§ 3.15 p.m.
§ LORD OGMORE rose to call attention to the Report of the Advisory Committee on Recruiting (Cmnd. 545) and Her Majesty's Government's comments there-on (Cmnd. 570); and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I should like to congratulate the Committee who have produced the Report we are to consider to-day upon a forthright and able Report. The background to the Report is the Government's plan to bring National Service to an end by December, 1962, and after that date to depend upon Regular Forces, amounting to a total of 375,000 men. The Committee are of opinion that it will be possible to recruit this number or thereabouts by the date in question, but they express no opinion on whether this figure is the right one. We have debated this issue on several occasions and I have no doubt we shall be debating it again shortly. Therefore I do not propose to-day to enter into this particular issue. For the purpose of this debate I will take the figure as being a satisfactory one for the total strength of the Armed Forces.
§ The most recent figures from the Ministry of Defence would seem to be encouraging. According to them, 7,421 recruits were obtained in October, 1958, as compared with 4,812 in the same month a year ago. I congratulate the Government upon this figure and I hope that it will be maintained, because I can assure the Government that no one is more anxious than I for a Regular Army to be obtained from volunteers. I believe it to be the very best system for this country. The Committee say that the task of maintaining volunteer forces at the desired level will be no light one, and also that the main task will be to raise general recruiting and re-engagement rates to a level which will show an overall surplus of 15,000. This will help the less popular arms of the Service. In other words, they say that the Government will require, not 375,000 men but, in fact, 390,000, so that they can obtain from this overplus of 15,000 recruits men for the less popular branches of the Service. And they include the R.A.O.C., for example, as one of the less popular branches. Special considerations apply to the recruitment of officers and women, 254 which we shall hear about during the course of the debate.
§ We must look at this problem against the backcloth of social conditions in this country. In the inter-war years, as we remember only too well, there was heavy unemployment and low wages. The Regular Forces were maintained at between 320,000 and 375,000, which is more or less the sort of total the Government are hoping to recruit now. The Committee point out that in the early 'twenties and 'thirties there was a revulsion against war and a fervent, if not always consistent, belief in the League of Nations and collective security. Today, although perhaps these feelings are not present to the extent they were then, family and social influences are stronger than they were in those days, and the defence policy, with its reduction in numbers and its reliance to a large extent on the nuclear deterrent, has had a serious effect upon the supply of recruits.
§ The Committee then set out a number of factors affecting recruiting. These are not new ones, because on either side of the House we have mentioned all of them in our various debates. Indeed, the Committee do not pretend that they are new; they say rather that they checked, as it were, the various considerations and have not tried to obtain any new ones. Nevertheless, one or two of them are rather surprising. Your Lordships will be pleased to hear that I do not propose to go through all these factors to-day—that would be only wearisome—but have no doubt that noble Lords will in the course of the debate touch on all of them. I intend to pick out a few of those which have appealed to me and on which I think comment is necessary.
§ First of all, there is a rather surprising finding of the Committee on remuneration. They find that the pay of both officers and men in the Services is reasonably equivalent to that in civil life. They find, in general, that those in the Services are better off than they would be in civil life, although there are exceptions. The pay and allowances for the Services for the current year amounts to £325.8 million. This is a most gratifying finding, if perhaps a somewhat surprising one. I should not have thought that the Forces would feel that they were being adequately and reasonably paid. But as the Committee find this, we can only welcome that finding and be glad that the old 255 question of pay and allowances seems, for the time being, at any rate, to have been settled. Nevertheless, the Committee have made certain recommendations. They recommend that there should be an automatic biennial review of pay; and to this the Government agree. They recommend that the rates of disturbance allowance for other ranks should be increased; and again the Government agree. They recommend that education allowances for children at boarding school should be increased; and here, too, the Government accept the recommendation. The Committee further recommend that simplification of pay and allowances should be taken as an immediate action; and again the Government accept the recommendation.
§ The Committee then go on to make what I think is a surprising and, I should have thought, challengeable finding with regard to unemployment. They say that the experience of the inter-war years indicates no clear correlation between enlistment and unemployment, and that in recent years there has been no relationship between the areas where there are pockets of unemployment and those where recruiting is good. This is dealt with rather sketchily in one short paragraph of the Report, and it is accompanied by a graph which, like most graphs, is not, perhaps, very clear, in that it does not take in all the circumstances that might arise. For example, the factors militating against recruiting might have had a much more serious effect in the inter-war years if unemployment had not been high in those years; if, in fact, unemployment and the other factors had not been present, there might have been a much smaller Army than there was.
§ Moreover, the Committee do not deal with the effect of unemployment on recruiting for the Territorial Army, which is, to some extent, an analogy to recruiting for the Regular Army. My impression is that without heavy unemployment during the inter-war years, given the social conditions and political background to which the Committee refer, the Regular Army would have been hard put to it to maintain those numbers, and certainly there would have had to be a tremendous improvement in pay and conditions to attract the number of men who were attracted.256
§ Whenever I think of recruiting I always remember the tale of a man in my own regiment just after the First World War. He was a little man, but he was very hungry and very poor. He came down to the depôt of the Welch Regiment to join, and the medical officer said that he was half an inch under height and therefore could not join the Army. He then went out. He had ninepence in his pocket, and he went to the public house, which was conveniently situated just opposite the depôt, and bought a large bottle of beer, which, for the benefit of those of your Lordships who are not accustomed to the terms of the trade, is known as a flagon, for ninepence. He then asked a man who was standing at the bar whether he would hit him over the head with the bottle of beer, and he agreed. He got a piece of sacking and wrapped it round the bottle and this man hit him over the head with it and knocked him unconscious. Then this little fellow, whom I shall call Jones, although, surprisingly, that is not his name, when he regained consciousness, got up; he waited for a time, and an enormous swelling appeared on the top of his head. He then went back to the depôt and again saw the medical officer. He said to him: "I think you have made a mistake." The medical officer said: "I do not think I have made a mistake, but we will try again." He then measured this man again, and said: "Good gracious me! you are just the right height." This man, my Lords, served his King and country for many years, until his time expired, and he was a perfectly good soldier, although, strictly speaking, he was half an inch under height. I cannot think that if there had not been a lot of unemployment in South Wales in those days this man would have gone to all the trouble of getting someone to knock him unconscious with a bottle of beer to get into the Army. However, I may be wrong, and the Committee may be right in thinking that unemployment had no effect on recruiting.
§ The Committee then criticise the slowness in Service procedure whereby valuable office buildings are lost for recruiting premises. They commend the Royal Air Force for using young General Duties officers with recent flying experience, but criticise the Army for relying upon retired officers, and the Army habit of using special recruiters to recruit at recruiting stations. "Special recruiters" are senior 257 N.C.O.s, surplus to establishment, who are posted at recruiting offices to recruit for special regiments. This practice the Committee regard as "potentially dangerous"; and I have no doubt that the "special recruiters", as their whole object, try to get men for their own regiment; otherwise they would not be there.
§ The Committee do not say whether the pre-war link with the Territorial Army still exists, but in the days when I was a company commander in the Territorial Army I found it a curse that my permanent staff instructor on two days a week had to go off on a journey over a wide area, either on foot or by bicycle, signing in at every sub-post office on the way to show that he had been there, in order to try to obtain Regular recruits. Of course he hardly ever did obtain any. As I say, it was a nuisance. I do not know whether that practice still subsists, but, if it does, I think it should end. In those days, recruiting sergeants used to be anxious to get Horse Guardsmen or Life Guardsmen, because for those they got 30s., whereas they got only 5s. or 10s. for an ordinary soldier. Why a Life Guardsman or a Horse Guardsman was thought to be worth 30s. when everybody else was worth a maximum of 10s., I do not know; but that was the case pre-war, and it may still be the case to-day. That is the sort of point, unless the Government are anxious for very large Life Guards and Horse Guards Regiments at which they might look.
§ The recommendations on this matter of recruiting offices are that they should be well sited; and the Government agree. The Government do not altogether agree about the special recruiters; they think that the system has produced good results, although they do not say for whom; and they say that in any case the point will be carefully watched.
Then we come to discipline. The Committee say:
Where it is plainly indispensable, it should be strictly enforced. But there is room for the removal of pointless formality.
And they instance pay parades and working parties as matters which the Government should look into. I am not sure where the dividing line should be drawn on the question of discipline: it is so essentially a unit matter, and it is difficult to lay down hard-and-fast lines. We must remember that to-day young people chafe more than they did years ago at what they
regard as unnecessary discipline, and that the educational climate and social environment tend to encourage a relaxation of discipline.
§ The biggest irritant, as I am told by people now serving in the Army—although it is realised that it is inevitable—is the frequency and uncertainty of postings (a matter to which the Report refers), not to mention the uncertainty of being able to keep engagements, not six months hence but tonight—a matter to which the Report does not refer. It is realised that this is a necessary concomitant of Service life, but if a young man has made an arrangement to meet a young lady to-night at eight o'clock, he takes it a bit hard if perhaps, at twelve, noon, he is told off by the sergeant major to be on fatigue or guard, so that he is unable to meet his young lady. That, far more than some of the things mentioned in the Report, is the sort of thing which upsets the young soldier. However, as I say, he realises that in Service life that sort of thing often cannot be helped.
§ When we are dealing with discipline, one thing we must remember is this. To a large extent, in the last few years the various wars that we have had have not been generals' wars or colonels' wars or even captains' wars—they have been subalterns' wars. In the case of Malaya and Cyprus the unit has been the platoon; and when one hears of great policy pronouncements on Cyprus from the United Nations, President Eisenhower, Mr. Dulles, the Prime Minister, Archbishop Makarios, and all the rest, one has to realise that the man who is often responsible, who has to take decisions and who has an enormous burden cast upon him at short notice is the young man of, perhaps, nineteen, twenty or twenty-one years of age, in command of twenty-seven to thirty men, and often a National Serviceman. He is put in that difficult position in the present day and we must always try to give him the maximum help we can. So any discussion on discipline must be looked at carefully from the unit point of view, and from the point of view not only of the young soldier but of the young officer, who is responsible for the lives of the men entrusted to him and, it may be, for the lives of many other people among whom his platoon is operating.
Training and equipment are closely allied to discipline, and the Government
agree with the Committee's recommendations. On the whole the Committee link them up, I should have thought, to a rather closer degree than most people would. They say:
Training is the raison d'être of the Services in peace time. At the moment facilities are not always adequate. … Discipline is less of a problem than we had imagined. But there is still something to be done.
The Government fully endorse the Committee's remarks about the importance of making training interesting and providing adequate facilities. We should all agree with that. There is no doubt that training must be made interesting and that it has its bearing on discipline. But when we come to equipment, equipment is fully bound up with training and discipline. It is in fact fully bound up, and the caustic comments of the Committee on this subject are no surprise to many of us in this House.
§ Your Lordships may remember that in the debate on the Army Estimates on March 27 last, I referred to the parlous condition of the British Army of the Rhine and the state of their vehicles and other equipment. The Committee also raise this matter and deal in a trenchant way, pulling no punches whatsoever, with the condition of equipment in the British Army in Germany. I do not want to go into this subject at any length, but it is surprising to find—or it would be surprising if we did not know it already—that the Army have attempted to keep on the road rebuilt three-tonners from the Second World War. It seems quite a common practice in the Army to send two cars on a journey to ensure that at least one of them finally reaches its destination. One piece of military wireless in general use goes back to the last war, and is now quite out of date. Now this is really shocking. We were told of British units in Germany borrowing equipment from the armies of other countries so that they can make a passable show in combined exercises. Considering the vast expenditure the country has made on defence during the last seven years, that is a most extraordinary comment: that the British Army cannot go on exercises and make a good show so far as equipment is concerned—not maneffort—unless it borrows equipment from the other armies. I do not think I need say anything more about that.260
§ So far as uniform is concerned, the Committee have made certain recommendations, and I think we should all agree with them. They say it is essential that soldiers should have, as they have not now, a uniform properly designed for fighting and training, and also something smart for walking out. We have said that repeatedly over the years, especially about the walking out uniform. The Government agree, and models of new uniforms are being tested. I should like to ask the noble Earl who is to reply whether he can give us more details of the new uniforms which are being tested and when they are likely to come into service. The Committee also recommended that the soldiers should be issued with a raincoat instead of the groundsheet which up to now has been their only protection from the weather. It cannot on any basis at all be regarded as a smart garment. In fact, it is not intended as a garment at all; it is intended to be beneath the soldier and not above him. The Government accept this recommendation. Then there is the kitbag, from which we have all suffered. It is the most awkward thing to carry. You cannot carry it in your hand, and if you try to sling it over your shoulder it feels as if the cord is cutting through the cloth into your skin. At least the Government have accepted the proposals of the Committee that the kitbag should be replaced by a robust holdall with handles, and we are glad to hear that.
§ Now I come to the last factor affecting recruiting with which I shall deal, although, as I have explained, there are many others which will be taken up, no doubt, by noble Lords an both sides. This is the question of food. I do not know what the experience of other noble Lords has been, but my experience has been that food in the Army and, no doubt, in the other Services is of vital importance. If we had complaints during our Service careers it was generally something to do with food. The odd part about it—and this is really the only criticism I have of the Report, which I think is an excellent one—is that the only reference to food in this Report is contained in three short paragraphs and the Committee make only one recommendation. They seem to be quite satisfied as to food.
§ The only recommendation they make is that messes should be equipped with 261 cutlery so that people in the Services do not have to carry their own knives, forks and spoons with them when they go to meals. The Government, a little hastily I think, have accepted this recommendation. If you regard this recommendation as meaning what it says, it means that no longer will men be issued with or required to carry personal cutlery. It is all right if you are stationed at Aldershot in modern barracks, in the Artillery Depot at Woolwich, or in any of the other barracks. But what happens to the man who suddenly has to go out and chase terrorists in Malaya, or who has to round up people in Cyprus? He has no equipment with him because it is all in the mess. What does he eat with? What does he drink out of? I should have thought that the need for that recommendation, and still more for the Government to accept it, is rather extraordinary. Are not there still people in the War Office who remember the days when they had to go away from the clubs in Whitehall and depend on what they took with them? I do not know.
§ I agree, as I shall show in a moment, that it is most desirable that there should be cutlery in the mess and that it should be of a distinctive character. What the Army says is that if you provide cutlery in the mess the men will "pinch" it to make up the cutlery that they ought to have but have lost, or that somebody else has taken from them. The Committee recommend that there should be distinctive cutlery—not any sort of cutlery that a man can produce on parade as being the cutlery that was issued to him. That seems quite sensible, and nobody would object at all to that.
§ But to leave it that a man may not have in future any personal cutlery issued to him is most dangerous. It is unworkable now and will never be workable. What will happen is that the War Office Finance Department will seize with avidity upon this recommendation and say, "We will cut off the cost of supplying equipment of that kind to the soldier. There is no need for it. The Grigg Report has said that there is no need for it." So the unfortunate soldier will not get any cutlery; he will have to pay for it out of his own pocket. That is what will happen if this recommendation goes through. Some of us with experience in the Army will want to watch that one. 262 I have given the noble Earl notice of this matter in general terms. I hope that the Government will add to the acceptance of this recommendation a rider on the lines that I have suggested.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (THE EARL OF SELKIRK)
My Lords, the Government have not said that the soldiers will not have cutlery.
§ LORD OGMORE
That will be the effect of this recommendation. If you look at the recommendation, plus what the Grigg Committee have said in the Report, I think you will find that that will be the result. If the Government will now say categorically that that will not be the effect of the recommendation, that the soldiers will still be issued with personal cutlery and that this will be, in fact, distinctive cutlery, I am quite satisfied. I am asking only for elucidation on this matter. I do not think that either the recommendation or the acceptance goes far enough in this sphere.
On the question of food and messes generally, I must say that I feel that the Committee have not gone into this subject nearly closely enough. I cannot believe that the situation as regards food and cooking is nearly so happy as they indicate, and I am greatly surprised that they have not made any recommendation whatsoever (except this minor one that the soldiers should have their own knife and fork) about food, eating places, utensils, or anything else. My impression, based on a certain amount of inquiry from present-day soldiers, is that they are not altogether satisfied with the way in which food is cooked and served. They always say that the food is good, but that there is still a lot to be done—we know that to be true—with the service and with the cooking.
I do not see why their eating places, especially in established barracks or depôts, have to be so dingy and dismal—why they have to look like canteens. Why do they not look like restaurants and cafes' Where is the imagination in this matter? Only a short time ago—I think on the fourth of this month—on the Armed Forces (Housing Loans) Bill I made some comments about married quarters. Again, it has been shown in this Report that there is a considerable 263 lack of imagination on the part of Service architects and those in authority over them, with regard to colour, design and that sort of thing. Why should not the Services be able to eat in places which are attractive, with bright colours, clean, and having equipment of a modern type, instead of the type that one too often sees in these places? If the Service architects cannot provide it then, for heaven's sake! go outside and get someone who can.
That happened quite recently at Rhoose Airport, near Cardiff. Prior to the Empire Games it was desired to build a really attractive place for the reception of visitors, and the Committee responsible were permitted by the Ministry to go outside and to get a local architect. If any noble Lord would go down there he would find it worth while to have a look at that place. Out of an old hangar, no new building, that local architect produced something which was most agreeable—modern, bright, light and everything that one could desire. I cannot help feeling that, with a little imagination, it could be done in this case.
In conclusion I should like to say that it appears to me that Government reactions, as you have heard in these cases—and there are many others—are good so far as they go. The Government have given the soft answer that turns away wrath. We hope it is not just soft soap as well as a soft answer. In this case, as in all others, action will speak louder than words. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.47 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT BRIDGEMAN
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has certainly done the House a service in putting down this Motion and in drawing attention not only to the Grigg Report but to the Government's comments on it. I rather gathered from his concluding remarks that not only was he in general agreement, apart from a number of points of detail, with the terms of the Grigg Report, but was also (I hope I have not misunderstood him) in a certain amount of agreement with the Government's comments on it. My attitude will be much the same, because I should like in general to give as strong a welcome to the Report, and, although I, too, shall have some 264 comments in detail, a welcome also to the Government's recommendations.
The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, was quite right when he said that this Report and the subjects therein considered were part of the undertaking to reinstate the voluntary system as our sole method of recruiting. I think they will go a long way to do that. He talked at one moment on the question of unemployment. I agree with him that the effect of unemployment on recruiting is a most curious one. I myself was a Regular soldier between the wars, and although some of us thought at that time that because of the heavy unemployment figure in the early 'thirties recruitment to the Forces would increase, actually it did not. There was another force at work: the force which told the intending recruit, "If you want to get a job at all you had better stay around in civilian life and not take the risk of going away and finding your job when you come back after seven years."
However that may be, we are now in a different era. Unemployment in the early 'thirties would have forced the recruit into something which was the last choice. Let us hope that now, particularly if these recommendations are implemented, service in the Regular Forces will stand as a career in its own right to be chosen by a young man, and not as something into which he is forced until he can get a job on the land or in the mill. I am going to resist (as the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, resisted) the temptation to talk about the Territorial Army. That was not within the terms of reference of the Grigg Committee, and although I am sure that the time has come when we should talk about the Territorial Army I believe it would be right to defer doing so until some time next year, perhaps after the publication of the White Paper on Defence; because there is a great deal to be talked about on that subject.
Like the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, I am rather doubtful about the recommendations in the Grigg Report on recruiting. I feel that they want further examination. I, too, have always wondered why Life Guardsmen should be more expensive than the ordinary line soldier or anybody else, but, after all, it has always been so; and if the Life Guardsman was expensive, so was his 265 horse. This Report has received a pretty good welcome all round, both in the House and out of it. It is a Report which lets in a breath of fresh air and brings a lot of common sense to bear on the problems that are discussed. I myself, in past times, have been the recipient of the opinions of Sir James Grigg, both written and by way of the spoken word, and I feel that I know his style well enough to make a guess, having carefully studied the wording of the Report, that the greater part of it has not been drafted by secretaries or other "back-room boys" but has been written, word for word, by Sir James himself.
I feel that this is one of the biggest contributions we have had for a long time to helping in the solution of the problem of Regular recruiting; and if Parliament approves this Report one cannot possibly say that that is surprising, for if noble Lords care to do even the most elementary research in the matter they will find that practically every single thing that has been recommended by the Grigg Committee has been recommended in Parliament at some time or other, by Tories or Socialists, by noble Lords or by honourable friends. That is the fact of the matter. Therefore I feel that the recommendations of the Grigg Committee have told Her Majesty's Government and the Departments hardly anything that they did not already know or that their advisers did not know if they cared to tell them. Looked at in this context, this Committee is a rather different affair from other Committees which are appointed from time to time. For the benefit of the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack let me take the Royal Commission on Capital Punishment, where a very obscure and complex problem had to be looked into—one which wanted a lot of time from weighty minds. We have had first-class minds at work on the Grigg Committee but the problems have not been complex or obscure, and therefore that Committee have told Her Majesty's Government and everybody else only what anybody who understood the problem already knew.
We must observe this modern tendency, which I am bound to say I find a rather dubious one, of not relying upon the power of Ministers to make up their minds or on the power of their Departmental advisers to give sound, balanced, non-partisan advice. No; nowadays we 266 must have a Committee of this kind to fortify the opinion of Her Majesty's Government or the Departments before coming to Parliament. And against whom are we fortifying opinion? Are we fortifying opinion against the Government? Against Parliament? Against the public?—or whom? We are doing no such thing. We are fortifying the Departmental opinion against the Treasury, against the Gladstonian Liberalism in the Treasury with regard to the Forces which has been responsible for military disasters from the time of General Gordon, through the South African War, through unreadiness, through the First War, through unreadiness, and up to 1939, again through unreadiness.
If, therefore, we look at it in the context of the Grigg Committee we can see it as an incident in the ceaseless battle between the Service Departments in peaceful England, who try to obtain for the Forces a larger share of available Government funds and who can see that in standards of living, dress, feeding and all such things, progress in dealing with the Forces is nothing approaching the progress which has been made, say, by a Department like the Home Office in dealing with prisoners or delinquent children, or the progress made by the Ministry of Education; and when the two are put together the comparison becomes really grave.
Before long your lordships will see another example of this type of Committee when we come to consider the Report of the Committee which has been appointed under Lady Albemarle to deal with the Youth Service. There, again, if I make no mistake (and I do not think I do), we shall be dealing with a Report to fortify opinion which already exists and has already been expressed, and about which the facts are perfectly well known. Having said that, I believe it will be only right to go on to say that matters of this kind are never absolute; they are all a question of degree. What the Grigg Committee have done is to confirm that if we want to secure the right number of Regular recruits provision for the Services must be better in several directions, and therefore it is certainly very gratifying to those who care for the Services to see that Her Majesty's Government have gone so far as to accept the Report in many directions.
267 I feel that the White Paper which we have in front of us is very largely the answer to the Motion for Papers by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, and may simplify the task of my noble friend Lord Selkirk in making his reply. May I follow the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, in saying that this Government White Paper really amounts to a very marked step, in that it provides for a biennial review of pay and pensions? I also think that it is a matter for great relief that Her Majesty's Government do not go so far as to link pay and pensions to the cost of living, however much those who are fond of the Services may wish it. I believe that that would be a fatal mistake, as anybody who knows what has happened in Australia would agree. Here I feel a happy medium has been struck. But again it remains to be seen what happens when those biennial reviews take place, and whether, as the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, says, they take place in the spirit which I understand is behind the acceptance, by Her Majesty's Government, of this part of the Report. Again, they agree to increase certain allowances, but one cannot be entirely happy with that, for, as I have ventured to say to your Lordships more than once before, the only proper principle in dealing with allowances is that the allowance should cover the full cost of what it is intended to cover—the cost of the meal, the night accommodation, the journey, lodgings or whatever it may be; and I am bound to say that that principle still has not been accepted.
Again, it is very good to read that the Report recommends simplification of allowances, and so forth, but I wish it had gone a little further and made the point that simplification, if it is to be achieved, depends on delegation of responsibility; and so far as I can read, Her Majesty's Government, in their acceptance of the Report, have not accepted that principle. Your Lordships may take it from me that unless we get delegation we shall not get simplification. The Report deals very sympathetically, and on the whole very favourably, with the problem of careers for those who have to leave the Service before their working day is done. Had they accepted the principle that once a man joins Her 268 Majesty's Forces his pension rights become continuous we should have had a really worthwhile recommendation; but we have not got that. The Report deals fairly adequately with the pensions of those who are serving now. I do not think it touches the point which my noble friend Lord Jeffreys has made before and I believe will make again before this debate is concluded, concerning the pensions of those who have left the Services but whose plight or happy state, as the case may be, is bound to have a very great effect on recruitment.
There are a certain number of references in the Grigg Report itself to the question of officers, and whether they come from the right sources. I have a feeling that possibly the Grigg Committee did not have time to go fully into those matters. It is easy to say that more officers ought to come from the industrial north of England. But they never have come in large numbers from this area. One of the reasons is that the number of schools from which officers are likely to come is very much smaller in the North of England than in the South. The incidence of the combined cadet forces in the North is much smaller. It may be that we could get more officers from the North, and it may be that that would be a good thing; but I do not feel (and I am bound to say this) that the Grigg Committee have brought us any nearer to a solution of that problem, if, indeed, it can be solved. But I rather wonder whether the Grigg Committee had all the evidence they could have had about the sources from which officers come. I should have thought that at the present time, in the Army at any rate, a very high proportion of officers have actually served in the ranks, not merely as cadets at Sandhurst or at an O.C.T.U., but in such a way that, if they had not been considered suitable in the ranks to be officers, they would not have become officers and would still be in the ranks.
Then, my Lords, the Grigg Committee said a certain amount about discipline and training. They talked, as people always do, about "spit and polish"—which is now called "bull"—unnecessary parades and so forth. I do not think they made two points which I myself regard as rather important. One is the point which I remember making, when noble Lords opposite were in power, about the 269 impact of National Service on this question of finding enough to do. Some years ago, when the Labour Government were in power, I am pretty well certain that about 35,000 people were called up who were not really wanted; they had to be called up, because of the incidence of National Service, but they had not enough to do. Work had to be made for them or not, as the case might be; and a great deal of the crime in the Forces—and there was quite a lot at that time—was caused fairly and squarely by soldiers not having enough to do in the day time and going out on Friday night.
The other point which has not been made in the Report is the importance of the non-commissioned officer in this matter. As I have said before in this House, in other contexts, we concentrate on the Generals and on the privates; on the directors and the men in the works. We do not give enough time and attention, in considering Service matters, to the importance of ensuring a high standard and proper training and education of the middle piece: of the non-commissioned officers. We have certainly never given it since the war. And anybody who knows what it is like to serve in a Regular unit knows quite well that in these questions of "spit and polish," unnecessary parades and all the rest of it, unless the non-commissioned officers have the same ideas as some of us have—and the Grigg Committee have—about eliminating these things, they will never be eliminated. Everybody who has soldiered in the early 'twenties (and there are some in this House) will know that the major part of the cry, "Back to 1914!" came from the sergeants' mess. So it did after the last war. If we want to implement those recommendations of the Grigg Committee which deal with these matters—and I for one most sincerely want those provisions implemented—then we shall have to concentrate on paying more attention to the non-commissioned officer and warrant officer, and ensure that they are educated in these ideas and do not provide the stronghold of reaction.
We then come to quartering, but here there is no need to say very much because Her Majesty's Government have had the Report of the Weeks Committee and everything that needed to be said on that subject was said by Lord Weeks and his colleagues. There is no more to be said, 270 except that the more the Government implement the Report of the Weeks Committee the better.
Then we come to that curious paragraph (I must call it curious) where equipment is discussed. It appears on page 9 of the Government White Paper, as distinct from the Grigg Report. The Government reply is:The Government fully recognise the importance of good equipment.I hope we can be satisfied with that statement. But, with all the good will in the world, which I have for my noble friends in front of me, I really cannot do so. I would much rather they had said, "We cannot anticipate the Defence White Paper and the Service Estimates in the spring." I should have let the matter go if they had said that; but this question of equipment is on a slightly different plane from all the other questions about personnel which the Grigg Committee have been talking about. Those questions about personnel, uniforms, rations, and all the rest of it, are straightforward questions relating to the recruitment of personnel. This question of equipment is mixed up, as we all know, with all these far more far-reaching, inter-Allied and N.A.T.O. discussions, and all the rest of it, about the nature of future war; and this is not the debate in which one can go into it in great detail. We shall have that opportunity, I am sure, when the White Paper on Defence comes out next spring.
We all know that the tactical doctrine and the strategical doctrine of the Western World are in transition, and we must recognise that, while they are in transition, it is manifestly wrong to expect this or any other Government to spend a lot of money on equipment. But I think that we are coming to the end of this phase of strategical doubt and tactical despair. A little while ago the noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Montgomery of Alamein, gave a lecture to the Royal United Service Institution where he said—and I am quoting from the R.U.S.I. Journal:The first priority for the N.A.T.O. nations is to be able to tackle quickly and effectively cold war activities, and to play their full part in limited wars.If that is good enough for the noble and gallant Viscount—from whom I hope we may, before long, hear a little more in this House—it is most certainly good enough 271 for me. Then again if noble Lords have read the Sunday papers they will have seen a review of a book by the American General Gavin, who commanded the 82nd Airborne Division and who touches the same note. I feel we are coming to the time when the Government can be fairly expected to come down firmly on the side of one strategical doctrine or the other, and for that reason to adopt one tactical doctrine or the other, and then begin to equip the Army for it.
It is perfectly true, of course, that we have saved a lot of public money and contributed a great deal to the Welfare State by "stringing along" as we have done over the past years; and so far we have felt very few ill-effects. But we must remember that in a policy like that there is bound to be a point of no return, just as there was a point of no return m the 'thirties which we passed without noticing that it was there. And, sooner or later—I think sooner—if we follow this policy of "stringing along" over equipment we are going to reach the point of no return. All of us who know how these things work will know that this is no time to pursue this question, any more than it was possible for Sir James Grigg and his Committee to pursue it in their Report. The time to do that is at the time of the next Defence White Paper and the Service Estimates, which no doubt we shall have in the spring. Meantime, I feel, from what I know, that those criticisms on equipment are thoroughly justified. Although a good deal of development has taken place in weapons, very little development has taken place in transport, either armoured or unarmoured. I, for one, shall try, as I always do, to take a charitable view of my noble friends on the Front Bench, and I hope that what they have said in the Government reply is merely a means of indicating that the proper time to discuss this question will be at the time when the Estimates and the Defence White Paper are produced—and I agree.
So, my Lords, we have this Report of the Grigg Committee. I am sure that all of us who have read it—and particularly those who know the Forces—are grateful to the Government for having appointed Sir James as Chairman of this Committee and to Sir James and the other members for their Report. if 272 I have been critical of certain points of the Government's reply, I should not like those criticisms to obscure my feeling that the White Paper and the Government's reply represent a very clear and welcome advance in the treatment of this problem by Her Majesty's Government.
My Lords, before the noble Viscount resumes his seat, may I ask him to clarify one point which arose earlier in his speech? I understood him to say that the Gladstonian Liberals were, in many cases—if not all—to blame for the state of unpreparedness of the Armed Forces.
§ VISCOUNT BRIDGEMAN
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Rea, did not hear me quite accurately. I said "Gladstonian Liberalism". I think I am right in saying that the Gladstonian Liberals were in office at the time of General Gordon. I did not say—and, for obvious reasons, I would not say—that the Liberals were in office at the other times. I said "Gladstonian Liberalism "—the attitude of mind.
I am much obliged to the noble Viscount; and of course I accept his explanation. But would he dissociate himself from those who are of the opinion—I think informed opinion, and informed military opinion—that Lord Haldane, one of the greatest Gladstonian Liberals, was, in fact, responsible for a greater state of preparedness than could have been expected if he had not been in office?
§ VISCOUNT BRIDGEMAN
There I would entirely agree. Since we are talking about these things, while I would agree unreservedly as regards Gladstonian Liberals in the matter of organisation, I think the noble Lord would agree that in the matter of equipment and munitions and the state of the personnel side much of the work had been done before.
§ VISCOUNT BRIDGEMAN
The noble Lord knows as well as I do which political party was in power in 1939. If he will read Hansard, he will find that I was not talking about the Liberal Party but about the Gladstonian Liberalism in the political departments.
§ 4.17 p.m.
My Lords, I rise after this exchange of civilities, dating back to some time in the past, as to whether Liberalism or the Liberals were to blame at any particular time. I shall not labour that point, and I shall keep you only a very few minutes, because, as I look down the notes of my speech, I am able to cross off a great many which have already been touched on so ably by the mover of the Motion and by the noble Viscount from the Benches opposite. In general, I like the Report. Frankly, I do not think it has got us very far, but as far as it has got us it seems to me that the Government are sympathetic to the recommendations—none of which is very revolutionary.
Sir James Grigg is a most distinguished man and a distinguished ex-Secretary of State for War, and I have no doubt that the members of the Committee were carefully chosen and did a very good job of work. But some of the statements made in the Report lead me to think that their total experience of the Forces was not very great. I say that because of the fact that some of the statements made are somewhat naive and display the sort of attitude of mind that people who have never actually served in the Forces have about them. They perhaps have heard about them and had relations with them and have served in them briefly, but have not borne the heat and burden of the day—particularly in peace time, when conditions are more normal and when you can see what is happening. I think that many of the things that appear in this Report would not have appeared had there been appointed to that Committee or co-opted on to it, shall we say, a serving officer or warrant officer of each of the Services, aged, say, thirty-five, who could have given the Committee what I think our American friends call the "low-down" on one or two things. I merely mention that in passing because I think that it has to some extent detracted from the sense of reality, as opposed to the general aura of knowledgeability, of the Report. Having said that, I do not wish in any way to be critical of the work of the Committee. I am sure it was most conscientiously carried out; and the Report is instructive, as say, so far as it goes.
274 My Lords, may I divide my remarks into a few comments on other ranks and then, later, on officers? Although my own service was limited to twenty-six years in the Regular Army, I will try to say things which will apply equally to the other two Services, because it is easy to make the mistake of seeing a matter through your own eyes and your own experience, whereas it may not apply to the other Services. Both speakers so far have mentioned the question of the co-relation of recruiting to unemployment. I think we can get a misleading picture there. To take a certain era and to look at the unemployment and then look at the recruiting can lead one, I think, to a totally false conclusion of one's own selection.
We must remember that the Forces are not interested in getting men in who are, in some cases, practically unemployable. I was at the receiving end in that respect in the very early 'thirties as a company commander. There was then a certain amount of unemployment, as your Lordships know, and there was no lack of recruits coming to recruiting offices, but some of the material that came to us, though perhaps tall enough and having passed the physical standards, was really not what we wanted at all. One must remember that, when talking about the availability of recruits and also about the standard of recruitment. I am talking about the other ranks now, and not about the officers. We do not want in the Services people off the streets who cannot get a job anywhere else. I think that matter is related indirectly to this question, although the particular point I make was not dealt with in the White Paper.
As to Lord Ogmore's touching story of the recruit who caused himself to be struck on the head in order to get up to the height standard, I am afraid that few such men exist to-day. I am sorry to say this—and what I am going to say will be unpopular in most parts of the House—but I believe that there was a time when a substantial number of men in the country in all walks of life wanted to join the Services, because they felt they were doing something for their country. I am sorry to say that that number has dwindled. I do not believe the same number of men or anything like it, with regimental associations exist. I am talking about the Army; so far as the other Services are concerned, the question of 275 loyalty to a ship or to a squadron of the R.A.F. does not exist. A man is on the move all the time and he really joins the Service.
THE EARL OF CORK AND ORRERY
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord? I do not agree at all about units of ships.
My Lords, to be corrected by an Admiral of the Fleet is no small reverse; but, all the same, I believe that postings in the Navy are fairly frequent and I hardly think that a rating posted to a ship spends the whole of his service on that ship—at any rate, if it is so, I am surprised to hear it. The point which I am trying to work up to is this. Such things as the amalgamation of regiments, which was inevitable and has been done recently, and other developments, pull against any sense of regiment, any loyalty or tradition to particular regiments, and I believe that few men are so keen to get into the Service just to serve Queen and Country. I just do not think that there are many actuated by that feeling, although it is a great pity that that should be so. The Report says, in paragraph 39:Life in the Armed Forces is in some ways highly attractive … It gives a chance of travel, sport and adventure.It certainly gives a chance of travel and adventure, but not always of the type that the recruit would choose—for example, chasing bandits round the jungles of Malaya; chasing the Mau Mau, or dealing with terrorists in Cyprus.
The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has mentioned that a man may be told of his next posting and given adequate warning so that his private arrangements are not interfered with. But, as he also said, it is rather a question of what a man is going to do this evening. That is what he is interested in. It is what is known as the "working to whistle" mentality: the factory whistle goes, and the worker is off, finished, knowing that he is not required until next morning. His life is his own in the meantime. That attitude has grown up until to-day a man does not want to feel that he is on the end of a string when not actually on duty.
We are told in the Report that Army life offers a great deal of leave on full pay. I agree. But it is leave of a sort. When is a man going to get his leave? 276 He does not know. He may get his month's leave in February, when he does not want it; he cannot claim to have it in August, when his friends are on holiday and when he can go to the seaside. It is the same with week-end leave. He may be on duty. His civilian counterpart has his week-ends free, and he can book ten weeks ahead if he wants to go to a football match. He can do what he wants to do, and he knows that he is free to do it. Again, a young man in civilian life gets engaged. He may not be able to get married for two or three years, but probably the girl is a local girl, and one day they will get married. But a Service man who gets engaged may find, three months later, that he is posted off in some emergency; and when he gets back he may find that his girl has made other arrangements. We cannot ignore this possibility.
These are the factors which I believe no number of high-level pronouncements will alter. I believe that, generally speaking, recruiting is unpopular for just those human and down-to-earth reasons that I have mentioned. And I believe that the Report has not, perhaps, visualised the importance of these angles. Before leaving these questions, there is one small point which I should like to stress. A great deal of time and trouble have been spent on the question of a walking-out dress. I believe that a walking-out dress is unnecessary, for the reason that the majority of men walk out in plain clothes. Would it not be better for soldiers to have a really tough battledress, in which they can do anything at all, and a parade dress in which they can walk out, if they so wish? The money saved by these means would, I believe, be much better put towards some kind of plain clothes allowance.
I come now to the question of officers. The question of officers' pensions will be dealt with in a minute, much more ably than I ever could, by my noble and gallant friend Lord Jeffreys, who, indeed, some few weeks ago encompassed the defeat of the Government on this precise subject. So I think that I can leave that matter in his most able hands. Turning to the questions of the recruitment of officers and the difficulty of getting officers to re-engage, there is much said in the Report about the type of officers wanted. One paragraph strikes me as being a little rough on the War 277 Office. At the end of paragraph 195, the Report says:As we see it, time in the War Office could be spent more profitably on redesigning the methods of officer entry than on framing arguments in favour of pay increases to buttress up the system as it now stands.It seems to me that the Committee are of the opinion that the War Office are being a little obstructive, or at any rate unhelpful, in the matter of finding officers by new methods: the War Office want to go on with the old methods and merely offer more pay; and if young officers still will not come in then the War Office attitude is that there is nothing they can do about it.
In paragraph 198 the Report says:… if the numbers of grammar school boys applying are comparatively small, it suggests that they do not consider themselves wanted. There are plenty of ambitious boys from that back ground entering other professions.That statement strikes me as being very naïve. I do not think it is a question of grammar school boys not being wanted. The Army certainly wants them. They just do not want to come in. If they are ambitious, it means that they want to get more money, and they will not get it in the Army. I am sorry that I have to harp on this aspect. Your Lordships may consider it a mercenary argument, perhaps even a sordid approach to the matter; but I think that this is what is happening. A young man likes sports and games. But his parents say to him "Yes, that's all right, Tom, but what happens to you when you want to get married, when you are twenty-five or twenty-eight or thirty—what is going to happen then?" The Government are promising better pensions, better replacement and education allowances—and I am very glad to see all this—but it barely replaces the conditions of life of the officer's civilian counterpart. At least, dial is the view of young men. I hear it on every side. I have four children between twenty-one and twenty-eight, and I hear very little else. I will leave that aspect and pass finally to two other questions.
There are two suggestions that I should like to make to the Government. Would they consider looking into the possibilities of the Supplementary Reserve? A young man becomes, at the age of nineteen or twenty a National Serviceman, and cannot, perhaps, quite make up his mind whether or not he wants to stay in 278 the Services. Could not we try to get the best of both worlds, put him on the Supplementary Reserve and bring him in for a month's training? He would then be on the strength; he has some training and he will be useful in an emergency. He could say: "I want to go away and get settled in a business." But you would still have his body, to some extent. I believe that something could be done in this direction, and perhaps the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, will be able to give us an assurance that he will ask the Service Ministers to look at that aspect of the matter.
Finally, I come to the question of public relations. This I believe to be largely the core of the matter. The Services in peace time, particularly after a few years of peace, become more or less unpopular—not on the day of Trooping the Colour, of course; you cannot get a seat to watch that—and are, generally speaking, a target for criticism in the Press. We find The Times and the Daily Telegraph treating the Services kindly and reasonably, but there are other organs of the Press, a little less responsible, which treat them with abuse and ridicule. We all know that. It could be that they feel that the Services are, to use a slang expression "a little upstage", and that they do not let them in enough on what they are doing. I do not mean that the barrack gate should be left open and that any reporter who wants to come in should be allowed in; but I do feel that the public relations directorate is too small. It is concentrated at the War Office and employs few officers; and not all of them have had sufficient training.
There is only one officer on Army Command level on the public relations side. Supposing he is sick and a story breaks in an Army Command, what happens? The Press ring up and say: "Can we come along?" The Army officer on the public relations side is sick, and no staff officer wants to take the responsibility. What then happens? The Press man is told: "It is nothing; run away and play." After all, the Press have to earn their living, like the rest of us, and they do not like that treatment. I think it would be advantageous if public relations existed at a rather lower level, and a smaller formation level, of junior officers who could be given training. They should be told that if there is anything going on in their command or formation 279 which they think the Press might like to print, they should give it to them before they ask for it, because they will get it anyway and will probably get it all wrong. What happens to-day? The stories one sees in some parts of the Press in regard to the Services are more or less derogatory. People pass on these stories to each other, and it gives the Services generally a bad name. I have spoken strongly on this matter, because I believe that to try to keep out the Press, when I have no doubt they would like to have the news, is absurd. I hope that the Minister of Defence will apply himself to that, in my view, most important aspect of recruitment to the Services.
§ 4.34 p.m.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, there is much in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, on which I should like to comment. However, I will deal merely with the one last point of public relations. I am not so sure (and I think that probably other noble Lords will agree with me) that the Press are always quite so helpfully engaged in the matter of reporting incidents that occur in the Services. But against that, there is the fact that it is all the more important that there should be frankness and firmness in handling matters. I think some of the difficulties that arise do arise out of a lack of quickness of reaction; and this is a point with which the Grigg Committee deal in their Report.
This Report has received a warm welcome all round and, in my view, whether Sir James Grigg wrote the Report, or whether Mr. Hugh Cudlipp wrote it, as was suggested in another place—whoever wrote it; and it may well have been the civil servants who do so much of this work—it is an admirable and readable document. Perhaps I may get rid of one or two of the brickbats before dealing with matters in which I hope I shall have the support of the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk. I must echo the remarks of other noble Lords as to the really deplorable state of affairs revealed by the fact that such obvious recommendations as those made by this Committee, which have been pressed by so many Members of Parliament and noble Lords in all Parties, have to wait for a Committee to be put into effect. I will not draw the Party political conclusion that might be drawn in this matter, but we 280 have to-day, I should hope, a more co-ordinated approach to defence. We have a Minister of Defence, and the eagerness with which he and the Service Ministers have jumped on to this Report and accepted the recommendations, almost, one feels, before the Treasury had time to argue about them, suggests that we may have to wait for another Grigg Committee before further necessary reforms take place. I hope that the Government will give consideration as to how they can keep the thing moving along, so that we do not have to wait for another instalment in a few years' time.
My other main criticism, not so much of the Report as of the Government's rather easy optimism, is on the question of recruiting; and when I say that, I refer to the attainment of the target. There are several rather disingenuous remarks. There is the comment quoted by the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, with regard to equipment—I will not repeat it, but I think it is almost the most futile remark that any Government has made on a subject like that. Of course they are in favour of good equipment. The matter in relation to the attainment of the target smacks a little of the same sort of approach. When we look at this rather complicated Appendix A, and see that the Grigg Committee take the view that something like one in three or one in four of what they call available young manpower will be required in the Services, I would say that that seems a very high proportion. I am not sure that we should necessarily accept the assumptions of the Committee that that recruiting will take place only from a particular section. It will be recalled that they rule out the whole of the apprentices and articled pupils, but I should hope that every effort will be made to provide a career which will fit in with these apprentices and more specialised young men.
The other point concerns the high proportion of unfitness. Out of a possible 400,000 young men of the age of eighteen, 52,000 are unfit for the Services. This may accord with previous standards, but surely, with the generally acknowledged improvement in feeding, nutrition, education, and all these things, there ought not to be a total of one in eight men who are not fit for the Services. I do not know whether this hangs on matters of colour blindness, or some minor technical defect, but I hope this 281 point will be examined by the Government, because it reveals a rather frightening state of affairs which I think should be kept in mind. That, I think, concludes my more critical remarks, and I should like now to turn to a number of particular matters which are dealt with in the Report.
First of all, there is this problem of officer selection. Everybody is, I think, keen on the idea of creating the maximum opportunity of promotion from the ranks. On the other hand, if we are to move into a less unequal society than has existed in the past, then the available manpower in the ranks—the untouched and untapped capacities—is almost bound to be less. This is something that we should welcome, rather than deplore. It is a problem which I know gives rise to anxieties, and sometimes confuses the principles of some of my noble friends and friends in my political Party. But it is a trend which we have to confront. It is a trend which also exists in industry.
None the less, we are confronted by indications that the structure of promotion on the ranks side, as opposed to the officer side, is too rigid. We all know of N.C.O.s who were promoted during the war and given commissions, of which in peace time they would not have been given the chance, and who made a great success of it, not merely in war, but with permanent commissions afterwards. I hope, therefore, that, so far as is possible, a more flexible approach will be brought to this particular matter. This is a problem which applies much more in the Army. Indeed, I am happy to say—and I am sure the noble Earl is also happy to note—that it is the Army, rather than the Air Force and the Royal Navy, which requires the services of this Committee. The Air Force, of course, has much more opportunity in its technical field for promotion, both through the new entry or through the colleges. There is one point I should like to ask the Minister; that is, how the Grigg Committee got hold of the wrong figure of 640 Army Officers. We have had no explanation of this matter. The Government baldly said, "It is a wrong figure." Perhaps I missed the explanation, but certainly it seems to me rather extraordinary that such an important figure should have been allowed to get wrongly into the Report.
282 Now I should like to turn to the question of careers and, of course, the question of resettlement. Again, I will confine my remarks mainly to officers, because I do not believe—and I believe the Grigg Committee Report bears this out—that the problem of resettlement is anything like so acute for men from the ranks, provided, of course, that full employment is maintained. Here again, this is a tempting field, but one into which I shall not enter at this moment. Assuming that the Government are a little more successful than they have been lately in this matter, and are able to reverse the present trends, I have no real anxieties with regard to providing suitable opportunities for the Serviceman from the ranks. The Grigg Committee recommended widening the range within which retirement should take place. They urged that, if possible, opportunities should be given to men to serve up to the age of sixty, but rather reluctantly they said, "We are told that it is not possible." I am sure that it is impossible, as the Minister said in another place, in a service which is seeking to provide a world-wide mobile police or striking force. Other armed forces of other countries have done it, I know. I believe that the Portuguese Army have done it, and I believe that certain of the Scandinavian armies were organised on the basis of local commandants, where the officer was as much as anything else a local official. I do not believe that that is possible here.
Therefore, although it is desirable to extend the career so far as possible, we ought to look at the real need, which is the conditions of release from the Forces for officers who are not likely to move into higher grades. In this matter the Royal Navy have a great advantage. There is no definite recommendation on this point by the Grigg Committee, but they refer to it in paragraph 189. I should like to ask the Government whether they would not consider making it easier for officers to retire a little earlier if they want to, say at the age of thirty-eight or forty, without the penalty of the reduced pension which attaches to them if they do so retire. This is an important proposal which did not quite get as far as being made into a recommendation.
Against that, there is the need for industry to recognise that there is probably a great measure of untapped adminis- 283 trative ability available in the Services to-day, if it can be employed. I would go so far as to say—and I hope some noble Lords who have been Regular officers will accept this from somebody who was only a temporary one during the war—that a great deal that business men have learned about administration they were lucky enough to learn during the war, when they learned some of the efficient principles which are to be found in Government service. But the difficulty is that in business there is nothing like the scope for administrative opportunity. There are not these jobs, and except in a number of very large undertakings ex-officers are not likely to find quite the scope for their talents that they have in the Services.
Furthermore, many of them have a mistaken idea of the rates of pay they are likely to get. A Group Captain in the Air Force, with his full emoluments, is paid, I think I am right in saying, something approaching £3,000 a year. Unless he is very lucky he is not going to get that in civilian life. Contrary to general opinion, pay for officers in the Services is, on the whole, probably higher than the rate of pay the same man would have received if he had pursued a civilian career. It is important that officers who are hoping to find openings in industry should be aware of that. But there is no doubt that, particularly among the higher ranks and the product of the Staff colleges and the Imperial Defence College, there is a great measure of ability that ought to be used.
May I refer briefly to the Women's Services? There has been some criticism in this Report of the reluctance of the Army to make use of women and to extend the Women's Services in the same way that the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force have done. I know that the Navy and the W.R.N.S. always boast of the fact that the W.R.N.S. are not under the Naval Discipline Act. I would say that one of the advantages of the Women's Royal Air Force is that they are fully integrated into the Service. I should have thought that this was a development that might be considered by the soldiers, and I hope the noble Earl will mention this to his military colleagues.
284 Of course, we come back, as always, to the problem of too much discipline. It is not that the senior officers are wrong, but it is the inevitable petty restrictions of a kind that many of us have seen in the Services. I remember that during the war the station which I was on was very heavily bombed and practically everybody had fled out of the station down to the sea. There were only the flying control, certain operations and intelligence people and air crew left. There were about ten W.A.A.Fs. left on the station and about a hundred were on the beach. The W.A.A.F. officer was wringing her hands, worrying not about the ten left in danger from German bombs but about the hundred who were exposed to the dangers that were to be found, apparently, on the beach.
The Report makes reference to the military policeman at the railway stations. The W.A.A.F. officer, with a torch at night, symbolises the same thing. I am happy to have heard of the greatly improved administration, certainly in the Air Force; and again it is integration which has largely effected it. But one or two incidents of what might be called the schoolmistress approach can spoil the career of somebody who might be happy to stay in the Women's Services to-day. I hope that in this connection the Minister will say something about the Benson experiments. These experiments were made and have now, so far as I know, been dropped. They were not applied, by the way, to the Women's Services in the Air Force, but they were worth doing, and I should like to know why they were dropped and what has happened. Were the ideas so bad? At any rate, I do not think anybody outside the Air Force knows very much about it.
I would refer briefly to the position of the Air Force. I am happy to say that, on the whole, their recruiting position for most airman grades and for officers is fairly satisfactory, though not as satisfactory as the position of the Navy. The Navy have a special advantage, which perhaps we shall hear about. There is the long tradition and the esprit de corps which, contrary to what the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, said, I think still is maintained in those Services where it is possible to maintain it. The Royal Air Force are in a different position. Unfortunately, there is not the same unity. 285 It is a single corps, and although there will be loyalty to a particular squadron, there will always be a tendency to move. None the less, I think that except in the matter of air crew and certain of the senior technical grades, like radar operators, the Air Force is doing fairly well.
But the long-run problem of the Air Force—this is the sort of thing which discourages recruiting, but is none the less true—is that it will end up as a non-combatant service. To a large extent, it is already a non-combatant service. I hope that this problem of providing interest and opportunity to the young men who come in to fly aeroplanes will be carefully considered, and that they will not be allowed just to wait on rumour in the matter. This, again, as the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, said, brings us back to the overall strategic plan. It is of extreme importance—this is one of the difficulties—that these air crews should be put fully in the picture.
That is one thing. The other is the problem of the instability of life in the Service—what I believe is called "turbulence". I think the French have a saying that two moves equal one fire. The number of Service wives who have had the equivalent of three or more fires in their homes in it the course of their married life is enough to discourage many people from joining the Services. That is why it is so important that we should maintain the real advantages of the Service. These are not merely the obvious amenities but the further opportunities. Young men who joined their regiments as officers in the early part of the century did so not merely to serve Queen and Country but for the life that went with it. It was frequently a very successful life, with lots of opportunity for outdoor sports, walking in the mountains and so on. Today, these opportunities are available to the ranks. The yachtsmen of today are not only the officers but the corporals and members of the ranks.
It is extremely important that the type of men that we want in the Services are made aware of these opportunities, and that the opportunities are increased. Unfortunately, to some extent they are dependent on the profitability of N.A.A.F.I. and the central funds that are available. One looks back to what I may perhaps 286 call the unprofitable enterprise of Suez and realises that such things most seriously affect N.A.A.F.I. funds and the size of the central funds that are available for developing this type of amenity. For instance, we have the Outward Bound school at Kilimanjaro, where to-day there are good opportunities for young men not only to climb mountains but perhaps to go on safari—to do things that would not have been considered possible for their fathers. I hope that this more adventurous approach will be increased, and that it will be provided not merely for the boys. We are always seeing advertisements illustrating adventurous advantages for boys. I hope that they will be made available to older men as well, so that they can take part in these things. To a limited extent, those in the Royal Air Force can indulge in mountain rescue and go ski-ing in the mountains. They may even be able to take part in organised excursions like the Falkland Islands Dependency Survey. I hope that we shall be able to do a little more in that connection. In so doing, we shall be providing the type of opportunities and interests which go particularly well with Service life and which we ought to maximise at this moment.
My Lords, there are many other points that I shall not deal with, but some time, perhaps on the Service Estimates, we shall once again have an opportunity to return to this question of civilianisation, and the economies that may be brought about by a greater degree of unification of the Services. I congratulate the Government, or at least the Service Ministers concerned, on the promptness with which they have contrived to accept these recommendations. I hope that some of the points that other noble Lords have made will also be considered and answered by the Government.
§ 4.55 p.m.
§ LORD JEFFREYS
My Lords, in commenting on this Report I would first allude to paragraph 186, which compares the prospects of a youth entering the Civil Service, or possibly banking, with one entering the Armed Services, in which pension, although generously assessed in the light of the time he has served, is not by itself sufficient to allow him a tolerable standard of living for the rest of his life. Next, in regard to paragraph 271, I agree 287 very much with my noble friend, Lord Bridgeman, that the Army's equipment is out of date. Surely that is the fault of Her Majesty's Treasury. The Treasury always find some good reason for not spending money, and they have succeeded in deferring for an undue time the spending of money on modern up-to-date equipment.
Next, I would allude to paragraph 272 which says:Too much of the present accommodation … is nothing short of scandalous.And I would add that none is worse than the accommodation here in London, close to where we are now sitting. Again, I would suggest that the Treasury are the enemy. The Treasury always find a good reason for not spending money when it is necessary to spend it. To my knowledge, there was an estimate for rebuilding certain barracks in London a considerable number of years ago. These barracks have not been rebuilt. Having regard to inflation and the increased cost of everything, the present estimate is much higher than the original estimate.
But paragraph 262, says this:The biggest single impediment to the recruitment of officers is the length of career now offered,The recommendation on this point is that the career structure should be redesigned so as to give choice of retirement before forty, or serving on to sixty. I would say that retirement at forty would undoubtedly be difficult, but if officers could take the place of civilians occupying sedentary posts in the Admiralty, the War Office and the Air Ministry, that would, I believe, be a great improvement; and I think ex-officers would do those jobs at least as well as the civilians who now occupy those posts.
Paragraph 256 refers to widows receiving "ludicrously low pensions". I suggest, as I did a month ago, that all officers' widows should get one-third of the 1950 rates of officers' retired pay. At present, only two out of ten get Service widows' pensions of over £189 a year, and that is ridiculously low. Three out of every ten get less than the National Assistance rates, that is to say, less than £117 per year.
§ LORD JEFFREYS
Sixty per cent. of those widows cannot get National Insurance pensions because they are over seventy years of age. I consider that that is a scandalous state of affairs, and that widows of officers ought at any rate to get a little more than the National Assistance rates, for most of them are in very great need. Moreover it is only the widows of the future—not present-day widows—who will get the benefit of the new rates. If difficulties arise over making the full scale payable to them, surely it would be possible to pay them, even if it is on a lower scale, something which represents an improvement on their present receipts.
I agree with my noble friend Lord Bridgeman that the instruction of non-commissioned officers is a very important matter. The Committee say:Amongst the complaints is … dislike of taking orders from unintelligent or bullying non-commissioned officers.Some non-commissioned officers do not know how to give orders and I do not think that their training is altogether what it should be—not so much as regards duties in the field, but as regards general duties, methods of doing duties, discipline and system. In these there are differences between units. Some units are excellent others are less good.
If I may, I should like to inflict upon your Lordships a story from personal experience. In the South African war—not the day before yesterday—my then commanding officer had a friend who succeeded to the command of a certain line battalion. The friend asked my commanding officer whether he could have a good non-commissioned officer to be his regimental sergeant major. The reason why I took a personal interest in this matter was that it was the colour sergeant of my company who was sent. We lost sight of him for a little while, but a few months later we were not far distant from his battalion, and he came over to see us. We asked him, "How are you getting on? How do you like your new battalion?" His reply was, "Well, sir, it is a rather funny battalion. The first day I was there the commanding officer said to me, 'Now, sergeant major, I want you to change this, amend that and alter the other,' and I said to him, 'With your permission, sir, before I recommend any changes to you I should like to have a 289 few days just to get to know the system of the battalion.' The commanding officer then said to me, 'Sergeant major, there is no system in this battalion—that is why you are here. I have sent for you to make a system'."
More than thirty years afterwards, when I was an army commander in India, I went to inspect the troops at a certain station. The local commander came to see me. He had with him a list of the various troops and some notes on the different units, and he told me, "I am afraid there is one unit with which you will not be pleased." I asked him which one it was and what was the matter with it. He told me and gave me a list of the various deficiencies; and he ended by saying, "The fact of the matter is that there is no system at all in that unit"—and that unit was a battalion of that same regiment to which my old colour sergeant had gone many years before. I suggest that if there is a bad system, or lack of system, in a battalion, that is very liable to go on from generation to generation.
I would just advert to one paragraph, No. 133, which refers to discipline and uses the words:Where it is plainly indispensable …I am certain that every officer who has ever served in any of the three Services will agree with me that discipline is always indispensable: there is no time when it is not indispensable. By that I do not mean that there should be unnecessary bullying or shouting, or anything of that kind; but it is always indispensable that orders should be strictly obeyed and rules strictly enforced.
I have just a few more words to say. Her Majesty's Government talk a great deal about inflation and the cost of living. The increase in the cost of living since 1913 has been 322 per cent.—no less; and since 1950 it has risen by over 45 per cent. I hope this is not the case, but I suggest that possibly Her Majesty's Government may regard that as an important matter for civilians but unimportant for ex-officers and their widows. As I say, I hope that that is not so, but it looks a little as if it might be, and I wonder particularly whether that is good for recruiting. If officers' sons see their parents' difficulties—and they cannot help seeing them—and no effort being made, apparently, to meet them, I 290 cannot believe that it can be good for recruiting.
In paragraph 52 the Committee state that officers' pensions are, on the whole, reasonable. That is not altogether incorrect as regards officers when they first go on pension; but inflation has made the position of officers and their widows very much worse. Those who went on pension in 1939, or earlier, are in a really impossible position. It is the so-called immutable pensions which are utterly and completely unfair, and particularly the failure to compensate for increases in the cost of living. I have ventured previously to bring some cases before you.
I believe that it would be a very good thing if there could be schools of instruction for non-commissioned officers, schools of instruction not merely in duties in the field—that is catered for by, for instance, Hythe and various other places. But I suggest that there should be courses of instruction for non-commissioned officers where they could be taught the proper way to give orders, the proper methods and system of running a battalion, the proper way of doing duties; to realise, for instance, that it is not necessary for there to be bullying or unnecessary shouting at men. I believe that if non-commissioned officers were put through a proper school of that kind that would be very much to the benefit of the Service in general. My Lords, I still hope that there may be improvements as the result of this Report of the Grigg Committee, and that those improvements will include improvements in the pensions of officers who retired before 1939 and in the conditions of officers' widows.
§ 5.13 p.m.
§ BARONESS ELLIOT OF HARWOOD
By Lords, I have listened with a great deal of interest to this very interesting debate, and I think we are indebted, as the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, said, to the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, for bringing forward this subject for us to discuss. I also find the Grigg Report most fascinating reading and I am sure that the writer, as others have said, is probably Sir James Grigg himself.
I should like to devote such remarks as I am going to make to questions relating to Part VI of the Grigg Report which is devoted to the Women's Services—recruiting and conditions of the 291 three branches of the Women's Services. In the last war these Services achieved remarkable success in their service to the country, not only in work out of the danger zone but also in the front line, as in the "Ack-Ack" batteries and many other joint sections of the fighting Services. Although I never had the opportunity myself of serving, I was a member of the Markham Commission which was appointed to report to the Prime Minister, then Mr. Winston Churchill, in 1942 on the work of the Women's Services during the war, and I visited units of all the three Services in all parts of the United Kingdom. I think that of all the experiences I have had in public life and public work, this Commission of Inquiry was the most interesting I ever took part in, and I shall never forget the impression I had of the devotion to duty and the high standards of efficiency and skill which I saw in all the many units that I visited.
It is difficult for the Women's Services to show long lists of battle honours that are the pride of the great regiments and the historic ships of the line, or the great triumphs of the Air Force in the various Commands. These stories are written in the history books and recorded down the ages. But not for the Women's Services. They are young Services and their traditions are not written as largely or as clearly as those of the men. Nevertheless, they are there and recognised by all who know and appreciate their work, and by none more than the officers and men with whom they served in the war.
This morning I was looking back at the Markham Report and I was interested in the Conclusion to read again a few words that were written in 1942:What is to be the future of the Women's Services? When the cease fire sounds, is a curtain to fall on the remarkable contribution they have made to the war? Officers and other ranks naturally at times ask themselves this question and it has forced itself on the attention of your Committee.That was the Committee on which I was serving. Since the war that question has been answered. A great demobilisation has taken place, but there has been far too little talk about the contributions which women are still making to the defence forces, and if we are going to recruit women in the necessary numbers for our modern and somewhat streamlined Services it will be necessary for 292 Members to create among the general public a different climate of opinion about the Women's Services—not only among the general public but also in the Service Ministries and more particularly in the Defence Ministry.
I have read, as I am sure many noble Lords have, many speeches made in the other place and in public by politicians and by high-up commanding officers in which practically nothing is said about the need to recruit women into the Services to-day. I would not blame the general public for not realising how very much they are needed in our defence forces, because it is so seldom mentioned. We must change this if we are to encourage girls leaving schools and universities and looking for careers to consider joining the Women's Services. In paragraph 217 of the Grigg Report the Committee use the following words:The greatest single deterrent to the recruitment of women is the lack of emphasis on the need for Women's Services in time of peace.And they go on to comment on the fact that the 1957 Defence White Paper—a document of the greatest importance in the planning of our defence policy—does not mention women once. This surely is a disastrous omission if the Service Departments really want to get first-class people to volunteer for the Services. One must not forget that girls who have reached university level or have taken the general certificate of education at advanced level are in demand by numbers of other professional bodies—teachers, the nursing profession, social workers, probation officers, medical social workers—an endless list which is never full. If, therefore, the Services want to compete with the other professional bodies they must show as much enthusiasm and interest in providing a career for girls as do these other organisations.
In a paper which I had from the Ministry of Labour there are quoted two very interesting facts about careers in the Women's Services. The paper says:There are many trades in which recruits can enter direct if they have certain educational qualifications or civilian experience. For example, a girl who has reached ordinary level of mathematics and physics in the general certificate of education can become an experimental assistant gunnery or telecommunication mechanic in the W.R.A.C., while a woman with an honours degree in mathematics, physics or geography may be accepted for a 293 short service commission in the W.R.N.S. for meteorological duties with the Fleet Air Arm.These sound fascinating things of which I am sure the general public have no idea.
What exactly are the needs of the Women's Services to-day? Compared with the astronomical numbers which were recruited during the war—and sitting in front of me on these Benches is Lord McCorquodale of Newton, who was chairman of the Ministry of Labour Committee on which I served during the war, which recruited these women for the Services, and he will bear me out as to the problems we had to face then—the small figure of 5,000 to 6,000 girls seems to be of quite manageable proportions. Add to that the fact that conditions of pay and service compare quite favourably with other professional careers for women, and the problem should be capable of solution.
From inquiries I have made at the Ministry of Labour, I find that the numbers required in the separate Services are as follows: The W.R.N.S. require by 1963 3,250, and their strength on January 1 in 1958 was 3,219. They are, therefore, up to strength. They require an annual intake of 1,100 to allow for wastage due to marriage and other factors. The Women's Royal Army Corps require a strength of 6,500 by 1963, and at January 1, 1958, they had 4,059. Their annual requirement (which is larger than that of either of the other two Services) is 3,200 other ranks, 45 for Regular commissions, and 20 for short-service commissions. Their total number of officers is 307, and they are very short of officers. The Women's Royal Air Force require 5,500 by 1963, and their present strength of 4,410 includes 366 officers. Their annual requirement is 2,000, and they also have a great need for officers.
These figures, as the Grigg Report points out in paragraph 247, should be capable of being recruited when one realises that 340,000 girls reach the age of eighteen in any one year. Surely it is possible to set about finding these small numbers among the vast numbers of girls choosing careers. I would suggest that the Women's Service chiefs should cooperate on this subject of recruiting. After all, what we want is suitable girls and young women with the desire to serve their country in the Services, and I believe 294 that it would be wise, when approaching the possible centres of recruitment, if, instead of presenting a competing front one with another, an appeal was made on behalf of all three Services, leaving the choice naturally to the recruit.
I would suggest that, in addition to going to the labour exchanges and to the youth employment officers, the Women's Service chiefs should go to organisations such as these: The Association of Headmistresses; the National Union of Teachers; and the Committee known as "The Joint Four"—that is to say, the Incorporated Association of Headmasters, the Incorporated Association of Headmistresses, the Incorporated Association of Assistant Masters, and the Association of Assistant Mistresses. The "Joint Four" has its own careers sub-committee, and it touches all the grammar schools, a great many independent schools which are not run for profit, and a good many secondary modern schools. The National Union of Teachers has in its membership primary teachers, but also a good many teaching in secondary modern schools. I believe that the Women's Services could safely be urged to inform these professional associations of the need and the opportunities of the Women's Services, as well as keeping in touch with youth employment officers and the other centres from which they already recruit.
In paragraph 202, the Grigg Committee recommend that a headmaster might be specially appointed to help with recruiting young men from schools, and in paragraph 237 they recommend that a headmistress might be associated with recruitment of girls on the same lines. I believe that that would be a useful avenue of recruitment. There is also no doubt, if one reads the attractive prospectuses issued by the three Services, that the Services can offer girls a very interesting and attractive career. I have these three extremely attractive booklets here. The most popular recruiting appeal is the chance of employment overseas, and as all three Services have units in Europe and the Middle East, the West Indies and the Far East, there are many opportunities for girls to go overseas. I do not know whether it would be possible to enlarge these opportunities. If there were an increase in recruiting, I believe it would be. I am told that in the Services they would require a ratio of one to three 295 if they were to increase the overseas service. But even without the attraction of foreign travel, if many of the recommendations of the Grigg Report are put into effect by the Services it should be possible to offer such an interesting and worthwhile life that I am sure many women will wish to join.
Of course, soldiering in peace time—and this applies to all the Services—can be very boring, judged by the accounts which one has had from National Service recruits who, in some way or another, did not appreciate their training; but it seems to me that the smaller numbers and the highly-mechanised and skilled operations that have to be performed by the women should do away, to some extent, with the enemy of boredom. Like the noble Viscount, I also read that very interesting article in the Sunday Times yesterday by our distinguished Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, Sir Brian Horrocks, which gave an account of the space-age war which seemed to me to be terrifying, but nobody could say that it was dull.
I do not want to go into the many details and recommendations of the Grigg Committee, save only to say that they seem to me admirable and I hope very much that the Minister of Defence and the Service Ministers, following on the White Paper recommendations, will see that they really are put into effect. All this will help, I am sure. But the most important thing, as I said at the beginning of my speech, is to create the climate of opinion which will encourage girls to join the Forces. This cannot be done unless the generals, admirals, air marshals and, indeed, all the officers and civil servants who prepare speeches, write articles, appear on television, make broadcasts, and generally use the media of public relations which are so widespread to-day, speak with pride of the Women's Services as an important integral part of the Defence Forces of our country. Only in this way will the public begin to realise that the women are very much needed in these Services, that they have important and skilled jobs to do, that it is a worth-while career, that they are really wanted, and that their work cannot be done by anyone else. I hope that the noble Earl who will reply to the debate will assure the 296 House that never again will a major plan, involving the whole of our Defence Forces, be announced without any reference to the essential part that women have played and are required to play in Her Majesty's Forces.
§ 5.29 p.m.
§ LORD AUCKLAND
My Lords, the cry is "Join the Army and See the World!" The number of places in this world where Servicemen and Service-women can now go is gradually getting less and less. In some ways perhaps this is a good thing. If one looks at it from the point of view of the international situation, one might be forgiven for thinking that the situation is improving. However, from the point of view of recruiting, the young man or young woman frequently joins up to find adventure, but he or she will not find very much adventure in places like Catterick, Aldershot, or Bad Oynhausen. It is true that Cyprus, Malaya and the West Indies are still important bases which have to be manned, but the slogan, "Join the Army and See the World!" no longer holds good. Nor is it any more true for the Navy and the Royal Air Force.
I have served in the ranks, both in the Territorial Army and in the Army, so much of what I am going to say will be from the other ranks' point of view. First of all, may I say something about Aldershot? While in the Territorial Army, I remember proceeding to Aldershot on manœuvres and seeing a large notice "Aldershot—the home of the British Army." I can only say, "Some home!" Some of the barracks are disgraceful. Admittedly, that was seven or eight years ago, and I do not know whether there have been improvements; but friends of mine in the Territorial Army who have been on similar manœuvres recently tell me that they are still unsatisfactory. Any foreigner reading that notice outside Aldershot might well have a few shocks. Paragraph 273 of the Grigg Report says:Overmuch money is spent on patching up sub-standard buildings.The Government's reply on this point reads as follows:The Forces are at present in process of contraction. It would not be economical to replace sub-standard accommodation which will not be needed when the process of reduction is complete.297 Anybody who has had experience of decorating will know that when a building gets into a really deteriorated state, as many of our barracks and hutments are, it is much cheaper to demolish the building and rebuild than to try to patch it up by putting on a few coats of paint and some "Polyfilla" or any of the modern handiman's requisites which are on the market.
I should like to say a few words about food, a matter which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, dealt with adequately. The old saying that "an army marches on its stomach" is true. We could pay a man £10,000 a year, and house him in a mansion, with central heating and plush carpets, but if we fed him badly, he would not join. In Austria, where I did my National Service, the ration corporal of my unit and I were great friends, and I used to see the meat coming into the cookhouse—prime cuts of Argentine beef; but when it got to the mess hall, an extraordinary transformation had taken place. It was like prodding shoeleather. What happened, I do not know. I do not think that all the blame can be ascribed to the cooks. Much of it was due to an inadequate and antiquated cookhouse, and to inadequate cooking utensils and stoves. I believe that considerable modernisation is going on in that sphere now, but much still remains to be done.
Not many months ago there was much publicity about the varied, almost Savoy Hotel style, menus at Woolwich Barracks. I read it with considerable satisfaction. But surely we must look forward to the day when not only Woolwich but many other Army units, large and small, enjoy good catering. It is not so much a question of quantity, of having a Choice of twenty items on the menu; if food is not properly cooked and served up, then the whole plan fails. It is much better to have a choice of four items, decently cooked and, more important, decently served up, than a large variety. I stress the importance of food.
The Grigg Report makes reference to the increased employment of regimental cooks. I think that that is important. A regimental cook is going to take much more pride in feeding his regiment than an Army Catering Corps cook, who is 298 probably unwillingly drafted to a unit and has no interest in it whatever.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
My Lords, may I ask a question on that point, which is an interesting one? Surely the regimental cook is likely to be drafted unwillingly to the cookhouse when there is a need in the unit, whereas a man does not join the Army Catering Corps unless he Chooses it and has an interest in cooking.
§ LORD AUCKLAND
My Lords, I appreciate the noble Earl's point, but I think that regimental pride still exists among many National Servicemen. It was the case in my unit that at least two of the Army Catering Corps cooks had never been cooks before. One of them was a plumber and the other a cooper, or something like that. We also had Austrian cooks, who, I must say, produced better food.
I should like to take up a point made by the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, and other noble Lords, about non-commissioned officers. I served under a number of sergeants and sergeant-majors, and they were, almost without exception, reasonable men. It is true that sometimes one cursed the sergeant-major, who used to shout at us, and sometimes swear at us. But perhaps the most important man in an Army unit is not the commanding officer or the adjutant, but the sergeant-major. He has a tremendous responsibility on his shoulders. He has to guide the C.O. and the young subalterns; he has to be a combined disciplinarian and, at times, psychologist and psychiatrist, and has all sorts of other duties to his men. I believe that the vast majority of the sergeants and the sergeant-majors in units in the British Army are, at heart, very reasonable men. They do their best to try to show National Servicemen that they have a duty to perform; and the National Servicemen, in their turn, show him that they are keen to help.
There are, of course, annoying items of "spit and polish" in every unit: blancoing coal, whitewashing stove surrounds, cleaning boot polish tins and all kinds of so-called petty tyrannies. But does it really hurt a man to polish his boots and make sure the toecaps are clean? Does it hurt a man to press his uniform? I submit not only that it does not hurt him, but that it is good for him. 299 After all, a civilian going to an office does, or should, wear a clean collar and a nicely pressed suit. Why should not a man go on parade with blancoed webbing, clean brasses and clean boots? I submit that certain sections of the Press try to show that commanding officers and sergeant-majors are petty tyrants, and that National Servicemen are glued to the "spit and polish" brush, to the blanco, to the Duralite or whatever may be used. But basically speaking, certainly in my experience, that is not so.
I believe that one great mistake was made in drafting National Service men into the Territorial Army. I was in the Territorial Army during the time when the National Service men served two years in the Regular Army and a year in the Territorial Army. Most of the men buckled down to the job well, but there were a few who tried to rebel. They made it bad for everybody else; it got the Territorial Army and the regiment a bad name. I think that many people who have served in the Territorial Army will hope that there is not a repetition of drafting National Service men and of compelling people to go into a volunteer organisation. To my mind, it just does not work.
I want to say a word or two about the Women's Services. I worked for a time with members of the A.T.S. (as they were then) and they did a wonderful job; and my wife served in the W.R.N.S., a very smart Service. It makes me angry, as I am sure it does many others, to read letters in the Press saying that the Women's Services are useless, archaic and a nuisance. That is not so. During the war they did a splendid job on antiaircraft sites, in offices and in nursing; and they continue to perform very useful service. Not all of them, of course, are first-class types—not every soldier is a first-class type—but, by and large, they do a fine job, and I do not think there is enough stress laid on that in this Report.
Generally, I feel that the Report is a good one. I hope that it will be widely read, because it will help to allay some of the legends which one hears about National Service and the Army. The ending of National Service is something for which we all hope, but few people have not benefited from it. How many Teddy boys and such types have benefited 300 by it? They have been under a good sergeant-major who has made them have their hair cut and made them wash themselves. They may not have liked it at the time, but when they come out a good many of them settle down to an ordered life. I grumbled during National Service many times, as do most men, but when I look back I find that it did me a tremendous lot of good. In my first two years in the Territorial Army my commanding officer was the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, who I know is revered in this House, as he was in the regiment. More commanding officers like the noble Earl would, I am sure, encourage recruiting greatly. As I say, the Report has blown a breath of fresh air into this most important subject, and the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has done great service in introducing this debate.
§ 5.49 p.m.
My Lords, I will keep your Lordships for only a few moments on one or two points which I think must be made, and rather forcibly made; some have been slightly touched on but there is one on which nothing has been said. When a young man comes to the age when he is going to decide what he will do in the future his parents will probably influence him a great deal, and they will say, if they are wise: "You must not think of the present, but of the time you are married and have children; of the time when you retire, or else you leave this world and your wife is left behind you." I am going to take first of all the question of the children. When this young man grows up, he gets married and has children, and his first object will be their education. I am sure that in the age in which we now live every young man who has children wishes to see them well educated.
In paragraph 252 of the Report, Recommendation (iii) is that the education allowance should be raised; and we are delighted to see that. But there is one trouble which is felt by all the officers of the Army, and that is that if you serve abroad your education allowance is free of tax, but if you serve in this country it is not. One can fully understand that when you are abroad there are more expenses than at home. Perhaps, not having your own home, your wife may be living in lodgings, or you 301 may be boarding your children out. But still, that little extra, by having the allowance free of tax, would, I feel sure, be a great encouragement and would help a young man to decide to come into the Services.
That is my first point. I am moving on from there to the question about which the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Jeffreys, spoke to us, not only to-night but on a previous occasion. Unfortunately, for some time it has been the policy rather to ignore this very important question of widows' pensions. In paragraph 256, the Report says:Existing scales of family pension result in widows receiving ludicrously low payments.Again, we are delighted to see the recommendation that the pensions should be raised. But the decision that that shall take account only from April next year cuts out completely all existing widows, on whose position the Grigg Committee have made such strictures. It cuts out the future widows of officers and other ranks already in retirement or who will retire before April 1 next year. I do not think that a widow with a young son would advise him to go into the Services at this moment.
There is one case of a widow who is forty-four years of age. Her husband was a lieutenant-colonel. She gets £189 a year. She is living with her daughter of eighteen years of age in one room and a kitchenette. They are both working behind a counter, and if she had not got the £189 she could get National Assistance which would consist of £2 5s. 0d. a week, and £2 10s. 0d. a week towards rent—£247 a year. Now, under the new scale—and this is an estimate; I say "estimate" advisedly—she would be able to get £266 a year. I own that she can work for her living, but I think that those people who have served us so well in the past must be considered, especially when future widows' pensions are to be put up fairly reasonably.
I beg the Government to consider this matter. I do not know how much it would cost, but I should like the noble Earl who is to reply—I have not given him notice of this question—to tell us when this £4 million which it is said it will cost to put up these widows' pensions, will come to its peak. It must be many years hence, because naturally after April people will not be retiring so quickly. That would 302 not only be to the interests of morale but also an expression of gratitude to those who have gone before. I think we should ask Her Majesty's Government to think this matter over carefully and see whether past widows can be given the same increase as those of the future.
§ 5.56 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
My Lords, this has been a debate full of interest, and it has covered the entire field of the Services or, rather, the personnel matters in the Services. There have been a number of instances of coat-trailing, but the main object has been to elicit from Her Majesty's Government a statement of their views; what they are going to do to implement the recommendations, and how soon they will be able to do it. In particular, we hope that the noble Earl will be able to tell us something on the question of widows' pensions.
The Grigg Committee made recommendations on all sorts of levels—from the purely domestic to the policy level. The noble Lord, Lord Auckland, called it a "breath of fresh air", but I thought a number of noble Lords were rather quick to shut the window and keep out the air, because, clearly, a number of the findings of the Grigg Committee did not accord with some noble Lords' views of what was best for the Services. The noble Lord, Lord Auckland, thought it was a good thing for people to have to polish their equipment. It has been an old argument, and a longstanding one, and the views held on both sides are usually held very strongly. I would remind the noble Lord that attempts were made in 1938, 1939 and 1940 to reduce severely the amount of time soldiers spent on cleaning their equipment. The principle was accepted by the Government, by Parliament and by the Army Council, but by the time it reached the troops there was almost nothing left of the original intention. I have even heard it said that buttons which were made of a special alloy that could not he polished were, in fact, sand-papered and polished by order of certain officers.
That is a point of which I should like to remind the Government: that while Whitehall and the Service Departments may have the best intentions and the most liberal ideas, and may lay them down in black and white to be carried out in the Services, in fact they often do not get carried out. The noble Viscount, Lord 303 Bridgeman, said that the non-commissioned ranks in the Army often have the most reactionary views on reforms, discipline and so on. Whose fault is it that the N.C.Os. have those ideas? Surely, it is the officers' fault? And whose fault is it that the officers have those views? I think we are entitled to look at the method of selection and training of officers. Those thoughts, it seems to me, must have been in the minds of the Grigg Committee—not explicit perhaps, but some of their recommendations were clearly covered by views of this sort.
I think we should admit straight away that the material factors in a soldier's life do not really have a decisive effect in influencing him when he chooses his profession. He can get his pay, which, as is now admitted, is not at all bad by comparison with that of the rest of the community. It is true that the living conditions are bad—barracks are bad. But I doubt whether that enters much into the mind of a young man when he is deciding whether or not to go to the recruiting office. The same applies to food. I do not believe that whether the food is good or bad, well cooked or indifferently cooked, has a great deal of influence. But I would, in parenthesis, ask the noble Earl what has happened to the admirable system of Army schools of cookery and the Army Catering Corps which were set up in 1940, with eminent advice from the catering world. That system had the most remarkable results, in the war, in raising the standard of Army cooking. I wonder why the standard has been allowed to deteriorate since then?
Going back to the material factors, I do not for a moment believe that the uniform question is of any great importance. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, that it has always been the experience that as soon as he qualifies for the privilege of wearing plain clothes, a soldier puts on his plain clothes when he walks out of barracks. The walking-out dress that has been so much talked about, and on the design of which so much time and energy has been spent, is not, I believe, a factor of any importance. I maintain that what we have to look at is the prospect of a career and of a useful and pleasant life, with prospects of advancement according to a 304 man's ability. I cannot go with the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, in saying that in the old days there was a spirit of service. I do not think men considered it as a form of serving Queen and country, or King and country, to join the Regular Army. I think it was one among a number of careers or walks of life that he might choose; and I think he was influenced by the prospects he had of getting on.
No matter how much the figures for recruiting between the wars are examined—different people find different conclusions from them—the fact seems to be that there are only a limited number of men in the population who have the inclination towards a career in the Services. In order to reach the target which the Government have set themselves, I think that probably they will have to attract a high proportion of that small section of the population. I believe that that is borne out by everything we hear.
Now a word about the selection and resettlement of officers. The Government were rather "cagey" in dealing with the recommendations of the Committee on the selection of officers. There was the question of the North versus South, and the grammar schools versus the rest. Obviously this is too big a matter to go into now, but I would tell the Government that the Grigg Committee were right in their interpretation of the general opinion in the country—namely, that if you have a North country or a Cockney accent you do not stand as good a chance of getting a commission as somebody who has not. That is a situation which, if the Government accept the Grigg Committee's view and take action on it, they may be able to correct. They may be able, in time, to remove that impression. But the impression is strong that the type of officer who has hitherto been recruited and who has risen through the ranks to high rank does not look at the boy from the North country grammar school as a suitable officer—in other words, the system as it is is self-perpetuating. That is the danger, and that is why the Grigg Committee blew in this breath of fresh air. But it will do no good if people shut the windows.
It is true that the young man whose father joined the Regular Army or the Regular Forces does not now see any future in it, for various reasons, chiefly 305 financial. I cannot agree with the noble Lord, Lord Auckland, in saying that the Army does not now give scope for seeing the world. The Army is scattered all over the world, as it has been for many years—not always in the same places: old garrisons have been given up, but new ones have been found. It still seems to me to offer chances of travel all over the world. But the officer thinks of his future when he has to retire at the age of forty or thereabouts. I know that something has been done about officers' resettlement. There is one point that I should like to put to Her Majesty's Government—namely, the employment in established posts in the Army of retired officers. The same possibly applies to the other Services, but I do not know the details.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
I mean in particular in the War Office. I see that, according to the Army Estimates for this year, there are 197 retired officers employed of first, second and third grade. In command headquarters, pay offices, record offices and the like, there are another 300 or so retired officers of first, second and third grade. That is a total of 500 retired Army officers who hold posts in static formation headquarters and the War Office.
Why cannot Her Majesty's Government make more posts for retired officers in these static headquarters and other places? It seems to me that that would be a means of giving a congenial career to an officer who has to leave the Service in middle life, and I hope that Her Majesty's Government will consider it. So far as I can see from the figures, the numbers of retired officer posts are not increasing, and may in fact be diminishing slightly, in proportion to the total number of staff posts. I suggest that Her Majesty's Government might give that matter some thought.
Finally there are the questions of training and equipment. The Grigg Committee—quite rightly, I think—said that realistic training means a great deal in giving a satisfying life and career to the mart in the Services. Everybody knows that it is an extremely difficult job to occupy the whole working week of people of different specialities and capabilities. 306 Some people are naturally good teachers, but most are not; and the most difficult of a commanding officer's tasks is to know how to fill the time of his men profitably and usefully. That does not mean handing them over to the sergeant-major for an hour's drill. I believe that that is at the bottom of a lot of the unpopularity of the Army, particularly, as compared with the other two Services. Admittedly the Grigg Committee said they thought that there was a good deal of exaggeration, but if one talks to parents of National Servicemen many will say that the harm which their son suffered from the Services was caused through idleness, through not having enough to do. The Grigg Committee recommended that the working day should be shorter but should be better filled.
On equipment, surely the War Office are not falling into their old bad habits of waiting until they have 100 per cent. perfection before anything goes into production. It was because of that that it took eighteen years, between the first and second wars, to develop a light automatic weapon to replace the Lewis gun. The fact that modern equipment has not been ordered is surely a demonstration of that old failing. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will be encouraged to remedy that failing, among other things mentioned in the Committee's Report.
§ LORD AUCKLAND
My Lords, may I just clarify two points made by the noble Earl on matters to which I had referred. First, regarding "spit and polish" I agree that unnecessary "spit and polish", such as the cleaning of boot-polish tins, is entirely wrong. But surely there is nothing wrong with pressing one's uniform and polishing one's boots—even to the extent of shining the toecaps. Secondly, when I described the Report as "a breath of fresh air" I really meant that it was the first time that I had seen a Report on the Armed Services which was frank and easy to read and to follow; but that did not necessarily mean that I agreed with every word it said.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK
My Lords, I should like at the outset to thank noble Lords for taking part in this debate and for bringing to it, as they did, a great deal of experience. Those such as the 307 noble Lords, Lord Windlesham, and Lord Auckland, brought out personal experiences for the benefit of Her Majesty's Government.
This Report has been very well received and I would venture to say to the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, that I do not think it is simply a statement of self-evident facts. I believe that it has applied a sense of proportion to the relative degree of weight which should be attached to different factors. There is also the side to which my noble friend Lord Auckland has referred. This is a readable document which has brought to the attention of many people factors concerning the Services which may have been misrepresented up to now. From this point of view alone the Report has been of great value. It is not just a weapon which Service Ministers can use, at the right moment, against the Treasury, although it is of value to me to see the relative importance of certain problems which other Services face.
I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, that this Committee was quite representative of the Services. I am told that five out of the seven members have had first-hand experience of the Services. One was a commandant of the Women's Royal Auxiliary Service; and of the secretaries, one was a serving Army officer and the other two were civil servants, one of whom had served in the Army and the other in the Royal Air Force; so I feel that they were speaking with quite a lot of authority.
I find in the Report some encouragement for saying that we shall get the requisite number of recruits for the Armed Forces provided that we substantially fulfil, as Her Majesty's Government have said they will, the recommendations made. The Report also says—I am sure rightly—that the abolition of National Service makes the possibility or the probability of satisfactory Regular recruitment a good deal higher. The problem that we have to face—and it is no good burking it or pretending that we are not going to have to face it—is that first of all we must have a large number of men who will be young. We cannot pretend that we need a large number of older people in the Armed Forces, for we do not. This is, and always will be, essentially a young man's sphere. That means that the majority of men cannot 308 have a full career. Secondly, they are very liable to be moved about. Some people like seeing the world and it is fair to say that to-day a very large part of our Armed Forces is overseas. It would be wrong to give the impression that there is a large percentage cooped up in this country. Her Majesty's Government have accepted, or at least have not refused, the recommendations in the Report, and I feel that it is right to say that we are facing the difficulties of recruiting frankly; although we believe we shall get the figures, we do not pretend that it will necessarily be easy.
May I turn first to the subject of pay. My noble and gallant friend Lord Jeffreys said that the trouble with the Treasury is that it is not spending money. Many people think the Treasury spend too much money and would be very grateful if they did not spend so much. I think it is proper to set this Report against the background that what might be regarded as certain incentives to entering the Services were introduced early this year at a cost of about £37 million and implementation of the recommendations in this Report will eventually cost a further £13 million in a full year; so that there is a total payment of about £50 million a year to the Services as an inducement for recruitment. Secondly, the Report has stated (and Her Majesty's Government have accepted) that there should be an automatic biennial review of pay. That will take place. This is a considerable advantage, for it means that there is no need for preliminary arguments about whether there shall be a review; we can go straight into the argument of what rates shall be covered by the review. This I feel is an important step forward.
Then, there are a number of arrangements, particularly with regard to education and disturbance, which are of real importance to officers and other ranks, many of whom have to change their accommodation on a number of occasions. There is also the question of general simplification, which I can only say is being examined. I should admit that I was once serving on a station when the accountant officer came to me and said: "I have paid every man on the station wrongly. Only one found out, and I 'squared' him." I think that that is rather typical of the complexities into which Service accounts have on occasion grown.
309 If I may pass to pensions, I would first say this to the noble Lord, Lord Jeffreys, who called attention to paragraph 186 of the Report to the effect that a soldiermust be prepared to seek other work in his mid-forties, when he has qualified for a pension which, although generously assessed in the light of the time he has served, is not by itself sufficient to allow him a tolerable standard of living for the remainder of his life.That, I am afraid, is the position and, if I may say so, quite rightly, of officer pensions. As to existing pensions, I would only remind the House of what I said previously. If we start improving those, we may have to take account of other Crown servants and eventually land ourselves with repercussions which may cost as much as £60 million a year. That is why the Grigg Committee did not recommend a general increase in all pensions. What they did was to recommend an increase in future pensions. That is being implemented as far as other ranks' and family pensions are concerned.
As to officers' pensions, they will be part of the review on pay and pensions which must take place in the course of next year in order that recommendations may be ready for implementation by April, 1960. That review will be automatic, and it will include family pensions. As the noble Lord, Lord Grenfell, has pointed out, there is the question of the widows of existing pensioners in the future. A statement has been made on that subject in another place, to the effect that this matter is under review. It is hoped that the Government will be able to make some statement about it shortly. I hope that the noble Lord will not press me to say anything further now because I am not able to do so. He asked also what would be the cost of the future widows' pensions scheme. The ultimate cost will be about £4 million, but that will not be reached for about thirty years.
My Lords, I would now return to the point of career structure. I believe it was the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, who said he thought that more could be done by keeping officers in employment after retirement. I will only say to him that this point is being carefully examined at the moment and I am not able to say what will be decided. As he has said, quite a large number of officers who retire are retained in their respective 310 Services. The noble Lord, Lord Shackle-ton, raised the question of retirement of officers. I am unable to identify the suggestion he made that, from the point of view of retired pay, it is more advantageous to retire earlier from the Navy than from the other two Services. So far as I am aware, the three Services are identical on that point. We are examining the possibility of making service shorter for some, with earlier retirement, and of allowing a certain number of others to serve longer.
But one of the most important things which will always remain, regardless of what we do, is the work of the Resettlement Service. Here I am glad to say that the Regular Forces Resettlement Service, under the direction of Air Chief Marshal Sir Ronald Ivelaw-Chapman, has been doing very valuable work. This is the body which is advised by the Resettlement Advisory Board, under the Chairmanship of Sir Frederic Hooper. Of the officers who have retired this year, of whom there are about 5,500, only a little over 1,000 were shown on the register as unemployed at the end of September. At the same time the number of vacancies shown as suitable for ex-Regulars and notified by industry is increasing. It is extremely important that this should be the case, and I hope that all your Lordships who have influence in that direction will draw attention to this point. There is not the same difficulty about other ranks, and employment for them is being found fairly readily. I would briefly add the fact that I think that all the Services now have short reorientation courses which help officers and other ranks to adapt themselves in a short period to civil life.
I should like to turn to the subject of officer recruitment about which there has been some discussion. There has been criticism in the Grigg Report on this, particularly in relation to the Army: first as to whether the Services are selecting in sufficient numbers boys from schools other than public schools; and, secondly, as to whether enough commissioned officers are coming from the ranks. May I say a word or two about that? First of all, I think that the difficulty is not in selecting the officers, but in getting the best material from, shall I say, non-military schools to offer themselves for officer training in one of the Services. I 311 personally feel that we should be extremely grateful to a school such as Wellington which for a long time has educated boys particularly for military service. Other schools have not the same tradition. But if the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, really believes that there is an undue susceptibility concerning accent, then I offer him, and any other noble Lord, on behalf of both myself and the two Secretaries of State, an invitation to visit the officers' selection centres to see whether the sort of anxiety he has expressed has any foundation. However, I believe that the real difficulty is that boys from schools who have not been associated with military service do not readily come forward.
The second criticism is that not enough officers have been selected from other ranks. That criticism is primarily directed towards the Army, but I have here figures showing the numbers of officers now serving who have served in the ranks. The figures are: in the Royal Navy about 30 per cent.; in the Army (which is the figure my noble friend asked for) about 50 per cent.; and in the Royal Air Force about 33½ per cent. I want to emphasise that this is, of course, no guide to what may be the future position.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
My Lords, would the noble Earl say what is meant precisely by "previous service in the ranks"? How many months of service does that mean?
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK
My Lords, I am afraid that I cannot answer that question. I imagine that it is a reasonable period, but I am afraid that I cannot give precise information off hand. My statement does not include National Service officers, if that is what the noble Earl has in mind. What I would say (and I think that the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, is perfectly right) is that, while in these days, with improved education, the sort of people who come from the ranks are often not lacking in educational standards and are fit to be officers, I am sure the House would agree that it would be quite wrong for the entrant from the ranks to be given a commission unless he comes up to standard. A lot is demanded of officers to-day, and it is right that we should choose the best people.
312 May I turn momentarily to the subject of accommodation, on which not a great deal has been said to-day, in spite of some recent criticism by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore. I should like to give him one or two figures on this point, because, while we entirely accept that much remains to be done, I think it is right and proper to record how much has been achieved in recent times. In the last five years the Armed Forces have spent on single and married quarters about £50 million at home and about £23 million overseas, totalling £73 million. And in the next five years they hope to spend another £90 million on both single and married quarters. And as I said recently, we shall have spent by 1960 about £67 million on the loan scheme. We propose to spend a further £28 million by 1965: indeed, nearly £170 million will have been spent over a period of about ten years.
§ LORD OGMORE
As the noble Earl has mentioned the loan scheme, perhaps he will also reconsider the decision by the Government not to spend before 1962 the £8 million which they have available to them under the loan scheme.
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK
I went into that point in some detail because I knew that the noble Lord might be interested, and I found that there was no under-spending in the Army Vote at all.
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK
I meant that there was no under-spending by the Army under the loan scheme. The whole of the loan, so far as it was allocated to the Army, was spent. The only under-spending, in fact, was by the Air Ministry, where the difficulties of settling the deployment of permanent accommodation have been very great indeed.
I should like to remind the House that since the war the Army has provided 25,000 married quarters at home and abroad, and has built permanent quarters for about 18,000 troops, other than those in Germany. Work will start next year on a further 34,000 married quarters and on barrack accommodation for 13,000 men. The Army has good modern barracks at Tidworth, Bicester, and Donington, and work has either started, or will shortly start, on barrack accommodation at Aldershot and Catterick. 313 Developments are also taking place at Colchester and Woolwich. Abroad, we have provided permanent accommodation for nearly 4,000 troops in Cyprus, and initial contracts have been placed for new cantonments at Kahawa in Kenya, and at Malacca in Malaya. The R.A.F. are also going ahead with a considerable programme of domestic building in the current financial year. They are putting up forty-four new barrack blocks, thirty of which are for airmen, nine for apprentices and five for airwomen, and they are modernising a further thirty-four. They are building five airmen's clubs, and are modernising seventeen mess kitchens.
I think that perhaps the House is a little inclined to underestimate this problem, which arises from the changing shape of the defence structure. It is easy, of course, to point out where things ought to have been done. It is also easy to point out where things have been done and where they have now become redundant. I refer, for example, to the stations of Ford and Anthorn, which are not now going to be used, and to Chatham, where our requirements will be a good deal less. The same thing applies in the Army, where we spent about £3½ million in Egypt and, I understand, about £500,000 in Jordan.
I think it was Lord Ogmore who raised the question of discipline, and we have heard a lot about that subject. I felt that this subject of "bull", as it is sometimes referred to, was put in excellent perspective in the Grigg Report. I am certain, if I understood Lord Shackleton correctly, that the emphasis which he put on leadership is really the answer. Strict discipline is a matter of pride to the regiment, whether it be the Guards, the Parachute Regiment, or the Royal Marines. What also matters is that the men should always have a sense of purpose in their training; if soldiers do not have that then they will not feel that they are being usefully employed. I have here a quotation from the noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Montgomery of Alamein. He says:The British soldier when properly led responds to a challenge and not to welfare benefits. Man does not live by bread alone. The soldier has to be kept active, alert, and purposeful all the time.I think that this sense of purpose may be perhaps more easy to obtain in the Navy and the Air Force than in the Army, 314 which, of necessity, plays a static rôle at times.
The noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, raised the question of public relations. As Lord Shackleton has said, this is not a simple problem. If I may express a general opinion, it is that the Services have little to fear from the Press. I think that, taken by and large, they get an extremely good run; and the Press are, as I understand it, only too glad to accept what they consider to be good copy. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, asked about dress. I am able to say that a number of possible types are going to be tried out next year, and I very much hope that they will be available for use in the fairly near future.
§ LORD OGMORE
As this subject has been prominent in our minds for some time—indeed, we have heard to-day, though I do not think we have heard before, that it is not desirable to have any walking-out dress at all—would it be possible for the noble Earl to arrange a demonstration, or for models, or something of that kind, to be placed in the Royal Gallery, when details of these various uniforms are about to be promulgated, so that we could see them?
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK
I imagine that that is a matter for my noble friend the Secretary of State for War, but I will certainly pass on that suggestion, and see what he feels about it.
The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, raised the question of food, which is a very important matter. It is always difficult to feed a large number of people without hearing some complaint; but there was an improvement in the Service ration scales in April, 1957, and a special Cyprus Supplement has been introduced fairly recently. I think that the Grigg Report is fair in its comments on this question. It says that there has been a general improvement of recent years, and I believe that that is correct. I can tell the noble Lord—I thought I was right—that men will still be issued with knives, forks, and spoons when they are on active service or are training in the field, but will not need them when they are living in barracks.
The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, asked why a wrong figure was given in the Grigg Report. This is really a misunderstanding of a simple character. The 315 statement in the Paper was that the annual requirement of officers for the Sandhurst arms was 648. I am sure the noble Lord is aware that the Sandhurst arms are all those except chaplains, dentists, doctors, vets., and the Pay Corps. The requirement on that basis was 648; but in fact, Sandhurst does not hold more than 480, so that all that happened was a misreading of the document.
I do not think that at this stage I will say much about equipment. This is not a debate on equipment, but on recruitment. We are well aware, of course, of the importance of it. All I will say is that the F.N. rifle is now coming into service, and we hope very much that within two years the Regular Army will be fully equipped with it. Other equipment is also coming in—armoured cars, and so on. I do not think that now is the moment to go into that in any detail.
My Lords, may I point out one curious thing? The Women's Services made no complaint at all about food. Whether it was because they have more sympathy with the cook, I cannot say. However, I was very grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, for referring to the Women's Services as she did, and I hope that her words will be very carefully read. We have—and let there be no illusion about it—a very urgent need for women in our Services. There is a climate of opinion which has gone slightly astray in this matter, and I think it is a very great pity. I was extremely glad that she read out the opportunities that are given in the Services to university-trained women. We should like to have women who have been trained in universities. I believe that women can get a pretty good run for their money. For instance, whether trained at the university or not, a girl may very possibly reach the rank of major, and receive pay and allowances amounting to about £1,000 a year. It is quite a good career.
My Lords, I do not for a moment pretend to have answered all the questions which have been put this evening, but I should like to add one last point: it concerns the broad question of morale. I believe that there is a danger sometimes of people thinking that war is becoming simply a matter for scientists. I should be the last to underestimate the value of scientists and the important rôle they 316 play, but I have no doubt at all that our position will always depend on well-trained and well-disciplined soldiers, sailors and airmen. I think, therefore, that it is vitally important to have full public recognition of the importance and value of the Fighting Services. Every soldier, sailor, and airman should feel that he holds a position which is dear to the hearts of the whole country. Indeed, he and his officers should be able to feel a sense of pride in their units, whether they be ships, aeroplanes, or guns. It is that sense of pride, and the fact that they are appreciated by the country, that will contribute, I am sure, more than anything else to the high morale the Services require.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, I am sure we shall all agree with the concluding sentences of the noble Earl's speech, in which he talked about the necessity for high morale. We know, for instance, that the Russian Army, in their magazine, have stressed the point that in an era of push-button warfare the morale of the sailor, soldier and airman is of the greatest possible importance. I am grateful to all noble Lords and to the noble Lady who have spoken, and to the noble Earl, who has replied on behalf of the Government and given the House a great deal of information on the various points which were raised. These are important considerations relating to the whole future of the Armed Forces of our country. After listening to the various speeches, and I have heard all of them, I think that the House has dealt conscientiously with the Report. I do not think that there is one single aspect of it that has not been touched upon, at least in some degree, and I hope that the members of the Grigg Committee and the Government will feel that your Lordships' House has given this Report the attention and consideration it deserves. I feel satisfied with the reply of the noble Earl and his assurance that the Government have not only accepted these proposals but will carry them into effect.
I do not propose at this stage to deal with any of the points in detail, but I would just mention one matter. The noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, mentioned the name of the noble and gallant Field Marshal, Lord Montgomery of Alamein, and the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, actually quoted something he had 317 said or written. Once more I must admit that I am disappointed—I have expressed this sentiment on many occasions in your Lordships' House—that in a debate affecting the whole future of the Armed Forces we have not had the counsel of the great Field Marshals, Marshals of the Royal Air Force and Admirals of the Fleet who were ennobled in recognition of the distinguished services which they rendered to our country in war. I feel that we ought to have had some contributions from them. I think that it is significant that the noble Lord, Lord Auckland, who was recently a private soldier, came to give us his views. We all appreciated them very much. It was the sort of contribution which is helpful to your Lordships. Here is a private soldier, who has no baton or memoirs or diary in his knapsack, giving us the benefit of his experience, while these great figures, to whom we would listen with such attention, have once more failed to make their appearance.
Some time ago I made a similar comment with regard to the great industrial magnates who have been ennobled for their industrial contributions, pointing out that time alter time we had debates on civil aviation, aircraft supply and other questions, and not a "peep" out of the distinguished industrialists who, in many cases, were making the very aircraft and components about which we were talking. I am glad to say that they took notice and came along to the next debate and gave your Lordships useful and valuable information. They admitted that the caps fitted, and that what I had said had spurred them into action. So I hope that what I am saying now (I do not know whether Field Marshals are tougher subjects than industrialists) will spur the Field Marshals and others to speak. With those few words, and again with thanks to the noble Lords and noble Lady who have spoken, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.