HL Deb 31 July 1957 vol 205 cc403-49

2.52 p.m.

VISCOUNT BRIDGEMAN rose to call attention to the explanatory statement of the Secretary of State for War relating to the Army Estimates (Cmd. 150) and further Government statements connected therewith, including that on Compensation for Premature Retirement from the Armed Forces (Cmd. 231) and Future Organisation of the Army (Cmd. 230); and to move for Papers. The noble Viscount said: My Lords, as your Lordships know, the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper was originally down for an earlier date, but it was found that by postponing the Motion until today we should have the opportunity of discussing not only the Explanatory Statement on the Army Estimates, but also the two White Papers on compensation and reorganisation of the Army which have come out since. I feel sure that that arrangement will have been to your Lordships' convenience. All these Papers cover a great deal of ground and, therefore, I know I shall be forgiven if I treat some of the points rather shortly, and I shall do so in the confidence that some of my noble friends will speak on the same subjects at greater length later in the debate.

What we are going to talk about to-day is, I think, all consequential on the decisions which were announced in the Defence White Paper itself, which we debated. as your Lordships will remember, on May 8. So far as I can see, there is nothing in the Army White Paper which suggests that there has been any change in the basic policy for the Army or any other Service since the Defence White Paper was published, and, therefore, as I have said, we are dealing with matters which are consequential on those major decisions which were published in the Defence White Paper and which were debated in this House.

Perhaps I might quote one important sentence from paragraph 14 of the Defence White Paper. There it says: Pending international agreement on disarmament the only safeguard against major aggression is the power to threaten retaliation with nuclear weapons. If that is true, then I hope we can also accept the converse of that statement, which I take to be that the only proper safeguard against minor aggression is adequate strength in what we now call conventional forces. I should have thought that that idea was also implied by my right honourable friend the Minister of Defence when he spoke in another place and used the words, "delicate and critical balance of the Forces." So I think we get a position where both the nuclear pattern and the conventional pattern are required strategically if we are to match our responsibilities to this country, to N.A.T.O. and to our other international obligations. Therefore, I would take issue with the view which I thought was suggested in one of this morning's newspapers: that the nuclear pattern had only a political, and not a strategic, value.

I now come to the Explanatory Statement on the Army Estimates itself. I think we were all glad to see that clear and lengthy operational statement and the map which went with it. I felt that we could have had a slight improvement in the map if the marking on it showed which were United Kingdom troops and which were Colonial and local forces doing their work all over the world in the overseas garrisons; but perhaps that is a secret which we ought not to know. Even so, since we are dealing with the Army White Paper, and since we are dealing only with the United Kingdom Forces, however good this Explanatory Statement is, it can give us only the narrower picture; it cannot give us the broader picture which would show how the defence commitments of the Commonwealth and Empire are being met by the military forces at the disposal of the Commonwealth and Empire. Nor can it give us a complete picture of Commonwealth and Colonial manpower, because we are limited in this debate to dealing with those people and those things which are an expense on the War Office Vote. I am not suggesting that that is anything but right, but I am making the point because it is an important one and because we want to keep in mind the whole picture while we are debating this aspect of it—I shall come back in a moment to the cuts in establishments.

I do not think it follows for a moment that because the establishment of United Kingdom troops has been cut, therefore our commitments are necessarily less. I should take the opposite view. We may decide to do away altogether with some commitments which we now have and which we think we can give up without serious danger—we shall probably have to do that. We may be able to offset the cuts in United Kingdom troops by recruiting (shall I say?) more Colonial troops in Africa, or by relying more on the new Federation of Malaya to look after their own defence; or, for all I know, we may have been able, at the recent Commonwealth Conference to reach agreement among Commonwealth Prime Ministers in such a way that certain tasks will be re-allotted as between the military forces of the Commonwealth. Anything which Her Majesty's Government can tell us about that, now or later, will, I am sure, be welcome; and, as I say, it is hard to make a fair judgment of these cuts in establishment without having some idea of their repercussions on our operational commitments. By that, of course, I am thinking for the moment of their effect on overseas garrisons in peacetime, which is quite distinct as a problem from that of what saving in personnel we can achieve by replacing conventional with nuclear weapons.

But the emphasis which my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for War has placed on the operational tasks of the Army certainly, to my mind, indicates the need for a balanced Army. All the time we are being told by superior intellects of one kind or another, and told for different reasons, that nuclear weapons can do everything that is wanted. But to my mind, the statement of the Secretary of State for War in these operational paragraphs makes it abundantly clear to anybody with any knowledge of the problem that they can do no such thing, and I am glad that my right honourable friend has made it so clear in his statement.

My right honourable and learned friend the Foreign Secretary, in the disarmament debate in another place, used some words which I think are in point, when he said that we wanted disarmament, but that the Government had to insist that nuclear and conventional disarmament should be tied up together. I am sure that is right, although I do not very much like the word "conventional" to describe the things we are talking about. It seems to my mind to set up a barrier on what should be a road of continuous progress in armament. Looked at from ten years hence, I do not believe that that barrier will still be there, and I certainly think that it is a barrier to clear thinking now. We should look upon every development in armaments, great or small, as being one more stage in progress, and should not confuse our thinking by classifying certain weapons into one moral or political category and certain other weapons into another, because that is not the way to conduct our operational affairs.

Now we come (still on the Army Estimates) to the section on organisation. I think we should certainly welcome the trend towards brigade groups. Here I am talking about the operational brigade groups and not of the administrative brigades, to which we shall come in a moment in discussing the White Paper on the Future Reorganisation of the Army. I think that all the lessons over the last fifteen years have tended towards the proposition that the division, under modern conditions, is too large and too unwieldy to be the most suitable permanent formation and that the most suitable permanent formation should be the brigade group, or what the Americans call the combat group. That decision seems to have been taken now, and certainly it has taken a considerable time to reach. It was suspected to be the answer, as I well remember, in some of the early armoured exercises in this country over twenty years ago. It was certainly included in the evidence given by Lord Gort's Staff to the War Office after the Battle of France in 1940. I am quite certain that if the brigade group is now adopted as standard to Army organisation, that decision will be the right one.

I thought it rather strange that, although the central reserve was mentioned in the Defence White Paper, it does not seem, unless I am wrong, to have been mentioned in the White Paper on the Army Estimates. But I am quite certain that that central reserve is the right idea. It has a good many aspects, and we shall come back to some of them again before long. But it will be much more useful and handy if based on a brigade group basis, rather on divisions. I think my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for War said something of that sort in the debate on the Army Estimates in another place.

Now we begin to come to the effect of all these changes on what one might call the traditional organisation of the Army. In the old days, under the cadre system, we had a certain number of units overseas, most of them in India, and we also had a certain number of units and formations at home which were intended to be the basis of any expeditionary force which might be required for any world war. Now we shall have a slightly different picture, and that picture, I am bound to say, is not entirely clear from the statements published by the Government. Undoubtedly we shall have our overseas garrisons in certain places. Undoubtedly, we shall have our central reserve. It does not look as if that central reserve will be stationed at home in the same way as, pre-war, it was stationed at home in respect of every theatre outside India. There may be a certain amount of difficulty in fitting into our picture of the overseas garrisons in the central reserve the proper balance between the number of troops and their families at home and abroad. I mention that point because I think that before long we shall be entitled to have a little more information on that point. I am not complaining that we have not got it now; I am merely saying that we shall need it in order to complete the picture. That information, of course, will vitally affect such things as posting, barrack construction, married quarters, and all the rest of it. I am going to leave that aspect now, because I hope that some of my noble friends will deal with it more fully in the course of the debate.

Coming now to the Territorial Army and Reserve Forces, most of us will have noted that they appear to be getting a slight rest from reorganisation, which I do not think is an entirely bad thing after the reorganisations they have gone through consequent upon the disbandment of the Anti-Aircraft Command. Now it is beginning to look as if, after what we know to have been the serious and important discussions early in the year, their rôle has begun to be set and, therefore, we can look forward to a time when the Territorial Army and all those who are in it understand exactly what they are supposed to do, on what occasions and in what places. That is very necessary indeed, because until those matters are understood it is not to be supposed that volunteer recruiting to the Territorial Army will go with a swing. So we have reached a stage where the Territorial Army will need a great deal of explanation and help, in order that Territorial commanders can make good their word (which they have expressed so often in so many places) that if they are left to themselves they can produce the recruits as volunteers.

The paragraphs in the Army Estimates do, none the less, go a long way to give a clear lead as to what is wanted of the Territorial Army, and I sympathise with my right honourable friend and his advisers, who are constantly being asked to give some idea of what the next war is going to be like, and how we are going to fight the next Battle of Britain. I quite appreciate the difficulty there, and certainly I should not like to give an opinion myself. None the less, some idea must be given to the reserve forces if recruiting and, later, proper training are to take place; and those two things go together. But it is difficult because, in a peace-loving country like this, I think we do not always remember that the pace for the next war, and the tactics to be employed and defended against, are not set by people like us. They are set by the aggressors, whoever they may be; and therefore, in the conditions under which we live. we are always at a disadvantage in that respect—and I hope we always shall be, for the reasons I have given.

It certainly looks as if the most likely rôle of the Territorial Army is home defence. Some other tasks may emerge later when we see the position more clearly, but that is the first task which has emerged, and no doubt a good deal of work will be done in the coming months to integrate the command of the Territorial Army more closely than it is now integrated with the command of the Civil Defence Forces. I am going to leave it at that. In the same way, I am going to make no comments about the section in the White Paper dealing with weapons, because I think that everything in that section points to the fact that development is going on on the right lines and that the money is being spent in the right directions.

There is one quite important section which deals with the cadet forces and, by implication, with the enlisted boys. There is no doubt, in my mind, that once we gel to a volunteer basis, the pre-Service units of enlisted boys have a great importance. I must I am afraid, for the sake of good order, draw attention to a War Office "howler" in paragraph 67 where it says, speaking of the Army Cadet Force: There has been no examination of this force since 1936". I regret to say that I do not think that is true. What is true is that there was no examination by an outside Committee between 1936, at the time of the Munster and Strathcona Committees, and the present examination by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for War. It does not follow, however, that no major examination was made. The Army Cadet Force was examined from top to bottom in 1942, as part of the war effort, and I am sorry that my right honourable friend should have been misled by those War Office minds who cannot believe that the people in the War Office can examine matters for themselves.

Now, my Lords, I come to the major question of the day, as I am sure it is, the White Paper on questions of manpower and reorganisation. We ought to be clear, as I said before, how the Government reasoning starts, as expressed in the Defence White Paper. You could ask, if you like, whether the hen or the egg came first. Did the Government decide, first of all, that we had reached the stage in nuclear development where it was safe to foretell the end of National Service, or did they decide that it was necessary to foretell the end of National Service and then decide that nuclear development has reached that point? Or were we very fortunate in that those two stars were in conjunction at the right moment? For the moment I will leave it at that.

However that may be, the fact that the end of National Service has been announced does, I think, commit us to an all-Regular Army, at a figure which I believe to be somewhere between 160,000 and 170,000. Therefore, if, when the time comes to reach this figure of volunteers, we fall short of the required total, we shall be faced with a choice of evils. Either we shall fail to meet our operational commitments or we shall be forced to reintroduce National Service; and that, would be a dilemma for any Party which happened to be in power at the time. We should realise quite plainly that if we are to achieve the target of a Regular strength of 170,000, we shall have to recruit far more men than the average numbers shown in Appendix B in the Memorandum on the Estimates. In other words, we shall have to recruit 45,000 to 47,000 a year, as compared to the present average of, say, 35,000, a figure which has been running for a long time past. A jump like this in Regular recruiting has never been achieved before in peace time, so far as I know, and I want to tell your Lordships, as straight as I possibly can, that no such figure will be achieved unless we have considerable changes in the handling of the Regular soldier, considerable changes in recruiting policy and also unless we have the most active support from every quarter. I feel that I must make this absolutely plain, as I am sure it is plain to my noble friend in front of me. I hope that we shall not be told later on that, although Her Majesty's Government meant to do all sorts of things for Regular soldiers, another credit squeeze has arrived and that these things cannot happen.

I say plainly that, unless the volunteers are looked after in these directions; over barracks (and we still have not had the Report of the Weekes Committee published), and over a proper walking-out uniform and all the rest of it, the Government plan will fail; and we should not be honest if we did not utter this warning now. This plan must get off to a good start in the public esteem, as I think many of us ventured to say in the debate on the Defence White Paper on May 8. If we find one case of "stinginess", one border-line case put on the wrong side of the border, it will do an unfortunate amount of harm. Therefore, I hope Ministers will take care to see that they are not let down by well-meaning people in the Departments and then have to go and stand the shock in public. After all, you never know—some zealous official may well charge purchase tax on the forms on which officers are to claim their compensation. I do hope my noble friends in front of me will not misunderstand when I say all this. I am saying it because I am convinced that action like this is required, not only on ordinary grounds of fair dealing but because future recruiting absolutely depends on it.

May I now leave that topic and come for a moment to compensation and resettlement. I think most of your Lordships would agree that the terms in money are fair terms, by any standards—I am talking now about the people on permanent commissions. I should just like to add that there is the category of officer not on a permanent commission. Very little information is given about him in the White Paper, and therefore I must reserve what would otherwise be my unrestricted approval of the terms for the permanently commissioned officers, simply because I do not think we know enough to form an honest judgment about the temporary people. But I would add this: while I unreservedly welcome the White Paper on compensation, we ought to remember that that money will not have been well spent unless it produces satisfaction; and that money alone will not produce satisfaction unless the terms for compensation are matched by adequate arrangements for resettlement. I know that it is early days to expect a lot to be said on that, because the Committee under Sir Frederic Hooper is only just assembling; but here again I think we should be right to make the point in this debate.

I come next to the White Paper on The Future Organisation of the Army. Whatever may be our feelings about individual regiments and details of all kinds, I think that most of us would be bound to admit that, in so far as a plan of this sort can be acceptable, this one is so. I would put it down as a fair and a careful plan, once it is assumed that the manpower cuts to this extent are necessary; and that, I think, we must assume, having accepted the Defence White Paper. Certainly I would agree every time that the amalgamation of infantry and armoured regiments is far preferable to disbandment. Perhaps here I may take one point of detail, as a "Green Jacket" I feel quite certain that my noble and gallant friend Lord Wilson will agree with me when I say that the idea of bringing the Oxfordshire and Bucks. Light Infantry into the "Green Jacket" group is an excellent example of the constructive use of a tradition which was founded in the Peninsula War.

My Lords, any one of us who has been a professional soldier understands very well the sort of dilemma in which my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for War and the Army Council have been placed, and particularly the military members whose profession it is and of whom so many are regimental soldiers. I think that we ought in this debate to pay tribute to the care, the thought and the sympathy which they have tried to give, for the most part so successfully, to this very difficult problem. They have had to try to combine two almost opposite requirements: on the one hand, to avoid violence to tradition, and on the other to produce an organisation which will stand the test of war. And, of course, it has been impossible to please everyone. There is every sort of problem; the kilt, the army bands (where we may still be engaged in a running fight with the Musicians' Union) and the buttons—all those aspects have their problems, and most of them have yet to be overcome. Therefore, I hope that, so far as is humanly possible, my right honourable friend will listen to the views put up by the regiments, nearly all of whom, I believe, have already shown their willingness in principle to do all they can to make this reorganisation a success.

As a first requirement, however, any plan of this sort must be statistically sound. By that, I mean that it must be possible in the ordinary way to reinforce the field force units, in peace and in war, by men who genuinely belong to the same regimental group—once the regiment, but now the brigade. the administrative brigade, as I said, and not the combat group. And, of course, it has been known for a long time that, by this standard, the arrangements which are now being superseded do not in the least fill the bill. Anybody who has watched the difficulties of keeping individual battalions up to strength in Korea, and has seen how impossible it has been to find reinforcements of the same regiment, or sometimes even of the same group, is well aware of the problem. After all, every reorganisation that has taken place since the introduction of the cadre system between 1870 and 1881 has been an adaptation of that system, and that system was designed to deal with operational situations where half the Army, fortunately, was abroad and the other half, fortunately, was at home.

The present requirements, as detailed in the White Paper on the Army Estimates, do not really bear any relation to those Cardwell requirements at all, and therefore I am sure that we have been right to discard the last pretence of working the Cardwell system anti, if we are to have a further reform, to do it properly, as I believe is being done now. Many of us have been told in our youth that, "If you cannot kill the bird clean, it is best to miss him altogether," and that "The worst thing of all you can do is to wound him." The 1922 "axe" wounded the Army, since not nearly enough people were "axed", and those who were left had their promotion prospects impaired for life.

The changes in 1946, which were a great deal more complex than the earlier changes, were an expensive and not particularly efficient compromise between the traditionalists and the supporters of the Corps of Infantry, although, in the circumstances, I believe that what they did was actually right at the time, though not in practice and not in theory. But now we have reached a state of affairs where, clearly, we cannot maintain that number of infantry regiments in a proper state of health; and we shall never have that proper state of health with one-battalion regiments because they will always have serving with them many people who do not belong to them. Therefore, having accepted a situation which calls for this treatment, I welcome it in principle. I do not myself regard it as being inconsistent with tradition that we should discard a piece of organisation which was invented eighty-seven years ago, which worked satisfactorily for about fifty years but has been unrealistic ever since.

I would, however, say this to the Government. I most earnestly hope that they will not be persuaded by anybody to do anything which interferes with the statistical basis on which these reforms have been calculated. Equally, I hope that, within this limit, and within reason, they will go to the greatest lengths to meet the wishes of the regiments, just as I am sure that the regiments themselves will go to the greatest lengths to fall in with the wishes of the Secretary of State for War and the Army Council. All this, all the details, remember, have yet to be thought out, and good will is needed on all sides. We must get through this reorganisation period as soon as we can, because, until we do, it is not likely that volunteer recruiting will settle down as it should to produce the numbers I was talking about a moment ago.

This plan of Regular recruiting will, amongst other things, involve, I hope, the final disappearance of the low-grade soldier, and that is why I welcome the reference in the White Paper (I think it is in paragraph 15) to an increase of civilians, which I know will be good and I know will be economic. In the new Army, as it has been designed and presented to us, I am quite sure that we cannot afford low-grade soldiers who have been the curse of the Army for so many generations past. Some of your Lordships may remember an old West Country song in which there is a line which runs: Never despise the soldier boy though his station be but low. There we are. For many generations the Army was cursed with low-grade Irish militiamen; now they have gone. Some people say that National Service was a curse for the Regular Army. That is a view with which I do not agree. National Service may have had its bad points—it certainly had its good—and assuredly I should not mind seeing the disappearance of the "teddy boys" whom I see in the train every week-end, rather thinly disguised as members, shall we say, of the Royal Pioneer Corps.

And so the Army starts again. It must be, in the minds of all of us, an honourable calling, with the social status that it should have and the material rewards for service which men of the type which we wish to recruit of all ranks would expect to get in whatever profession they took up. The rewards for the Army, if they are to help meet the Army's requirements and repair the shocks—and shocks they are—of the cuts we are going through now, will need to be the very best. The effort which the Army is being called upon by the Government to make, in order to see it through this reorganisation and meet the requirements of the modern scene, will need all the help that everyone can give it, all the help the Government can give it, all the help that Parliament can give it, and all the help that that great mass of people outside this House who love the Army and sympathise with its trials also can give it. I beg to move for Papers.

3.28 p.m.


My Lords, it will be agreed throughout your Lordships' House that it would scarcely have been seemly, at this crucial moment in the history of the Army, that we should disperse without giving careful consideration to the proposals to which the noble and gallant Viscount has referred and which are embodied in the White Papers recently issued. The House is indebted to the noble and gallant Viscount for having afforded us this opportunity, for the range of his survey of the subject and also for having postponed his Motion in order to give an opportunity to-day of surveying the situation realistically in the light of what we now know to be the Government's intentions.

The way in which the Army should be regarded, in the form in which it emerges from the Memorandum on the Army Estimates, is as a projection of the policy laid down in the Defence White Paper. The policy which was there set out was obviously the result of careful study. It was a serious contribution to a main problem of our time. As I ventured to point out in the debate upon the Defence White Paper in May, it was based upon a single hypothesis, the hypothesis that nuclear was is inevitable, and in that every possibility of ignoring or of minimising nuclear war was discarded.

But, as I ventured then to point out, it was a rash assumption of a narrow contingency that we in this realm could afford to confine our efforts, on the footing that nuclear warfare alone would be the kind of warfare which we should need to face. That we should abandon (as the Government's policy as we now know it indicates) conventional warfare, conventional weapons and conventional forces, in the form in which we have known them hitherto, is to ask from us a belief that no longer will the kind of warfare to which we have been accustomed be essential or practicable, but that nuclear warfare will be substituted for all that. I agree with what the noble and gallant Viscount said: that when we speak of conventional warfare, armies and arms we do not necessarily mean them as they exist to-day. Inevitably, there are continual changes in these branches of human endeavour, as in others. I speak of conventional warfare, forces and weapons in contradistinction to nuclear warfare.

I believe that we ought to inquire how far the policy to which it is thought we should commit ourselves has been influenced by strategic considerations; how far, by political considerations—in which I include considerations of domestic politics—and how far by financial considerations. It is curious to note, on reading the Memorandum of the Secretary of State for War, that almost every paragraph making some more or less new proposal indicates that the proposals it contains will mean a saving in money. Far be it from me to suggest that there should not be, and that we do not need, the utmost economy in all public expenditure on the Armed Forces, as in every other sphere of public activity; but I must confess to some alarm when I find that the Secretary of State for War indicates that finance—the saving of expenditure, has apparently been a foremost, if not the foremost, consideration in embarking upon the changes, some of which are now before your Lordships, so far as the organisation of the Army is concerned.

My Lords, I am not alone, nor are my noble friends on these Benches, in wondering whether the form of the Army, as indicated in the documents before us. is soundly conceived. I find, in the formidable leading article in The Times of to-day, the sort of speech which, if we were again debating the Defence White Paper, I should have liked to address to your Lordships. It is mainly a warning notice that we may be making a mistake. The warning comes from a responsible source, and it draws attention acutely to the possibility that too much attention may have been given to the political aspect, and too little to the military and the strategic aspects, and to the needs for the defence of the country as a whole and in all its aspects. It is a criticism of the policy set before Parliament by the Government far more formidable than any that could be expressed by me from this place in your Lordships' House. It is a factor which certainly Her Majesty's Government will have to take into account. It is not the only place or occasion within recent weeks that these criticisms have been directed at this rearrangement of our martial affairs. Perhaps the noble Lord who is to reply may feel it possible to say something about this point.

From the contemplation of all these proposals, whether one looks at them as presented by Her Majesty's Government or even from the standpoint of this formidable article in to-day's Times, there emerges inescapably the necessity and urgency for pursuing disarmament by all possible means. If I say, as I have said to your Lordships before, that the choice with which we are confronted is the grim alternative of "disarm or die", that is not made less clear by what the Government are now proposing to us. I am glad to think that disarmament is once again being kept foremost upon the stage by the arrival of Mr. Dulles, at the behest of President Eisenhower, within the last day or so. It is a great thing to be able to keep the talks going, and I hope that not only will they be kept going but that something will emerge, as indeed, when we last debated this matter, we had reason to think might shortly be the case. It seems impossible to believe that the nations are so far apart that not even a beginning can now be made. I refuse to believe it, and I hope that the attention which has been directed throughout the world to the events of the present time, as a result of the action taken by President Eisenhower, will have some positive effect.

Having made those general observations I must direct myself, and your Lordships' attention, to some of the points which seem to me to arise out of the White Papers recently published. So far as the future organisation of the Army is concerned, I share with the noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, the feeling of satisfaction that the policy pursued by the Government has been not disbandment but amalgamation. I know well that there will be those in each of the amalgamated regiments who will consider that the end of the world has come. But it is mainly those who are past members of a regiment who feel that most, because for them it is the regiment as they knew it, which means everything as they look back. Those within the regiments at the time of amalgamation will each feel that its old tradition is being halves and shared. Those who come new into the amalgamated regiment in the future will feel that they have a double share of glory through inheriting the traditions not of one but of both the amalgamated regiments. A youngster posted to the 17th/21st Lancers acquires a famous motto: "Death or glory". He does not greatly mind—or even know—whether the motto comes from the 17th or from the 21st, that, for him, is his motto for the future: he is the heir of both those famous regiments. I believe that that is the spirit which will be found in the new regiments soon after amalgamation and reorganisation have been effected.

I think that I may speak with a measure of recent personal experience, drawn, indeed, not from the Regular Army but from the Territorial Army. As your Lordships will recall, two years ago there was a reorganisation of the Territorial Army which involved, at all events so far as the regiment with which I am associated is concerned, its amalgamation with two other regiments—I will tell your Lordships which they were, because that may give point to the story. My own regiment, to which I was appointed twenty years ago, was the St. Pancras Rifles, founded in 1798 at the time of the projected Napoleonic invasion. The two other regiments—founded in the same year and for the same reason—amalgamated with mine in 1955 were the Tower Hamlets Rifles and the Finsbury Rifles, the latter being the regiment in which Field Marshal Sir John Harding began his military career, as a rifleman. I was invited to continue as Honorary Colonel of the combined regiment. Naturally, I felt that there was quite likely to be a good deal of difficulty between these regiments, each of which was to be represented by a battery in the amalgamated regiment. I set myself the task of seeing whether, out of those three notable regiments, we could produce a single harmonious integrated unity. I am glad to tell your Lordships that, after two years of experience, I am able, hand upon heart, to say that where there were three units, there is truly now one.

When I was in camp with them, two or three weeks ago, on the coast of Norfolk, I spoke to the officer at the control post. The battery sergeant major was, I knew, like the officer, a member of the St. Pancras Battery. I said, "This looks like a St. Pancras Day." He turned upon me and replied, "No. Sir: this is Q Battery and this is the 512th Regiment of Royal Artillery". I accepted the rebuke, which was deserved, but I felt that it was also a tribute to the fact that the amalgamation had truly been effected and had proved successful. I believe that the same will apply in the Regular Army when the scheme put forward in this White Paper is carried into effect. If I may give one piece of personal advice to the noble Lord opposite (he may or may not care to take it, but it is based on experience), I would say to him that in his amalgamation he will be faced first with the question of who is to be the commanding officer of the new amalgamated regiment. Naturally, the better man will be selected but I would suggest to him that care should then be taken to see that the new Commanding Officer of the amalgamated regiment having been selected from one of the regiments, the Colonel of the regiment should then be selected from the other. I believe the noble Lord would find that that would have a great effect in ameliorating feelings. That at least has been my observation.

I now turn to the White Paper on Compensation. If I were to say that the terms of compensation take me somewhat by surprise, because they are very generous; or if I said (which I do not) that they are meagre and insufficient, the noble Lord opposite might say that it is very difficult to do right—and so it is. But on the whole, speaking at all events for myself, I believe that these gratuities are fair and on the generous side, rather than otherwise. And they should be on the generous side, in the conditions with which we have to deal. But do not let us overlook the effect that this may have in other directions as regards pension rights or compensation for those in civilian life—for instance those in ordnance factories—who, owing to a reduction in the necessity for armaments may lose their jobs. The answer may be, and I daresay is, that they have a much better chance of finding a job elsewhere in these days, with the technical skills which they are able to bring to hear. Nevertheless, it is a factor to which I suppose attention has been given, along with the effect from the inflationary aspect.

Speaking of this compensation as compensation to these officers and other ranks, in the circumstances I think it is fair enough, and even generous. At present rates of taxation, it would take years for these officers to amass the capital sum which they are now to receive as compensatory payment. I hope they will not jump for every "wild cat" scheme that is presented to them for the investment of these sums of money, for, as a broad generalisation, they will not be able to amass that amount of capital again for many years, if at all. So let them stick to it whilst they have it. Seeing the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, sitting opposite I have wondered whether perhaps this was not an opportunity for reviving something in the nature of the citizen's advice bureaux, in which during the war the noble Viscount took so much active and invaluable interest, so that those bureaux might advise officers and other ranks on the manner in which they might best deal with their compensation, and also give warning and advice when they thought that those men were going to make a mistake. I throw that out as a suggestion.

How are these officers who are to leave the Army going to be selected? I understand the programme is that volunteers will be called for, and it will then be seen whether enough volunteer to answer the requirements. if more volunteer than are required, the War Office will have to exercise a certain power of selection. If too few volunteer, then the War Office will have to add to the number others who have not volunteered. This is the difficulty, for those who volunteer may be drawn from some of the most promising of the younger officers—those who have been through the Staff College and been marked down for promotion to higher rank in the future; and those who do not volunteer may be those who prefer to feel safe in the job they have in the Army.

If many of the better qualified officers volunteered, and their number was disproportionate to the others, so that when they had gone the Army would be left with the second quality men, the War Office would then have to say to those of this higher quality who had volunteered: "We cannot let you go. You must remain in the Army and we will substitute for you someone who has not the same high qualification." I very much doubt the wisdom of that course of action, for if a man is asked to volunteer to leave his profession, and agrees to do so, it is rather hard to be told afterwards: "After all, you are too good and are not to be allowed to leave the Army." Moreover, the better qualified men probably will not volunteer to leave unless they have made arrangements to go to some particular post or into some particular business. To withdraw from them the power to leave after they have been invited to do so seems to me to put them into a very indifferent position and to bring them back into the Army not in the best mood. On the other hand, if the less qualified men are substituted for them, when those men seek employment prospective employers may ask: "Were you a volunteer or were you nominated to leave?" and I believe that those who have been nominated will have less prospect of finding a useful job in civilian life because of this differentiation. It is an awkward situation, which the noble Lord may think it worth while to look into. I very much doubt the practicability and profitability of calling for volunteers, except on the footing that those who volunteer are, in fact, to be allowed to go.

As regards resettlement, which is a vital matter, the prescription is very much "the same as before." The arrangements which are now contemplated do not, so far as my recollection goes, differ greatly from those made after the last war, and I will warn the noble Lord that the departmental arrangements of the Ministry of Labour, at Tavistock Square, with which I had a good deal to do in one way or another, certainly were not as satisfactory as one would wish. This was partly owing to the fact that those who were employed to find jobs for officers who had left the Army were drawn from the Services, and had neither the aptitude nor the necessary knowledge of civilian life for the work. The way to get military men into civilian jobs is not to have military men to advise them where to go but to have civilians to look after them. That is no aspersion on the military men, who are devoted public servants, but it just is not the sort of business for which they have any particular qualifications.

I would express the hope that, among other occupations open at all events to the younger men, may be the professions, and that arrangements may be made for the younger men to be able to spend some time in articles either in the accountants' or the solicitors' professions, or other similar professions, where men of good quality are always wanted. And I would express regret for the past and hope for the future—regret for the past that it has not been done, and hope for the future that it may be done—namely, that during, at all events, the last year of a serving officer's time in the Army, and that of other ranks, there may be a year's training in some occupation likely to be useful to him in civilian life. That, again, should be undertaken under civilian and not under military supervision and direction. All these questions of compensation, redundancy and resettlement are, as the noble and gallant Viscount has told us, wrapped up with the whole problem of recruiting. Whether it is recruiting for the Territorial Army or whether it is the more difficult recruiting for the Regular Army, these things are closly interlocked with the impression that is going to be made on the public mind as the outcome of the payment of the compensation and the arrangements for resettlement.

I would urge the noble Lord that there might be a little realism about all this. I am very much impressed by Welbeck College, which I hope may provide young officers of good quality for the Army. I have every reason to think that it will. I am told, however, that the other day the Chief of the Imperial General Staff held at Sandhurst a meeting with the headmasters of various public schools, and that he exhorted them to encourage their boys to take commissions in the Regular Army, holding out to them the fine prospects that there are in the Army to-day. But what is the use, at the very moment when officers are being asked or forced to resign, with their careers so much destroyed that they have to be paid compensation out of public funds, of exhorting youngsters to join the Army because it offers a considerable career?

One headmaster told me that the effect was lamentable; it seemed to be wholly unrealistic. He said that at a "leavers' meeting" last week, just before the end of term, the one subject of conversation among those who had intended to make the Army their career was that that profession was now gone; and he added that on one day—or it may have been one week—four parents had gone to him and said: "What are we to do now? It is no use sending our son into the Army." I am not suggesting that that was a correct assessment by parents or boys of the future; but I am saying that this was, of all moments, a wrong moment to take these steps and to hold out before these youngsters the prospects of a tine career in the Army, because those who held out those hopes were simply challenging rejection. It is a great pity, I think, that what might have been a good chance, if left to the right moment—


What is the right moment?


I can tell the noble Lord what is not the right moment—that is, when hopes are destroyed and when prospects are undermined; it is not the right moment when the Government have to pay £40 million in compensation to officers whom it is discarding. That is not the moment at which to suggest to youngsters that they should join the Army becaust it offers a steady and a splendid career. I say, give it a little time; let the new Army have the chance to mature a little; let us see what shape it is going to take; let us find the new spirit which inspires the new Army; let us see the effect when new quarters and other amenities and improvements of a material nature are satisfactorily arranged.

Finally, I should like to ask the noble Lord a question which I hope he may be able to answer. I think it is of importance that your Lordships should know how recruiting for the Regular Army is going. So far as I am aware, the last returns were published at the end of March. Returns, I think, are normally due at the end of June, and it may be that they are to be published quite shortly. So far as I can make out, the trend, roughly, in recent months has been hard to follow, because the total figures have jumped up and down, and there has been no clear separation between the recruits of various categories. What I should like to know is, on the present trend of engagement, re-engagement and prolongations, the size of the Army, as the Minister is now able to contemplate it, in 1960 and 1962 when the last National Serviceman is due to leave the Forces. That, as I think the noble and gallant Viscount pointed out, is really a vital question, because if the figures point to an Army on a volunteer basis of much less than 160,000—and at that one that is ageing and tending further to decline—clearly, we must go on with National Service, or we shall have to be content with a smaller Army to meet the contingencies we are likely to have to face from 1962 onwards. So I ask the noble Lord (I have given him notice of the question) whether he can give us some details of the recruiting figures during the past few months.

My Lords, I conclude on this note. What I have said with regard to the effect of all this upon prospective young officers is, in a sense, by the way and an indication of how things might better not be done. But I should hope that there are many young men who, as the Army evolves a new system, better amenities and wider responsibilities, may feel that there is to be found in that Army a vocation which they should adopt, a vocation honourable in itself, honoured by and useful to the country.

4.0 p.m.


My Lords, with reference to the Motion of my noble friend Lord Bridgennan, which I support, I wish in the first place to refer to Command Paper 230, The Future Organisation of the Army, and particularly to that part which refers to the Brigade of Guards. The main reductions in the Brigade include, in the first phase, placing the 3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards in a state of "suspended animation", as it is euphemistically called, and, in the second phase, the 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards is to be similarly treated. Whilst no mention is made of it in the White Paper, it is understood that the Training Battalion at Pirbright is also to be abolished. That would be a considerable economy and quite reasonable, so long as there are enough battalions in London—and this is a big point—to admit of the necessary proportion being spared for training in their duties in the field.

It is stated that the proportion of "teeth" arms compared with administrative services is to be increased in the Army generally, but this does not appear to be the case so far as the Brigade of Guards is concerned. As was made clear, I hope, by the Question which I put to-day, the 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards and the 3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards are in one sense, and in one sense only, not comparable with one another. The 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards is the oldest battalion of the British Crown. The 3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards, which I know from having commanded it and having a good deal to do with it, is a first-rate battalion, and one of the youngest battalions of the Crown, having been raised during my own service in the year 1898. The 3rd Battalion Grenadiers is one of the old Brigade of Guards. It served in the Peninsula, at Waterloo and in the Crimea. But it is to be dealt with simply as a battalion, or as a third battalion.

The 3rd Battalion was one of two battalions of whom it is recorded that Sir John Moore, on the retreat to Corunna, when sadly watching the confusion and disaster into which the majority of his army had fallen owing to the hardships of the retreat, said, when he saw two completely orderly battalions approaching, "Ah, those must be the Guards from the way they are marching." And presently the 1st and 3rd Battalions of the First Guards passed him in perfect order. And that tradition still persists. I have recently seen a letter from a lieutenant-colonel of the Line describing how he saw that same 3rd Battalion come down to the Mole for embarkation from Dun-kirk on June 1, 1940. After having heavy losses and after the hardships of the retreat, they were completely disciplined and every man in his place and in step.

These may be dismissed as sentimental reasons, but, sentiment apart, there are very sound reasons for not reducing the Brigade of Guards. Presumably there is no intention of reducing the state associated with the British Crown. If that is so, it must be pointed out that there are now normally only two battalions of the Guards in London doing the same duties that were formerly done by five battalions, and that not infrequently involves men being on guard up to ninety-six hours a week. Perhaps it might be said that that is nothing; it is what they are there for. But if we keep men on guard like that, with little sleep and wearing uniforms and boots night and day, we must give them rest in between guards. And if they are to get rest, they cannot be given the proper training in field duties, even if the necessary ground were available and handy in London. As it is, they are apt to get stale from excessive guard duty, as well as lacking the necessary training in duties in the field.

There should be at least four battalions—I should prefer to see five—for duty in London. And both Wellington and Chelsea Barracks ought most certainly to be rebuilt to take two battalions each. That, to my knowledge, certainly in the case of Wellington Barracks, has been put off year after year for at least the last thirty years—I should say for longer—and I do not suppose that there are such bad barracks anywhere in the Army as Wellington Barracks, which were built in the reign of King William IV.

It is my personal opinion that there ought also to be two battalions at Windsor to admit of the duties there being properly done and time given to have the necessary field training. If London and Windsor are to be properly garrisoned and the duties about the palaces to be properly carried out, then there cannot be as well large reductions of numbers, besides having Guards battalions serving in Germany, Cyprus and elsewhere in the world. I suggest, therefore, that it is a mistake to reduce either the 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards or the 3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards, especially the 3rd Battalion Grenadiers, with its antiquity and its great record of service. Both are necessary if the ceremonial duties about the Court are to be properly carried out and if at the same time the troops of the Brigade are to be properly and fully trained, as they ought to be and as they always have been.

I would say a word about the future organisation of the rest of the Army. First, I would speak of the Royal Armoured Corps. I wonder whether it would not be better to keep intact more of the cavalry regiments, whose traditions are great, especially for rapid movement and seizure of opportunity, rather than maintain so many battalions of the Royal Armoured Corps, which, after all, is a new corps. As regards the Infantry of the Line, the scheme has been sprung upon the regiments. Surely time is required for due consideration of these schemes. These marriages (if I may call them so) of regiments may be suitable on paper, but if one partner does not see eye to eye with the other—and there are some such cases—it does not make for a happy union, as it should be and as we hope these unions will be. I can suggest one which is certainly not suitable, I would have said—that is, the one which was mentioned by my noble friend Lord Bridgeman.


My Lords, would my noble and gallant friend refresh my memory and tell your Lordships what one he has in mind as an unpromising amalgamation?


My Lords, I have several in mind, but the one which was mentioned by my noble friend, who moved this Motion, was that of the Rifle Regiments and the red-coated Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.


My Lords, may I get this point straight, to avoid misunderstanding? I was under the impression that my noble friend Lord Bridgeman—I may have misheard him—quoted that as an amalgamation which was likely to be successful.


My Lords, my noble friend did not mishear me.


My noble friend suggested that it was not very promising.


My Lords, I am afraid I did not suggest any such thing. I beg my noble and gallant friend's pardon if I did not make myself clear.


My Lords, I am afraid that I misunderstood my noble friend and I withdraw my suggestion about that. But I do say that there are other cases—I will not quote them, because I may be mistaken again—where there are doubts as to the success of amalgamation.

Then there is the proposed grouping in so-called brigades. A brigade is a tactical formation, and it is going to remain a tactical formation, although not exactly in its present form. I would suggest that these so-called brigades might be better named groups. Here again, it is necessary that these brigades or groups should be composed of regiments that have friendly feelings for one another and for their union, especially as non-commissioned officers and men are to be liable to transfer within the brigade, and senior officers are to be liable to transfer within the brigade on promotion. There is also the matter of the one cap badge for each brigade. I cannot help thinking that this, as well as, in my view, being unnecessary, will be unpopular. Regiments value their badges, which mean a lot to them. I wonder, too, whether one other matter has been fully considered—namely, whether it will be possible to raise by voluntary recruiting sufficient men for even the much reduced numbers which are contemplated. I suggest that that is an important matter to consider.

For all these reasons I hone that time will be given for further consideration of these various questions, and that decisions taken will not be considered as being irrevocable. I wonder, too, whether we are not cutting our conventional forces too fine. There are bound to be incidents, such as that of Oman, which is going on now, or larger incidents such as Korea, where it will be undesirable to use nuclear or hydrogen missiles but with which we must deal firmly and effectively. Generally, I would suggest that, though from the air it is possible to terrify and destroy, yet it is only a man on the ground who can occupy, administer or pacify. That is a matter which is sometimes forgotten by people nowadays.

As regards the question of compensation for premature retirement from the Forces, I know well that other noble Lords have already dealt with this matter and that others still will do so. I will, therefore confine myself to saying that, while it is difficult to calculate in pounds, shillings and pence fair terms of compensation for the upsetting of all the prospects—for it means all in many eases—to which officers and warrant officers have been looking forward, yet, if it is to be, the terms set out seem to be not unreasonable, and, in fact, some of them seem to be generous, especially in the case of warrant officers. So much is this so that, in the event of a substantial number of warrant officers availing themselves of the new terms of retirement and the capital payments, it is questionable whether it will be possible in the immediate future adequately to fill their places; and it will be most important to do so. Particularly will it be important if a considerable number of warrant officers avail themselves of these promised terms and at the same lime enlistment and recruitment fail to produce the number of recruits that are desired.

I wonder whether these matters have not been sprung upon the country at rather short notice, in the hope that there will not be much discussion about them. It is the "fag end" of the Session, and these terms have only recently been produced and sprung upon the nation. I hope that time will be given for adequate consideration of these matters and, as I said earlier, that decisions taken will not be regarded as irrevocable. I hope very much that this scheme, or some such scheme, may be successful but, none the less, that it will receive further consideration and will not be rushed through in very quick time.

4.16 p.m.


My Lords, this is the first occasion on which I have had the honour to address your Lordships' House, and I must apologise for occupying valuable time in an important debate of this nature when I am sure you are wanting to hear other noble Lords far more qualified to discuss military matters than I am. If it is some slight consolation, I will not detain your Lordships for many minutes. I wish to comment upon only one aspect of Army reorganisation—namely, that of the amalgamation of certain regiments of the cavalry of the line. As your Lordships will see, six regiments are going to be amalgamated, making a net reduction of three cavalry regiments. Before I go any further I must make it clear that I am not against amalgamations, as such. Obviously, they are to be preferred to disbandment, and the taxpayer cannot be expected to finance regiments which are no longer needed. But what I have been wondering, with great respect, is whether alternative methods for dealing with this situation have been fully explored.

To return to the question which I have uppermost in mind, certain possibilities have been mentioned to me regarding amalgamations, and I propose to repeat them to your Lordships in the hope that they may, at least, ensure a stay of execution. I am not going to pretend to your Lordships that in all this I have no axe to grind; I have. In the words of the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, I am a past member of a regiment, and I want to ensure that my old regiment, the 7th Hussars, is at least the cavalry to save first, or, failing that, to amalgamate last. As I see it, when National Service has been abolished recruiting is going to be the major difficulty to be faced by the Army in the future, and in these days of full employment it is not going to be at all easy to obtain enough recruits. In this respect, I am informed that the 7th Hussars have the highest number of Regular long-service content, as opposed to men enlisted for three years only, of any cavalry regiment. They disembarked only this morning at Southampton after returning from Hong Kong, but I am informed that they have enough Regular enlisted men at the present moment to go on active service, if they had to, next week. They have not at the moment many recruiting difficulties, for various reasons with which I will not detain your Lordships now. They have contacts which ensure a regular flow of boys as Regular recruits and, unlike most of the Army, the 7th Hussars know for certain that they can keep up to strength in Regulars for at least the next year or two.

This business of recruiting brings me to the first of two suggestions which I am going to make. At the moment, the armoured divisional signals regiment is provided—it always has been provided and, I think, is going to be provided in the future—by the Royal Corps of Signals who, I understand, are finding difficulty in recruiting enough Regular men. If a cavalry regiment replaced the Royal Corps of Signals in this particular job, as was actually done by the Cheshire Yeomanry in the Middle East in the last war with great success, recruiting difficulties would be solved in this respect at least, at no extra cost to the Government at all. That is one possibility.

Furthermore, it has occurred to me that within the next two or three years the country may be faced with the hard necessity—I hope it is not, but it may be—of creating a light armoured regiment which could be airborne and which could accompany the infantry brigade which, I am informed, is going to be specially maintained as a kind of Imperial "fire brigade". In this respect, it is worth mentioning that two light tank regiments of this nature, in so far as equipment is concerned, would cost only the equivalent of one normal heavily-armoured regiment. I imagine that the reason for that apparently rather astonishing statement is the cost of the tanks. That is what I am informed, at any rate. Also, in this respect, it is worth bearing in mind that Russia maintains airborne armoured regiments.

In respect of these suggested alternative rôles for avoiding, or, at least, postponing, amalgamation, I should like to close by emphasising that cavalry always welcome, and always have welcomed, change. In the past, cavalry regiments have fought on horses, as commandos, as infantry battalions, as machine-gun battalions, as armoured regiments, as floating tank regiments, and as glider regiments. They are the most versatile people in the Army. And in all these varied and many-sided rôles they have never lost their spirit of aggression and improvisation. They have retained unimpaired their traditions and incidentally, their cap badges. Surely, a way can be found of avoiding the sacrifice of these priceless assets. My Lords, I beg to support this Motion.

4.25 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure that all noble Lords present will, with me, give a welcome to the maiden speech that we have just heard from the noble Lord, Lord Templemore. We have been expecting that he would join us earlier than he has in contributions to the debates in this House, because we have recollections of his respected father who rendered so much public service in the past, especially to the Party to which the noble Lord himself belongs, and whose services here were always appreciated. The noble Lord has spoken to-day with the experience and the view of an experienced soldier. We have been glad to have his views, and I am sure we shall all listen to him on future occasions with great interest and pleasure.

The debate which has been opened to-day by the noble Viscount. Lord Bridgeman, has seemed to attract more attention in your Lordships' House than the debates upon the Ministry of Defence White Paper, upon the Royal Navy or, so far as we have attended to it in full, the debates on the Air Estimates. We have a long list of speakers, and we have come to view the severe cuts in the Army Estimates as being likely to focus attention upon the great decisions that have to be made this year and next year with regard to the future formation of our defence services.

It is perhaps valuable to those who have expressed some doubts about the ultimate programme which will result from the Defence White Paper, that to-day we have had such a lead given to us in The Times leader—the "formidable leader," as my noble friend Lord Nathan referred to it to-day. It has taken up a phrase which both of us have used previously from this side of the House, which is that the decision of the Government, in its White Paper policies of the last two years, to regard the nuclear weapon as the ultimate deterrent, and taking fully into account in estimating what we could afford, has meant that we have now reached "the point of no return." That point of no return means that we have to decide how far we are going to concentrate almost entirely upon the production of an expanded programme of nuclear weapons, not only of the kind we have seen in connection with air-conveyed missiles, but in the very large and long-distance ballistic rockets. I think is of fundamental importance to remember what the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, pointed out to us this afternoon when commenting upon the Army White Paper. I think his reference in drawing your Lordships' attention to the map at the back of the Paper is very important. It gives a quick picture of the kind of commitments we shall have to keep in mind when we are drafting and drawing up our programme for the effective defence, not only of the home base, but of all the widespread commitments that we have to cover.

I must say that I feel very much with the writer in The Times this morning that if we cannot afford to maintain the full development of all the nuclear weapon programme which has been proposed up to date, and which might still further be expanded, as well as maintain the full numbers and equipments of the conventional forces to meet our commitments, then we had better think again before we give up so much of our programme of what is called conventional defence. I was rather interested in what the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, said about the use of the word "conventional" in these matters. I suppose it is meant to represent all those weapons which have never yet had to be prohibited by an international convention. I suppose that is the way in which the word has arisen. But it is certainly a horrible thing to think that we might go along the road he suggested, and gradually go on expanding these horrible and fearful methods of war, with no obstacle in the way of their becoming the conventional weapons.

Nevertheless, with regard to those that we look upon as conventional up to the present, I must say that there is a growing and widespread feeling in the country that perhaps we are cutting too deeply and too quickly into them, and not for the best reasons, at a time when, if we held on to a reasonable quantity of conventional weapons, we might have a far better bargaining position in any situation which might arise out of the Disarmament Conference which, in the first place, seems to be largely directed to dealing with nuclear weapons.

We are, it seems to me, likely to pursue a policy in general in our disarmament and international conferences of saying that we must retain a nuclear weapon, provided, of course, that if there is any restriction or banning of nuclear weapons, there is at the same time equal emphasis upon conventional disarmament; otherwise we should be in a very serious position. But if we pursue the kind of policy which has been adopted in these Estimates for the Army, we may find ourselves in a situation where, having reached an agreement for preliminary or partial banning of the use of the H-bomb or atomic weapons, we then turn to discuss reduction of conventional arms; but having already made a greater contribution than we ought to have done at this time, we cannot be expected to make it again at the next stage of negotiations. It seems to me that that is a quite serious point which should be observed.

I beg the Government to think particularly of one phrase that I spotted in The Times leader. It was this: A Cabinet decision is urgently needed to ensure that next year's defence expenditure will be determined by what is militarily necessary and not by what is politically expedient. I think anybody who has had any experience at all of being responsible for a military defence policy knows perfectly well that in the end, in order to deal with the matter satisfactorily, political decisions and desirabilities have to be put very much on one side if there is to be a fair assessment of what is the right military defence programme to adopt. It seems to me that we have been rather hurried into this situation by the fact that it has been necessary to save a great deal of money as quickly as possible, and that the hurried decision has been come to without any real working out of the tactical and strategical position which is likely to face us after this has been done.

I should like to ask some questions of the noble Lord who is in charge this afternoon, Lord Mancroft. We always look forward to his replies to these debates because he is so careful and gives so much attention to detail. The first question I would ask him is: was this programme for the reduction of defence provisions, including these reductions in the Army Estimates and personnel, ever a matter of consultation between our Minister of Defence and, say, the military sections of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Council? Was it agreed to? Has it already been inquired into in regard to the effect it will have upon the rôle of the Army in Europe, for example, in the next few years? It would be interesting if we could find that out and see, therefore, upon what basis we are likely to be working out our defence programme.

Then I should like to ask about something that struck me in the speech of Viscount Bridgeman, and that was the question of reserves, and his reference to the central reserve. It is very interesting to look briefly at paragraph 5 (d) of the Memorandum, where reference is made to the contribution that the Army will make to the reduction. It is said that part-time training in the Reserve Army has been restricted to volunteers and has led to the consequent reduction in Vote 2. I think it would be for the guidance of the House if the noble Lord in charge could tell us in the course of his reply what is going to be the actual strength of the reserve, both voluntary and compulsory, for, say, at least the next two years to which this programme looks forward? What is going to be the strength of both the voluntary and the compulsory reserve, and what is going to be the training time that is to be given to the volunteers? If, of course, we are going to rely in future entirely upon voluntary forces for our Regular Army, it seems to me to be a great pity that we should be disbanding so rapidly many of our voluntary auxiliary organisations, because in times of stress and struggle and major crisis in the past they have been such a great stand-by to us in every one of the Services.

The other thing I should like to talk about this afternoon is partly in relation to these reserves and is the question how soon the Government consider that switching over to the attempt to get a Regular Army of 160,000 to 170,000 men is going to be successful? How soon do the Government consider that they will be able to get an Army of that strength ready to act in meeting all our commitments? I think that we have been banking much too heavily upon being able to recruit soldiers into the Army merely by offering more money for signing on. I think the motions which have been made so far by the Government towards trying to get longer periods of enlistment are an excellent thing, but that when they begin to offer the suggested financial inducements for voluntary enlistment they should be careful to make it clear whether or not the terms offered are going to be a contract and whether the contract is going to be kept: whether, for example, if there is another crisis, credit squeeze, or something of that kind in two, three or five years' time, the people who are to be engaged under the new voluntary recruitment on terms now to be drafted, can rely on those terms not being reduced.

I must repeat what I said to the noble Lord on the Second Reading of the separate Bill which he introduced in the House a few days ago: that if you look at the experience of the Royal Navy at Invergordon in 1931, you find that the principal cause of the mutiny which so unfortunately happened was just that. I repeat what I said the other night: that the men who enlisted pre-1925 in the Royal Navy were the people who caused the mutiny, because they had been told that in no circumstances would their contract conditions be reduced, but they were all brought down in the common reductions that took place in September and October, 1931. In the present circumstances, in which the Forces of the Crown are coming in for such a slashing as is taking place now, I think it is fundamental that you should say whether or not the terms of cash in the numerals in which you state them are to be the minimum for the whole contract of service of these people. I did not get an answer to that point the other day in the debate, but I think it is of fundamental importance if we are to maintain not only the flow of recruits that we want but are to have the best possible spirit in the Forces at any time and in any financial circumstances that the country has to face.

Now I come to the question of the arrangements which are being made for reducing the establishment by way of amalgamation of regiments. I do not have to go into details of regimental considerations, as the noble Lord. Lord Jeffreys, and the noble Lord, Lord Temple-more, did. I never held a commission, except in the very much despised Labour Corps and in general service on the Staff, but I do say that it seems to me to be the best possible thing that instead of disbandment there should be such other reductions as are possible, if we have got to slash, and that we should amalgamate rather than disband. I dare say my noble friend Lord Ogmore, who is to speak later on in the debate, may have something to say about these regimental traditions; he knows more about them than I do. But I think that in what you have to do at the present time, according to the policy of the Government, it is better to amalgamate than to pick out a smaller number for absolute destruction and disbandment.

I should like to come to the conditions which have been published for compensation to the various sections, commissioned ranks and non-commissioned ranks, in each of the three Services. I think the comment of the weekly newspaper, the Economist was probably the right one: it indicated that the compensation was not only adequate but probably more than generous. That may be an opinion held by many people. It emphasises in my mind the point made by my noble friend Lord Nathan earlier this afternoon: that is, that as these quite considerable capital sums will come into the hands of officers, some of whom have not been connected with commercial life, and also into the hands of, say, senior non-commissioned warrant officers—£1,500 or £1,600 at a time, plus an attenuated pension—the word should go out in some ways or the other from the Service Departments that they would be well advised not to fall for the snares of that class of people who are sometimes described as "City sharks" and who put forward all kinds of new schemes and ideas by which any person who can put up a small capital will make a very large return. I hope that some means will be found to give advice and warning in those respects. Otherwise, I feel that having regard to the width and depth of the slashing of the Forces in this year's White Paper, it was no more than justice for Parliament to ask the Government that the compensations which were to be given should be fully adequate.

In conclusion, although perhaps many people of my own political views in the country may not agree with me (because they have always been very keen on having no National Service and on having a voluntary Army and Air Force; there has never been much difficulty in getting a voluntary Royal Navy), I must say that I view with considerable concern the situation which has arisen and which I understand now from the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, would not have been avoided under the actual drafting of the previous Statute on National Service. If there should be any real failure in achieving by voluntary enlistment the strength of Forces which will be the absolute minimum necessity, then you will have to revert to National Service, and that means—as I hoped it did not mean—entirely new legislation to re-impose National Service. I think myself, although I am certainly not speaking at the moment for my Party as such on this particular point, that the country as a whole say that if you do riot get the voluntary enlistment required it is the bounden duty of any Government which has the responsibility of the defence of this country to get the people required by other means. It is essential that we should make that clear at the present time, even although, as I say, I cannot say at the moment that I am speaking for the National Conference of the Labour Party or any overwhelming Labour point of view in the country.

If you can get voluntary Forces adequate, sufficient, and able to defend our country as the home base and our widespread commitments overseas, very good; but if that is not so—and I could not find it to be so myself in 1946, 1947, 1948 and 1949—the one trap into which you must not fall is to be left without your minimum effective defence. I wish the Government every success in getting the voluntary Regular Forces, but, whatever else happens, whilst we shall do all we can to co-operate with others who think with us and have the same principles, in the end the nation is responsible for its own defence and Parliament must see to it that it is adequately equipped.

4.45 p.m.


My Lords, with the last sentiments of the noble Viscount opposite, I entirely agree. We must, if we cannot get sufficient Forces by voluntary means, use other means, as he has said. I am very glad that he has said so, and it does him the greatest credit, because I know that he has always had the real interests of the Services and National Defence at heart. We have sometimes differed on principle, but in this we are at one. I was not quite sure what be was referring to in his remarks about the nuclear deterrent (I have not read The Times leading article) but I have always had the greatest admiration for the noble Viscount, in that he was the Minister responsible, I think, and was certainly at the foundation of our nuclear experiments which had the successful outcome in the atom bomb.

I must say, though the matter is complicated and the economics difficult, that I cannot conceive that we could do anything more unwise than at this juncture to discard what I might call the "Ace of Spades." All of us wish to see disarmament on the widest possible scale, but unless we have that weapon—we must face it—we shall become completely a client State of Russia or the United States. When I recall the attitude taken, not only by the noble Viscount's Party, but a great many other people as well, about the American policy in the Far East, and how loud were the cries that we should dissociate ourselves from the United States in that policy, I find it hard to conceive that the noble Viscount's Party should now wish to give up the one power we have of having any independent policy at all.

My Lords, we are really to-day discussing the three R's of reorganisation, resettlement and recruitment. I listened, as I must, deeply affected, to the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Jeffreys, as I have had the honour to serve in the regiment which he commands. Although I realise the difficulties of Her Majesty's Government, I hope they will ponder upon what he said about the necessity to have a viable Brigade of Guards. I should like to add that, as recruitment of volunteers is going to be supremely important in this new Army of ours, I believe that the regiments who are losing battalions will find it far easier to get the voluntary recruitment than a good many other regiments, not necessarily on grounds of superiority, but because they have a three-year and nine-year engagement.

I should like to pay this compliment to Her Majesty's Government They have been long in labour but they have not brought forth a mouse. I believe that, on certain assumptions—and they are very important ones—the schemes and policies which the Government have laid down in their White Paper are workable. Moreover, I think the announcements that have been made to the public and the Services have been intelligibly and sympathetically made. I myself have no personal repentance that I urged the Government to make these statements at the earliest possible date. After all, public Departments are not noted for over-haste in these matters: it is far more likely they would miss the bus than be there too soon. If I may mix the metaphors, they have just caught the train when the guard was waving his flag and blowing his whistle; they have got there breathless, but just in time.

The noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, and others have naturally, in a debate of this character, referred to those two great Secretaries of State, Lord Cardwell and Lord Haldane. What seems to me so important about the policies of these statesmen was that they were very clearly founded. They knew exactly the organisation of the Army which they wished to produce, and, because they were clear-sighted and prescient, their reforms endured. Lord Cardwell's survived, in essence, both the South African War and the First World War. We must ask ourselves: does a similar prospect now face us in the reorganisation which is now being produced to us?

I take it (though I am not sure that it is absolutely stated in terms in any of the recent White Papers) that the Army's prime task remains to uphold British interests overseas. We naturally have to defend these islands, but we do not necessarily defend them by troops on the ground in these islands. The whole success of this reorganisation will, in my view, depend upon obtaining a proper balance between the Home Establishment and the Forces overseas. If you cannot gain and maintain that balance, if you get turbulence and short-term postings, you will never get a happy and contented Service which can rely on definite tours of duty at home and abroad, arranging its domestic and professional life in accordance; and you will not get the voluntary recruits. When I talk about "home service" I make this allowance: that you may have to group home service with service in Germany. That will be because they are, or should be, two relatively stable areas. But, as the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, has said, all planning, whether in connection with weapons, barracks, married quarters or supplies of all kinds, depends on the maintenance of a stable balance between the Home and Overseas Establishments.

Therefore we must have clear thinking, as I see it, about the "fire brigade." I think it right that we should have somewhere, not necessarily in the United Kingdom, a centrally placed Reserve. I would ask the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, to give his attention to this point when he replies. I hope that the Government will not think that the "fire brigade" will count as Home Establishment. If, for example, it is to spend a year or so, let us say, in Kenya, fighting Mau Mau, then you must count the "fire brigade" as part of your Overseas Establishment, wherever it is situated. I think that Lord Cardwell's greatest monument is the permanence of the arrangements which he introduced, and perhaps the supreme test of all is the regard which we all have for the county regiments. It seems to us the natural order of affairs; we regard them as if they had always been. That is the success of the Cardwell experiment.

Under the changed conditions which now confront us, I am sure that strict regimental promotion, whether for officers or N.C.Os., is out of the question. The noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, who has a far more intimate experience of these matters at the War Office, has told us that we must get the statistical basis right if the new set-up is to be a success. With great respect, I agree with him. But when Lord Cardwell introduced his reforms, he incorporated the existing regimental system and made use of the great traditions which were already there. I ask this question. Is it the intention of the Army Council primarily to permit within the new structure cross-postings only where necessary, or is there to be a common list for field officers and above, and for senior N.C.Os? It seems to me that, if the latter is to be the case, it will inevitably destroy the regimental system. An officer who wishes to join, for instance, the King's Own Shropshire Light Infantry hopes one day to command it. If, when he reaches field rank, he is not given a better chance than an officer in another light infantry regiment, in due course that spirit will be destroyed; and you cannot be sure that you are substituting another spirit equally as good. I have been thinking about these matters—not from a hostile point of view—and I wonder whether it is right to have a common cap badge. We should think about that again. I am sure that that will be taken as a gesture that it is not the regiment which is to be preserved but a new entity which is to be created.

I have talked about reorganisation. I wish now to refer briefly to resettlement. Like other noble Lords who have spoken, I regard the compensation terms in general as fair. I am glad that the Government have deliberately not used the word "generous", because compensation is strictly an exchange of equivalents, and there can be no exchange of equivalents when a man's career on which he had set his heart is removed from him. Naturally I am pleased, because I am an associate of Sir Frederic Hooper in business and I have a high regard for his talents. I think he is the right man in the right place. I am equally glad that the director of this scheme is to be Sir Ronald lvelaw Chapman, who has been a colleague of mine on the Air Council, and for whom I have the highest regard. Naturally, the form in which industry is approached will be extremely important in this matter. That is why it is so important to have an industrialist on the spot. A great deal of responsibility (and I think this ought to be said in this House) is placed upon the larger firms in industry to bear a disproportionate part of the burden, for only the larger firms can have the resources to afford to train these officers, warrant officers and non-commissioned officers and to forgo the fruits of their training in the meantime.

There is one aspect of this problem which gives me special personal anxiety—I refer to what I may call the regimental officers. It is the pride and glory of our fighting arms in particular, and of the Services in general—but I am thinking at the moment, perhaps, more especially of the Army—that they have attracted the type of officer who wishes to lead and command troops. His ambitions may not be very extensive. He may wish perhaps, as all good officers wish, to command his regiment. He may succeed or he may not, but he is an officer, but he is the officer who, when times are at their worst, bears the heaviest responsibility of all. He is much more difficult to place than anyone else. Therefore I hope that my resettlement scheme will take especial care of that type of officer, because it is our duty to the past and our promise for the future.

There is one other aspect, if I may touch on it, and I put as a question to the noble Lord. Lord Mancroft: Can he assure us that this resettlement scheme which is to be introduced, and which we all trust will be successful, will be on a permanent basis? It is not only in the interests of individuals that it should be so but it is in the public interest as well. I believe that, in the career structures which I understand the Services are working out, it is most important that they should be so shaped that an officer has an incentive to retire when he can no longer give of his best. We do not want a large number of officers to be in jobs to play out time. It is useless to pretend that establishment committees, however severe they are, can prevail against the shaping of what I may call the career pyramid. If you have not a good job for an officer, and he has to go on serving for his pension or gratuity, a job will be found in the establishment, and there will be a corresponding lowering of efficiency throughout the Service. I attach enormous importance to raising the efficiency of the Services at every level, and particularly the rearward services.

I wonder if I may take the liberty of quoting from a hook by Lord Biddulph on the work of Lord Cardwell, which recounts the history of the War Office: It says: When"— in 1855— the War Office was reconstructed it was formed by what in geology is called a catastrophe. It consisted of part of the old Colonial Office, part of the old Ordnance Office, all of the Secretary at War's Office, part of the Treasury and a little bit of the Home Office. I think that a good many of those origins have been submerged, but a good many noble Lords and others who have served in the Army may detect that little bit of the Treasury sticking out still. The test of the efficiency of the public service is not arrived at by "squeezing" the Estimates to the last possible degree every year; the test of efficiency is a policy extended over the years, aiming not necessarily at small economies in the present but at large economy in the future—if need be, by spending now.

My Lords, I hope that wise and long-sighted counsels will prevail over what I may call, perhaps unflatteringly, "the Treasury mentality." We shall see whether or not the policies are wise when the question of the third "R"—that of recruiting—comes to the front. It is no good thinking of anything less than a 95 per cent. success. Anything less than that will be of no value. If you do not get your 95 per cent. you will not get viable units—units that can be trained and posted abroad, and units which will give stability of career. It must be a success, and it will not be a success unless great attention is given to conditions of service.

I know that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for War has this matter very much in mind. But he will need all his persuasion, all his determination, if he is to succeed; and he must strike while the iron is hot. Let us have better barracks now, not in the future. Let us continue to build married quarters in the places where they are needed. Let us have far better facilities for the education of Service children; and let us see that the uniform of the men who come and volunteer is worthy of their spirit. These are some of the conditions of service which require the immediate attention of the right honourable gentleman. All Service Departments of the Government and, also the Treasury, are on trial. But the War Office bears an especially heavy burden because of this major reorganisation of the Army, and an especially heavy burden for the national safety and for the Army's reputation.

A young cavalry officer some sixty years ago, taking part as an observer in a frontier action in India, said this about the British Army which he then saw in the field: Perhaps he"— the soldier— remembers that he is sprung from an ancient stock. and of a race that has always known how to die; or more probably it is something smaller and more intimate, the regiment, whatever it is called, 'The Gordons' 'The Buffs', 'The Queen's'; and so nursing the name, only the unofficial name of an infantry battalion, after all, he accomplishes great things and maintains the honour and the Empire of the British people. The writer of that passage is still the Colonel of the 4th Hussars, and has twice been Prime Minister. If the policy of Her Majesty's Government is successful, if the British soldier is wisely administered and well led, although the circumstances of the British Empire may have changed, he will still be the worthy upholder of the country's honour.

5.5 p.m.


My Lords, in the Memoranda before the House to-day, dealing with reorganisation and the rundown in numbers of the Services, the Army has had a hard knock. The Army is accustomed to that, and I am certain that it will take it in good spirit. I am certain that if you were to raise that well-known shout in which soldiers used to indulge—namely; "Are we downhearted?" the answer would come back, "No". But I feel that in the defence policy which Her Majesty's Government have put forward, the aim is the production of a long-service, voluntary Army, and the problem of recruitment therefore becomes a primary consideration—a matter which has been already enlarged upon by previous speakers.

There is one condition in the White Paper which I feel will probably militate against recruiting; that is, the imposition of the brigade cap badge. Those regiments which have been selected for amalgamation must, of necessity, choose an agreed cap badge. That is just too bad, but unavoidable. But I ask your Lordships to consider whether it is necessary to penalise the other infantry regiments by taking away their cap badges, which carry their honours and traditions, and of which their counties and cities are very proud. Psychologically, that is bad and cannot but cause resentment and friction.

Take, for example, the Gloucestershire Regiment, who have the privilege of wearing the cap badge both before and after their caps. This privilege was gained on the field of battle. Then consider some problems that might arise with the North Irish Brigade, which has two Fusilier Battalions and one Rifle Battalion; or with the Welch Regiment, which has one Fusilier Battalion and two Infantry Battalions. I fear to contemplate what will take place in Scotland—I dare not venture on that. I feel that the introduction of a brigade badge cannot be put down to a desire for economy in the Ordnance Services. Rather is it due to the desire of the War Office to foster an illusory esprit de brigade. The Continental regiment of three battalions is a combat formation which trains and fights together: but that is not the case with the proposed organisation of the British infantry, as this brigade is to be entirely for administrative and recruiting purposes. Except possibly in the case of the Brigade of Guards, one cannot visualise three regiments of a brigade fighting as one formation; overseas commitments will prevent it.

Is it therefore necessary to ride roughshod over regimental traditions and sentiment with this object in view, remembering that with the Cardwell system it took the best part of a generation for it to be reconciled within the Army—and that was just about the time when I joined it? Surely a distinctive flash on the shoulder would meet the case and proclaim the brigade designation? The effect on recruiting is bound to be adverse, and one cannot see a recruit of the future offering himself for enlistment in the Midland or Home Counties Brigade. An anomaly is also created by the fact that the Territorial Army and the Cadets are to retain their present regimental badges. They will be very pleased, but the Regular soldier, on the other hand, will not be so pleased. Old soldiers always like to see their old cap badge at regi- mental reunions and other "get-togethers." Finding the badge changed, they will not be so keen to persuade their sons and grandsons to follow in their footsteps.

Another point which I should like to put to your Lordships is the question of bands, which in future are to be brigade bands. Bands in isolated stations help to sustain morale; and in the past, as I knew as a commanding officer, they provided a good quota of the senior warrant officers; but I am told that if battalions are to have their own bands it will mean the loss of more fighting units, and that therefore the demise of the old battalion band must be accepted. But it is to be hoped that these brigade bands will be allowed a higher establishment and an increased band allowance to enable them to make a good impression as an incentive to recruiting.

Previous speakers have already mentioned the question of improving the dress of the Army, and I would ask, especially as regards the Regular soldier: Has not the time arrived for a smarter and more attractive dress to be produced? One cannot help feeling that seeing a soldier in the street in battledress is not likely to attract a possible recruit. I would forward the suggestion that, if financial restrictions are so acute in regard to the provision of a good uniform for the Regular Army, then soldiers might be allowed to buy authorised and smart walking-out dress on the hire purchase system.

The Memorandum on the Army Estimates refers to the Army Cadet Force as a valuable recruiting ground. It is to be hoped that the Committee now sitting, under the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, on the subject of the Army Cadet Force, the Report of which it is hoped will be available before the autumn, will remove certain anomalies as between officers of the Cadet Force and officers of the Territorial Army. It must be remembered that the Army Cadet Force belongs to the national youth movement and, as such, is also responsible for citizenship training. The results to be obtained from these cadets depend on the platoon and company commanders who have to "put the Army across" not only to the boys but to the parents as well, by pointing out that a career in the Army is well worth while. In their responsibilities in this respect they should not be allowed to be out of pocket in travelling to their drill halls or welfare huts. The good will of the parents is very important for recruiting. A boy of eighteen does not consider what he will be doing at forty, but his parents will do so.

To produce long-service soldiers, a reasonable prospect of employment should be offered, not only in connection with the present run-down hut with the Army of the future, so that those who join may have something to look forward to, possibly in the form of an integrated career in Government and in the Services. I raised this question some six years ago, but nothing concrete has so far emerged upon it, only the appointment of Committees. The future of the Army is so dependent on recruiting that I trust that the points that I have raised will be considered favourably.

5.18 p.m.


My Lords, I should not have ventured to intrude as an amateur in what must be primarily a professional discussion had it not been for the presence in the White Paper The Future Organisation of the Army of one terse and trenchant paragraph dealing with the Territorial Army. It so happens that I have been associated with that Force in various capacities almost, I am afraid, since its inception. I cannot profess to state a view which is anything but a personal one, but I believe that it would be shared by most of those who share with me a deep affection and admiration for the Territorial Army.

Before I turn to that more limited topic, may say a word or two upon the main topic of reorganisation, as one who has always been interested in the general problem of the Army. Accepting, as I think we must, that great changes are to-day necessary, it seems to me that the Army Council have conceived for those changes plans which are both sensible and sensitive. I believe that all who consider the general foundation of the scheme must be of the common opinion that to prefer the principle of amalgamation to that of disbandment was essentially the proper choice. For one thing, it has succeeded in preserving, at least in some form, so far as one can see, the title of a number of famous regiments; and in that connection titles are of enormous importance, for in them is centred and symbolised a great deal of proud history and devoted loyalty. We have most of us read in the past few years of surgical operations designed to separate Siamese twins. It seems that the Army Council is now setting out not to separate Siamese twins—perhaps to be modern one ought to call them Thai twins—but rather to create new, close-knit couples on the same model. I believe that the operation will prove successful, but some considerable period of convalescence may well be required before recovery is complete and the Army leaves the operating theatre ultimately better equipped to face the new conditions which prevail to-day.

The Territorial Army is now nearly half a century old, and during that half-century we have seen many changes in the Army as a whole, though, perhaps, seldom such drastic ones as those now under review. During that period, those of us who have been interested in the Territorial Army have at least thought, rightly or wrongly, that we detected that the "bludgeonings of fate", represented for that purpose by the Army Council, were apt to descend with a resounding thud upon the Territorial Army as the first victim. We were prepared, with our usual blend of apprehension and resignation, to receive once more something of the kind with the publication of the present White Paper. Our long experience led us to expect that "reorganisation" might once again be synonymous with "disorganisation".

But this time we have had a shock—and though a gratifying and uplifting shock, a shock it remains from—which we ere still slowly recovering, because on this occasion the Territorial Army has been allowed to achieve the height of its modest ambition, which is to be left alone. That is, already, a not inconsiderable advance. The whole picture of the Territorial Army is not one into which I propose to go tonight except to say this: that, of course, the Territorial Army, due to many circumstances—and not least among them the long-established administrative and recruiting system—is essentially an organisation which is based upon a local mechanism.

In the case of the Regular Army, if a man joins at Brighton he can, presumably, other things being equal, ask to be posted to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. A man joining the Territorial Army has, perforce—if he is to have any hope of carrying out the obligations which he is assuming—to join 'a unit which is within reasonable distance of his home. In that way I think you get, to a very high degree, the close connection of the officers and men of the Territorial Army with the unit; and not only with the unit with which they are serving, but with the county in which it is based. I hope that with the publication of this scheme, which I greatly welcome, we have arrived at a point at which for some time to come the composition and the character of the Territorial Army may remain unaltered in order that it may go forward with at least a prospect of being undisturbed for several years ahead.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Marquess to suggest that this would be a convenient moment to adjourn for the Royal Commission?

House adjourned during pleasure.

House resumed.