to think they could choose their regiment and enlist only in an emergency, at their war substantive rank. That is quite untrue. They can join only with the permission of the commanding officer. As soon as they became aware of that fact, they said they would join neither Reservists nor Territorial Army, because they were still reserved and liable at a moment's notice to be called up in their war substantive rank. The sooner this arrangement is changed, the better. This rank consciousness—and I am afraid there is a great deal of it—not only stops people from joining the Territorial Army now, but when they do come to join they are not fit to hold those ranks. I would remind your Lordships that towards the end of the war and immediately after it a great many people were rushed up from lieutenants to majors and from captains to colonels, because of the scheme of demobilisation that had started. I should like to ask the Government whether they will once and for all say that these people will not necessarily be brought back in that rank if they are recruited.

There has been one definite improvement in the Territorial Army. I do not know if it refers to other branches—I believe it does not—but it does apply to anti-aircraft units. We have had a great improvement in equipment, and I suppose that is, after all, the most important improvement that could be made. But our equipment, improving all the time, is in our drill halls, which is where we want it. But, suppose there was an emergency now, what is the position of the gun sites? Are they ready for us? If there was an emergency and we were called out, should we find everything prepared; or should we find that all the good equipment was in the drill halls, and that there was nothing with which we could fire at an enemy aeroplane?

The final effort of the Government has been the recent recruiting drive. As I have already said, it is too early to judge the results, but I would ask one question. What was the result of the appeal made by the Minister for War to Members of Parliament to speak on behalf of the Territorial Army? I am told that there were only 145 acceptances. If that is true, it means that many Government Members of Parliament are not helping the Territorial Army. Surely, when one does help, there is a better place and time to do it than on a Saturday afternoon at a Second Division football match.


Surely the noble Lord is not criticising either the Member of Parliament or the Conservative and Liberal candidates who accepted the invitation to speak on that occasion?


No. I am not criticising the Member. Presumably, some arrangement was made, and presumably it was felt that that was the sort of place from which recruits could be drawn. I would assure your Lordships, however, that that is not so. People go to a football match in their thousands; they go to see a football match; and they do not want a recruiting drive in the middle of it. I feel that there are much better ways of drawing recruits than that. I have mentioned what I think are the main efforts that His Majesty's Government have made to help. I have tried to show that they have not in every case gone so far as they might have done. The result is shown in the disappointing number of recruits in the Territorial Army to-day. I remember one other benefit which we have received, for which we must thank His Majesty's Government—namely, that in our week-end camps we now receive full pay after eight hours. That has been a great help. But, apart from the matters I have mentioned, I do not think anything else of significance has taken place.

Having been critical so far, I may as well go on being critical. What about the things that have not been done at all? First of all, there is the question of drill halls. Some regiments still do not possess a drill hall, and others have to share one. I have to share my drill hall, built for my own regiment before the war, not only with another regiment but also with a brigade headquarters. What has been done to get even temporary hutments to help us until proper buildings can be erected? Then there is the question of the National Service man. By that I mean the man who is now in the Forces and is coming out; I am not talking about the man who is to be called up in 1949 or 1950. What has been done to persuade the present National Service men to join the Territorial Army when they complete their term in the Regular Army? I do not believe that very much has been done. I am told that on one or two occasions efforts have been made to try to persuade them to join the Regular Army, and that when those efforts have failed the men have been given up as a bad job and they have taken no interest in the Territorial Army. I believe that these men, with their ticket home and their suit of civilian clothes, or whatever they get, do receive a pamphlet telling them all about the Territorial Army. But I suggest that that is not the best time to try to persuade the men to join the Territorial Army.

I now come to what I hope is something constructive. It will probably be unpopular, and I do not expect a direct answer this afternoon. I am afraid that if I do get a direct answer now it will be a negative one, because it was only yesterday that I put the proposition to the noble Lord who is to reply. I hope, however, that it will at least be given due consideration. I still believe that one volunteer is equal to many conscripts, and that the best age to get the volunteer is when he is really young—namely, at the age of seventeen. But we shall not get any seventeen-year-old boys to join the Territorial Army (even if we were allowed to recruit them, which at the moment we are not) if they think they are to be called up into the Regular Army in a year's time. Therefore, I put forward this proposition. Let us recruit the seventeen-year-olds, and train them for a year in the Territorial Army. At the end of that time let them go for, say, a fortnight to a Regular training centre, to be tested by Regular officers and N.C.O.'s as to their fitness as trained personnel. If they are found to be basically fit and basically trained, capable of doing (shall I say?) one job in the branch in which they have been trained, then, provided they agree to come back into the Territorial Army for four years, they should be excused National Service altogether. I feel that some scheme such as that would evoke a great response.

The advantages of such a scheme are obvious. First of all, it would train the boys to a Regular standard, without interfering either with their civilian occupations or their education. The initial liability is placed on the Territorial Army—which it can bear—but the responsibility of deciding on the state of training of the man would be that of the Regular Army. On top of that, it would do away with that gap between the ages of 16 and 18, which upsets the employer because his boys are not working, as they know that they will be called up at the age of eighteen. Moreover, it would do away with the boy's feeling of dissatisfaction at being called up, at the age of eighteen, when he has to leave his work and go into the Army. There are disadvantages attaching to such a scheme. It might be so successful that there would not be any recruits for the Regular Army. There is always one answer for that. It is the answer that we always suggest when we talk about the Regular Army—namely, better pay and conditions for the Regular Army. Such a scheme might also interfere with the Cadet Force, by taking their senior members. But I feel that the Territorial Army is so important at the moment that it would be better to do it that way, even at the expense of the Cadet Force. What I ask is that such a scheme be given reasonable consideration. I feel that unless we have some concession such as this, we shall go on at about the same rate, getting a few recruits every week but never achieving our target of 150,000 in the next six months. The result of that will be that the Territorial Army will not be ready to take the National Service men in 1950.

Things are not satisfactory at the moment. Quite honestly, have we had that 100 per cent. co-operation from the Government? My own opinion is that we have not. There is at the moment a spirit of comradeship between the Regular and the Territorial which I feel is greater than it has ever been before. I am glad the noble Viscount asked the question about the commanding officers' conference. There is a lot more I had intended to say about comradeship. I stop short, having been at that conference, but I do mean it when I say that the friendship between the Territorial and the Regular is higher now than it has even been before. We are very proud of being considered as of such value by the Regulars.

In your Lordships' House it has always been assumed that foreign affairs and defence matters should not be conducted on Party political lines. That, of course, is as it should be; but it does mean that everyone must be pulling his weight and trying his hardest to help in every way that he can. Can we honestly believe that this is the case when, at the beginning of the campaign only a few weeks ago, the Secretary of State for War makes a pacifist speech for the whole world to see? I do not wish to repeat all he said, but he stated that there was no reason to suppose that the present international situation contained a threat of war; that there was no reason for panic; that although ordinary precautions were being taken, military expenditure had to be kept down to a minimum. He also said quite a few other things. When we have a speech like that, at the beginning of a great recruiting drive, how can we expect to get the recruits?

That is not the only week-end which has been used for speeches detrimental to our cause. It is bad enough for any responsible Minister to say things like that, but when they emanate from the Minister for War I think it is even more serious. There is never any necessity to tell this country that it does not want war. We never have done, and we never will. We are determined to fight as hard as we can to keep the peace. And it is certainly not necessary to tell this country not to panic. While the voluntary spirit of this country lasts and is allowed to speak for itself, there is some chance that things will put themselves right, but if we are once allowed to become the tools of a bureaucracy entirely foreign to our traditions, then we shall have a steady deterioration in all walks of life. Not least does this apply to the Auxiliary Services. If only His Majesty's Government will encourage us, then we shall have a strong and well-trained Territorial Army. And I do not believe there is any better basis for peace and for our future defence.

5.3 p.m.


My Lords, I propose to intervene in this debate for a few minutes only in order to put forward certain questions which I am sure in one respect the First Lord of the Admiralty would have had no difficulty in answering had he been able to be in his place. I understand that he is not able to be there to-day, but I have no doubt that the noble Lord who is replying for the Government will be able to deal with the matter. During the Defence debate in September, I ventured to draw your Lordships' attention to the fact that no arrangements had been made between the Admiralty and the Merchant Navy for the naval training of Merchant Navy officers, which, as your Lordships know, in the past produced that brilliant corps of officers of the Royal Naval Reserve. At that time, the First Lord of the Admiralty indicated that the whole matter was under discussion, and that certain difficulties had arisen between the Admiralty and the Minister of Transport. I hope that by this time the noble Lord who is replying for the Government will be able to inform your Lordships that those difficulties have been overcome, and that suitable arrangements have now been made so that Merchant Navy officers will receive their training with His Majesty's Fleet.

The next point I would like to mention is that of the recruitment and training of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. Your Lordships will recall that during the Defence debate the First Lord gave certain assurances about the numbers of National Service men to be drafted into the Royal Navy. The assurance was that the numbers would be increased, so that when these men had completed their National Service training there would be sufficient numbers available to build up the proper strength of the Volunteer Reserve. We, on this side of the House, pointed out that the present small draft of only 2,000 men for this year is far too small a number from which to build up an adequate Volunteer Reserve, which, as your Lordships know, is somewhat equivalent to the Territorials. Perhaps the noble Lord who is to reply is now in a position to inform your Lordships that in the coming year the drafting of National Service men to the Royal Navy will be greatly increased, and perhaps he will be able to indicate the numbers he has in mind.

The next question I should like to raise is this. What training facilities are to be made available for the Volunteer Reserve? There are, of course, a number of naval depôt ships, like H.M.S. "President," lying in the Thames and in other ports of the country. But, of course, sea training is absolutely essential to keep volunteer officers and men up-to-date. Only at sea and by handling ships can they get those facilities. I hope that we shall also see a definite schedule of seagoing training arranged for the Volunteer Reserve, and that they will be drafted to the Fleet for several weeks training each year. We must not forget that about 80 per cent. of the complement of ships during the last war were composed of both officers and men of the Volunteer Reserve. The Government will be unable to get on without them in the event of a serious deterioration in the international situation and the re-manning of our Reserve Fleet.

Apart from the training with the Fleet which was given to the Volunteer Reserve before the war—which even then was not as extensive as it might have been—there was another course of training which was of the greatest benefit to a large number of these men, and that was the seamanship and experience that they taught themselves in small yachts and boats around our coasts. What is the position to-day? Owing to the very small allocation of timber to the yacht and boat-building yards around the country, very few yachts are being built to-day. Those that are still afloat are becoming old, and many of them unseaworthy. Owing to their shortage and to the absence of new building, the prices of these boats are excessive, and few young men nowadays can afford to indulge in this hobby—one which is of the greatest benefit to the nation. I am not referring to the large steam yachts and sailing craft that we have known in the past, but to the small sloops and cutters of perhaps a few tons register. It was these small craft which gave our young men the invaluable experience and understanding of the sea which stood them in such good stead when the war came, when they were drafted to the hundreds of small craft of the Navy, such as torpedo boats and minesweepers. I implore His Majesty's Government to consider making a larger allocation of timber to the various yacht-building yards around our coasts, so that these small vessels can be built in greater numbers and our young men can again put to sea and learn the lessons of their forefathers. It is true that a number of building licences are being issued, but they are far too few.

There is another side to this question—namely, that unless timber and materials are allocated in reasonable quantities to these yacht yards, the industry will almost die out, and the country will lose the craftsmen who, during the last war, were largely responsible for building so many small craft for the Royal Navy. Many of the yards are very small concerns, employing perhaps only a few men, but they have proved in the past of the utmost value to the Royal Navy and should undoubtedly receive every encouragement. The amount of timber involved is really very small, and I hope the noble Lord who is to reply for the Government will draw the attention of the Minister of Supply to this important matter. We must surely make use of every possible means of building up the strength and efficiency of our Naval Volunteer Reserve Forces. The refitting of our Reserve Fleet will become a hollow sham unless we can provide trained volunteers to man the ships in case of an emergency. I hope His Majesty's Government will be able to give your Lordships satisfactory assurances on the points I have raised to-day.

5.10 p.m.


My Lords, although this debate is focused very largely on the Auxiliary Forces, there is a point in their relationship with the Regular Army that I would like to put before you. In this respect, I confine myself to speaking for the Regular Army. To-day the Army is no longer two components, the Regular Army and the Territorial Army; it has become a national Army. It may be expected, however, that the Regular Army is regarded as the head of the national Army family and, as such, reflects itself on the training, morale, and contentment of its members. There is hardly need for me to call your Lordships' attention to the disruptive influence which the disgruntled head of a family can produce!

I happened to be in Germany, visiting my regiment, at the time when the decision was taken to extend by three months the length of service. Extraordinary precautions were taken to ensure that the information did not reach the troops before the announcement was made in another place by the Minister of Defence. That was at 5 p.m., German time. The result was that men who had taken leave of their commanding officer that morning for discharge, and were due to get on the train for home that night, went back to duty. The decision was taken by the troops in a spirit which I am sure your Lordships would commend. But the fact remains that it has left them in a state of uncertainty as to their future. Such sudden decisions have an unsettling effect, and cannot but react adversely on National Service men in the units—just at the time when it is so important to create a favourable impression of Army life. The soldier likes to know where he stands, and if his length and conditions of service are continually interfered with he becomes (to use his own words) "browned off." If such a feeling is created, it will have its repercussions on the National Service man when he returns to civil life. Consequently, it is bound to have a similarly adverse effect on recruiting for the Territorial Army. I know that there are many noble Lords in this House who are working hard to get recruits for the Territorial Army, and who are looking forward to drawing on the National Service men to provide leaders. In conclusion, I would stress the point that the future of the Territorial Army, and its campaign to obtain recruits, is very closely related to the Regular Army and its well-being, in which conditions of service play a considerable part.

5.14 p.m.


My Lords, this discussion links up very closely with that which we had in April last. My purpose in intervening is in no way to criticise. I would, if I may, draw attention to three or four current points and make at least one suggestion which is by no means new but is always worth repeating. I will start with the broad suggestion and then later on I hope to justify it. The broad suggestion is of an administrative type and is based upon present conditions. I think your Lordships, out of your vast experience in helping forward the civilian side of our Auxiliary Forces, will agree that until the civilian side has succeeded in gaining the recruits and in arranging proper accommodation, the military side in all three Services cannot start. May I in passing stress the phrase "all three Services," because I suppose more of us have been trained in the idiom of the land than in that of the air or of the sea? I often feel that had my life lain in other places—had I for instance been trained for the air—I should at times wonder whether the many discussions had left me, as an airman, outside. But of course not. Our allegiance to all the Services—and I am now speaking on behalf of the Territorial and Auxiliary Forces associations throughout the country—is equal. I know we talk a little in the idiom of the land, and may I say, therefore, that when I use that idiom I mean it to be universalised.

In April last I put up a little prayer that for administrative purposes, in order to make the machine work a bit better (though I knew the difficulties besetting the granting of my prayer) greater responsibility and authority should be given to the county associations. As I have just suggested, it is my belief that until they have succeeded in their work it is not fair to ask the military side to pick up theirs. The military side are responsible for command and for training, and the civilian side are responsible for All the other things—and there are rather a lot of them. How does that machine work? We all know that the county associations—the composition of which, let us remember, has been revised quite recently by the Fighting Services and now includes commanding officers, special military members, representatives of local authorities, education authorities, and so forth, and co-opted members who are mostly past commanding officers—are very live bodies. They provide all the "local touch" one can desire. Particularly in the country districts, they consist of men who are universally known; and on them are represented trade unions and employers. They represent in fact a cross-section of all those men who in peace time can conduce to good will, local knowledge, and efficiency in getting the organisation together. In war time they are so chosen that through the Home Office (that is to say, through the police) they are closely allied with Civil Defence and can bring the maximum experience to bear on these problems.

Those are the chosen instruments. They have been so since 1908, when they were set up under the late Lord Haldane's great scheme. They have had forty years of experience and they lie ready to use. They have an age limit now—and I am glad of it—so that their membership does not grow too old. We should see to it that these chosen instruments are used to the full, and I make a strong plea that that should be done. That could be an empty phrase but I want it to be a fact. What do I mean by the phrase "chosen instruments"? May I define it in terms of time, in terms of direct devolution, and, of course, in terms of cash? As an instance in support of my argument for these powers, may I touch very shortly on the matter of accommodation which has been mentioned already by the noble Viscount, Lord Long? It is such a difficult problem. We all know the difficulties. It is also such an urgent problem. The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, who I think has a marvellous grasp of figures and facts, will correct me if I am wrong, but the figure recently given was that there were still some 200 units without any headquarters. As we know, the Territorial Army is also woefully short of a very large number of other types of accommodation.

As regards the accommodation for permanent staff instructors, I think the figure currently given is about 1,000 quarters short. Of those 1,000 quarters, I understand that authority has been given to acquire some 450; but that still leaves some 550 short. Can we get those quickly? The answer is, no. The machinery is not attuned for quick work. It is sometimes extremely hard to discover suitable accommodation; we all know that. We must be able to act quickly, to buy at somewhere about the market price. Our hands are so tied that it is the general experience, up and down the country, for opportunities to be missed time and again. That may not sound very terrible, but it all ties up with the story of correlating recruiting and accommodation.

In those conditions, can we give effect to the dictum of the noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery, to the general effect that the headquarters should be an adequate social centre, a good club for a man and a woman? Of course we cannot. I should like to tell your Lordships that, within my knowledge, speed of action and flexibility in this matter of acquiring or hiring lands and buildings have been improved. We are grateful for that. Recently, we have found that if, on a case being fully stated, there is a sticky patch where the gap between the district valuer's figures and the real market value is not to be bridged by any discussions, then even a telephone call to the appropriate Department has brought a quick "Yes." We are grateful for that. I would suggest to your Lordships that this throws into prominence the fact that the authorities are doing good by stealth. I should like to suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, that he would find it proper to represent that the method of hire and purchase be reexamined, in order to improve it in speed, in the scope of responsibility to be delegated to associations, and in money, in the sense of bringing the market value a little more into the picture. Then we can get on with the job.

I have one other point on the question of accommodation. These points are only to illustrate my general proposition of devolving responsibility. This point has been discussed in the appropriate places. It has been discussed by the Council of Territorial and Auxiliary Forces Associations; it has been discussed by their Business and Finance Committee; it has also been mentioned by the Territorial Advisory Committee. I am sure, too, that it is under close consideration daily at the Ministry of Food. It is this. In the matter of turning headquarters into clubs, where after finishing his work a man may have a suitable meal before doing his voluntary work with the Auxiliary Forces, we have got so far as this: that in certain cases connected with recruiting a modified licence for catering may be granted, so that a man or a woman in training may obtain a reasonable meal. But is it a reasonable meal?

I think your Lordships would like to assess the capacity of the young serving "tummy" by your own. Let us call it, if you like, a ration meal or a club meal. It is a fact that on the present scale of refreshments it is not possible to provide a ration meal or a club meal for these young men and women. I also put in a plea—although I am not personally interested in the subject to any extent—for a licence for harmless beverages. Those are only details to stress the general proposition that I have mentioned: the delegation of greater responsibility. Just for a moment, with apologies, may I go on to a sideline?—remembering particularly that the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, is peculiarly qualified to understand and pick up this question. I am on rather delicate ground here because I am now going on to a matter which, unlike those subjects which I have mentioned, is hearsay. Therefore, I cannot give the noble Lord chapter and verse. I am relying on a general impression, and I rather fancy that your Lordships will be able to confirm it.

A great number of young men, to my knowledge, are saying now that when they have been called up much of their time is wasted, from a military point of view, in that their hours of training are not as fruitful as they should be; and wasted from a civil point of view in that although the Service educational schemes are good on paper they do not seem to work out that way. I am aware of a rather disturbingly large number of cases where, in consequence, these young men seemed to be, as the noble Lord, Lord Wilson, has just said, rather "browned off." They feel that they are not using their time adequately. They would certainly like some military training but, if that is not possible, they do not like to feel that their minds are rusting, and that when they get back to their vocational training, or university or whatever it may be, they will have to relearn how to learn. That observation of mine I put up with diffidence, because I cannot give chapter and verse, and the names; but it is an impression. I believe it to be generally true. The slant that it has on the Auxiliary Forces is clear—namely, that I am a little afraid that when these young men do come on to us they will come without that enthusiasm upon which we depend.

I have little more to add. I should like, if I may, purely for the sake of a pleasant piece of history, to allude to one allegiance which is being celebrated in about a week's time. On November 6, 1664, by the beat of drum in the City of London, there was formed, on the Royal Artillery ground, the Duke of York and Albany's Maritime Regiment of Foot—as at least one of your Lordships knows, the Royal Marines. On November 6, 1948—it is pure coincidence that that date was chosen; the mere history to which I have alluded was not fully known when the date was picked—there will be attested on the Royal Artillery ground in the City of London the first recruits for the Royal Marine Forces Volunteer Reserve. Two hundred and eighty-four years to the day, my Lords! I mention that partly as an interesting piece of history, and partly to show the that they were an instalment of some-vitality and the scope which is exercised through associations.

This happens to be the only one which already has a naval allegiance, but every Association throughout the country is anxious to enlarge its allegiance and to do more work. Associations, I think, are particularly anxious for the Air Force to strengthen their allegiance, and perhaps it may be appropriate to hope that one day the Air Council will desire to have the counterpart of a body which now exists with the War Office, an Advisory Committee which includes members of the Council of Territorial and Auxiliary Forces' Associations. Historically, we have had in the past, for reasons which are well appreciated, a curious and engaging habit of spending several years in losing battles until we are prepared to win the war. Circumstances have changed. We know that the war can be lost in a day if the Air Force is not prepared. We do not know whether the war can be won in five or six years subsequently, because we do not know whether we shall have time or opportunity to prepare and to deploy behind defences, as heretofore. My Lords, our anxiety, therefore, is first and foremost to look after those things which come first in our national defence, and that is why, in conclusion, I have stressed the air.

5.32 p.m.


My Lords, I am afraid I may be repeating some of the remarks that previous noble Lords have made in the debate this afternoon, but I make no apology for that, because the three points I want to refer to are points which, in my view, are of particular importance. The first one is in regard to a sentence in the gracious Speech, which says: My Ministers are taking steps to ensure that … the best use shall be made of men called up under the National Service Act. The noble Earl who has just sat down has referred to this point, and it occurs to me that it may have appeared to certain of your Lordships that this sentence was no more than a platitude; but, in point of fact, I believe it is of particular importance.

Like the noble Earl, Lord Limerick, I have heard all too often very disquieting reports that lead me to suppose that the best use is by no means always made of the National Service man's time in the Forces to-day. More particularly has that been the case with regard to other ranks, and particularly during the last few weeks and months of their full-time service. If there is any justification for those reports—and I am afraid I feel confident that there is—then it means that active, intelligent and keen young men who are prepared to get the most out of their National Service if they are given the opportunity, and to give the best of their efforts during the time that they are there, leave the Forces all too often, I will not say embittered, but at any rate disillusioned and certainly without any taste which makes them wish to join the Territorial Army as a volunteer to-day. Certainly, if this state of affairs continues, it will not make them anxious to give of their best when they join the Territorial Army under statutory obligation in 1950.

In mentioning this matter I most certainly do not wish to be critical of all the commanding officers of the units under whom these men are serving, because I am certain that commanding officers are having a very difficult time in regard to the shortage of officers and instructors to provide the necessary training for these men. But the fact remains that this is the sort of report that one hears over and over again. I have heard it from both officers and men when they come to my Territorial unit, and it is something that requires careful investigation. Therefore, all I would say in regard to that sentence in the gracious Speech is that I do hope we can assume that it can be read with the fullest significance that can be put into it.

The next point I want to raise is also one that has been aired at some length—namely, the question of accommodation. It seems to me that this is a matter that arises as the result of something far larger than can be dealt with by the War Office. I believe it arises out of the Government's economic policy for a reduction of capital expenditure, wherever possible. The particular case with which I want to deal concerns not drill halls but quarters for the permanent staff, both officers and other ranks, who are posted to units of the Territorial Army. When a married man comes to a unit and requires quarters, he has three choices. It may be that he has a house somewhere else in the country where he can leave his family, while he himself is quartered in some local Regular barracks. That happens quite often. It is not very satisfactory, but sometimes it is the only possibility that exists. Or it may happen that, either with or without his family, he can obtain accommodation in lodgings. That, equally, is most unsatisfactory, because almost invariably it means that that man is at a serious financial disadvantage.

The obvious course, naturally, as has been already mentioned, would be for the Territorial associations to provide him with some sort of accommodation. I know that associations are doing their utmost to find that accommodation, but it is not by any means easy. It can be found in three ways. The associations have authority up to certain limits to build houses, and that I know they are doing; but, of course, it takes time. We all know what one is up against these days in building houses, and it is clearly no early solution to the immediate problem that we have before us at the moment. It may be that the association can manage to rent accommodation or a house; but that is not a very fruitful source of finding houses, for the simple reason that today the average owner of a house which is empty much prefers to sell it than to let it.

We come, therefore, to the question of the associations being in a position to purchase houses as they come into the market to-day. One of the problems that arises straight away is, how do the associations get to know of these houses? That raises rather an interesting point, because I think one can take it as a general rule that house agents, knowing that in the background there are powers of compulsory purchase (admittedly seldom, if ever, invoked) are loth, and naturally so, to bring to the attention of the association houses which their clients have for sale. They are much too afraid—and one cannot possibly blame them—that these powers might be invoked, which would be to the disadvantage not only of their clients but also, of course, their own businesses. Therefore, houses are usually found either privately or through advertisements in the local Press.

As your Lordships will be aware, before a house can be bought it has to be valued by the district valuer. There is a general limit laid down, which, I believe, can be increased in certain circumstances. I was glad to hear the noble Earl say that very often approval can be obtained quickly, but that, I am afraid, is not always the experience of associations. To get approval for an increase of price often means delay. Though it may be a delay of only one or two days, it may still be long enough to allow of the house being sold to a private purchaser. But even if those problems were solved, I do not think that the situation to-day can be made satisfactory unless the instructions that are given to the district valuers are based on something different from the present day basis. Experience which I have had indicates—and I understand this to be substantially correct—that the valuers when they value a house are not, in general, allowed to take into account the enhanced price which a purchaser is prepared to give for a house to-day when he can get it with vacant possession. The result is only natural. Over and over again houses, for obvious reasons, are sold elsewhere.

I have no doubt that the general answer to this question is that which I mentioned earlier—that it is all in keeping with the Government's policy of restricting capital expenditure with a view to reducing inflation. That may be an excellent policy in many directions, but I am sure that in this particular case we have an instance of something that should be an exception to the rule. Undoubtedly this matter is the cause of a great deal of concern and dissatisfaction to permanent staffs, and few things can do more harm to a Territorial unit than to have members of the permanent staff dissatisfied, whether they are warrant officers or other ranks. However much they may try to conceal it, these people are bound to show what they feel, and the result is that considerable harm is done to the unit. Before leaving that point I should like to make this comment. It is bad enough when a house of the type to which I have been referring is sold to a private individual, but I think it is adding insult to injury when a house like that is sold, I will not say to a Government Department, because I understand that all Government Departments are tied to the district valuer, but to a publicly-owned authority. When that sort of thing happens, I think it is time for us to consider priorities and whether priority for capital expenditure is really being placed at the right level.

I have one further point which I wish to raise; it is quite a different one. The more I look into the matter of the training of the National Service man when he comes out from his year of service in 1950, the more I am convinced that whereas eight days and two week-ends in the year may be adequate to bring an other rank up to a certain level of training, in the case of what one might call the National Service officer something much more will have to be required. I understand that during the year's service that the National Service men will put in, opportunities will be made available for selected men to do a course at an officer training, unit, and that at the end of that course they may, if they are chosen and eligible, be offered commissions. The point I want to make is this. Would it be possible for such a man to be offered a commission only on the condition that when he finishes his full-time service and joins the Territorial Army he undertakes to do so not only as a National Service man, as a conscript, but as a volunteer, it being understood that as a volunteer he will have to put in much more time to train both himself and his men than he would as an ordinary National Service man?

I do not think that a condition of that sort would be at all unfair. If the man in question wants to get on and obtain promotion he will have, under existing arrangements, to transfer at some stage to the voluntary status, so that he can stay in the Territorial Army after his six years' service. If he is not so keen, or if his civilian employment makes it impossible for him to put in more than the minimum statutory time, I do not see that he is in any worse position, because in the event of war he is almost certain to get a commission, whether he has had one in peace time in the Territorial Army or not. On the other hand, I am sure that the imposition of a condition of that nature would have the effect of bringing more men into the Territorial Army as volunteers from the outset, and that is what we want. I hope that. His Majesty's Government will give this suggestion careful consideration. They have time enough to consider it and to see what the implications are. I am quite sure that the more they look into it the more they will realise that for an officer really to fulfil his obligations as an officer, two week-ends and eight days in the year are not enough.

5.48 p.m.


My Lords my object in intervening this afternoon is simply to call attention to one point which, I submit, calls urgently for correction. Incidentally it reinforces what my noble friend Lord Limerick, has just said. His appeal for greater decentralisation of authority had reference to recruiting for the Territorial Army. My point deals particularly with the question of the supply of petrol. Naturally, we are all doing our best to comply with the appeal that is made, from whatever angle we may do it. We are all most anxious to give assistance to the campaign for recruits. The appeal which I wish to make now is based upon personal experience which I have had within the week, as the result of a visit to the unit of which I am honorary colonel and which I had formerly the honour actively to command. I found that I was faced by this situation. The squadron leader—the regiment is now a Tank Regiment; it used to be yeomanry—said that he will have no alternative but to resign. He is an officer of the kind that yeomanry regiments ought to and do welcome. He is actively connected with the land, and he has a large area to cover in carrying out his duties.

In his particular case—and it is one which inquiries that I have made show to be typical—he put in an application in the usual manner. If my information is correct, applications for petrol, in the case of units where the base of an officer may be more than thirty miles from the headquarters of the unit, have to be made to the War Office. In the case I am quoting, the regiments, which is typical of many yeomany regiments, is recruited from a large and mainly agricultural area, and I wish to urge with my noble friend that, instead of these applications going to the War Office, they should be dealt with locally. I will not weary your Lordships by reading a letter that I have here, which sets out the history of the case, but I will hand it over to the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham. I would draw his attention to the paragraph describing how the Application goes from unit to brigade, brigade to division, division to command, command to War Office and then back again over a period of two months. It is comic to read. My intention of giving the noble Lord notice of this unfortunately misfired. I apologise to him. I cannot expect a reply to-day, but if he will be good enough to accept this history as a typical example of what needs correcting, I will pass it to him with the appeal that on this point representations will be made, so that the efforts which such officers are making will not be discouraged and impeded by this kind of difficulty.

5.52 p.m.


My Lords, as President of a Territorial Army committee and also of a Territorial Cadet committee, perhaps I may interject one or two remarks. I was very glad to hear my noble friend, Lord Moynihan, refer to the value of volunteers. I know that in my part of the world there is some idea that the Territorials are to become the instructors to demobilised conscripts. From what I know of the Territorials, that is the last thing in the world they want to be. What they would like is to be volunteers in a regiment of their own, as they used to be. Perhaps I may appeal to the Government to start again some volunteer regiments, some of the more famous ones, and see if we can build up a volunteer Force vis-à-vis the Territorial Army.

I was delighted to hear my noble friend's remarks about drill halls not being sufficient in numbers. In my part of the world the drill halls are shockingly poor. They are cheerless, cold places which would never induce anybody to become a Territorial. When I was in America I visited the National Guard drill halls in several cities. They really were drill halls. They were like social clubs to which National Guards could take their lady friends and give them dinner. They had splendid gymnasiums and swimming baths, and were places worth belonging to. I would like to see far more effort made to provide good, comfortable drill halls with some attraction in sport and swimming. Then we might get young men to join the Territorial Army.

My noble friend referred to the speeches of the Secretary of State for War. I think it is deplorable to see a Minister occupying the position of Secretary of State at the War Office making Party speeches, forgetting altogether that under his administration there are men of all Party views and some with none at all. It is disgraceful that the Minister should make Party speeches and talk about "tinker's cusses" and things of that sort. Any Minister who takes office in a public service, whether Navy, Army or Air Force, ought to remember that he is serving the country and not a Party.

My noble friend also mentioned cadet schools. In my part of the world we have not done much to help the cadets. In Glasgow the idea was that the University and high schools should start cadet corps. But not one has been started. The Lord Provost and the Education Committee are against them. In my time in the volunteers the cadet corps was the sheet anchor of our regiment. When we had good cadets, we were at full strength. During all the years that I was in the volunteers we were never below full strength: that was entirely due to the cadet corps. I would like to see some effort made in Glasgow and the other big cities. The big schools and universities should be encouraged by the Government to restart cadet corps; but they want encouragement. I hope that these remarks of mine will produce some result.

5.56 p.m.


My Lords, I venture to intervene in the debate for two minutes. I read in a newspaper with a large circulation that a resolution which is being put forward by the British Legion, which represents over 1,000,000 ex-Service men, asking for a Committee to inquire into pensions and disability allowances, is to be turned down and that out of 240 Members of Parliament who put their names down in support about 30 per cent. are to withdraw their support because the Government have decided to turn it down. I do not know whether it is to be turned down or not, but I implore the Government, if they have not yet made up their minds, to deny that they have turned down this request.

A large number of men feel this question very deeply. I know this from my personal connection with the British Legion. I have been asked before to bring up this matter. I replied, "No, you are to have an inquiry into the whole subject, and then you will all be satisfied." If it is to be turned down now, without any inquiry, there will be very bitter feeling in the British Legion. It is not an irresponsible body. It is a powerful organisation, free from all political bias. It is very careful about doing anything against the national interest. The members of the British Legion have a tremendous influence on recruiting. Many of them are helping the cadet corps. If they are to be told that there is to be no inquiry, they will feel that it is gross injustice. I am not accusing the Government of any gross injustice. I hope they will deny this report at once, and that they will appoint the Committee asked for by the British Legion. If a Committee go into the matter and say that it is not in the national interest for the men to have any more, then I am sure that the men will accept that decision.

6.0 p.m.


My Lords, I think we are all glad to see that in the gracious Speech reference was made to the building up of our Reserve and Auxiliary Forces. This afternoon's debate, which started with the speech of my noble friend, Lord Long, is a sign that all of us—at any rate, my noble friends on these Benches—are deeply concerned that this building up of our Auxiliary and Territorial Forces should before long become an accomplished fact. We have been having these debates on and off now for a couple of years. During that period the sands of time have begun to run out, so that now, as we are faced more and more with the threat of war, we are being given less and less time to complete the arrangements which will have to be made before the building up of the Auxiliary Forces becomes a reality.

Quite apart from that, it is the Government policy that the men who are enlisted under the present National Service Act shall go into the Auxiliary Forces after finishing their Colour service. Whether that will be January, 1950, or March, 1950, or whether it will turn out to be some other date, I am not sure; but the fact of the matter is that it will soon become physically impossible to obtain the accommodation to erect the premises or adapt them and have things right, so that the Territorial Army and its counterparts in the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force will have suitable places to which the National Service men can come. That is why we have stressed these points this afternoon. Our main concern has been to do every-think we can to promote and stimulate and in every way encourage the recruiting of the Auxiliary Forces. Many of my noble friends have been speaking outside this House at meetings for that purpose, on more or less well chosen platforms.

But we have another duty to perform inside this House—namely, to draw attention to anything which we feel is hindering the object that we all have at heart, and to do so in a constructive fashion, with the idea that our remarks may be helpful. That is why a good deal of the time my noble friends have taken up this afternoon has been devoted to the discussion of matters which might be improved. But I would not like anybody to go away from this debate feeling that it is the grouses which come uppermost, because it is not. What comes uppermost in our minds is the intense desire that this vital job of work shall be done.

I do not propose to follow in detail the speeches which my noble friends have made. Here we are, as I have said, faced with a situation where we have no time to lose. We are also faced with a state of affairs where we can say frankly that there are signs that the Government are doing many more of the things which some of us have advised should be done for over a year, and there is a fresh spirit abroad. We want to encourage that. Now that the Government have warmed to the task of dealing with the Auxiliary Forces, we hope that the "gilt will not be taken off the gingerbread," as it has been once or twice by Mr. Shinwell, who, apparently, has made the most encouraging speeches on Service occasions but has not always followed them up by speeches of the same character at the week-end. If we are to be serious and honest about it, and if the Government are to be serious and honest about it, then should not speeches on the subject of His Majesty's Forces be all of a piece at all times of the week? I think perhaps they should. Should not the attitude of the Treasury be all of a piece with the attitude of the Service Departments? If not, how can the show prosper? We cannot go on being told that "The Service Departments want this, but the Treasury will not let them have it." One should not talk about the Treasury in an open speech, I know, but we must try and pull back the curtain and see the facts as they are.

We have had the advantage this afternoon of a most valuable speech, if I may say so with respect, from my noble friend Lord Limerick, who dealt with the civilian end of the Auxiliary Forces. That leads me to say how glad I am to see a reference in the gracious Speech to the overhaul of the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act, because that Act, which served its purpose very well when it was brought in by Lord Haldane in 1908, has now become stretched and strained so that it is no longer a suitable vehicle for administering the Auxiliary Forces. Coupled with that is something which is not mentioned in the gracious Speech—namely, the need for the introduction in the Army Annual Act of substantial amendments to the Army Act. Amendment will be necessary in regard to the disciplinary side, and to implement the Lewis Com mittee Report, on which I believe my noble friend Lord Schuster is asking a question on Tuesday next.

My noble friend Lord Limerick performed a very important service in pointing to the value of the work which the Territorial associations—those chosen instruments, those voluntary bodies—are doing up and down the country, working with all their might to implement the policy of the expansion of the Auxiliary Forces. If I may say so, the noble Earl also did a valuable service in pointing out that their work is, as we think, being made somewhat harder than it need be or ought to be, by not giving them the free hand which they should have if they are to do the job in time. Questions of decentralisation, of the powers of Territorial associations and so forth, of the district valuers' action and of compulsion, may be very boring when they are repeated in this House, but they are the essence of the whole thing, and, however tiresome it may appear, we must go on stressing the points which we feel are not right until we think they are right.

There is really no reason why the proper catering licence allowing meat meals at night should not have been given with both hands. Surely this is not the time for the Minister of Food to make difficulties about it. In the same way, surely this is not the time for the district valuer to make difficulties about the price of premises, whatever may be said on the other side about disinflation. Surely this is not the time to run the risk of our not being ready to receive the National Service men. Therefore, I do hope that the noble Lord who is to reply has taken careful note (as I am sure he has) of the remarks which have been made by my noble friend Lord Limerick, by the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, and by my noble friends Lord Long and Lord Rochdale.

Let me now turn for a moment to the publicity campaign. Like some of the hotels of the Continental guide books, it has been "variously spoken of." I do hope, however, that we will give the War Office publicity campaign a little longer run for its money before we cry it down. After all, a publicity campaign can only advertise the goods which are for sale. Let us apply ourselves to getting the goods for sale as advertised. Do not let us give way to what I might call panic changes because the recruits are not rolling in all of a sudden. Do not let us lower the standard of physical fitness; do not let us be led into taking people who we know are no good. Gresham's law applies just as well in the Territorial Army as it does anywhere else.

Let us stick to the plans we have made. Let us remember that those experienced in Territorial matters will tell us that this is not the ideal time of the year for recruiting, anyway. Let us go on trying to improve the conditions and to do all the things we have set out to do. Let us keep the publicity campaign going, and do not let us be dispirited about it. At the same time, we do want to see that the goods are for sale as advertised. If it is our principle, as I believe it is, that the Territorial soldier and the Territorial officer shall not be out of pocket as the result of what he does, let us genuinely and honestly see that he is not out of pocket. As a matter of administration, we never make a fair estimate to operate what I may call the rise and fall clause in these matters. We see the railway fares increase without increasing the travelling allowances. I could give instances of that sort at great length, but I will not do so this evening.

I want to come now, if I may, to what one refers to so often as the "Territorial Army spirit." Up to now I have been talking about the material benefits to the Territorial Army which I think we must have. I do not want to give the impression that we on these Benches regard the administration of the Territorial Army as something which is wholly confined to premises, publicity, catering licences, or what you will, although I do not mean for one moment to detract from anything I have said about them. We must remember that the Territorial soldier, if he is to be any good, must be someone who loves what he is doing. Have we reached a state of affairs in this country where we think volunteering is unnecessary, and where everybody can wait for the State to call him? I most sincerely hope not. I hope that this generation will be as ready to volunteer for the Territorial Army as any other generation before it, and I feel certain that in the long run it will be.

After all, few citizens who are worth their salt do not give some of their spare time to something for which they are not paid, whether it be their church, their political Party, a football club, a youth movement or what you like. Most good citizens do something in their spare time for which they are not paid, and surely we can count, as we have always been able to do, upon a quota of decent citizens doing the same for the Territorial Army. In our anxiety to improve what we think are the material things necessary for the Territorial Army, do not let us altogether forget the need for the spirit. At the same time, for heaven's sake do not let us use the Territorial Army spirit as some sort of smoke screen, a palliative or an excuse for failing to do fairly by them in a material respect.

This question of material benefits brings me for a moment to the need for making the Territorial soldier really efficient—a great deal more efficient, if I may say so, without offence, than perhaps were his predecessors before this war. After all, the Territorial soldier, and particularly the Territorial officer, is required to understand a great deal more about the technical side of soldiering than ever he was—there is much more to be learned about weapons, about tactics and about vehicles. If we fail to arrange matters so that the sailor, soldier, or airman of the Auxiliary Forces can fully train for war, the Territorial Army will not be ready for war. It is the readiness for war of the Auxiliary Forces upon which we depend. That readiness for war is the justification for the time and trouble and money which is being spent, as it appears in the gracious Speech, "on building up the Reserve and Auxiliary Forces."

I will say one other thing. Do not let us worry too much about the impact of the National Service men. I do not wish to follow my noble friend the Duke of Montrose in that matter. The fact of the matter is that, if we are to train sufficient people in this country—a great deal more people than we aimed to train in the Auxiliary Forces before the war—National Service is the only way to do it. If we want National Service to be a success, do not let us constantly compare the virtues of the volunteer with the supposed vices of the conscript. That will not take us anywhere. The right thing is to do our best to see that the lion lays down with the lamb and that when he comes in the National Service man—I am not calling him a conscript—is fairly treated. If the experience of the Home Guard is any guide, we shall then find that instead of bitterness, grousing and two factions in a Territorial Army unit, the whole will be one happy party. It can be done, and do not let us put any obstacles in the way of doing it.

I had not intended to refer to the Army Cadet Force, but my noble friend the Duke of Montrose has mentioned it and he has put his finger on something which is very much bigger than the instance he has given; that is, the possibility, under present arrangements, of any particular local authority stultifying the Government policy in this respect. We have here a topsy-turvy situation, where it is the declared Government policy to stimulate the Cadet Force, and where certain local authorities can and do completely stultify that policy.

That is all I am going to say on the subject about which we have been talking this afternoon. There were other matters in the gracious Speech affecting Defence. I have already mentioned those that were referred to, except Civil Defence, which was mentioned in terms of welcome by my noble friend Lord Clydesmuir last night. But now we come to what is rot in the gracious Speech. My noble friend Lord Swinton expressed his concern last night, with all his noble friends, that there was nothing more definite in the gracious Speech about plans to deal with the general Defence position. I ventured to say to your Lordships in the previous Session that if the measures taken to extend National Service were to commend themselves at all (I think this was the gist of what I said) to my noble friends on these Benches, it would be only in the hope that they were an instalment of some thing much more far-reaching. It is a matter of great concern to us that—unless the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, has anything to tell us later on this evening—we are still left completely in the dark as to whether this very serious situation is to be gripped in a bigger way, or whether we are still to go on with the present patchwork National Service arrangement. This is not the time to say a great deal about it, but I cannot let this part of the debate close without expressing our very real concern in this matter. We shall feel it necessary to raise the whole subject in no uncertain terms on a later occasion, as we shall be doing in respect of the Royal Air Force on a Motion by my noble friend Lord Templewood. That is all I have to say. We look forward to the reply of the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, and we hope that he will take the suggestions we have made this evening, not as carping criticism but as evidence of our real effort and real intention to help.

6.19 p.m.


My Lords, if I may be allowed to say so, there is no speaker upon any subject to whom I would rather listen in this House than the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, on anything that affects the Army; and to-day has been no exception. I am glad that he and the noble Duke have both seen fit to make some mention of the Army Cadet Force. I will not say more about that now, except that I entirely agree that an occasion of this sort should not pass without that topic being raised.

As always on the subject of defence, one has the feeling that the House has closed its ranks and approached the matter from a constructive and patriotic standpoint. That, of course, is the case with many other subjects; but where defence is concerned one senses a particular desire to say nothing except that which might be helpful. I hope I shall not be dispelling harmony if I recall that the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, indicated that he could not follow the noble Viscount, Lord Long, in refraining from criticism of the Government. I hope I may be forgiven if I do not refrain from criticising Lord Moynihan. I felt that he came here and spoke as a soldier, and that as a soldier he gave his evidence with a certain antipathy towards politicians. I must ask the noble Lord to remember that when he joins us on these Benches he is a politician; he belongs to this fraternity which he is so anxious to discredit. He pours derision on the politician without much regard to Party distinctions. Perhaps I may remind the noble Lord that on the recent occasion at Luton one speaker was a Labour Member of Parliament and the other was the Conservative and Liberal candidate—besides being the Radio Doctor whose blandishments have managed to persuade so many of us—


The candidate was the Conservative and National Liberal candidate, not the Conservative and Liberal candidate.


His official description was "Conservative and Liberal candidate"—but that is a matter which must be fought out within the Party. The noble Lord poured scorn on the politicians because they came forward at an awkward moment and threw themselves between the spectators and an enjoyable match and tried to do their bit by the country. I must point out that it is not always easy to do this, and they are entitled to feel that it is not for the military pundits to pour scorn on them in this way.

I must say one other thing, and that is with reference to what the noble Duke said about my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for War. In the first place, the noble Duke was under the impression that perhaps the most famous of Mr. Shinwell's remarks was made while he was Secretary for War. That is not so. There has been no reference to tinkers and their complaints since the Secretary of State for War assumed his present office. But I would say this about the Secretary of State for War, who is undoubtedly a controversial figure: that he is a man of courage, and he feels that he and this House have not been seeing enough of one another. I gather that that is also the general impression.


Is he coming to the House of Lords?


The Secretary of State for War has informed me that if he is invited to address an all-Party meeting, in a Committee Room, of those members who are most interested in the Army, he will gladly come and speak on the subject of the Territorial Army. It has been conveyed to me through the appropriate channel that a visit of that kind would be most welcome. Therefore I can only suggest to the noble Duke and the noble Viscount that they might attend such a meeting, put their points, listen to the Secretary of State's reply, and decide afterwards whether they can revise their opinions. That seems to me an eminently democratic and satisfactory procedure.

This is a tremendous subject, my Lords, and I am sure the House will forgive me if I set out at some length, before I come to particular points that have been raised, the main defence policy of the Government, especially as it relates to the Auxiliary Services. I have in mind, of course, the wider public to which my words, in common with the words of earlier speakers, may pass, when I say of the Government's plan that I believe that it is, in essence, approved by all Parties. The debate has centred largely on the need for building up the Reserve and Auxiliary Forces, and noble Lords have stressed, in the words of the Motion which stood originally in the name of the noble Viscount, Lord Long: … that the recruitment of the Auxiliary Forces is a matter of great urgency and every possible step should now be taken to this end. The Government are, of course, in entire agreement with that Motion and are in fact taking the most vigorous steps, which I hope will commend themselves to the House—even if noble Lords wish other steps, or steps that seem still more vigorous, to be taken in certain directions. The building up of the Auxiliary Forces, while of the greatest importance, is only one of the steps being taken to improve the general defence preparations of the country; and perhaps I might preface what I have to say with a brief review of the other measures which are in hand.

I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Rochdale—who always speaks with special cogency and comes, as it were, straight from the front line when discussing these matters—that the words of the gracious Speech are most certainly intended and will be honoured in the letter. Some of the measures which the Government are taking to give effect to these words were outlined to the House in a recent debate on Defence. In order to consolidate the Forces, and to reduce the drain on their strength caused by the loss of trained men, releases have been deferred by three months. I am sorry that the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Wilson, who is such a tremendous accession of strength in these affairs, is not with us; I am also sorry that he feels that the news of the deferment might have been broken more tactfully. It is difficult to find exactly the precise occasion for communicating information of that kind. I will only agree with the noble Lord in observing that the manner in which the news was taken by the men, by and large, was everything one could ask.

Mobilisation machinery has been overhauled; various measures for increasing production and reconditioning available stocks of war material have been taken; Civil Defence planning has been energetically pursued and, as the House knows, a Bill dealing with this subject will be presented at an early date. Co-operation in matters of defence between the Western Union Powers signatories of the Brussels Pact, has also made striking progress, culminating, as a result of a very successful meeting of the Defence Ministers in Paris at the end of September, in the setting up of a Western European Commanders-in-Chief Committee with Lord Montgomery as Chairman. The permanent defence organisation for the Western Union countries now set up is a development of the greatest significance. It embodies a new conception in time of peace of especially close co-operation between the Defence Forces of these countries and provides an assurance to the world that the Brussels Treaty Powers are fully determined to pool their resources for the common good and in defence of their way of life. I am grateful to the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, for mentioning the fact that on these occasions it is inevitable that speakers concentrate on things that might have been done but which have not been done. In the light of history, these great measures will, I think, be regarded as being of profound significance in the life of the country.

Still further measures are in prospect. As the House knows, for example, the Government are considering how to make the best use of the man-power provided for the Forces under a system of peacetime National Service; and, as the Prime Minister stated in another place last Tuesday, any changes proposed will be brought in good time to the attention of Parliament. Again, I may remind your Lordships that the Government already have under consideration revision of emoluments of the Regular Forces, a point to which the noble Lord, Lord Douglas, referred in his speech the other day. Other noble Lords also have touched upon it many times in this House. In this matter, too, an announcement will be made as soon as possible. I think there is general agreement that all these measures are necessary, not, of course, for any aggressive or provocative purpose, but as a matter of elementary precaution in existing conditions if our people are to survive.

As your Lordships have stressed, an essential part of our current defence preparations must be the building up of the Reserve and Auxiliary Forces. We cannot in peace time either afford or economically employ Regular soldiers, sailors and airmen in the numbers which would be required, and required at once (that is the point that has been brought out more than once to-day) to serve in the Armed Forces in an emergency. The National Service Act will, of course, provide us eventually with Reserves in considerable numbers, but that will not in itself be sufficient. The training obligations imposed on National Service Reservists are not in general sufficient to produce, for example, a fully operational air-crew or a highly skilled tradesman; for this, additional training undertaken voluntarily is needed.

It is essential, therefore, that the voluntary Reserve and Auxiliary Forces should be recruited up to strength as soon as possible, and that large numbers of men, and women too—we have not heard much about the women to-day, but perhaps on another occasion we may devote ourselves to that theme—with experience in the Armed Forces during the Second World War, should volunteer at once to join them; to give up some of their leisure to preserve their skill in arms; to adapt that skill to continuing developments in defence technique; and to be ready to form an immediately available and highly trained Reserve to supplement the Regular Forces in an emergency. In many cases they would be called upon to provide formed units immediately for the front line. This is an urgent need which must be tackled at once. Thousands of men and women with war-time experience in the Armed Forces are available. The nucleus—I will not say more—of accommodation, equipment, instructors, and so on, has been made available. The success of the recruiting campaign for these Forces will provide an early and powerful accretion to the effectiveness of our defence preparations. It is essential—we are all entirely at one on this—that it should not fail.

The Territorial Army will have to train for three main functions in war: immediately to deploy the great bulk of the anti-aircraft defences of the United Kingdom; to provide a properly balanced field force ready for service wherever it may be required; and to be ready to help in Civil Defence. Unlike the Auxiliary Forces of the other two Services, it will from 1950 onwards contain a large National Service element consisting of men who, having passed through a period of full-time service in the Army, then undergo the subsequent years' Reserve service provided for in the National Service Act. I think that we are all agreed that that is the right answer. It is the answer which has been confirmed in many debates in this House, but it does constitute an unusual problem—a problem of a kind which has not been faced in past years.

There will, therefore, be an annual intake into the Territorial Army from 1950 onwards of National Service men. Our principal requirement at the moment is for volunteers to form the foundation of our future units. That is why we are calling for experienced men; not only war-experienced men—I emphasise this—but trained men as well who have served since the war and have recently left the Colours. Volunteering is, and will remain, an essential feature of the Territorial Army because of the extra time and extra enthusiasm which volunteers give to their duties and training. Naturally, we hope that each annual intake of National Service men will produce their own quota of volunteers. But we must create now the units to which these National Service men will come. We must provide the senior ranks, the key appointments and a strong enough unit to have a spirit of its own. There are, as I mentioned earlier, many thousands of men with the qualifications needed. We already have over 55,000 in the Territorial Army, but we need 95,000 more, and we need them urgently, so that they can be brought up to date before the National Service men arrive in 1950. Our target is 150,000 volunteers.

We have not heard much about the Royal Air Force to-day, but this is a comprehensive occasion and I think it right to say a few words on that subject. The target for the Royal Auxiliary Air Force is 25,000 volunteers, of which over 20,000 are needed for the fighter control units. The Force comprises twenty flying squadrons, twelve regiment squadrons, and twenty-six flying control units. These units will in an emergency form part of the first line strength of the Royal Air Force: the flying squadrons to supplement the regular fighter defences; the auxiliary regiment squadrons to carry out the close defence of airfields; the fighter control units to form the network for Radar reporting and for the control and direction of fighter, anti-aircraft and civil defences. The target for the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve is 35,000, of which total no less than 18,000 are needed for flying duties—that is, as pilots, navigators, and signallers. This number includes a small section of women pilots to be trained for non-combatant flying. The balance of 17,000 is required for ground officers and airmen and airwomen in the main Air Force branches and trades.

I would stress this for those who are not familiar with these matters. Unlike the Auxiliary Air Force, the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve is not organised in units; it forms a general trained Reserve which can be fitted into the main structure of the Royal Air Force wherever it is needed in an emergency. There are twenty-one Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve centres in the main areas of population, with affiliated schools of flying training, but where men and women do not live near enough to a Reserve centre to be able to attend for evening and week-end training, they can still join the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in certain ground branches and trades in which they are required to do no more than attend annual camps. Training arrangements for this Reserve are very flexible and, within limits, can be adjusted to suit the needs of the individual.


May I ask whether all the twenty-one centres are in operation?


I should certainly hope so, but perhaps before I conclude my remarks an attempt may be made to secure confirmation of that fact. As I was saying, there is a wide variety of trades and duties in which all types of special skills, aptitudes and inclinations can find a place.

I hope that the House will forgive this digression, but I break off to say that I happened to be driven the other day to a place a few miles from Luton. I can assure noble Lords that I was not being audacious enough or patriotic enough to address a Territorial Army meeting there. I came across a young man who had started a business of his own since the Second World War. I think his mentality was interesting as being typical of many who are thoroughly patriotic citizens and who are not joining the Territorial Army or other Auxiliary Forces. If we can solve the problem of the circumstances and mentality of people of that kind, we may get what we want in the case of the Air Force, the Army and the Navy. Here was this young man who had served with considerable distinction in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. He could apparently be recalled immediately if the occasion arose, but he did not feel inclined to join any of the Auxiliary Forces. When I asked him why, he said that he did volunteer last time and he would volunteer the next lime if it were not for the fact that he would be called up at once in any case. He felt that he had given six years to the Royal Air Force; he had his family responsibilities; he was making his way with a two-man business, and he simply did not feel that he could afford the time to go to camp That is, I think, the kind of man that we have to approach, because we have to find 100,000 men in similar, if not identical, circumstances. But that is the man to whom we have to make our appeal—the thoroughly trained man, the thoroughly volunteering type of man, the man who fought in one war, who had an excellent record, but who for those various reasons is not joining the Auxiliary Forces at the present time.

To return to the summary of the main plans, I deal last with the R.N.V.R., not because it is any less important but because its needs are numerically smaller than those of the other two Forces. Like the R.A.F.V.R., it provides a general trained Reserve for the Navy and, in particular, is concerned to train leaders and potential leaders to serve in our fleets in an emergency. The aim is to recruit about 6,000 extra ratings to the R.N.V.R. by the end of next March. Here again, the Reserve is organised in two categories. List I is for men who live near enough to an R.N.V.R. divisional headquarters to do part-time training in the evenings and at week-ends. List II is for men who can attend only annual training with the fleet In addition, as has been rightly mentioned already, a Royal Marine Volunteer Reserve has recently been established. For the moment, recruiting is confined to London and Glasgow, but further centres will be opened later. In addition to these various Reserve and Auxiliary Forces, membership of which involves part-time training liabilities, the Services have recently established Emergency Reserves—the Royal Navy and Royal Marine Emergency Reserves, the Army Registered Reserve and the R.A.F. Supplementary List. No training liabilities are attached to them. They are intended to enable those who are unable, for one reason or another, to undertake such a training liability, but who nevertheless have seen previous service in the Forces, to register their names for immediate service in time of emergency. Obviously, such lists are valuable. They will simplify the problems of recall to the Colours and the effective allocation of man-power, and they are for that reason very much to be encouraged. Nevertheless—and here I am entirely at one with the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, who made the point most effectively—this cannot be regarded in any way as an alternative to voluntary service and to voluntary part-time training in the Reserve and Auxiliary Forces proper. There is a certain danger in these lists, valuable though they are, and though we must go ahead with them. Many people are feeling the call to service in these troubled times. Many feel that they ought to do something to prove that they are willing. Registration on an Emergency Reserve may appear to some to be a way out, a compromise between their convenience, their ordinary life, their business activities or whatever it may be, on the one hand, and their national duty, on the other—a kind of salve to the conscience which involves no current effort. I cannot stress too strongly the dangers of an approach of that kind, and I must urge from this place all who can possibly spare the time for voluntary training to undertake it and to enlist in the Auxiliary Forces proper.

As has been said more than once to-day, the Government are now engaged in a great drive to recruit the Reserve and Auxiliary Forces, and the campaign is well under way. There was a broadcast just before the official beginning of the campaign by the Secretary of State for War, and there have been speeches at the Mansion House by the Minister of Defence, Mr. Eden, Lord Montgomery, and Lord Tedder—so you will observe that there is no Party approach to this. There is to be a Royal Review of the Territorial Army in Hyde Park, and exhibitions and film publicity. The trade unions are giving their unfailing support, as I know are other corresponding bodies of employers. In addition, a great deal of local activity, in which many of your Lordships are especially prominent, is going forward under the energetic direction of the local Territorial and Auxiliary Forces' Associations. That, my Lords, recapitulates in outline the broad plans of the Government with regard to the Auxiliary Services.

Before I come to the various points that have been made this afternoon, and add a word about the progress of recruiting, I feel that perhaps I might reply to the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Teynham, who has expressed his regret to me at having to leave. He indicated to me (and I am sure he is right) that the questions he raises are questions of great interest to those serving in the Royal Navy, and those who have the interests of the Navy at heart. Naturally the answers I shall give have been approved by my noble friend the First Lord of the Admiralty, and therefore carry much higher authority than any of mine. First, as regards the Royal Naval Reserve. Although the future of this Force is still under urgent consideration, as explained by my noble friend Lord Hall in the debate on September 22, there are still a number of officers on the list who held their commissions before the war, and facilities for the training of these are already provided. As they have had recent war experience, however, this training is still voluntary. The question of training is, of course, a matter for the Admiralty.

Secondly, as regards the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, this Reserve is at present being recruited from men with previous naval experience, and from volunteers who have not yet been called up for National Service. The question of the intake of National Service men into the Navy in 1949 and later years is still under examination, and will depend on the size of the Navy and the financial provision. Then the noble Lord raised the matter of the training of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. I will say at once that any suggestion that no plans have been prepared for sea training is entirely without foundation. As has been stated, a number of depôt ships are avail able, and some of these have recently been refitted. For instance H.M.S. "President" has been returned to service and refitted with the latest types of equipment, and other depot ships are being taken in hand for similar modernisation.


If I may interrupt, my noble friend talked about sea training and not H.M.S. "President" with an iron roof over her in the Thames.


Perhaps the noble Earl will bear with me until I have finished this paragraph, and then I will gladly give way if he still feels that I am making too much of a landlubber of myself; and he can put it right. In addition, sea-going tenders are attached to all Divisions, in the form of motor minesweepers or small coastal craft, and these provide opportunities for sea-going training, both at week-ends and for longer periods. In addition, facilities for training with the Fleet are available, and it is planned that substantial numbers should undertake such training next year. A number of R.N.V.R. personnel have had sea training this year, including some who accompanied the Fleet for part of the recent cruise to the West Indies. Fourthly, the noble Lord came to the provision of small boats. As noble Lords will be aware, the difficulties in the way of supply of suitable timber for boat building are at present substantial, but the Admiralty have well in mind the need for adequate supplies of such small craft, and provision will be made as and when circumstances permit. As explained, however, facilities for sea-going training in the smaller craft attached to the Divisions largely supply present needs. The general ban on the construction of pleasure craft, which is necessitated by the limitation of timber available for ship and boat building, has been relaxed to the extent that, where export and commercial orders are not available, licences for such craft are permitted to the extent necessary for keeping the skilled boat builders in regular employment.


Could the noble Lord say how long it is since the provision was relaxed?


The short answer to that is that I could not say. I doubt very much whether the noble Viscount thought it likely that I would be able to. He has been very kind this afternoon, and perhaps it was too much to expect that he would not put to me one or two questions of that kind. It is possible that I may be able to give him a little later the information which he now seeks. The night is yet young, and I have far from finished my speech.

I have now dealt with the questions raised by the noble Lord, Lord Teynham. Perhaps I may, before reaching other questions which have been put, just say a few words about the progress of recruiting. I am afraid that I have not anything sensational to say upon this, either good or bad—nothing that the editors of leading newspapers would regard as very "newsy," if I may use such a shocking and detestable word in your Lordships' House. Recruiting opened on May 1 last year, and the first rush of ex-Territorial Army men brought in about 13,000 men keen to get back and start Territorial Army soldiering again. By the end of July a further 10,000 joined—mostly ex-Territorial Army. After the end of July last year, the monthly intake died away sharply, and between August, 1947, and August of this year the figure fluctuated between 1,200 and 2,500. But during this period planning for the present campaign went on. In September of this year, the preliminary steps precedent to this campaign were taken; for example, the Secretary of State's broadcast on September 1, and various Press conferences which resulted in articles and leaders in the national Press of a helpful and friendly nature on the whole. The intake improved in September this year to 4,130, which was roughly twice the average monthly intake during the year leading up to it. From that jumping off ground of 4,130 a month we began the present six months' campaign on October 1, during which the average has got to be slightly over 16,000 a month. I have already explained that we must get these men in the six months.

I entirely agree—and may I say how glad I am to find I have so much upon which I can agree with noble Lords—with the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, that it is too early yet to judge the measure of success that the campaign is having or will have. I am sorry to disappoint the noble Viscount, Lord Long, but, after all, we have not reached the end of October yet, and the campaign or, as I do not hesitate to call it, the crusade, only started at the beginning of this month and no figures are in fact available. I do not know that if they were available they would throw a great deal of light upon the situation.


We can take figures already given during the last ten days with regard to the Western Command, I assume. That was why I asked my question. I was going only on figures given by the War Office with reference to that one Command.


Those figures are not available to me at the moment. I can only assure the noble Viscount that if there are figures available which I am not giving it is possible that later to-day or, at any rate, if not to-day very soon afterwards, I shall be in a position to let him have the latest statistics. But, frankly, I am assured that no figures are available which would throw serious light On how the campaign is going. It is clear to all of us, however, that far greater efforts must be put forth by everyone. Whether we are in the Government or not, every one of us must make much greater efforts than have been made hitherto if this campaign is to be made a success—as I know it can be made.

I come now to the various questions raised. Perhaps as the House is so rightly interested in the problem of accommodation I shall be allowed to deal with it at some length, though, even so, I shall not really answer all the very technical points that have been raised by one or two noble Lords. I can only state the matter quite broadly. The House does not need to be reminded, but it may help a wider audience to recall the general position regarding drill halls—now called Territorial Army centres—when recruiting for the Territorial Army opened in May last year. The pre-war drill halls would in any case have been insufficient in numbers, as the size of the new Territorial Army was approximately double that of the Territorial Army before the war. Some of these drill halls had not yet been released by their wartime occupants, and many of them had been damaged by enemy action, or in other ways, during the war. Many units which had to occupy them had changed their rôle and were supplied with heavier and larger equipment for which the drill hall was not suitable. In practically every instance, units had been equipped with larger and more transport, and the garages built before the war were totally inadequate. Therefore, the background of the problem which faced the War Office was that a vast amount of alteration to existing drill halls had still to be done, a great deal of repair was necessary and many units were without any form of accommodation.

I need not remind the House—certainly I need not remind the noble Earl, Lord Limerick, who held our attention so closely and spoke with such authority—of the various discussions between the War Office and the Territorial and Auxiliary Forces Associations with a view to expediting procedure of purchase. The most important date in recent months was April 21—that is, shortly after the last debate on this subject in this House—when the letter was issued which delegated to the commands and associations much wider powers than hitherto possessed with regard to the acquisition of land and buildings. I will not, unless pressed—unless, that is, it is felt to be particularly useful—summarise that letter to-day, but it is, of course, a landmark in the history of delegation to the associations.

It is obvious from the discussion today, however, and particularly from the observations of the noble Earl, Lord Limerick, that associations still do not feel that they are given sufficient authority and power to act quickly when properties come on the market. I can assure the House that I will take particular care to call the attention of my right honourable friend to the strong opinions entertained on this subject by noble Lords who are particularly well qualified to speak. I have no doubt that when the right honourable gentleman meets members of this House in the Committee Room referred to, he will answer in detail points put to him. But the problem is not easy. The market price in a time of general housing shortage is often extremely high; the district valuer is often an extremely busy gentleman; and other technical hitches and all kind of obstacles present themselves. I agree that the magnitude of the issues renders any dilatoriness or unnecessary red tape a blunder or a crime, but I am bound to remind the House that the War Office possess powers of compulsory acquisition and, if all else fails, are fully ready to use them on behalf of the associations.

The noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, raised the question of a stopper. I can assure him that I will have that investigated, but I cannot, off-hand, hold out any hope of solution along these lines. The associations have shown themselves averse from asking for these powers to be used, owing to the bad effect it is likely to have on the local attitude to the Territorial Army. I know that noble Lords opposite may point out that even when these powers are used they take some time to operate. That is no reason for not using them, but rather a reason for using them more rapidly. We all agree that the powers should be used and the procedure speeded up as much as possible.

May I give a few statistics of the progress made in providing accommodation?—first of all, in regard to Territorial Army headquarters. On April 1 this year, there were in existence 1,539 Territorial Army centres and a further 439 were required. Since then, 122 centres have been acquired, of which 63 are in use and the other 59 have works services still to be completed. In addition, a further 145 sites are under negotiation. The deficit has thus been reduced from 439 (on April 1) to 317, with a further 145 under negotiation. If and when all the latter are acquired, the deficit will be 172. In addition, expansion to existing centres is still necessary in many instances. We come to accommodation for permanent staff. A start has been made in building 172 officers' married quarters this year, against approximately 900 required. A further 28 will be started as soon as suitable sites are obtained. On April 1 this year, there were 1,437 other ranks' quarters, against 2,200 required. Of these 1,437, 287 were irregularly occupied, misappropriated, or under repair; this total is being reduced as rapidly as possible. Since April, 30 quarters have been bought, 19 hired, and building is to start on another 429 this year. So that, speaking roughly, of the 2,200 required, there are still 783 short, and since April, 49 have been obtained in one way or another and 429 are being started this year.

That gives a broad picture. I have confirmed that the figure I gave, of 172 officers' married quarters being started this year, is correct. I was doubtful because it appears to have gone up a little since I first began to study these figures; but progress is taking place the whole time. These figures show that progress has been made, though I can assure your Lordships that the War Office are far from satisfied, and the last quality of which they are likely to be found guilty in this connection is complacency.

I would break into my general story to confirm the fact that all twenty-one R.A.F.V.R. and Auxiliary training centres are open and functioning. That is definitely confirmed by the Air Ministry. I hope the House will forgive me for going into details, but when detailed questions are put in this House I feel that detailed answers should be given.

I come to the point raised by the noble Viscount, Lord Long, whose enthusiasm in the cause of the Territorial Army over a good many years, in face of many difficulties—I hope not in this House—gains my undying admiration. He raised the question of what he called personnel. Brigadiers commanding anti-aircraft brigades fall into two categories—namely, Regulars and Territorial officers on consolidated rates of pay. In the former case, the tenure is for two years, extendable in certain circumstances to three years. I think the noble Viscount thought that two years was the final limit, but in certain cases it can be extended to three. In the case of Territorial officers, the tenure is for three years and is not extendable. The tenure of appointments for Regular officers serving in the Territorial Army is: commanding officer, staff officer and adjutant, two years, with the possibility of extension to three (I think that goes further than the noble Viscount supposed); other officers—two years, extendable to two and a half years if necessary. So the position is much better than the noble Viscount understood.


The question I actually asked the noble Lord was: Is it not a fact that these officers were being asked to resign from January 1 on the completion of two years' service? If what the noble Lord has said can be enforced, it is all right.


I must ask leave of the noble Viscount to look further into that point, but I have no reason to suppose that a rule is rigidly enforced, in the sense that the noble Viscount supposes. As regards adjutants, as the noble Viscount may be aware, the intention is that they shall eventually be Regular officers. It is anticipated, moreover, that there will be sufficient Regular officers to serve as adjutants of Territorial units and to replace Territorial Army officers on consolidated rates of pay when their tenure comes to an end. There may be a few cases where it is not possible to find a suitable Regular officer, but it is thought they will be very few. Here, the noble Viscount, who seldom makes a mistake of fact, made one. No instructions have been issued by the Army Council, and I am sure that no letter has been sent by the Secretary of State, which allows adjutants on consolidated rates of pay to take outside work with the sanction of their commanding officers. Whoever told the noble Viscount that was misinformed.


Perhaps the noble Lord will allow me to send him a copy of the letter.


I am in the hands of the noble Viscount. He can send me any documents he wishes, and I promise to study them carefully. But I do not feel it is a matter of primary importance. In so far as the fact lies one way or the other, it does not lie where the noble Viscount supposes. On the other hand, I should add that there are no instructions which prevent this happening. So perhaps some people are actually doing what the noble Viscount has in mind because they are not forbidden to do it. I had to correct him, however, about the letter which he thought had gone forth.

I know the noble Viscount feels very deeply about the poster. He asked whether the "1939–45" ribbon is on the new poster. It is, as I think he knows. So are the Defence Medal and the War Medal, which, of course, cover the people who served in anti-aircraft units in this country. The noble Viscount wishes—and one can well understand it—that the Territorial Decoration and the Territorial Efficiency Medal should also be included. I sympathise with that. But, in fact, the appeal is primarily to people who served only during the war. The appeal to men who served in the Territorial Army before the war to rejoin would not be the main appeal, and presumably it was not felt that those were the people whom it was the main duty to attract. But I sym pathise with the noble Viscount. We will leave it there.

The noble Viscount raised the question of the bounty, as did the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan. I will have the special scheme of the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, examined. I do not hold out much prospect of its being adopted, but I can assure him that it will be most carefully looked into. I am glad that the increase in the bounty is appreciated. But I suppose we would all agree that the increase in the bounty and the compensation for loss of wages in going to camp go closely together; and I am sure that what we all regard as tremendously important is to get paid leave for those going to camp. As the noble Viscount is well aware, the Government apply that principle in the Civil Service; and I believe the majority of the local authorities apply it, as well as a number of private employers. The question of its application throughout the nationalised industries is now under the most urgent consideration on a very high level, and I am sure a decision one way or the other (it is not, of course, for me to say which way it will be decided), will be forthcoming very soon. As the noble Viscount is aware, in some of the nationalised industries—the Air Corporations, for instance—there is the week's leave with pay; there is also the week's leave with pay in the Bank of England, and in certain other places. But it is not universally applied. All I can say at the moment is that the matter is being tackled in a most urgent fashion.

I come now to one or two points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan. He will forgive me if I do not deal with them all to-day. Where I do not deal with a question that has been raised, I should wish to write to noble Lords and give them their answers in that way. The noble Lord raised the issue of the 17-year-olds. I have talked to a good many people about this; for instance, I was talking to the officers and some of the men of a Territorial unit last night. I do not honestly pretend to know which way the balance of opinion would go in the Territorial Army itself, because it will be recalled that a lot of 17-year-olds were recruited before the war, and it was a tremendous "headache" for all concerned when they had to be eliminated. For that reason, for the reason that it does adversely affect the Cadets, for the reason that many patriotic people who are quite ready to see their sons fight and die for their country are morally disturbed at the thought of their being recruited so young, and for other reasons of which the noble Lord is probably aware, it does not seem to the authorities that this would be the right course.

The noble Lord asked me about the number of Members of another place, and members of your Lordships' House, who are helping with the recruiting drive. I see no reason why the figures should not be given. They are these. The number of members of your Lordships' House who have agreed to speak for the Territorial Army is 47; and the number of Members of another place who have agreed to speak is 150. The noble Lord said it was clear that a number of supporters of the Government were not doing their duty. That is probably true. But a is obvious, also, that a number of people who do not support the Government are just as slow in coming forward—I hope the noble Lord will accept the arithmetical conclusion. With the best will in the world, it is not everybody who feels able to make a recruiting speech. We all know it is a very difficult task. My own theory is that on these occasions one needs to combine the civil and the military. Let us have the civil representative to show the supremacy of the civil power; but when it comes to the technicalities, do not let the civilian attempt them; let him have with him some Army officer who will explain them in the right terms. I feel that that is the right combination.

The speech of the noble Earl, Lord Limerick, requires a much fuller reply than any I can give it now, but I would just touch on the point of catering licences. At present, Territorial Army units can have a voluntary "B" catering licence, under which light refreshments may be served to members of the Territorial Army and their personal guests during a period of the day when drills are in progress. The Ministry of Food have agreed that these licences may be extended to cover functions which are directly connected with recruiting for the Territorial Army, and food executive officers will treat liberally any applications for the extension of these licences. I have not gone as deeply into the meaning of this last announcement as I would have liked, but let us combine to make sure that this liberal treatment is liberal in the full sense of the word, as Lord Moynihan would understand it.


I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord, but I think this is important. Why cannot the Territorial Associations have the same licence—whatever it is—as an ordinary works canteen?


I speak without the book and, therefore, subject to correction. One view that has been taken hitherto is that members of the Territorial Army get their full rations at home and, therefore, it is impossible for rationed food to be supplied at the centres. I can only suppose that when people go to the Territorial Army drills in the evenings they do not go for a meal. After all, if one goes to work in a factory one is there during the period of the day when a meal is required. I am improvising, but it seems to me to be a possible argument that when they come in the evening for their drill they are presumed to have had something to eat, and that they will have something to eat when they get back. That, at any rate, would seem to be a possible distinction between the drill, which takes an hour or an hour and a half, and the eight-hour day, when the man goes a long way from home to a factory.

Again, I would have liked to refer at greater length to what the noble Lord, Lord Rochdale, said, on more subjects than one. He feels that if a National Service man wins a commission, that man should be placed under an obligation to undertake the same responsibilities as a Territorial Army officer—that, I take it, is his case, I can see the point, but after consideration, it is felt that if a National Service man has earned his commission by his ability and honest work while serving as a conscript it would be unfair to bring this pressure to bear on him. After all, in some cases it may be almost literally impossible for him to undertake these extra duties, and it would be bringing undesirable pressure to bear upon the National Service man who has made good.

There again, I will make sure that the point raised by the noble Lord is fully considered, but I must not encourage him unduly, because it is a matter that has been combed at least once quite recently. The noble Earl, Lord Cork and Orrery, has gone. He sprang on me the question of the British Legion's representations for pensions, and I am not prepared with any official statement here. There is an Advisory Committee on which all Parties are represented, a point which the noble Earl should bear in mind.

The noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, covered, in a statesmanlike way, a good deal of the ground which I also have covered, and, therefore, I will not deal further with the particular points he raised. I would like, before I close, and to the best of my ability, to put the whole matter in perspective. I have been dealing in the last few minutes with what might be called the physical issues, the steps, that is, directly affecting men or materials over which the Government in their collective form, and in many cases in conjunction with the association, can exercise a high measure of control. The steps that we have just been discussing may take the form of providing the necessary permanent staff or, later on, the National Service element. The steps may take the form of providing equipment or buildings, or various forms of financial inducement or compensation to volunteers. All these steps have this in common: that their merits can be debated and decided in the Houses of Parliament against the background of other national priorities. The responsibility for taking them, or not taking them, or rightly or wrongly taking them, can clearly be pinned on the Government, whatever happens to be the Government of the day.

But in the last analysis, what is it we are trying to accomplish in the immediate future? It is not something which Governments or associations or anybody else can accomplish in the last resort by the use of force or legal powers. After all, what we are trying to do, the object of the whole exercise, is to get free men to step forward freely. We are trying to persuade 100,000 men to volunteer in the present six months. That is where the character of our whole appeal becomes crucial. Somehow or other we have to bring into existence—those of us who feel as we do—the right climate of opinion, the right national atmosphere, in which volunteering for the Territorial Army will seem to the ordinary patriotic citizen the right, the appropriate and the inevitable thing. Somehow or other, the country has to be made Territorial Army conscious in a sense we have never yet seen in this country.

The Government, of course, have a special responsibility, but all of us, I venture to say, have a responsibility of one kind or another, and we can succeed only if we all pull together in a manner which this debate seems to me to illustrate so well. When all is said, and not underestimating for a moment what might be called the physical obstacles to recruiting in the broadest sense—obstacles which the Government must and will continue to do all in their power to reduce—I submit to the House the opinion, indeed the conviction, that the psychological element is vastly more important. I am as certain as I am of the fact that I stand here that we should have no difficulty in getting the 100,000 volunteers we want during these six months for the Territorial Army if we could convince the country, with its 30,000,000 or so adults, of a few simple things.

Let me end by stating the naked truth, as I see it. The country is in danger. It will remain so, along with all Western Europe, until Western Europe is very much stronger than she is to-day in a moral, economic and military sense. British recovery is the key point of the whole structure in all these three senses. The Territorial Army, in its modern form, is the only answer to the bewildering question of how we can afford economic revival and military preparedness at the same time. Every man, therefore, who does his thirty or forty drills and his fortnight's camp, and is ready to do it now, is worth his weight in gold to civilisation, to Europe, to his country and to his own family. If only we can bring home to every possible recruit that joining the Territorial Army is the way in which he can make all the difference to the defence of all he cares for most, I have no fears for the result. And because I feel that this debate should contribute materially to that result, both directly and indirectly, I express my gratitude once more to those who have initiated it and to all those who have taken in it such a helpful and distinguished part.

On Question, Motion agreed to nemine dissentiente: the said Address to be presented to His Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.

House adjourned at twenty-seven minutes past seven o'clock.