§ 4.4 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
LORD FAIRFAX OF CAMERON
My Lords, I am sure that we are all grateful to the noble Viscount who introduced this Motion to-day, and for having done so with the distinction that he always brings to these debates. It is not my intention to attempt to deal with all the points which have been made by the noble Lords who have spoken so far. These will be dealt with by my noble friend Lord Carrington when he winds up for the Government at the end of the debate.
I propose to deal, as the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, and the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, have done, with two main themes in the Memorandum: the reorganisation of the active Army and the Army's manpower needs, both in Regulars and National Service men. This latter topic falls naturally into two parts, the attraction of more Regular recruits for longer engagements and the continued need for National Service.
I will start with the problem of increasing the number of long-term Regular soldiers, partly because I am sure that no-one would dispute the need for them, and also because the steps taken to get them are the most spectacular single feature referred to in the Memorandum which we are debating. As your Lordships will be aware, the new pay code is designed to achieve this purpose. It will cost an additional £26 million, in spite of a decrease in the size of the active Army; although the total amount of money required for the Army as a whole is £2 million less. In addition to this, entirely new principles have been introduced to increase the attractions of the Army as a career. No doubt many noble Lords will already be familiar with the broad outline of the new code, but I 1217 think that it may be generally convenient if I highlight the features which Her Majesty's Government hope will achieve a genuine and long-term improvement in recruiting.
The size of the Army depends not only on the number of recruits we obtain, but also on the length of time for which they stay. The need is not so much for more recruits as for more men to enlist for long service, and for many more of those now in the Army to remain in it than have been doing in the past:. This is essential if a sound core of long-service men is to be built up and retained. Attractive terms are being offered to every new recruit, but the man who signs on for six years does better from the very beginning than the man who signs on for three. The man who signs on for nine years does best of all. The man who hesitates to commit himself at first, changes his mind later on and converts to a longer engagement, steps on to the point of the new scale that he would have reached had he chosen the longer period initially.
Noble Lords will have seen in the Memorandum that a recruit who joins for nine years now receives £2 2s. 0d. more than his counterpart who enlisted under the old code. This is a substantial initial increase for the young man who is willing to make the Army his career, particularly when it is remembered that he is kept and clothed and, in respect of what he receives in kind in this way, is unaffected by any changes in prices that may have taken place. Later on he does better still, and if he has the capacity to be a warrant officer or senior non-commissioned officer he will receive a high—and it must be remembered regular—weekly wage. Up to £14 a week for a married sergeant and up to £18 for the married warrant officer, Class I, are most attractive terms, especially when it is remembered that there are these issues in kind, to which I have already referred, and certain allowances to be added. What is more, the Army offers many interesting jobs in these days, and there is scope for many skills and talents.
Rather naturally, there is a good deal of interest being shown now in the effects which these measures are going to have. Short-term figures are notoriously unreliable guides, and it will be some time before it will be possible to measure the 1218 Army's degree of success with certainty. I can, however, give a broad indication of the trend of recruiting both from civil life and from within the Army—that is, prolongations of service—since the new code was announced. Accurate figures are not available but the following information is not far wrong.
In March there was a small but reasonably encouraging increase of about 5 per cent., compared with February, and 3 per cent., compared with March, 1955, in the number of Regular enlistments recorded. The most cheering feature was that 8 per cent. of the total enlisted in those months chose either the six- or the nine-years' engagement. Of course, many more long-service recruits are required, and much will depend on the degree of success of the new code in persuading the three-year men to stay on. Some success was achieved in March, when the number of three-year men prolonging their engagements was up by 50 per cent. compared with March, 19:55. The number of men with between six and twelve years' service who decided to stay in the Army for at least fifteen years was about 950, or over ten times the figure for the previous month. This is most satisfactory, but plainly such a big increase cannot be maintained for long because the number of such soldiers is bound to be limited. As I have already said, these recruiting figures must he treated with the greatest caution and must not be regarded as a reliable guide to the effect of the new pay rates which came into force only at the end of the period covered. Even so, it would be unduly pessimistic to consider them discouraging.
I turn now to the pay of officers, which has also been substantially increased, and Her Majesty's Government are satisfied that the new rates can stand comparison with what can be obtained in civil life. The married captain of thirty will receive nearly £1,150 a year in pay and marriage allowances alone, and more senior officers receive comparable increases. Retired pay is also increased, and terminal grants are substantially improved. The officer who retires as a major will get almost double the £1,000 which he previously received, and higher tanks will do even better. It is not, of course, to be assumed that the pay alone will attract men to make the Army their career, and a good deal has been done, and will be done, in 1219 other directions. There are a number of speakers to follow and I do not wish to weary your Lordships, but I will refer to one or two aspects of this.
First of all, there has been a large programme for the building and modernisation of married quarters, which is being carried out and is well on the way to completion. Concurrently, the plans for building and bringing barracks up to date have been making progress. The unsettled conditions of the post-war world have inevitably led to frequent and unexpected moves for many soldiers and resultant separation from their families. It is unfortunate that there is no complete remedy for this, but I am not sure that the amount of energy which has been devoted to mitigating the effects of frequent moves is always recognised. As my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for War announced in his speech on the Army Estimates last month, the Army Council are well aware of the need to eliminate unnecessary and irritating factors from Army life and have taken steps to that end. Facilities for education are generally excellent and very much better than is usually realised, whilst leisure activities and sports are not neglected. In short, there is no reason why an enthusiastic, healthy man should not find broad experience and a full and satisfying life if he decides to adopt a military career.
I now come to the thorny problem of National Service and the grounds for retaining twenty-four months whole-time service at the present time. This matter has been recently threshed out at length, both in Parliament and in the Press, and I do not propose again to go over all the arguments for and against. One or two points do, however, in my opinion, bear re-statement. There is a tendency to attribute to Her Majesty's Government a desire to retain a period of two years National Service in perpetuity. This accusation has been forcibly given the lie by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, and all the evidence refutes it. National Service is an expensive and complicated way of maintaining the active Army, and I am sure that its disappearance would be universally welcomed. The fact remains, however, that our present commitments in a world which continues to be disturbed preclude radical changes at this time.
1220 Some critics point out that the primary object of peace-time National Service, when it was introduced, was to build up a large trained reserve which would be available for immediate mobilisation for war. They go on to point out, with some justice, that the mobilisation of such a reserve would not be a practical proposition in case of nuclear attack. However this may be—and this is not part of my main argument—I personally doubt whether those critics place sufficient stress on the value of men with military training when it comes to meeting the terrible conditions which we might expect.
Since 1948, however, there have been significant increases in our commitments overseas. To provide men for Korea it was necessary not only to increase the length of National Service but also to recall Regular Reservists and retain Regular soldiers whose engagements had come to an end. These temporarily inflated the Army to a strength nearly 60,000 greater than it will be at the end of this year. Even so, our resources were stretched to the limit, and at one time there was only one available battalion at home. Since then, commitments have been reduced in several ways, but the saving in men which has been achieved has been offset by the reduction in the size of the Army and the need to build up a strategic reserve to cope with possible emergencies. The disappearance of the recalled Reservists and the discharge of retained Regulars led to National Service men becoming an even more important part of the active Army than they had been before, and no responsible Government could have faced the abolition or a reduction of the period of National Service at this time.
Perhaps not many people will think that we can begin to dispense completely with National Service now, but there are some—including, perhaps, some noble Lords opposite—who think that a significant reduction of the period of service could be made immediately. If the object of National Service were now almost exclusively to train Reserves, that would, of course, be so. But, as I have already said, the emphasis now is on service in the active Army, and the whole of any reduction would have to fall entirely on the period when a National Service man has been trained and become of real use. In addition to this, a shorter period of National Service would increase 1221 the turnover in units, both at home and abroad. In the latter case, where acclimatisation training in certain foreign stations is necessary, the effective use of a National Service man would be seriously reduced still further.
All these considerations make it clear that the future of National Service depends on two main factors. The first is what our future commitments are to be. If world conditions improve, as we all hope, then the chances of dispensing with, or reducing, National Service will be brighter than they are at present. Secondly, the future of National Service depends on Regular recruitment. I am sure that all noble Lords join with me in hoping that the imaginative changes in the pay code which have just been made will produce more Regular soldiers and so help to simplify the problem. Before leaving this subject I have one more point to make, and that is that no possible way of improving the situation has been overlooked. Your Lordships may rely on Her Majesty's Government to keep a constant and watchful eye for opportunities of reducing this burden on the nation.
The third and last subject which I propose to touch upon is the reorganisation of the active Army. As my right honourable friend the Secretary a State for War pointed out, when he introduced the Army Estimates, everyone has had views on this subject during the last few years. The popular argument is that the thermo-nuclear threat has made everything else out of date; and from this follows the conclusion—or so it is assumed—that the whole of the Army's present organisation is outmoded and that "streamlining"—which is sometimes a comfortable word to use—can produce small powerful forces able to cope with the new problems.
There is also an idea that all these changes can be thought out overnight. more or less in a vacuum and without practical experiment. Of course there is a fragment of truth embedded in such conclusions, and it would be pleasant if the reality were as simple. But it is not, and a great deal of rethinking of detailed problems, followed by experiments in the field, is required. These processes have, of course, been going on 1222 for some time now, and some results are beginning to emerge. They may be less all-embracing than the amateur strategist expects, but the fact remains that a revolution of the kind expected cannot be completed in one sweep.
A result of the Army's experiments is the new organisation for the infantry division, which was decided upon after field trials in the British Army of the Rhine during 1955. The new division will have its own medium artillery regiment, and each infantry brigade within the division its own armoured regiment. Conduct of the battle in the presence of nuclear weapons will require divisions to hold wider fronts than has. been normal in the past and at the same time to be able to concentrate quickly for offensive action. The formation must therefore be capable of dividing into self-contained groups of all arms and of concentrating again quickly and smoothly.
Speed and flexibility of this nature come from having teams of all arms trained together and accustomed to working with each other. This makes it most necessary to write these groups into the organisation, and the armour and medium artillery, which previously were attached from corps or army resources for specific operations, have been welded into the division itself. As a result, the infantry division will be able to disperse into small but powerful groups, capable of sustained fighting, which will also be able to concentrate quickly for successful offensive operations.
In conclusion, my Lords, I wish to mention another measure connected with the future shape of the Army which has recently been announced—it has beer referred to by the noble Lord, Lord. Nathan, to-day. It is the setting up of a Committee to examine the future structure of the Army in the light of probable. commitments and, in particular, to examine the ways in which demands for military manpower for the maintenance of the Army can be reduced and also the extent to which use can be made of civilians and outside cy7ganisations. Your Lordships can rely upon this work being carried out quickly and thoroughly, and I have no doubt that none of the considerations which have been mentioned by experts and amateurs alike will be overlooked.
§ 4.25 p.m.
§ LORD WILSON
My lords, I wish to associate myself with the noble Viscount who opened this debate, and others who have spoken since, in welcoming the increase in pay that has been granted to the Army in the recent White Papers—a matter which has been so well expounded by the last speaker. This should produce an intake of recruits which, one hopes, will be for the longer period of nine years. It will also help, I hope, to stop the wastage of the senior warrant officers and non-commissioned officers which has been so disturbing a factor during the last few years, in that they have been leaving the Service. It is possible that the pay table may be of some help in regard to recruiting, in that when the young soldier goes there to receive his pay and sees those who have taken on for longer service getting more money, he may be encouraged to follow suit. I think your Lordships will agree that the senior warrant officers and non-commissioned officers form the backbone of a unit, and they must be backed up and maintained. The crux will come when those who are taking on for nine years have to consider whether they are going to prolong their service to twenty-one years.
Then comes the question whether the extra pay and bonus is going to prove sufficient. There is the old bogy of "too old at forty" for getting employment. There is also the wife's ideas to be considered —too many moves of station and unwillingness to go abroad again—which may cause a great deal of uncertainty in the mind of a promising non-commissioned officer. I should like to put before your Lordships an incentive suggestion which would be applicable to the Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force—namely, that the first twenty-one years of a Service career should be an integrated part of a career under Her Majesty's Government, leading up to sixty-five years of age, of which the twenty-one years' service would be the first portion and the second part would be in civilian employment up to the age limit. The re-settlement scheme which the White Paper under discussion mentions, offers advice and assistance. Excellent as this may be, is it sufficiently convincing to confirm a man's re-engagement if he is in doubt?
Another source of recruitment for the Army will, I feel, be the Army Cadet 1224 Force, if it is given encouragement. This should be a means of producing long-service recruits. Its job now is to turn out good citizens ready to serve their country. A high proportion do now join the Regular Army. This number could be increased. Statistics show that ex-cadets are more likely to join up than boys who are not cadets. In addition to recruits for the Regular Army, the Cadet Force is having an excellent entry into the newly raised apprentices battalions, the Boys' Regiment Royal Artillery, and boys' infantry battalions. They are also beginning to mix in sport as well as in military subjects, and a combined boxing tournament is now being organised for Sea, Army and Air cadets. In addition, National Servicemen get a good start in the Army Cadet Force. Many of them are graded as the best in their intake and obtain early promotion. In the last three weeks three Army Cadet Force boys have been graded as best recruits, one of them from my own regiment.
The provision of officers is the great problem. As with other youth organisations, the trouble to-day is the shortage of high-grade leaders. The Army Cadet Force looks to ex-Service men for its officers and educational warrant officers, and the shortage in this respect is a limitation upon the numbers that can be enlisted as cadets, for to have a large number of cadets insufficiently commanded and badly led would lead only to chaos and get the Cadet Force a bad name. Two schemes have been introduced by the War Office to encourage leaders. First, National Service men are allowed to do part of their compulsory training as cadet instructors, an arrangement which has been fairly successful. A good number have accepted, some for service with their former cadet units. The parallel scheme under which National Service officers could volunteer for service with cadet units and do their Reserve training with them has produced negligible results. This is disappointing, as young officers under twenty-five are needed for active jobs so as to leave administration to the older officers.
There are two reasons for this result: one concerns prestige and publicity, and the other, conditions of service. One cannot get away from fact that the Territorial Army is more attractive, militarily and socially; but officers who may 1225 have talents more suited to youth organisations are often in complete ignorance that there is a worthwhile job for them with cadets. Though this information is published in Army Council Instructions, many of your Lordships will know from experience that a young officer's reading of Army Council Instructions is often perfunctory. I can speak from my own experience after going around cadet camps at which Regular officers have been brought in for administrative work. Many of them have told me that previously they had no idea of what the Army Cadet Force meant and of how good it was. If the Army is to get a dividend from this arrangement, more publicity is needed for it.
I should like now to turn to the second reason: conditions of service. I believe noble Lords will agree with me that out-of-pocket expenses should be reduced to a minimum, that young officers should serve in the Army Cadet Force on level terms with those in the Territorial Army, and that older officers should continue to serve with cadets. The economic conditions in the home to-day are not what they used to be. Those with families have less time, and if the giving of their time is to be accompanied by the need for out-of-pocket expenditure, there is little incentive for them to continue serving. There are other anomalies which I should like to mention. One concerns serving officers in camp. Each county has an establishment of officers, and if all its majors go to camp for seven days they are paid for three days as a major and for four clays as a captain; yet the counties have to surrender a quota of pay for subalterns who have been unable to attend camp. I feel that is more than an anomaly; it might be described as an irritant, and irritants are not good for voluntary service. Pay rolls should be adjusted so that Territorial associations, who are responsible bodies, can rectify this situation. Another anomaly is that officers and educational warrant officers in cadet forces are debarred from drawing travelling expenses from their home to the cadet drill hall, although these allowances are paid to Territorial Army officers and, until recently, were paid to the Home Guard. Surely this should not be allowed to continue. It hits county units, where detachments of cadets are widely separated, particularly hard.
1226 Your Lordships will be glad to hear that within the cadet movement training is improving steadily and is being largely concentrated on the production of young leaders. The King George Foundation, supported by the War Office, has been enabled to have officers trained in the technique of running cadet units, and the results so far have been impressive. In addition, the Army Cadet Force will be participating in the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme which is designed to bring out in each boy qualities needed for rescue work, expeditions, and other pursuits, as well as physical excellence. One hopes that this will have a great effect on those boys who leave school at the age of fifteen. While speaking on conditions of service, I would mention that the term "welfare" has now been replaced by "citizenship training" with the idea of getting away from the "tea and buns" connotation, bringing in what is so important in the off-parade hours of the cadet arid training him to be a citizen.
I should like also to raise the question of the Mobile Defence Corps, which is now composed of rescue battalions, and to ask whether its definition of mobility carries the expectation that in emergency the unit will be rapidly moved to any part of Great Britain; or whether it is to be retained for service in its own locality. If the former is the case, I feel that a very high standard of discipline will be necessary, for at that time this country would be under a threat and strain such it has never before experienced, and account has to be taken of the possibility that men in those battalions may not be willing to be moved far away from their homes. I had experience of that in Greece, when Greeks in Eastern Macedonia were prepared to fight the Germans in their own province but refused to be moved for strategical reasons into the centre of Greece. And one must remember that in this country it is not unknown either. A book was published last year with the title The British Soldier, and in it I read that during the Civil War Crornwell's New-Model Army recruits raised in Yorkshire refused to go South, and those raised in Cornwall refused to enter England.
In conclusion I should like to say one word about the Home Guard, and that is in order to ask the question 1227 whether, in its present reserve state, it will be able to mobilise rapidly enough and do the jobs that may be required of it. It is particularly valuable, I feel, in the country districts, in the villages, to guard against sabotage, and especially to deal with fifth columnists, of whom there may be a very large number. Only men in the Home Guard will know who are strangers and who are not. The Home Guard may also help to prevent panic evacuation and at the same time to uphold morale, which is most important. To be effective they must be able to be at their posts at very short notice and must know what they have to do. I therefore suggest that a greater degree of readiness than that to which the Home Guard has been reduced at the moment is to be recommended.
§ 4.42 p.m.
§ LORD HORE-BELISHA
My Lords, it could have fallen to no one more competent than my noble friend Lord Bridgeman to raise this Motion. He has spent a lifetime in association with the Army and his speech showed that he has kept in the very closest and most constructive touch with it. No shot has been fired against him in earnest in this debate. On the contrary, my noble friend has commanded support from both sides—perhaps I should say from both flanks—of the House. Notably, it was a pleasure to hear the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, speaking with his old vigour and giving evidence of a complete recovery, physically and (though I have no doubt that this was never in issue) mentally as well. We have also heard Lord Moynihan, and perhaps I may be allowed to congratulate Lord Fairfax of Cameron on making his first major speech on behalf of the War Office. He handled with high promise the intricate matters which he examined. But perhaps the most formidable reinforcement which my noble friend Lord Bridgeman commanded was that of the noble and gallant Field-Marshal who has just resumed his seat. He spoke with great weight and punch, and gave evidence of the fact that he has not lost his interest in youth, nor even his own youthfulness.
The noble Viscount, Lord Brideeman, evoked a nostalgic memory when he referred to the Cardwell system. It was a 1228 most ingenious device, based, as he said, upon a long-term period of service. It split every regiment into two battalions, one serving generally in India and the other at home. As these two battalions had to conform to the same requirements of drill and to bear the same weapons, it stood to reason that one could not advance ahead of the other. When I was at the War Office I found that without the consent and financial support of the Government in India it was impossible to make very much progress with the modernisation or mechanisation of the British Army. Nevertheless, we owed it to Mr. Cardwell that for well over half a century we were able to maintain our garrison of roughly 60,000 men in India. Without his thoughtful contribution we should never have been able to do that. However, the War Office is now freed from this restraint.
The noble Viscount also referred to the emancipation of the division, which is no longer stereotyped as it was. It was Lord Haldane's great service that he put the units of the British Army into divisions, and this enabled us to give a very definite support to our Allies on the Continent, the division being the yardstick by which the extent of our contribution was measured. The War Office has now revised that structure—indeed, everything is in transition. The White Paper, in paragraph 112, shows that the Army is turning its mind to the new tactical organisation which should be adopted to meet the conditions of nuclear war. It used to be said that the War Office was always preparing for the last war. Well, if this White Paper is to be taken literally, in the light of nuclear developments it is making a bold effort to visualise the next.
Everything, of course, as I say, is in transition. The military art is changing. General Gale, who makes deliverances which are so stimulating to military thought, has reminded us (we had. I think, already realised it, but it was good that he should remind us of it) that we shall never again hold a continuous line from the Channel to the Alps. The division will have enlarged responsibilities. The gaps will be filled in with minefields and automatic weapons, firing in direct lines of fire; and patrols, both day and night, will be relied upon. The general effect of this is that whereas, in the First Great War, as he told us, a division held 5.000 yards, and 1229 in the last war ten miles, in the next war it will be expected to hold twenty-five miles. I note that the Secretary of State, speaking in another place, said fifteen miles, but General Gale, who is actually in the business, says twenty-five. Hardly had those words left the General's lips when it was stated in America that one armoured regiment, equipped with low-yield atomic weapons and light air support, could hold a front which would otherwise require ten divisions. Also the supply arrangements have to be completely overhauled. Everybody stresses the need for helicopters. There is not very much about them in this White Paper. General Gale says that supplies will have to be looked after by helicopters and small fixed-wing planes. All this shows that we are in a period of transition. The Army is not thinking of the last war; it is thinking of the next war.
But, meantime, what about the war that we are actually waging? I refer, of course, to the subversionary war, of which there are manifestations in three continents. This war is engrossing a very high proportion of our military resources and, it might be added, of our financal resources as well. When I was in Malaya last year, I was told that at one time we had 70,000 troops—not only United Kingdom troops, of course, but local troops and police forces as well—engaged against some 3,000 bandits. It has been stated that in Cyprus there are only about 50 well-trained gunmen, supported by a rabble; and against these we have 20,000 soldiers and 3,000 police, with a Field-Marshal in command. I saw on Sunday that no fewer than 1,500 British troops, supported by naval units and the Air Force, had been combing for terrorists a coastal strip twelve miles long and four miles deep. This is how the British Army, with the addition of other Services, is being used to-day.
The effect of this kind of warfare on the utility of Cyprus as a base is revealed in this White Paper. It is pointed out that whereas, in December, 1954, the garrison amounted to four major units, who had to devote only a small part of their activities to internal security work, the garrison now amounts, not to four, but to fourteen major units, twelve of which are devoting 90 per cent. of their time to the task of maintaining law and order in the island. So that out of every 1230 seven men in Cyprus, six are doing police work to make the work of the other one possible. This is a very serious mater. We speak of the enemy against whom we are engaged indifferently as "Communist bandits," "gangsters" or "terrorists." But the fact is that they are pinning down a great part of our forces, and the use of these terms creates the impression that the duties upon which our forces are engaged in Cyprus and Malaya are subsidiary to some main military task; that these are diversionary activities, police operations, and that one day the situation will he cleared up and the Army will be able to go back to the task for which it is trained. But here is a major challenge, a major task.
This kind of warfare is not waning; it is extending. It is being waged by our enemies upon a well-established technique. It is just as well-established a technique as the technique followed in other wars by conventional armies. The technique can be well understood. It is based on intimidation, on fining the citizens, on getting information from the citizens by forceful means. As the Regular forces cannot be everywhere, a few rebels can give the impression of extensive power, and after weighing up the situation villagers often opt for the rebels, under the delusion that they offer the more reliable protection. This is the technique. Its purpose is to disrupt the life of the territory, to make retail trade impossible, to embarrass mining and industrial activities, and generally to give an impression of the ineptitude of the controlling authorities.
Is the counter-technique which we are adopting satisfactory? Is it yielding the results? Are the methods of repression doing the work which they are intended to do? Do the establishment of a curfew, the closing down of shops and businesses for long periods, even in capital cities like Nicosia, the imposing of collective fines and collective punishments—"penance," as it is called—which distinguish not at all between enemies and friends, which fall upon the just and the unjust equally, produce the hoped for effects? I would ask my noble friend Lord Carrington, to whose reply in this debate we look forward: What is the view of the War Office on these matters? We have here in the War Secretary's Memorandum a description—not a very clear one, alas!—of the new organisation of the division for 1231 atomic war. Obviously, much thought has been given to the matter—and I referred to it at the outset of my speech. But what thought is being given to these matters?
I realise that the War Office may have legitimate grounds for complaint that it is put in this situation. If the Colonial Office had had better information services, and if there were better police forces, then the task of the soldiers would be much diminished. But we have to deal with the facts as they are, and I think it must be accepted that the Army is the arm upon which we rely. In these circumstances, is it enough to have, as we are told we are going to have, one independent infantry brigade earmarked for such tasks?—and the Memorandum says that the Air Ministry have agreed to provide a flight of light aircraft to support this brigade. Is that enough? Are these people in this brigade to be soldiers, who have been trained in the manner described in the other section of the Memorandum—namely, for up-to-date modern warfare—to be taken away from that task, after all the money and time that have been spent on teaching them? Or is it proposed to have a specially trained section under the War Office—a gendarmerie, if you please? Clearly, those who are to be despatched to do this kind of work should be taught not only commando business, but psychological warfare, too; they must understand the psychology of the people among whom they are to be sent. For the object of these soldiers in these places is not to destroy an enemy: it is to make friends; it is to restore confidence; it is to attract support. The technique is entirely different from that in which the ordinary soldier is schooled I hope that, in view of the widespread character of this seditionary war, the Government will devote special study to the matter and form a nucleus of units capable of dealing with it. Obviously, a proportion of the men engaged must know, so far as possible, languages; they must understand the outlook of the revolutionary movement; and they must be in a position to restore confidence. However, I say none of these things by way of criticism, but by way of trust that the War Office has this matter in hand.
Do not let us think that this seditionary war is on the wane. Look at North Africa! Of the fourteen French divisions 1232 allocated to N.A.T.O. for the defence of Western Europe ten are in North Africa. Last week, or the week before, the French Council of Ministers decided to call up 200,000 reservists, men who have served in the early 1950's, in order to despatch them to North Africa. When these troops have arrived there will be 600,000 French troops in North Africa, a greater number than have been mobilised since 1940. Of these 400,000 are in Algeria alone, against 3,000 or 4,000 rebels using the technique to which I have referred. And the situation worsens every day, as we see from the incidents and outrages.
The effect upon our capacity to defend ourselves in the Western World is enormous. Why should our major enemy start a nuclear war when he can pin down as many soldiers as that in the Western World, and involve us in that financial, as well as human, obligation? In Algeria, despite this vast number of troops, only a few of them, as in Cyprus, can be engaged against the rebels: most of them are concerned with looking after the others. A commander of 20,000 troops who can put 100 into action is a lucky man. It is possible to knock down a village with a couple of shells, but to give a village protection requires twenty, thirty or forty men. This is a serious problem. Libya is not far from Algeria. We have troops in Libya. We do not want this war to spread into Libya, or to spread round the Persian Gulf. We must have been forewarned against these dangers, and my submission to your Lordships is that this is just as important a task for the military as preparation for a nuclear war which may never occur. For, if the seditionary war spreads, the whole map of the world may be altered.
§ 5.7 p.m.
§ LORD JEFFREYS
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Hore-Belisha, has given us some of the best of reasons why an Army is still necessary, even in these days of hydrogen bombs and nuclear weapons. For, though the possible use of the hydrogen bomb may be, and we believe is, a certain deterrent to general war—because no country is likely to use it if another Power has got it and is quite certain to retaliate—none the less, ground forces, men, and not merely machines, are still absolutely necessary for the defence of our bases and communications, for the preservation of law 1233 and order in our dependencies, and for what might be called armed police work, such as is going on now in Malaya, in Kenya and in Cyprus. They are required, too, for actual warlike operations in which we may be involved, such as the recent war in Korea. Finally, in the last resort, if the hydrogen bomb should be used—and we do not believe it is likely to be—they are required to defeat any attack on our shores, on our troops or on our interests, which may be brought by an enemy. In fact though the air can destroy, terrify and intimidate, only the troops on the ground can deal with populations, can occupy, can administer, and, last but not least, can pacify.
With reference to the provision, mentioned in the White Paper, made for the costs in Germany of the British Army on the Rhine, I hope that Her Majesty's Government will be firm and insist on reasonable expenses for these troops. Everybody nowadays "tries it on" with what I still venture to call the British Empire, and frequently, unfortunately, the British Empire, under pressure, makes what it considers conciliatory gestures. I hope it will not do so in this case. In Malaya there appears to be a slow improvement in the situation, but I wonder whether the amnesty offered was not a mistake. Any such offer on our part will almost certainly be interpreted as weakness, and weakness is fatal, especially in the East. In Kenya, the Mau-Mau are being steadily hurled down and eliminated, and the end, if not in the immediate future, at least appears to be not far away.
In Cyprus, however, murders and cut-rages continue, and I wonder whether the troops should not be allowed to use their lethal weapons more freely. We have read of the employment of troops with staves and even with shields against stone-throwing. Surely, the murderous outrages have gone beyond that stage, and the troops should be allowed to use their lethal weapons for their proper purpose. I would make one other suggestion. I believe that corporal punishment could be used against the boys and youths who have been committing a great many serious outrages by stone-throwing and other methods. They should be well beaten if they are caught, and I believe it would have an immediate effect upon them.
1234 Lastly, I wonder whether the time has come in Cyprus for the declaration of martial law—I mean martial law which would involve the immediate trial by courts-martial of those who are caught committing murders or outrages. At present, everything has to go through the normal law courts. There may be delays and there may be appeals against the just, sensible and reasonable sentences. Surely the situation has got beyond that. Is it not a time when martial law might well he declared in Cyprus? In Egypt and the Middle East there appears to be some trouble brewing, and if it should develop we shall need troops. I hope that in that case we shall take firm action. I believe that the car-marking of an independent infantry brigade for immediate service wherever it may be required is a really sound plan.
In paragraphs 53 and 54 of the White Paper it is stated that, should war come, the Home Guard will play a vital part in the defence of the country. I can well understand that it is intended to do that, but if it is to do so it must to some extent be kept in being. It was a fatal mistake at the end of the last war to wipe out the Home Guard. It made it far more difficult to re-raise, and I suggest that, in addition to cadres of the Home Guard, there should be encouraged, and even sponsored by the Government, clubs and associations which would keep the members of the Home Guard together and which would enable them to be rapidly re-raised in case of trouble.
Paragraph 45 of the White Paper states that the organisation of armoured and infantry divisions is to undergo certain radical changes. I believe I am right in saying that we have not been given on paper any strong idea of what that is to be. Simplification of the organisation is certainly necessary. We are told the White Paper that infantry must undoubtedly be capable of being split into strong, self-contained groups; that armour must be integrated in the infantry brigade; and that the present armoured divisions are too cumbersome and must be given enough infantry for sustained fighting. We are glad to hear that. When I said earlier that we had not been told about the organisation, I meant that we had not been given the actual composition of these new divisions and new brigades. 1235 Perhaps it is something on the lines of what is known as the brigade group. I gathered from the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, that that is to be the case: that the brigade group, as we know it now, but which is not at present an official formation in the Army, is to be the basis of the new divisions; that the division will be capable of being split into a number of groups, and at the same time will be capable of coming back again and working once more as a division. Perhaps it is not out of place to ask whether in these modern days—because I believe it is at any rate contemplated—such a cumbrous formation as an Army corps is any longer required or likely to be required in future.
The "teeth-to-tail" ratio must be revised. We are told in the White Paper that in 1884 the "tail" was 3 per cent. Now it is 40 per cent.—far too great. I think your Lordships would agree, in these days. Staffs, semi-combatants and non-combatants, must be reduced. I would say that staffs from the War Office downwards are too large. I admit that I am out of date, but I have held various commands in the past and I know that all those commands which are still existing have infinitely greater staffs than they had in my time. I do not believe that greatly increased staffs and more than doubling the strength of the War Office is necessary in these days. When I say "staffs," I am not referring to technical staffs. I am well aware that in these days of mechanisation extra technical staff officers are undoubtedly necessary, and that we must contemplate a considerable number of them; I mean other staff officers—that is to say, general and administrative officers of whom there are many more than there were in former days. I think it should not be forgotten that for every staff officer there are orderlies and clerks, and that every extra staff officer means that a large number of extra letters will be written which, in turn, have to be answered, which all means more personnel.
With regard to National Service, I think we all hope that the new rates of pay may produce an adequate number of long-service and more skilled troops. I agree most strongly with the noble Viscount who introduced this Motion, that there is a need—and it is not clear 1236 how it is going to be supplied—for considerable Reserves which do not seem to be easy to produce without some form of National Service. Undoubtedly, transport and its personnel must be reduced: it is now far too cumbrous and far too vulnerable when it is in large quantities. There is no question but that in the future a great deal of supply and movement of troops off the battlefield will have to be by air, possibly largely by helicopter, and a much greater dispersal of troops is absolutely necessary, as was mentioned, I think, by various speakers and certainly by the noble Lord, Lord Hore-Belisha.
Then the crowd of transport columns which we used to know must be things of the past, for they are very vulnerable. I wonder whether some of the services and departments which function for all three Services, or at least two, could not be combined. I am thinking particularly of the ordnance services, the supply services and, with great respect to the noble Lord, Lord Haden-Guest (whom I do not see in his place), in spite of his correction of me the other day, the medical services. Medical officers themselves, I am well aware—and nobody is more aware than I am—are against this. They say that they want to stay in their present Services and they do not like being combined. I still think that, in the interests of the defence and of the Services of this country generally, they ought to be combined. I know from personal experience that in certain places hospitals have been combined, and successfully combined, between the Army and the Navy. Whether they are still combined I am not in a position to say, but the scheme was perfectly successful, although unpopular, I think I am right in saying, with the medical officers of both Services.
Then we should undoubtedly contemplate smaller and handier divisions. That is the only point on which I differ from my noble friend Lord Bridgeman. He said that the present organisation of divisions had gone on since the Crimean War. I, and some others who are perhaps not very young, can well remember that the present organisation of divisions, three brigades and so forth, dates only from the South African War. In and before the South African War, divisions in the British Army consisted of two infantry brigades, with the necessary artillery. There is nothing sacred 1237 about the present organisation of divisions and, to my mind, there is no reason why they should not be altered again: I do not say necessarily to two brigades, but I do say that there is nothing sacred about their organisation; there is certainly nothing that goes back to the Crimea. They should be liable to be organised in smaller and handier formations.
If this country is to defend South-East Asia or the Middle East—and presumably it is our policy so to do—it will be necessary to keep strategic reserves in those areas, because it would be impossible, under modern conditions, to move the necessary troops out there really quickly. Whilst we miss the great, efficient and loyal Indian Army which we had in the past, and which made a great deal of difference to our powers and policy, and whilst many of us deplore the mistaken policy which threw it away, yet we must consider what can be put in its place. In the last war we had some brave and efficient African troops. Surely the numbers of these could be increased; surely they could be organised as a part of our strategic reserves. Then there is the possibility of a Foreign Legion. There is nothing really new in this idea. For years we had the King's German Legion and now we have, or I should think we have, the opportunity of forming a Foreign Legion from the Poles and other foreigners now in this country and elsewhere, many of whom fought on our side in the last war. I put that forward only as a suggestion, but it is a possibility, for raising some part, at any rate, of the necessary strategic reserves which we must keep abroad.
I welcome, as I am sure everyone does. the new rates of pay, and I hope that due consideration will be given to the suggestion of the noble and gallant Field-Marshal, Lord Wilson, that the first twenty-one years should count as the first stretch of service in various capacities up to the age of sixty-five, for pension. The more people we can get to serve the Government in various capacities for pension, the better it will be. I only hope that the new rates of pay will prove adequate and will produce enough recruits. The great fear is lest the value of our currency should continue to depreciate and thus make the new rates inadequate. But let us hope for the best. As regards retired pay and pensions, the prospects 1238 for those retiring now are also good. The only fear is that there will be undue "pinching"—I could use no other word— over the pensions of the older men who retired years ago and who need the money by far the most. But let us hope that even the Treasury may be persuaded to be reasonable in this.
I do not propose to say much on the Territorial Army, except that I think it is still very important indeed. I hope that nothing will be done to discourage the Territorial Army. If the Territorial Army is told, in the rather bare form which appears in the White Paper, that it will practically have to be used for Civil Defence—it almost reads like that—it cannot fail to be discouraging. The Territorials ought to be preserved as soldiers. Whilst undoubtedly Civil Defence is something in which not only Territorials but Regular soldiers, too, will have to play their part, I would not emphasise the fact that the Territorials now are practically relegated to Civil Defence.
Then there is the question of barracks. The noble Lord, Lord Nathan, mentioned the case of Woolwich Barracks; and nobody knows better than I do that those barracks are very bad indeed. But there are barracks closer to here than Woolwich which are also very bad, and none worse than Wellington Barracks, which have been condemned for years past. Unless I am very much mistaken, they were condemned just after the First World War. They are as bad as they can be. I hope that the fact that the costs of rebuilding have gone up enormously will not delay the rebuilding at an early date of those and other bad barracks. I do not propose to detain the House any longer. I hope that the points I have ventured to raise will be considered and that some action will be taken. I would venture particularly to emphasise the really great necessity, if we are to get the recruits which we require, of seeing that the barracks and living accommodation of the troops receive not merely consideration but early consideration followed by action without delay.
§ 5.30 p.m.
My Lords, I wish to draw your Lordships' attention to yet another kind of warfare which I shall call political warfare, though I think it must be the method of warfare about which the noble Lord, Lord Hore-Belisha, has 1239 told us. I can find no reference to this sort of warfare in the White Paper, nor, except so far as the noble Lord, Lord Hore-Belisha, has mentioned it, in your Lordships' debate to-day. Nevertheless, those who drew up the White Paper must surely take into consideration the fact that our Army, which ten years ago was the finest Army in the world, has had to remove itself from all but a few strategic centres of the British Empire. And it may be that in the near future, even before our Army has time to become either a model or streamlined, as we have heard mentioned in the White Paper, we shall have to move it, and with it the Navy and the Air Force, from two further strategic bases—namely, Ceylon and Bahrein—all this without a shot fired in defence. That seems to give weight to the suggestion that political warfare should be considered by Her Majesty's War Office when they are framing White Papers to put before your Lordships and the country in general.
Some of the finest regiments in the world are stationed in Bahrein, Malaya and British Guiana, but they cannot lift one finger in self-defence in the political warfare which surrounds them on all sides. Political warfare has been used throughout history. Primitive man and his tribes used the witch doctor—in fact he is still being used to-day, with great effect, but he is a little more advanced. The trumpets were sounded outside Jericho and the city fell. Then, a little later, came the Wooden Horse of Troy. Then, when countries and cities became a little more brave, and newer methods and more subtle ideas had to be employed, there came rumour and scandal, and the printed sheet distributed clandestinely from hand to hand. Finally, in modern times, we have radio. Radio in all its forms and methods is used in the transmission of political war.
For the last ten years, Africa, Malaya, the Middle East, the West Indies and Cyprus, have been subjected to a radio barrage—that is a technical term used in the radio and transmission industry for a lot of radio talking; it means no more, no less. Yet in all these countries anti-British feeling, and anti-British Empire feeling, has been engendered, and the British Army has had to withdraw more or less from those areas. I believe that 1240 it is true to say that, whether or not he can read or write, nearly every Arab is now in possession of some sort of radio set. That is certainly true of the natives of the West Indies and the Bahamas. The native of the Bahamas may not be able to read or write, but he has his radio. It may be that that radio is not very reliable, and that it is not a high-powered machine, with the result that probably he will be able to receive only the local transmissions in his area. On the other hand, the one advantage in listening to the radio is that one need only listen to the programme that it is desired to receive or, possibly, to a certain extent, the programme that one is able to receive. The British Broadcasting Corporation may send out an excellent and accurate news programme, or other type of propaganda programme, to these places, but it is of no use if those at the receiving end have either turned off or cannot hear the programme because of atmospheric conditions or other technical reasons. I believe that this country is acknowledged throughout the world as having the finest technical radio network of any country. Are we using it to the best advantage in defence and offence against our enemies?
I think it was this country which invented the science of radio or political warfare back in the First World War, and we applied science which was second to none in the last war. But what has happened in the last ten years? I understand that we are broadcasting something like twenty-eight hours a week in Arabic. That may or may not be enough broadcasting in Arabic. Who is there to say? But are we broadcasting the sort of programme which an Arab, or the inhabitants of a Middle Eastern State, would wish to hear? I have a shrewd idea that most Middle East countries have an interest in gambling, or in things that offer them something for nothing. I fancy that something in the form of a quiz programme would be most likely to attract an audience in the Middle East, especially as I see in the Press that it is now possible to buy golden sovereigns and to distribute them, presumably without any fear of legal proceedings, since they have been pronounced legal currency. But I imagine that that would conflict with any policy that the B.B.C. could lay down.
1241 I believe that a supreme direction is needed—something on the lines that the noble Lord, Lord Hore-Belisha, suggested—for the direction of this political warfare. I feel that even more strongly, in view of the Question which was asked by my noble friend Lord Barnby at the beginning of your Lordships' Sitting. The reply to his Question came from the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, speaking on behalf of the Foreign Office. I understand that the reply to my question, should there be one, will come from the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, speaking on behalf of the War Office. In fact, dealing with this type of warfare, there are the Foreign Office, the Commonwealth Relations Office, the Colonial Office, the War Office (of course with three Departments attached) and the Board of Trade. Everything, of course, must go through the British Broadcasting Corporation, who must endeavour to please all those Departments. I cannot believe that such an organisation, or such a direction—if any—could further the aims of any concentrated political warfare in the countries which I have mentioned.
Apparently, there is no responsibility to any Government Department for the reception of programmes in those countries. In regard to the jamming, which has received such great publicity of late, because we jam Radio Athens, Radio Athens will take greater steps to jam oar programmes. That, of course, will mean that our information is unable to go out over the few existing channels in Cyprus, and to places where we wish it to go. That may or may not be a calculated risk, but I cannot help feeling that some stronger directive or directorship is necessary with regard to this matter of radio warfare and the technicalities involved. Can any military or civil Governor put himself on the air on any radio station, and transmit either an official order or information which he feels should be given to these people? If he does so, I wonder what is his legal status when he does it, and when, should it be necessary, troops must carry out the order which he has given over the air.
Of course, there are Army radio stations at various points throughout the world, but in the main they are low-powered stations, all of which can be jammed on medium wavelengths by 1242 foreign stations which happen to be near them. Radio Athens can jam most of the Eastern end of the Mediterranean, and Radio Egypt would be able to jam most of the Middle Eastern countries on the other side of the Red Sea. That situation does not help in any order which might be given by a commander over a relatively low-powered radio station operated by Her Majesty's Forces. Other than using higher power, the only way of combating jamming is to have more frequencies. I understand that, in its efforts to economise, the British Broadcasting Corporation has had to give up certain frequencies in the course of the last three years. I would ask the noble Lord who is to reply how many frequencies have been given up and what economy has resulted to the Corporation. Economics must be made, of course, but how does the figure compare with the cost of maintaining in the Middle East and Cyprus the number of troops we have there to-day? The stopping of the Cypriot transmissions was widely notified in the Press back in 1951.
Certain frequencies that have been given up have been pirated by other countries. The United States, Russia and Middle Eastern countries have pirated B.B.C. frequencies, but surely two can play at that game. When driving in the early hours of the morning in a car fitted with a fairly recent radio set of the push-button type, one often finds foreign stations coming in on wavelengths where one would receive the Home or some other B.B.C. programme, shortly after the B.B.C. transmissions have closed down. Possibly it is due to differences of time or daylight, but one cannot help feeling that the British Broadcasting Corporation could do the same to these pirate stations where they are operating in Middle Eastern countries. I wonder whether the noble Lord who is to reply can say whether some Department could look: into this pirating of B.B.C. frequencies by other countries, and also whether he can say anything on what we are doing in return. And can he also deal with the jamming of B.B.C. medium-wave frequencies?
I bring up this subject from a completely outside point of view, for I have no personal experience of those parts of the world and would rather leave the subject to my noble friend Lord Birdwood, who is an acknowledged expert upon the 1243 subject. But in the Press only the day before yesterday, Sir Charles Belgrave, Adviser to the Ruler of Bahrein, whether rightly or wrongly was reported as saying that British propaganda to the Arab countries, particularly the radio part of it, is inadequate, to say the least. I do not believe that it is good enough to say simply that because the B.B.C. broadcast twenty-eight hours of Arabic a week, that is sufficient propaganda. We have directors or directorates in practically every phase of our controlled life, and I believe that some form of department, with a director, might be set up, possibly on the lines mentioned a little earlier by the noble Lord, Lord Hore-Belisha, to look into ways not only of waging but also of combating the political warfare that is going on to-day.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ LORD BIRDWOOD
My Lords, the noble Earl has raised matters of profound significance and importance and I am tempted to follow him into this field of the battle of words, but I feel I should confine myself strictly to the White Paper. The matters he has raised are so important that at some time we should stage a debate confined to this one aspect of warfare. We should be rather careful to distinguish between responsibilities in the political and military fields in regard to the battle on the air, for, after all, it is an old axiom that the soldier is the servant of policy, and I feel that we shall get into deep waters if we start to place under any military authority a great broadcasting machine capable of waging the war of words. The two aspects must be kept separate. Of course, where you have soldiers in political conditions, where the enemy are being subverted, then military action and policy must go hand in hand, kept in separate compartments but keeping in step.
The noble Lord, Lord Hore-Belisha, has referred to the curious circumstance that while in the last ten years the Defence Forces have been preparing for global war, supported by all the paraphernalia of modern science, we have, in fact, all this time been fighting small wars all over the world. I hope only to reinforce his argument, perhaps employing a slightly different approach. At the same time, as a cavalry soldier I should like to put in a word in support of the infantry. In these small wars the infantry, as such, 1244 have played their old, traditional rôle, that which we have associated with them in past ages. They have been the chief actors, and the doubt in the minds of many of us to-day is whether the infantry is being overstretched and overstrained in the rôle to which the noble Lord referred, acting as policemen or in support of policemen.
I believe it is a fact that the average period that a battalion is able to enjoy in any one place now works out at about one year. I am told of one extreme case of an infantry battalion which has had twenty-one moves within the last ten years. Your Lordships will appreciate what that means in terms of the effect on the fighting efficiency of a unit, what it means to married families trying to lead lives of some comfort in reasonable conditions, and what it means in terms of the extra strain on the supply and maintenance services, all of which is reflected in the bill which has to be paid. We must ask ourselves this question: in our preoccupation with the global situation, have we created a tail that is wagging the dog? We are maintaining great technical and supply services for the scientific war, and to do so, it seems to me, we have run down to a danger point the infantry who have had to bear the burden in this postwar cold war era—an era which looks like being with us for many years.
In the face of such a situation I was glad to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Fairfax of Cameron, that the Committee which is to be set up is going to take into consideration the possibility of the assumption on a civilian contract basis of certain functions of the technical and maintenance services. Can we, for example, make greater use of such organisations as Rootes or any of the big motor manufacturers? For a cavalry soldier, it is strange indeed to find myself supporting the infantryman and his rifle. I find something rather pathetic in reliance once again on the man who has seen us through so many small wars in so many parts of the world, all through the ages. But it seems to me that that is how it is working out these days.
Apart from the remedies which I have suggested, if there is any truth in this kind of assessment, if we are overstraining the infantry, I make no apology for asking Her Majesty's Government once I again whether we have gone far enough 1245 in the encouragement and expansion of the use of local Colonial forces. The more local Colonial forces there are on the ground, and the better trained they are on the ground, the greater will be the relief of the burden on the British Army. I think we are also justified in reminding ourselves of circumstances in which armies in countries which might be regarded as underdeveloped have proved themselves great nation-building agencies. To say that is not in any way to support the cult of arms and armies as such. I think we are justified in reminding ourselves that the Indian Army, when we handed it over in 1947, could be regarded as having fulfilled functions which went far beyond that of just a mere insurance policy. If this has been done once, could it not be done again?
Nor do we need necessarily to regard local Colonial forces as tied down to the areas in which they are raised. Flexibility, which played such a great part in the build-up of the status of the Indian Army, would be, perhaps, one of the greatest assets of such a force. Two battalions of the King's African Rifles have been serving in Malaya, and I believe there is one there still. I am aware of the danger of suggesting and posing over-optimistic uses of Colonial forces if the conditions in which they are used are not married closely to political agreements. One would like to think, for example, that African troops might be employed on the Aden Coast and the Hadramauth Coast in an emergency. But one reminds oneself that every Bedouin Arab regards himself as a Sultan in his own right, and the pride of the Aden Protectorate might be a great obstacle to the use of African troops. All I wish to imply is that local commanders should study and plan for the use of Colonial forces outside their own territory, though perhaps in the near neighbourhood. In so doing surely they would encourage a sense of local cooperation as between one territory and another and also understanding of one another's problems.
The total Colonial forces which might be regarded as of the required strength amount, I understand, to about twenty-six battalions. It is difficult to sort cut on the financial side what burden falls on Her Majesty's Government and how much falls on the local Government, but a fair approximation is that Her Majesty's 1246 Government are charged to the extent of between £10 million and £15 million for the upkeep of these forces. If we relate, say, £15 million to the gross expenditure of £580 million quoted in the White Paper, it will be seen to be in the nature of 2 per cent. or 3 per cent. My own belief—and it is purely a personal belief—is that £1 million spent wisely oh Colonial forces might in time save £2 million spent on the British Army.
I have referred to Aden, and, if I may hazard a guess, perhaps there is the next practical situation which the British Army, the British infantry, may be called upon to face. Suppose, for a moment, that one is justified in that kind of assumption, one asks whether we are in any way prepared, and, if not, what steps should be taken. That steps have to be taken I would indicate to your Lordships by recalling a story that I heard the other day. An old and trusted chief in the East of the Western Aden Protectorate, the Sharif of Beihare, who has been our friend for many years, told an Englishman a short time ago that while he had been our friend all these years he did not know whether he could continue to be so. He said that all around him Saudi-Arabian riles were pouring in, that they were procurable for a few Marie Thérese dollars, and that unless the strong arm of Britain somehow or other became evident to him quite soon, he would have to give up the struggle. In Aden we have at the moment, I think, one British battalion, a small force of Government guards, a political force directly under the Governor, and the Aden Levies, some 1,200 of them, who until recently were officered by officers of the Royal Air Force Regiment.
It is sometimes difficult to avoid trespassing on the field of foreign affairs when one is discussing these matters, but I shall hope legitimately to indicate measures that might be taken within the field of defence. I am suggesting that we have to build up a force, not necessarily of great strength, but at least equal in status and comparable with the Arab Legion, which until recently might have been regarded as the greatest indigenous force in the Middle East.
Hitherto, as I have said, the Aden Levies were officered by officers of the Royal Air Force Regiment. I cannot refrain from saying that in passing the 1247 control to the Army, I feel that in this particular case a step in the right direction has been taken. But mere readjustment of control as between the Army and the Royal Air Force is not going to be enough. I find myself comparing the situation with that which pertained on the frontier of India where we raised a Frontier Corps to which officers were seconded for a period of not less than five years. It takes an officer one year to learn the language. After that he is settling down, assimilating local conditions and observing the lives of an independent people. Nothing less than five years, as I see it, is sufficient, and if we are to find the right type of officer for this work and to double the force, we should be searching for these officers now and offering them attractive terms. It is only common sense to remind ourselves that officers are coming out of the Arab Legion in Jordan.
Everything I have said about the Aden Protectorate and the Hadramauth applies in a greater or lesser degree to the Persian Gulf and the Trucial coast. We can expect to see pressure exerted all round the periphery of the Saudi-Arabian continent. If we are to save the British Army from being overstrained, we require a large cadre of British officers, engaged on attractive terms to train and expand these indigenous forces to defend territory which is in obvious danger, in view of the results of the Jeddah Conference which has just concluded.
It is no reflection on the British infantry when I say that in view of the conditions of National Service, it is not easy for units to adapt themselves to conditions of climate and social environment to which they are not accustomed, and it is but a wise economy of force to relieve them of the burden and to contribute something to the difficult task of maintaining four divisions in connection with our commitments under the North Atlantic Treaty. We can remind ourselves, too, that a British unit is not economic in conditions where communications are so liable to be cut. In those conditions, we need a unit that is prepared and able to live on the country. The alternative is for the British unit to be supported and supplied from the air, as it often is, as in the case of Arabia, and these are not economic conditions.
1248 Finally, at the risk of impinging on the political field for one moment, I would say that if, in the part of the world about which I have been talking, defence policy and political intention can go hand in hand, we shall have gone a long way to reassuring some thirty friendly little kingdoms all round this coast that we are not going to stand by and see them swallowed up by this great oil imperialism which seeks to hide behind the smokescreen of bribery and radio misrepresentation.
§ 6.2 p.m.
My Lords, I do not wish to follow the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, in his remarks, but I am sure that many old infantrymen will feel that he has been kind to us; and for that we are duly grateful. I should like to discuss a little further the new reorganised division. The noble Lord, Lord Fairfax of Cameron, told us earlier that the major composition of the new division would be three infantry brigades, three armoured regiments, three field regiments, a medium regiment and a sapper regiment. As the noble Lord said, the great thing about the new division is that it is easily broken down into hard-hitting and mobile forces. It can be broken down easily into a brigade group formed of an infantry brigade, an armoured regiment and a field regiment. That is a very hard-hitting force, and it is hoped that it will be able to operate on its own, completely free from the administrative point of view. If necessary, it must be able to operate on its own for some time and not have to rely too much on its parent unit, the division. I trust that this will not make the brigade group staff any bigger. I see no reason for that.
I think that we have to take the breakup a step further, and I believe that it will be taken a step further, so that we can get a fighting unit of one battalion, a squadron of armour and a battery of field guns. The sapper regiment might be divided up and apportioned according to the need for sapper assistance. So that, if need be, this new division can divide itself into nine small but hard-hitting units. Again, if necessary, the armour within this division can fight on its own as an armoured division of three regiments.
1249 I understand that a new staff officer, the tank commander, is being brought into the divisional headquarters. He will supervise training and see that the technical side of the armoured unit is up to date and well maintained. Should the armour be fought on its own, I imagine that he would be the man to command it. It is an advantage, in the easy spiriting up of the new division, that it need not be together, harbouring an enormous number of vehicles in one area, for in future wars that would be only too "easy meat" for an enemy armed with nuclear weapons. Dispersal must be one of the basic points of our training, whether it be individual training or collective training. A point to which I trust the War Office will give attention, if they have not already done so, is the standardisation of vehicles. Many of your Lordships will remember that in the last war the amount of spare parts that had to be carried by one binned lorry belonging to the Ordnance Corps was fantastic—I think the number ran into millions—because they had so many different vehicles to service. Surely we can see to it that the number of vehicles is cut down.
The ordinary basic training for infantry soldiers and for all other arms will not at first be very different from what it has been. There are certain basic things which a private soldier must learn, whatever the type of warfare in which he is eventually going to take part. First of all, he has to learn to be a soldier: he has to learn proper discipline, and to maintain and use his arms properly. As mentioned in the White Paper, and as we have heard before, the infantry have new types of rifle and automatic weapons, and the care and use of these are the normal duties which every soldier has to learn properly. The new type of division will not affect the basic training of the ordinary soldier, hut later his specialist training will be rattier more difficult. Here there is one point I should like to bring out. Other noble Lords may have more experience than I have, but I know that the co-operation of infantry working with tanks is not easy at any time, and now that armour is to be an integral part of a brigade group that part of Army training will have to be of a very high standard.
1250 It is sometimes forgotten, or sometimes not thought about, that even in days of nuclear weapons the infantry will still have to be trained—and trained even to a higher standard than previously—in holding ground after it has been taken. Some people do not think that that will ever happen. But it may easily happen; and it is something that must be done. I believe that it has already been mentioned to-day. The division, or the brigade group, will be holding a wide front, which, as Lord Hore-Belislia pointed out, is much more difficult than holding a narrow front. A great deal of the training will not alter, but the specialist training will, and all forms of training will have to be of a high standard. I think the emphasis on field training will be for men to get below ground level and disperse as widely as possible in order to get out of the way of nuclear weapons.
As to the training of N.C.O.s and officers, N.C.O.s are becoming more and more important, as is every junior leader. With this bigger dispersal from smaller fighting formations, and smaller units going off on their own, the junior leader and the N.C.O. will be of paramount importance, so that good training of these young officers and N.C.O.s is essential. As many noble Lords will know, at Sandhurst the Regular officer cadets receive an academic military education; and surely the chief thing that is taught there is for the cadets to become officers, capable of commanding other men. There are many other military subjects which the cadets have to learn, but that is the most important. The specialist training which the cadets receive afterwards is undertaken at young officers' courses and in the units, but they have first to learn to be officers and how to command men. There are nowadays many extremely good courses for N.C.O.s, and I understand that they are all being carefully watched and brought up to date so that they will produce the right type of men. Of course, if we manage to get longer-seryice men—and we hope that we shall—who can be made into N.C.O.s, that will be all to the good. I would say that the training of the N.C.O. in his unit is just as important as that which he gets at any course outside.
There is only one other point I want to mention, and that is the question of 1251 supply in the field, not only for these new formations but for all formations. Whatever the formation, it must have food for the troops to eat; it must have ammunition; it many cases it requires drinking water, and also medical supplies, which include even blood, to be brought in. For one battalion in Cassino, where I was for a short time (I think my figures are about right) it required 200 porters to carry supplies for twenty-four hours; that is, including everything. That is a great weight to be carried in, and it covered only twenty-four hours. If one adds the field ammunition and all the rest of it, there is an enormous weight to be carried. In future, it will not all be able to be moved by lorries—we all remember so well the miles and miles of lorries. How will it come? Is it to be dropped by parachute from the air? Is it to be landed in new forms of aircraft? What is the real answer to that question? I am sure that the War Office has an answer, but I am afraid that I do not know what it is. This presents a difficult problem.
§ 6.17 p.m.
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
My Lords, as a one-time airman, I feel that my position in this debate is rather like that of a slip fielder or a long stop, to catch any bumpers or googlies which might escape the attentions of the wicket keeper, the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, who is subsequently to reply for the Government. However, as no such nasty balls seem to have been bowled by noble Lords who spoke before me, I feel that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, will be more suitably briefed to answer any such remarks as, for instance, those of the noble Lord who has just spoken on the dropping of supplies, and so on, than I am. Therefore, I will not at this late hour weary your Lordships on the only subject on which I intended to speak, which was the backing up by Transport Command of the Army. It has not been mentioned this afternoon by any noble Lord, and, with your Lordships' permission, I will leave that subject until the debate on the Air Estimates, to be held at a later date in your Lordships' House.
However, there is one point that I should like to bring up. I hope that noble Lords who have connections with the Army will not consider it presumptuous on my part to mention this matter, 1252 as it is sometimes the outsider who can see more of what is going on than the person within. Furthermore, I was at one time responsible for the training of considerable numbers in the Royal Air Force of aircraft apprentices, and therefore I do understand the subject, to a certain extent. Many of your Lordships have expressed the hope that the new pay code will result in an increase of recruitment for the Army. I, too, would express that hope, and, further, I trust that it will cover all three Services. But it is not only pay which is going to bring more recruits into the Army, but the way that the Army treats the National Service men, of which the Army has more than either of the other two Services.
The parents of these National Service men have not the same psychological outlook as the parents of Regular soldiers of pre-war, who probably joined the Army of their own accord and their parents were quite happy about it. The parents of National Service men, on the whole, are not happy that their sons are serving, and I feel that it is up to the War Office, if they are going to get more recruits, to keep the parents of those National Service men happy. The letters I have seen from the War Office deal with these parents more or less in this way: "We will give them a polite reply, but really it is none of their business to be bothering us." I would beg the War Office to think again and to alter their psychology towards the parents of National Service men if those National Service men are going to be an advertisement to bring Regulars into the Army.
May I continue on the same point? There have been cases in the past—I have no doubt that your Lordships have read about them; I know of one or two that have not appeared in the Press—of National Service men who, within the first fortnight or three weeks of their time in the Army, have got into a brawl of one sort or another and have ended up in hospital, if not actually invalided. That is perfectly understandable in so far as the new boys come from every walk of life, from the completely illiterate, on the one hand, to the so-called best educated, on the other, all arriving at the same time and sharing a barrack room. In the first fortnight, until they get the spirit of the Services, they must be spoon-fed by that overworked and very rare bird, the senior N.C.O. I understand that the Army is 1253 no different from the Air Force in that it is below establishment in its manpower of N.C.O.s. I feel that the initial training battalion, for the first fortnight or three weeks, should be as near up to strength as it is possible, otherwise the Army will continue to get these tragedies, which are not a good advertisement and which will not bring recruits.
I fully realise that the noble Lord who is to reply will not be able to answer the questions I have asked, as I have not given him prior warning, but perhaps he will be able to give me an answer at a later stage. It is perfectly natural that when these accidents take place the unit concerned has its own court of inquiry. That is a perfectly normal Service procedure. But, like all courts of inquiry held by a unit, it is nearly always more or less with an idea of whitewashing itself so far as it can. That is human nature. I would ask that, where National Service men are concerned, an independent court of inquiry should be instituted on the spot. It is only in that way that the parents concerned will be happy—if they could be happy—about such incidents. This is not my subject, but at the same time I feel that the outsider sometimes sees more than the person within.
§ 6.24 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
My Lords, the debate has ranged, as these debates do, over a great deal of ground. We are debating the Memorandum on the Army Estimates, but some of the speeches have been more appropriate to a debate on defence and all three Services; indeed, we had one or two to which the answer would more properly come from the Foreign Office. I was glad to hear the suggestions of the noble Earl, Lord Bathurst, on psychological warfare. Perhaps that was rather wide of the War Office, but I would suggest that he puts to his right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer the idea of disposing of premium bonds in Arabia. He said that the Arabs were fond of gambling, and there he has found a good solution to one of the problems.
We are naturally concerned with the two big subjects of this White Paper, manpower and reorganisation. We were all glad to hear the figures given by the noble Lord, Lord Fairfax of Cameron, of Regular recruiting and re-engagements. He gave them with great caution, and 1254 they referred, of course, to the month before the new pay code came into force. We shall have to wait some time yet before we know what the effect of the pay increases will be. I think he did right to express some caution about the future, because we have known these pay increases before; we have known the result, which has been an immediate spurt in recruiting or re-engagement, followed by a relapse to the old level, or even below it. In spite of the much more far-reaching increases that have been introduced, I wonder whether in fact that is the answer to the problem of getting a Regular Army of the size we want. The Secretary of State for War said in another place that he hoped the Regular element of the Army would rise to 200,000 shortly, but that he would need 300,000 Regulars to be able, with the present commitments of the Army, to dispense with National Service. There is a long way to go. According to the White Paper, the present Regulars number, I think, 187,000, and it will need a long and sustained boom in recruiting before the Army can hope to get what it wants.
Besides numbers, of course, the Army wants years of service. It wants men to take on for six or nine years. What is it that makes people want to make a career of the Army? I think we sometimes make a mistake. Men do not live by pay alone. The increases of pay and pensions are all very well—they attract people at once; they attract a certain type of person—but will they produce the man who really wants to make the Army his life's career? The Government can give him more material benefits apart from his pay. They can give him better housing, which, as we all know, is urgently needed. And we hope that the Army's works programme will not be interrupted by any intervention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer; we hope that the Secretary of State will stand firm on his programme of barrack and married quarter building.
Apart from that, the man wants to be sure that he will get a job when he leaves the Army, because if he leaves in his forties he will not stand a very good chance in the labour market. The noble and gallant Field-Marshal had a suggestion there, as I understood it, of continuous Government employment following discharge after twenty-one years' service 1255 and going on to the retiring age at sixty-five. That is an interesting suggestion and I hope the Government will give it consideration.
Apart from that, surely the young man wants to be sure that the life he is going to lead will be worth while and interesting, with prospects of getting on as far as his abilities will carry him. He wants to feel that he is doing a useful job in present circumstances. That brings us straight to the Army Council letter which has just gone out urging on the Army the abandonment of practices of unnecessary "spit and polish" and blancoing. It also brings us to the Committee that the Secretary of State has set up under the chairmanship of Mr. Wolfenden to go into the employment of National Servicemen. Here, in parenthesis, I should like to ask: Why is the inquiry restricted to National Servicemen? Surely it is worth inquiring whether the Regulars are employed properly during their service.
Here we have the things that make the Army unpopular: profitless waste of time; employment on work which appears to be unnecessary and could be done in other ways; drill which seems not to be relevant to the thermo-nuclear weapon that is in all our minds. We have to convince the soldier that everything on which he is employed during his service contributes to his usefulness, skill and efficiency as a soldier in the conditions of war of the present day. That is what time and again one hears is not happening. The young officer or soldier complains—and one hears it again and again from parents and relations—that his time is wasted; that he is given nothing to do; that he is not worked hard enough; that he is not kept sufficiently occupied.
As to the actual "spit and polish," I would say to the Government that it will need more than an Army Council letter to change the Army. It has happened before now. It happened in the time of the noble Lord, Lord Hore-Belisha, that letters went out from the War Office urging that buttons should not be polished—I think it was actually after the outbreak of war. It may have had an effect for a short time—
§ LORD HORE-BELISHA
I do not think I ever said that buttons should not be polished but that perhaps they should 1256 be of a quality that did not require polishing.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
I think that was it. Certain brass pieces of web equipment were definitely ordered not to be polished. For a very short time they were not polished, but in a matter of weeks units were polishing them again, the reason being that commanders and senior officers who should have followed the policy laid down by the War Office thought that polishing brass was a good thing, and therefore they gave high marks to a commanding officer whose men had their brasses polished. So the old evil crept in; and, of course, it was intensified until khaki web equipment was coloured white with white blanco. It is practices of that sort that I believe the Secretary of State has it in mind to stop. I have not seen a copy of the letter which went out, but, as I say, it will mean a revolution in the ideas and outlook of officers and N.C.O.s, senior, middle and junior. Unless the Secretary of State is very firm, that letter will have no effect and recruiting for long service and for the higher non-commissioned ranks of the Army will not improve as he hopes it will.
Another Committee, which has been referred to by many noble Lords, has been set up under General Hull, and is to inquire into the future structure of the Army and the ways in which manpower can be economised. One of the things that that Committee might look at, I suggest, was referred to by the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Jeffreys (it is a hardy annual in defence debates here); that is, the unification of services which are common to Army, Navy and Air Force. I sympathise with the noble and gallant Lord because that matter has been talked of again and again, with no visible effect. I know that the Committee of which the noble Viscount, Lord Waverley, was Chairman went into the medical question and reported against merging, but to many people the arguments for merging some of the services common to all three Services still seem to be powerful.
Finally, and relating to the total manpower of the Army to meet its commitments, there is the question of Colonial forces, which has also been mentioned many times in this House and the other place. There does not seem to have been any progress in raising more forces from 1257 Colonial territories, and although the idea is attractive it must be remembered that the Colonial Governments themselves have some say in how these forces are used. In a month or two's time, for instance, the control of the Gold Coast Regiment will pass to the Gold Coast Government. So we are not in a position, it seems to me, to recruit forces in the Colonial territories overseas and use them just as we wish. That is not a solution to the whole problem.
Much has been said by noble Lords with much more experience than I have on the tactical reorganisation of the Army. I would not venture to go into the details, but would say that I always have just a slight suspicion and doubt in my mind when some new catchword comes in and is taken up widely, enthusiastically and suddenly. I refer now to this word "streamlining", this idea of a "small, streamlined, highly mobile, hard-hitting" force or formation. It is one of the characteristics of our Army that it has sudden enthusiasms and loses a sense of proportion.
Many noble Lords will remember that between the wars there was a great revulsion against the trench warfare of the First World War, and a great cry for mobility at all costs—nobody was ever going to stand and fight; you were going to be on the move all the time. By the time the next war came, people were trying to find out how to dig trenches and how to camouflage themselves. All that technique had been forgotten and abandoned in the passion for extreme mobility. I wonder, incidentally, when people talk about a hard-hitting force "unencumbered by transport," what such a force is going to shoot with. If it has no transport, how can it get any ammunition with which to shoot? I think all these things have to be balanced.
It seems to me that the main requirement of a formation in our Army is that it should be versatile. Units have to be moved about; they have to change their rôles. They may be in Malaya or Cyprus one day and in the British Army of the Rhine the next. They must have an organisation that can switch from one type of armament and equipment to another. Above all, the officers and men must have versatile minds which can take in the training required for these specialised rôles. All we can do is to 1258 wish the Secretary of State luck in his task of raising the Regular element of the Army, in stopping the loss or outflow of non-commissioned officers, and in so organising the Army that it can perform any one of the number of different rôles which are before it.
§ 6.44 p.m.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF DEFENCE (LORD CARRINGTON)
My Lords, in the four and a half hours in which we have debated the Motion in the name of my noble friend Lord Bridgeman, we have ordered the lives of over 400,000 of our fellow citizens and spent very nearly £500 million. That is a lot of men and a lot of money, and nobody can say that our time has been wasted. Although it can be said with truth that we have listened to some excellent and constructive speeches, it would be equally true to say that if your Lordships were not satisfied with the way the affairs of the Army have been conducted over the past year and with our proposals for the future, your speeches would have been more searching and more critical.
Usually this is the one day in the year in which the Army has a day to itself in this House, and I can think of nobody more fitting to open such a debate than my noble friend Lord Bridgeman, who, as the noble Lord, Lord Hore-Belisha, said, speaks with a lifetime of experience, both as a soldier and a politician. I will come a little later to some of the points which he raised in his speech. But I do not think it will be necessary for me to cover the whole field of the Secretary of State's Memorandum again, since this has been most excellently done by my noble friend Lord Fairfax, whose speech was listened to by your Lordships with great attention. I propose therefore to say a word or two about the Reserve forces and then try to answer some of the many questions which have been asked during the course of the debate.
Several noble Lords have raised the question of the reorganisation of the Reserve Army. The Government's proposals are clearly set out in paragraphs 124 to 131 of the Memorandum and can be summarised as follows. With the change in our strategic concept as a result of the emergence of nuclear weapons, it has become necessary to reorganise the Reserve Army. At the present time it 1259 consists of twelve divisions with supporting arms and services, but under these new conditions it will be very unlikely that other than a small number of troops will be able to be transported overseas. So it has been decided that, apart from the two divisions already earmarked for N.A.T.O., the primary rôle of the Territorial Army will he that of home defence. But since it is not possible to forecast with any certainty exactly what the future may hold, the Territorial Army will still be trained in the more conventional methods of warfare. As a result, the two armoured divisions will be converted to infantry, which provides the best general purpose formation, and there will be little requirement for army and corps artillery, although artillery units allocated to air defence will still be needed.
The Territorial Airborne Division will be reorganised to make the maximum use of existing parachute volunteers, which will keep the airborne technique alive. Supporting arms and services both in the Army Emergency Reserve and the Territorial Army will be reorganised; and although very few Territorial Army units will be disbanded, it will be necessary to dispense with a number of units in the Army Emergency Reserve.
The arms most affected by this reorganisation are the Royal Armoured Corps, the Royal Artillery, the Infantry and to some extent the Royal Engineers. These, therefore, have been dealt with first. Home Commands and Territorial associations have been fully consulted and the plan is to be considered soon by the Army Council, so that the units will shortly know their future. The plan for this phase has been accepted extremely well. Naturally there have been one or two matters of particular difficulty, where old established units have been reluctant to amalgamate or convert to a new rôle. There have been numbers of representations by honorary colonels and Territorial associations, and I can assure your Lordships that all these have been looked into with the greatest care. The remainder of the reorganisation, which includes administrative units, is rather more complicated and will take longer, but will be under way by the summer. Work is well advanced on the preparation of orders of battle and proposals for the nomination 1260 of units for this phase of the reorganisation. Although it is not possible to say when the reorganisation will be completed, it should be finished by the end of the year. It cannot be too strongly emphasised that the Government still view the rôle of the Territorial Army, particularly the importance they attach to the volunteer element in it, as a most valuable and essential part of our defence system. Because the rôle and form of the Territorial Army has changed, it has not in any way become less vital to our defence forces. The job which it would be called upon to undertake in the event of a nuclear attack would be the most urgent and pressing service which any of the forces could render.
The Home Guard, as your Lordships will know, has also been reorganised, and it consists of a small active cadre with the remainder of the members on the reserve roll. So that the battalion commander may maintain personal contact with his battalion and so keep up morale, facilities have been provided for the formation of battalion rifle clubs and for one annual meeting of the battalion reserve roll. The Home Guard is an essential part of our home defence forces, and its operational rôle is a key one in our overall defence plan. I think my noble friend Lord Jeffreys suggested that we should do a little more than we are doing with regard to the Home Guard, but those arrangements have only just been worked out and I think it better to see how things go before we alter the plan again, if, indeed, it is necessary.
My noble friend Lord Hore-Belisha, in what I thought was an outstanding speech, has raised the question of the cold war and the undoubted fact that the brunt of it falls upon the Army. As the possibility of a global war recedes, so, I should have thought, does the probability of an intensification of the cold war become more likely. My noble friend has mentioned, amongst other things, the need for proper intelligence and adequate police forces. It can be accepted without question that an adequate and efficient police force and an efficient intelligence organisation are essential to the administration of a Colonial territory, and naturally the War Office would welcome any reduction in this strain which they have to bear. Every effort is being made to assist Colonial Governments, where necessary, in building up and improving their forces, 1261 which are locally organised and financed and, in the main, locally recruited.
I do not think, however, that an efficient police force is all that is needed to avoid the kind of trouble we have had recently. Some of the problems are essentially political, and police forces are not a substitute for political solutions. Ultimately a police force depends on public support, or at least on public acquiescence, and is at a disadvantage when whole populations are incited to violence. When those circumstances arise and the situation is beyond the control of the police, it is then unfortunately necessary to call in the Army. Of course every effort must be made to reduce to the minimum extent the call on British troops, and we are taking energetic steps to that end.
Although it may not have been true in the past it is certainly so now, that cold war training is very much in the forefront in the training of all infantry battalions, and it has been found that the most suitable formation for duties of the Cyprus kind is an infantry battalion without its support company. In addition, as the noble Lord mentioned, we have selected one independent infantry brigade to be earmarked and trained especially for tasks in support of civil Governments. As the Memorandum says, the main feature of this brigade will be its availability and readiness for immediate action in any part of the world. The whole brigade and its equipment can be transported by air. As my noble friend Lord Bridgeman mentioned, there is a requirement for light aircraft to support this brigade, for transport, casualty evacuation, logistic support, and also possibly reconnaissance and light air strikes. These aircraft are becoming available and an air transportable unit will be formed in this country shortly, which will be able to train and move with the internal security brigade. Movement by air from the United Kingdom would normally be carried out by Transport Command, with assistance from outside where necessary. Perhaps I could remind noble Lords who suggest that we do not possess the facilities to do this that on January 10 headquarters of the 16th Independent Parachute Brigade and two parachute battalions, which were on 48 hours' notice to move, were ordered to start flying to Cyprus on January l2. This operation was completed on January 13.
1262 Mention has been made by my noble friend behind me of the disbandment of the eight 2nd Infantry Battalions, which started on January 1, 1955, and will end this year. When these battalions are due to return to this country, all ranks come back together and postings begin as soon as they get home. Regular soldiers are posted either to the 1st Battalion or to extra-regimental employment, such as instructors at schools, and so on. There is no question of compelling Regulars to go to new regiments. I myself have heard of no difficulties about these disbandments, but if noble Lords will let me have details of any specific complaints, I will, of course, gladly look into them.
My noble friend Lord Jeffreys and the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, raised the question of barracks and married quarters. I entirely agree with him that the pay proposals which have been so widely welcomed in all quarters of your Lordships' House this afternoon, are not in themselves enough, and we must continue to try, in so far as it is possible, to make conditions of Service life comparable to those which can be got by civilians, and accommodation is an essential part of that. I think perhaps both noble Lords under-estimated what has been done. There are in existence 28,000 quarters of which between 10,000 and 11,000 have been built since the war. Although there is still a lot of work to be done, I do not think that is too bad a record. Priority was given to married quarters, and the rebuilding of barracks did not begin until 1954, when the three-year programme was started. Since then changes in the organisation of the Army have resulted in much planning being wasted and in slower progress than we had hoped. It is a long-term job, and quick results are, I am afraid, unlikely; but we are certainly very conscious of its importance and will carry on as fast as possible.
I very much agree, too, with what the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Wilson, said in his speech about the Army Cadet Force, and we should all be grateful to him for the valuable advice and assistance which he gives to the Army Cadet Force Association. The War Office looks on the Cadet Force not merely as a means of producing recruits but also as the means of building character—that is of value to the country, even if the cadet 1263 never goes into the Army. I entirely agree with the noble Lord that there is a great need for more leaders of the right type, particularly young men. Probably most National Service officers who, in the main, spend most of their time abroad do not realise what the Cadet Force does and how best they can help it. The War Office do their best to try to see that information is given to officers on leaving the Army, but it is difficult to make any real impression. The position of those officers who stay at home is different. They are in frequent contact with the Army Cadet Force, and I think things are improving. I will pass on to my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for War the other suggestions made by the noble Lord.
My noble friend Lord Bathurst raised the question of measures against foreign broadcasts to countries in which British forces are serving. The noble Lord said that he was going to get a reply on behalf of the War Office and that my noble friend Lord Barnby had had a reply earlier in the afternoon on behalf of the Foreign Office. I would assure the noble Lord that he is not going to get a reply on behalf of the War Office. He is going to get a reply on behalf of the Foreign Office, because I do not think that this is strictly within the limits of this debate: but my noble friend was good enough to give me notice that he intended to raise this matter and I have got the information for him from the Foreign Office.
Her Majesty's Government are seriously concerned that in countries with whom we are in friendly relations broadcasting has in some cases been used to disseminate false and malicious propaganda, and Her Majesty's Government's representatives in Athens and Cairo have been instructed on a number of occasions to protest about this form of propaganda. In general the Government believe that the only satisfactory way of countering such propaganda is to present British policy soberly and impartially in the form of news and explanatory comment, and it is better to do this independently of the false assertions put out by hostile stations. War-time experiences show that to rebut point by point is likely merely to stimulate interest in listening to the hostile stations themselves.
With regard to the B.B.C., the Government consider that great care should be 1264 taken to ensure the complete objectivity of the overseas news bulletins. The Corporation's reputation for telling the truth must be maintained and this reputation is in itself the most effective answer to hostile propaganda. In addition to the B.B.C. there are in the Middle East stations run by the Colonial Government in Cyprus and Aden, and there is a commercial station in Cyprus owned by a British company which broadcasts in Arabic for about fourteen hours a day. I am told that the contents of these broadcasts are comments on British policy and achievements and are impartial and sensible. The noble Lord asked me two specific questions to which I am afraid I do not know the answers. I will most certainly write to him and give him that information if it is available.
My noble friend, Lord Birdwood, in what I thought was a very interesting speech, discussed the question of the Colonial Forces and their possible expansion. As he knows, there are at the moment something like 42,000 men in the Colonial Armed Forces, and in certain Colonial territories local men are enlisted in United Kingdom forces—these number somewhere about 16,000. In addition, the number of United Kingdom officers and N.C.O.s who provide the necessary leadership is about 4,000. In the Persian Gulf area and the Red Sea area there are the Aden Protectorate Levies, supported by a British battalion; and in the Trucial Oman, Trucial Oman Scouts carry out a similar function. Both of these have recently been expanded. In the Far East, local forces in Malaya have been steadily built up. There are one or two other possibilities which are being considered, but I am afraid that I cannot be more specific than that at present.
Both the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, and the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Wilson, asked about civil employment at the end of Army service. I am happy to say that, so far as other ranks are concerned, there is no problem at the present time. With the help of the Ministry of Labour and the National Association for the Employment of Regular Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen, ex-Regulars of the three Services are placed in suitable employment. The position of officers is not so satisfactory, but a good deal has already been done. Your Lordships will be aware that, provided there are vacancies, officers of the rank of major 1265 may be retained on the active list up to the age of 55, and for some years a scheme has been in force, which has proved very successful, for the reemployment of more senior retired officers in a civilian capacity in the War Department.
More recently, with the active help of the Services, a special employment bureau for senior officers has been set up by the Officers' Association under a retired Major-General. This has made a promising start, and it is hoped to extend its activities considerably. Short business appreciation courses have been arranged with a view to introducing senior officers to industrial practice. The War Office Standing Committee on Resettlement is devoting its attention to improvement of the existing Army machinery.
The noble Lord, Lord Nathan, dealt at some length with the question of publicity for the Army. I will not go into that matter at great length now, but I would assure your Lordships that it is a subject which is prominently in the minds of the Army Council and, indeed, of all Service authorities. I thought the noble Lord suggested that the publicity of the Army is conducted by civil servants and soldiers without any outside help and without much experience of the subject. That is not true. The Army has the advice of two of the best publicity firms in this country. The other day there was an exhibition of War Office Service publicity, which I attended; and I must say that I was extremely impressed with the quality of the work which is done by the three Services. I can assure the noble Lord that every use is made of all the means he mentioned to bring the Army to the British public—radio, television, cinema, feature articles in the popular Press and even strip cartoons.
My Lords, I am afraid that I have not answered anything like all the questions which have been put to me, but if I did I think that I should go on rather too long. But I will certainly take up these points with my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for War and will write to noble Lords who have asked me any further questions. I only hope I hat the rather disconnected speech that I nave thought it necessary to make has not obscured the fact that it is clear beyond doubt, from what has been said from all sides of the House this afternoon, 1266 that the main concern of your Lordships is the well-being of the Army.
Any of your Lordships who has visited units at home and abroad will. testify that the Service is in excellent condition. I was fortunate enough two or three months ago to visit some troops fighting the Communists in Malaya, amongst whom were a large proportion of National Service men, and their efficiency and morale in difficult and dangerous circumstances was most impressive. And the same is true, I know, of the other stations throughout the world where the Army is to be found—whether they be supporting the civil power in Cyprus, in conditions which must be most distasteful to them, or whether they be in Germany as part of our N.A.T.O. forces training as part of the most efficient Army we have ever had.
The last thing any soldier wants is effusive thanks for the work which he is doing from those who are more fortunate and do not have to do it, and probably we have paid the best tribute and. the greatest compliment this afternoon by taking the morale and efficiency of the Army for granted.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, just before the mover of the Motion replies, may I apologise to the noble Lord who has been in charge for the Government for having been absent from the debate for some time this afternoon? I had rather important meetings to attend. I was most interested in the noble Lord's very careful and clear reply to the debate. He gave a good deal of time to the question of reorganisation. I was not quite clear whether the Army Council has approved the reorganisation of which he spoke, whether they have still to give their approval or whether it is only a matter of the details.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
I was going to ask whether we could have details when approval has been given. Naturally I would not seek to have details of dispositions and final arrangements in that connection; that would be wrong and contrary to practice. But I think that if we could be 1267 given some more comprehensive picture of the reorganisation the House would appreciate it.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
The basis on which the Territorial Army is being reorganised has been agreed. It is the next stage that I am talking about. I will certainly see that the noble Viscount is given whatever information it may be possible to let him have.
§ 7.7 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT BRIDGEMAN
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Carrington has rightly said that to-day's debate is our annual "day out" on Army affairs. The debate has ranged widely, but I feel it has been none the worse for that. After all, it is our business in this House not merely to emphasise what is fully dealt with in the White Paper but also to deal with those points which, in our opinion, have had less attention than they deserve. Furthermore, I think it is our business to deal with factors—such as many of those dealt with this afternoon—which affect the Army in carrying out its tasks all over the world. So I feel that we have had a useful debate.
I should like to thank those noble Lords on all sides who have helped to make this debate as good as I think it has been. In particular, I would thank the two noble Lords, Lord Fairfax of Cameron and Lord Carrington, for the contributions which they have made. It is a long time, I think, since we have had two speeches from the Front Bench which have contained so much information on Army matters as those two speeches. I attach particular importance to that part of the speech of Lord Fairfax of Cameron in which he gave what I understood to be the Government's policy on National Service. That, I think, was very clear, and also, I venture to say, very timely. Equally, I am sure that everyone will welcome Lord Carrington's very clear statement on the Territorial Army, most of which had come out in some form or other before. If there could be some sort of consolidation—so to speak a Consolidation Bill—coming out in time for this year's Territorial camps, I think it would be very useful indeed. The two noble Lords are of such an agreeable disposition that we naturally expected a great deal of 1268 information from them. There is also the fact that certain decisions have been taken by the Army Council, so that the noble Lords who speak for the Government are in a much better position than they used to be to give information and to say what has really happened. In any case, I would thank my two noble friends warmly for giving so much and such useful information to the House this afternoon. At this late hour I will detain your Lordships no longer. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.