HL Deb 07 June 1961 vol 231 cc1122-216

3.7 p.m.

LORD NATHAN rose to call attention to the Memorandum on the Army Estimates, 1961–1962 (Cmnd. 1280) and to the problem of Manpower and Recruitment; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, since the Motion standing in my name was placed upon the Order Paper, I have somewhat enlarged it so as to include a reference to manpower and recruiting, for that seemed to me to be the most important and crucial problem with which at this time we are confronted. For my part, I propose to limit the substance of my observations to that subject. It is important because the Army is now going over from a conscript to a voluntary basis, and it is doing so when there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the demands on manpower are likely to grow, rather than lessen, in the days ahead. Anyone who read the speech of the Minister of Defence two or three days ago at the Assembly of the Western European Union will have noticed the observation that "our responsibilities are immense". The question your Lordships are invited to consider to-day, in part, is whether the strength of the forces will be adequate to meet those "immense responsibilities".

Secondly, this subject is important because it is becoming pretty clear that Britain's allies are becoming increasingly concerned with the dangers presented by the spread of nuclear weapons. Certainly President Kennedy is aware of this, for he is making determined efforts to see that his own armed forces are redesigned so that a distinction is made between nuclear and non-nuclear elements, to fight nuclear and non-nuclear wars. In his statement recently, President Kennedy indicated a clear determination that the bias of the American forces should be increasingly directed towards conventional weapons rather than to nuclear.

He invited, indeed—or at least, there was this implication—the other members of N.A.T.O. to follow the same programme in principle. Therefore, it seemed to me rather disconcerting to read in the speech of the Minister of Defence the other day, when addressing the Assembly of the Western European Union, that he was adopting, or seemed to be adopting, a policy which did not at all square with that suggested by President Kennedy. Let it be borne in mind that there was an underlying suggestion in the statement of President Kennedy that if his associates in N.A.T.O. did not follow his lead in increasing conventional forces, there might be a risk of their not receiving from the United States the nuclear armaments which they had been led to expect, and upon which they have thus far been relying. It seemed to me that Mr. Harold Watkinson passed over that rather lightly. I merely mention that.

To return to the main subject of recruiting, in connection with Mr. Watkinson's speech I would quote a sentence from a leader in last Sunday's Observer, normally a journal most restrained and sober in its expression of opinion: It is hard to avoid the conclusion that British policy is based simply on the degrading fact that we cannot produce the soldiers to man our Armed Forces. That statement, my Lords, poses the whole question which confronts your Lordships' House to-day.

Having put before your Lordships what I deem to be the crucial problem which we have to solve, I will with your Lordships' permission concentrate upon the question of whether the Army is going to attract enough young men as Regular soldiers to fulfil its requirements—what Mr. Watkinson has now described as its "immense requirements": whether the figure of 165,000, which is now considered the official minimum, is, in fact, adequate; or, indeed, whether that figure can be attained; and, if it is inadequate or cannot be reached, what is the Government's policy as to an alternative source to voluntary recruitment. For I believe that the critical question posed, not explicitly but implicitly, in Mr. Watkinson's speech, is the harsh question which can be put in three words, "Conscription or nuclear?". That is the problem which, it appears to me, we shall have to face if, as seems likely, the present figure for the military Forces should prove inadequate or prove impossible to attain. What we have to be most careful about is that any new arrangements are set on foot before the Regular Army gets to a position in which men are not available to train recruits.

I propose to concentrate on examining the figure of 165,000, though it is relevant to ask whether the requirement should not be met by a higher establishment, either of 220,000 or 190,000, as the Hull Committee and their two Reports recommended, in the time, I think, of the noble and gallant Field Marshal, or even of 180,000, which for a time appeared to be the Government's target as a minimum figure. I realise that it is not much good thinking of a higher figure when the possibility of obtaining the 165,000 is still speculative, as it is to-day. One important fact about this Government target of 165,000 Regulars must be made clear at the outset. This is the minimum figure, and it must be reached within the next eighteen months. Great, if optimistic, hopes are based on the probability of this. Nevertheless, this figure of 165,000 has never once been justified as a requirement; nor has it been justified as adequate to meet the needs. In a speech at the end of last year, the Minister of Defence said, fairly and squarely: This is the number with which we shall have to manage. Coming from the Minister of Defence, these words indicate to my mind, and perhaps to your Lordships also, that the test was one not of military requirement but of finance. It was a budgetary question rather than a strategic question. And this goes to the very root of the safety of the country, as regards the strength of its military Forces.

The Government, indeed, have never asserted that 165,000 is adequate. They have only asserted that this is the number with which we "shall have to manage". This admission is all the more surprising when we read in this year's Statement on Defence that the Army's rôle is extended from what it was previously expressed to be to deter threats of trouble along what is called "the whole spectrum of possible aggression". That is a very tall order. That is a very wide area—"the whole spectrum of possible aggression"—and it covers a multitude of possibilities. I would invite your Lordships to look at the map and consider what that undertaking really means. I say that it makes a requirement on manpower far away above what would be needed if official defence policy were settled as being the ability to meet specific and isolated threats wherever they may arise within the area for which we have a present responsibility. I am not suggesting that this official deterrent policy is, in fact, particularly sensible. What I am suggesting is that there is a basic inconsistency between asking the Army to carry out this task over "the whole spectrum" and then admitting, by implication, that the number of men available to do it may fall far short of those that are needed.

My examination of what I would call this bare minimum of 165,000, which the Government hope to have in the Army by the beginning of 1963, when the last National Serviceman will in all probability have gone, is based on the best sources of information I have been able to tap, and I do not think that my figures are likely to be seriously challenged. I am not going to deal with officers because, though there are recruiting problems there, they are of a different category. Moreover, weaknesses in officer recruitment can usually be made good by special inducements and good publicity, as present admissions to Sandhurst seem to confirm. So I shall deal with other ranks—that is, with approximately 146,000, of whom about 110,000 are now in the Army on engagements of six years or more, and who will still be in the Army on and after January 1, 1963.

The recruiting sergeants' problem therefore, is to attract at least 36,000 men in the next eighteen months, or 2,000 men monthly. It does not sound a very large figure, but so far it has proved impracticable to attain it. At present, according to the latest figures, the March figures, issued by the Ministry of Defence, recruiting on six years' engagements or more is running at approximately 1,700 a month. From this, of course, one must subtract the 25 per cent. or so of men who are found to be physically or mentally inadequate or who buy their discharge within the first three months. Therefore, we can say that, provided we confine ourselves to this figure of 165,000, the task is to make good a monthly deficiency of around 700 men. So far that has proved impossible.

This is really the crux of the problem. The number of men required is not, as I have said, so enormous, but the fact remains that there is a requirement which is at present not being met. In my calculations I have excluded the three-year engagements, for which only 68 joined in March; but even if I add them, I do not see how they could give much guidance to the size of the Army after January 1, 1963. We have to remember that the size of the armed forces on one date has little significance by itself; it is the general pattern and shape of recruiting over the years that is really significant. I am sure that all of us would agree that to achieve even the minimum of 165,000 at the beginning of 1963, only to see this figure sadly diminished thereafter, would afford no satisfaction to the Government; it would only be a reflection on the method they are using to raise even this number of men. Six-year engagements and above do give us some idea of the numbers that will be in the Army in the next five years.

The official technique to make good this deficiency is apparently to rely on the extensive and expensive national television advertising recruiting campaign. It is pretty good. This has now been running two months and will absorb most of the Army's advertising budget for the rest of this year. I can understand the high hopes placed on this campaign, because a short pilot campaign last year produced good results. I should not like the Government to think that recruiting techniques of this kind are not welcome and cannot play a useful part in presenting the Army to the public and attracting the potential soldiers, but the fact must be faced that we are using sales promotion technique to satisfy a national defence requirement. I have nothing to say against sales promotion technique; it has great value in its right place and on the right occasion. But when all is said and done, it can only show the end product. It is not only the end product that is essential in bringing the case for the Army adequately before the public; it is the processing leading up to the end product that is really the more important. If they get through the processing all right, all is well; but showing the end product alone is really failing to deliver what they want.

Since the first results of the pilot scheme were not unsatisfactory, I hope your Lordships will not think me curmudgeonly in suggesting that this is still no guarantee of what is going to happen eighteen months from now. Forecasts in the advertising world are dangerous and difficult, as any advertiser will tell you. If the results are unsatisfactory there will not be much time in which to adopt alternative methods of meeting this minimum requirement.

A further curious thing that struck me in studying this television campaign is that, apparently, no market research has been done to find out what interests men about the Army or, alternatively, what does not interest them. I get the impression that the authorities assume that there is a basic type of young man who will join the Army whatever his personal or social circumstances. This was true before the war, when there was always a basic minimum who, from inclination, destitution or something else, joined up. That is why the British Army between the wars remained about the same size, despite slumps and unemployment. Today we have a far more purposeful society, and young men have many more opportunities than in the past for travel and promotion; and in competing through advertising for their favour, the Army will soon be competing directly with civilian employers, who may be expected to stand up for themselves in kind if they find that their "brighter sparks" are actually being drawn into the Services.

There are two further points that I think are worth mentioning. A lot of young men to-day are convinced, rightly or wrongly, that there is no point in being a soldier when a nuclear bomb can blow us to bits in five minutes. However irrational this view may be, it is widely held, and not only by the campaigners for nuclear disarmament. It is for the Government to show that there really are non-nuclear jobs to be done, as well. The second point is that we are not in a period of what the Americans call "clear and present danger". If we were, the situation might be a good deal easier.

I believe that advertising, whether it be by television or otherwise, can take us only a small part of the way. I think we have to make an appeal of a quite different kind. I have, if I may say so, some slight experience in recruiting, because it so happened that in the years immediately before the war I was Chairman of a committee called the National Defence Public Interest Committee. I was invited by the War Office, and then, in view of some measure of success, by the Air Ministry, and afterwards by the Minister of Home Security, to see what could be done to help recruiting. Well, I think I can say without undue complacency that the methods that were then adopted were successful beyond expectation. So that when it was desired to find recruits for the Territorial Army—in which I was primarily interested—or for the Auxiliary Air Force or the A.R.P., they used to come to me and say: "Will you organise something for us?

I may tell your Lordships that I had in Hyde Park what I may call "agricultural shows". I called them "agricultural shows" because that was the technique adopted. We had there all the latest equipment of the Army, to show it to the public. On one occasion that I have very much in mind at least 100,000 people attended; and the gathering was supported by senior Ministers of the Crown, who appeared personally and showed themselves to the public in order to indicate the interest they took and the importance they attached to getting recruits. I am not at all certain that something of that kind could not be done again: to take the Army, not through the streets of a village, but to the places where people can be assembled and where they can see all the latest developments and have them explained to them in some detail; to excite their interest and let them see what the Army is really up to. There is a great deal of ignorance in regard to what the Army is doing and what recruits will be called upon to cope with if they were in the Army.

I believe it would be worth considering—I do not put it higher than that—adopting an entirely new technique. Advertising is all very well in its way, but the best advertiser, the best ambassador, for getting recruits, is the satisfied soldier who is already in the Forces. But first you have to get him there; and then you have to make him into a satisfied propagandist in order to get others into the Army. In the early days of the war a welfare organisation was started. There was some opposition to it, but there was also a great deal of support for it. Ultimately it made its way. I believe that the day-to-day welfare of troops must be looked after by their regimental officers. They are the people closest to them, and should be the best qualified to look after them as soldiers. But remember that these soldiers are only civilians in uniform, and that they have their roots in civilian life. They have their relations and friends at home. They have the problems with which they are confronted by correspondence from home, and they also have their own future to look forward to.

I believe that something like a welfare organisation of the type which was pioneered during the war—I had something to do with it—might make people feel that they were being looked after. When I say "looked after", what I mean is this. I know from my experience of the Army and from experience as a hospital Chairman that when ordinary civilians get into uniform or are put into bed in pyjamas, somehow or other they are apt to lose their personality and characteristics and depend greatly on other people, because they feel themselves to be in a world to which they are not accustomed. The important thing is to keep their contacts with the world at home.

I would suggest to the Government—and I do it with earnestness—that in the realm of recruiting they should look at some of the processes which were adopted before, and, as regards the soldier in the Forces, especially as he progresses from a recruit to a trained soldier, they should introduce something in the nature of a service based, perhaps, on civilian assistance, which would keep him in touch with his home and make him feel that there was a real link still remaining with home. I believe that if we were to adopt some such steps as I have ventured, in broad outline, to indicate, we should find recruiting agents in the Army, recruiting among their fellows.

3.33 p.m.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, for putting this Motion down and giving us an opportunity of having this annual debate on the Army. For years past, many of us have taken part in the annual debate, and I am glad to say a good many familiar faces are taking part today—at least, the owners of familiar faces. We believe that these debates do something for the Army, and just occasionally, not immediately but in time to come, in subsequent Memoranda we can see some of the suggestions that we have made adopted by the Government—without, of course, any acknowledgment whatsoever. We do not mind that, so long as they adopt the suggestions that we have made. I feel that the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, in his powerful speech to-day has put his finger on the two main questions with regard to the Army, and I therefore propose, if I may, to follow him on the lines upon which he has opened the debate.

The first point was the important question about the nuclear capability of the British Army—the nuclear capability in relation, or in contrast, to its conventional capability. I must say that I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, that the position is not at all clear. I do not think anyone is clear, or could be clear, because the Government have been very confused on this issue, and the statements that have been made by Ministers and the various Departments are contradictory or at least confusing. Take paragraph 6 of the Memorandum which we are discussing to-day. It says: During the past year the tactical nuclear capability of the British Army of the Rhine has greatly increased; otherwise there has been no major change in the organisation of our forces there. The criticism last year in your Lordships' House was that the nuclear capability was too great, and that there was not enough conventional capability. In fact, the Defence Paper of 1961 refers to this question in paragraph 11. It says: Finally, we maintain increasingly efficient conventional forces, mobile and well armed, and organised and deployed to protect our interests around the world; by their very presence they make an effective contribution towards the maintenance of peace. Frankly, I think it is very difficult to justify those two paragraphs, one of which talks about the greatly increased nuclear capability of the British Army of the Rhine—which is, after all, our main Army—and the other which talks about increasingly efficient conventional forces.

As the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, has said, the Minister of Defence, Mr. Watkinson, has stirred up the pond a little further. In the speech he made to the Assembly of the Western European Union lately he said: We believe that the deterrent must comprise both nuclear and conventional weapons. It is the balance between these different types of weapons within the alliance that, in our view, now needs re-examining in the light of present nuclear capabilities. That is an oracular statement, if ever there was one. But what does it mean? In view of the two contradictory statements published this year, what on earth does that statement mean for those of us who are interested in the welfare of the Army, and in the defence of the country and of the Western Alliance?

The second point the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, made was as to recruiting. Here the position is not at all good, as he has said. Indeed, the Memorandum which we are discussing to-day itself is quite clear on the point; it makes no bones about it at all. In paragraph 35 it says: Table II compares recruiting results in 1957, 1958, 1959 and 1960. Regular recruiting in 1960 has been disappointing. It was 8.4 per cent. below that of 1959, but is still at a rate which would maintain an Army of about 180,000. I should have thought that that was a very optimistic statement. If it maintains an Army of 160,000 we shall be very lucky, and for the reason which the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, who has done a good deal of work on this subject over the years, has given. The figures do not justify 180,000, or anything like it. Therefore we must look with concern on this question. For years past the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, and I, and other noble Lords in this House, have been pressing the Government on what would happen if the end of conscription came, with our very wide commitments (as, indeed, we have now) and increasing commitments and no real and satisfactory drive on the recruiting front. The noble Lord, Lord Nathan, has said that the alternative is either conscription or an all-nuclear force. I hope that that is not the dismal choice before us, because, quite frankly, I do not believe it is possible to go back to conscription.


May I interrupt the noble Lord? I should like to make clear that when I said that we were being confronted by the stark question: "Conscription or nuclear", I was not putting it as my question, but as the question that arises impliedly from the speech of the Minister of Defence.


I quite agree with the noble Lord. I was not misunderstanding him, but that was the question he postulated. As I say, I do not think we should be content with either. It is necessary for Parliament and the country to get down to the question of sufficient recruitment of the forces to undertake the task that they have to perform. I would say, in the first place, that we have to make up our minds to this fact, which people in this country have never made up their minds about; namely, that the Army must not be treated only as well as people in similar jobs in civil life; it must be treated a lot better. We must pay more than is paid for similar jobs in civil life, because when a soldier is going into the Army he has to sacrifice a certain amount of leisure and of personal control over his movements. He may have to go abroad for years.

Any of us who are interested in certain regiments know that this is the case. In my own Welch Regiment, the 1st Battalion has been serving around the world for years and years past, occasionally coming home for two or three months and then going out again. It is not easy in these days, with only one Regular battalion, to keep up recruiting, because the battalion is abroad for so many years at a stretch. In these circumstances if we have to persuade people who can easily get good jobs in civilian life to come into the Army we have to do better than civilian life is prepared to do, and that means we have, if need be, to spend a great deal more on the Army. It may be asked: where can the saving come from. I can suggest a way of saving £200 million. Drop the independent nuclear deterrent and save £200 million, and put that money where it can best be used—that is, to the Forces, to the pay and other requirements of the Armed Forces of the conventional type.

Another way in which I am told that a good many excellent recruits can be obtained is by forming Boys' Battalions. It is the experience of my own regiment and others—I am talking particularly about infantry—that if you can get boys into the Army they very often make the best soldiers and make the Army their career right to the end of their serving life. It is remarkable how many warrant officers have joined in this way. Again, I am told that at the present moment, while it is possible for boys with leadership qualities to go into young leaders' battalions, and for boys with technical qualities to go into apprentice battalions, there is nothing for the ordinary boy who has no special qualities. I know that it is the wish of the people concerned with the Forces in Wales, that some such battalion should be formed, so that we may retain that sort of boy. The idea is, put him into a Boys' Battalion, and then when he gets to the age of 17½ he would go into the regiment as a soldier. At the present moment, if he goes in at all he has to go in under some sort of subterfuge—as a bugler or drummer, for instance. If he has no interest in music he may not be any use as a bugler or a drummer but that is about the only way he can be brought in.

One thing I would suggest (and I have confirmed this with the military authorities in my part of the world; and the officers who are dealing with the men agree) on no account should there be any drop in standards. Your Lordships will remember that in the Defence Debate on March 14 and 15 this year, the noble Lord, the First Lord of the Admiralty said on March 14, and repeated it on the 15th [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 229 (No. 52), col. 773]: The shortages, we believe, will be only limited and temporary, and there are ways other than the reintroduction of National Service for dealing with them—for example, by adjustment of medical and educational standards, and further civilianisation. All those methods would be examined. I hope that the examination of the question of whether there should be any reduction in medical and educational standards will lead to the conclusion that there should be no reduction whatsoever. They are low enough as it is, and I do not think the Army should be expected to take considerable numbers of men who, either by reason of educational standards or medical unfitness, are unable to get a job anywhere else. It is important to maintain the standard of the Army. The smaller the Army is, the better, physically and mentally, it must be.

I have little more to say, because I am in the happy land, for me, rather unusual position of congratulating the Government so far as my own country of Wales is concerned on the results of the reorganisation of the Regular and the Territorial Army. So far as Wales is concerned, we have no complaints; in fact, we are quite happy about the results of the reorganisation. There was one problem which might have caused difficulty. As your Lordships will perhaps know, it was proposed that the distinguished Yeomanry Regiment, the Pembrokeshire Yeomanry, which is the only regiment in the British Army which has the battle honour Pembroke on its Colours—


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord? As a matter of fact, it is Fishguard.


I am much obliged. It is Fishguard—a neighbouring borough. The reason is that the Yeomanry took part in repelling, or perhaps I should say in the subterfuges, which caused the French, who were at that time attacking Pembrokeshire, to throw in their hands. So this distinguished Yeomanry Regiment, with its very long history, remains; and I am glad to say that no difficulties have arisen. The whole thing was quite happily settled by reason of the good work of the Lord Lieutenant of Pembrokeshire Mr. Hanning Philipps, and the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, Lord Lieutenant of Shropshire. We are very grateful to both of them for what they did on that occasion. So far as the Welsh Infantry Brigade Depôt is concerned, that is going particularly well—in fact, it could not be going better. I say this because I was one of the ones who had grave doubts about its being at Cwrt y Gollen. I am very pleased that my doubts were not well founded.

Finally, I wish to compliment the War Office on the rather striking design of the Memorandum, which is considerably more colourful than most Government documents, and also on the photographs which appear in it. They seem to have been well chosen, and they draw our attention to the various parts of the world in which the Army is serving with such distinction—a fact which I think reinforces what the noble Lord, Lord Nathan said about the very wide commitments of the Army.

I can only wish that the colour which appears on the Memorandum appeared also on the uniforms of the Territorial Army. Because if I have a complaint about the Commands and the War Office in this field it is that they are far too reluctant, in my view, to give colour to the Territorial Army. Without colour, and modern, up-to-date equipment, it is very difficult for the Territorial Army to recruit in the way it should do and to make the impact on the public mind that it should make. If you have a ceremonial parade, with a distinguished, or even Royal personage, battledress does not normally lend to the proceedings that colour which one would wish. I say no more on this, because the particular incident which gave rise to it was settled satisfactorily in our favour and, therefore, there is no need to say any more. I end by wishing all ranks of the Army, both Regular and Territorial, every possible success during the coming year.

3.49 p.m.


My Lords, having begun my military career in the regiment of which the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, was at one time Honorary Colonel, it is a great pleasure for me to take part in the debate on the Motion standing in his name. But I am, like him, very worried about the present state and future prospects of the Army due to the difficulty that is being encountered in solving the Army's manpower problem. And it is to that problem that I propose to address myself primarily in the remarks I make this afternoon.

Before I come to that, however, I should like to say how warmly I welcome the recent decision by Her Majesty's Government to bring back to this country a strong contingent of the Brigade of Gurkhas to stiffen the strategic reserve. As Colonel of the 6th Queen Elizabeth's Own Gurkha Rifles, which will provide the infantry battalion to be the first to come to this country in that contingent, I can assure your Lordships that this decision was received with the greatest enthusiasm by all ranks of that battalion, and that they look forward enormously to their tour of duty here in the United Kingdom. I am more than confident that they will do full justice to their great reputation while they serve here, and will maintain a very high standard of discipline, morale and efficiency.

I am certain that this decision will serve two very valuable purposes: it will add greatly to the strength of the strategic reserve, and it will encourage all ranks of the Brigade of Gurkhas in the belief that they are indeed an integral part of the British Army and will serve throughout the world side by side and on equal terms with their British comrades. That, as a factor in the morale and future of the Brigade of Gurkhas, is an extremely important one. So I would say, as Colonel of one of the Gurkha regiments, of the regiment that will be the first represented here in the United Kingdom, how very warmly I welcome this decision. I hope that no political inhibitions regarding the employment of Gurkhas as part of the strategic reserve will prevent their being used in any and every capacity in which British troops might be used in carrying out the rôle and function of the strategic reserve.

I cannot help smiling a little to myself when I recall that nearly two years ago I urged most strongly that this step should be taken—that a battalion of Gurkhas should be brought to this country—and I was told, some time after having urged this, that after very careful consideration it had been decided that the cost was prohibitive. Circumstances, of course, do alter cases, but that attitude, to my mind, typifies to a large extent the outlook of what I would call "penny wise and pound foolish" that has led, and continues to lead, to many of the frustrations and irritations which afflict the Army serving in various parts of the world to-day.

May I say at once, without any reflection at all on the National Service soldiers, who in my own experience and judgment have done a magnificent job for the Army and for the country, that I am a firm believer that the right answer for this country is an all-Regular Army raised on a voluntary basis, and I should be very sorry indeed to see us revert to a system of National Service. I think I should be almost even sorrier to see us adopt a system of selective service. I can imagine how I should feel, and the complications and the difficulties it would create for me, if I were commanding a battalion of infantry in which there was a small number of men who had been picked out by some arbitrary method to serve in the Army and in my battalion. I cannot help thinking that that would be a very disruptive and uphappy feature of any regiment or corps in the Army, and so I very much hope that it will be found possible to raise the men which the Army needs to carry out its tasks without recourse again to National Service on a universal basis and also without recourse to any form of selective service.

I have great admiration for the efforts which the Secretary of State for War and the Army Council are making to improve recruiting. The noble Lord, Lord Nathan, has referred to this already this afternoon. I am certain that those efforts have been carefully thought out and are being made on a sustained and really carefully prepared basis, but I feel very strongly that the Army Council, headed by the Secretary of State for War, in spite of all their preparations, their knowledge of requirements and of commitments and of the problems of recruiting, cannot be successful in this campaign unaided and on their own. I believe that they do need the public support of senior Ministers and the Government as a whole.

So far as I am aware, the Prime Minister has not made any public declaration that a fully manned, efficient and mobile Army is vital to the defence of this country. I know that he is deeply concerned with very serious matters, but to my mind this is a very serious national question, and I think, and I would submit with great respect, that some statement from the head of the Government is required in support of this recruiting campaign. Equally, so far as I know, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not stated that, within reason, he is ready to provide the moneys and funds that will be needed to ensure that the country gets the Army that it wants and must have. I am not aware of any statement in public by the Foreign Secretary, for example, that an efficient, well-trained, highly mobile Army, up to strength and in good morale, is essential to his prosecution of our national foreign policy.

With respect, I do not think the Minister of Defence has, so far at any rate, created any great feeling of confidence in the future prospects of the Army. There was talk of 165,000 men being what was required; then the figure went up to 180,000, or it may have been 182,000; then it came down again to 165,000, and then at some stage or other there was talk of managing somehow. I do not think any self-respecting young man wants to commit himself to a full career in an organisation which he is told has got to "manage somehow". It is nearly as good as the old traditional method, which I hoped we had discarded, of muddling through somehow, I believe that the time is ripe—overripe—for senior Ministers of the Government and the Government as a whole to make it quite clear to the public in this country that we must have a fully manned and efficient Army, and that it is essential to the effective prosecution of our world-wide national policies and is something which we are going to get and they are determined we shall get.

There are other minor factors and features which to my mind are detracting from recruiting. There are rumours going around in the Army itself that there may be, or most likely will be, further amalgamations or disbandments. There are veiled threats that if regiments fail to get the numbers they need in order to maintain themselves at an effective strength, they will go to the wall. That would be all right if it were just designed to encourage healthy competition, and also if the facilities for recruitment that are open to various regiments were comparable. But they are not. As it is, it leads to a state of unhealthy competition, and also it leads to a search for numbers, just a hunt to get more and more, irrespective of quality. To my mind, this is largely responsible for the large run-out in the Army. These rumours are going around; I hear them from various quarters. I think it is important that they should be scotched, and that it should be made quite clear that there is to be no more of what I, with respect, call mucking about with the order of battle of the Army as it stands to-day.

There is a lack of funds and resources, a lack of energy and drive in carrying out improvements to accommodation and other amenities, particularly in the more remote parts of the world. Without going into any details, I think that if those responsible were to look into it, they would find that there are important requirements in accommodation in, say, Southern Arabia, which we strongly urged about two years or more ago but which are still waiting to be met. Referring again to Southern Arabia, I get the impression from the reports that I get, that in that theatre Transport Command, on which the Army depends for mobility and general transportation purposes, is still, in spite of the assurances and the steps that have been taken to improve the Command, still largely being run on a shoe string.

The noble Lord, Lord Nathan, referred to welfare. In my experience, the standard of welfare in the Army has greatly improved over the years that I have served since I was a young officer, largely due to the efforts of the various welfare organisations who devote themselves wholeheartedly and in a most dedicated way to the welfare of the Army. I would say that, generally speaking, the regimental officers of the Army understand their responsibilities to their men for welfare and for their contacts with civil life and their own families, their parents and so on. I think there have been great improvements in that respect. All the same, I was shattered to read in a recent report by the Army Benevolent Fund that the Army is lagging behind the other two Services in regard to welfare. If that is so—and I feel that they are in the best position to judge—then all those in the past, myself included, who have been responsible for the Army must take the blame. But it is primarily to the future that I should like to look. If the Army is behind the other two Services in matters of welfare, in spite of the great efforts that have been made by the voluntary organisations all over the world, then there is a field in which further efforts must be made and in which, if necessary, further funds from official sources must be found in order to put things right.

In themselves, some of the points that I have mentioned this afternoon may not appear to be of great or, certainly not of vital, importance to the future of the Army; but, taken as a whole, the general impression they create is one of indifference, of lack of interest and, above all, of lack of a firm, clear, long-term policy covering the future of the Army and the future prospects of those who serve in the Army. I regret to say that there is still an atmosphere of uncertainty about the Army as a career, about the future need for an Army, and the future prospects of young men who may go into the Army.

I am approached by a number of parents, guardians and relatives. Some of them come to me and say, "My son" (or "my nephew") wants to go into the Army. Do you think there is any future in the Army?" I do my best to try to convince them that there is. Others come to me and say that their son, their nephew or their cousin is soldiering and has said that he wants to come out of the Army because he does not believe there is any future in it; that his regiment may be going to be amalgamated; that he may perhaps find himself moved somewhere else and be in a company with people whom he does not want to be with—he wants to stay with his own regiment and the people with whom he has been brought up. I get these inquiries almost weekly, and I am approached by many people on that subject. I do my best to convince them that the Army has a great future, and that there is room for any young man of energy and enthusiasm who wants to lead an active and purposeful life in good company and at the same time to serve his country well.

There is a future for any young man or woman in the Army. But I should like to hear some of the senior Ministers of Her Majesty's Government say that in clear and emphatic terms; then I could speak to those who come to me with much greater authority and conviction by quoting them than I can purely by giving my own view and opinion. Changes there must be. Changes are the order of life. As equipment develops, as there are changes in tactical methods, there must be changes in organisation and equipment and in training. Those we must accept, and the Army will have to accept them. But that does not necessarily mean that there should be further changes in the order of battle, more amalgamations, or any continuing uncertainty about the future.

I would urge on Her Majesty's Government that they should make it abundantly clear to the Army itself and to the general public that there is a continuing need for a fully-manned, efficient, highly trained and high-moraled Army; and that anyone now serving in the Army, and anyone who may think of joining the Army, can count on a full and uninterrupted career in the regiment or corps of his choice.

4.8 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure that all your Lordships will agree with me when I say how greatly obliged we are to the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, for the opportunity he has given us this afternoon of discussing Army affairs. I very much agree with the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, when he said how valuable these debates are. I am grateful, too, for the speeches which the three noble Lords who preceded me have made.

No Army debate would be complete without a contribution from the noble Lord, Lord Nathan. We have all come to expect from him a most dispassionate analysis of the problems facing the Army, as well as a great many constructive suggestions. We have in no sense been disappointed this afternoon. Nor have we been disappointed in the speech of the noble and gallant Field Marshal who speaks with all the authority of a former Chief of the Imperial General Staff, or that of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, who speaks on these occasions every year and knows a great deal about the Army. All three noble Lords have concentrated primarily on the question of manpower and recruitment. I should like to do the same, because I believe that this must inevitably be the central issue in any debate on the Army to-day. My noble friend Lord Jellicoe will wind up, and he will answer any problems and any points which your Lordships make on other subjects.

Before I turn to the question of manpower and recruitment, I should like just to mention the speech of my right honourable friend the Minister of Defence, which was referred to both by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore and by the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, who, as I understood, took him to task for concentrating too greatly on the nuclear capability of N.A.T.O. at the expense of the conventional side. I have had the opportunity of seeing the full text of the Minister's speech. I do not know whether the two noble Lords have, but perhaps I might be allowed to read from one passage of that speech something which I think will allay their fears. My right honourable friend said this: We recognise that there could be a danger in over-dependence on nuclear weapons. We recognise that if the conventional shield is too thin there would be a serious risk that an accidental or minor incursion would result in an all-out war. On the other hand, we do not believe that N.A.T.O. can or should provide such massive conventional forces as could hope to deal with any conventional attack, however large, without recourse to nuclear weapons. Such a policy might merely indicate that we should not have the courage ever to use nuclear weapons in any circumstances. Between these two extremes we must strike a balance within what the Alliance can afford without waste of resources. He then went on to say: We consider in Britain that a qualitative improvement in firepower, mobility and other fighting characteristics should be considered just as closely as increasing the size of N.A.T.O.'s conventional forces beyond the levels at present planned. In other words, we believe that priority should be given to improving the effectiveness of N.A.T.O.'s conventional forces. My Lords, manpower is certainly the problem which is most widely discussed; and whatever different views and opinions may be held about the Government's defence policy, there is no dispute from anybody about the need to build up and maintain a Regular Army of sufficient size to meet our national and international commitments. Plans, equipment, weapons and good intentions are not good enough unless we have sufficient men of the right type.

A good deal of doubt has been expressed in recent months about the validity of the recruiting and manpower targets which we have set ourselves for the Army, as well as about our ability to achieve them. There has also been a lot of speculation about what the Government will do in the event of failure to reach those targets, rather as though failure were a foregone conclusion. My Lords, ever since the Government decided to rely on smaller all-Regular Forces there have been gloomy prognostications, some darker than others, about the extent to which we should fall short of our aim without the aid of conscription. I am not going to pretend that we are out of the wood yet; and the Government are anything but complacent. But it is already clear that the gloomiest prophets are going to be confounded, and there is a reasonable hope that their worst fears will prove groundless. At all events, I will try to show in the course of my speech what the Government are doing to make certain that they are.

But, first of all, let us look at the aim. The Government are tackling the build-up of the all-Regular Army in two stages. The first is to achieve a volunteer strength of 165,000 officers and men by 1963, when the last of the National Servicemen will have left. We have made it clear, however, that we do not intend to stop there, and that the second stage will be to move on to a force of 182,000 men as soon as possible thereafter, so that the Army can not only fulfil its commitments but also achieve proper stability. The noble Lord, Lord Nathan, expressed some concern at the prospect that, having achieved our minimum target of 165,000 men, we might then see this figure steadily diminish thereafter. In fact, we are confident that once 165,000 is achieved we shall go on to 182,000 automatically. The reason for this is that as we recruit more Regulars the numbers of long-service engagements will increase and the numbers leaving the Service each year will diminish. The best calculation we can make at present is that we shall reach this higher figure in 1966 or thereabouts.

My Lords, the decision to base the all-Regular Army on these numbers was taken consciously and as part of the Government's plan to provide a balanced defence force, both nuclear and conventional, within the limits of what this country can afford, in manpower as well as in money. Bearing in mind our Alliances, N.A.T.O., S.E.A.T.O., and C.E.N.T.O., and the mobility and enormously increased fire power of modern weapons, it was, and is, the considered opinion of the Government that forces of this size will be adequate to enable us to continue to honour our international obligations as well as to safeguard our own national interests in those parts of the world where we might be expected to act alone. The Government have been quite consistent about this and nothing has happened in the last three or four years to suggest that this decision was mistaken.

The noble and gallant Field Marshal and, to a lesser extent, the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, both suggested that the prospects and role of the Army were still imperfectly understood. I do not think there is any reason why this should be so. They have been stated often enough and are re-stated most clearly and succinctly in the Explanatory Memorandum which we are discussing this afternon. I have certainly heard the present Foreign Secretary talk about the need for conventional forces and for an Army, and I have heard the Prime Minister do so as well. But if the noble and gallant Field Marshal is still of the opinion that something more needs to be done, I most certainly will discuss it with my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for War to see what more we can do.

But the rôle of the Army is, first and foremost, to contribute to peace and stability, which is our first line of defence, by maintaining a "military presence" in areas of potential trouble, from Western Europe to the Far East. And this the Army is doing in Hong Kong, in Singapore and Malaya; in the Arabian Peninsula, at Aden and Bahrein, and in East Africa. Nearer home, we have our garrisons in Cyprus covering the Mediterranean, and in Germany we are maintaining the strength of the British Army of the Rhine at seven brigade groups, which is the contribution which we have undertaken to make to N.A.T.O. Standing behind these frontline troops there is the rest of the strategic reserve in this country, which is at a high state of readiness to reinforce our position wherever that might be needed if trouble should, in fact, come.

The mobility and power of rapid concentration of these forces will be still further increased as our plans for the re-equipment of the Royal Air Force's Transport Command bear fruit in the next few years, and also when the Amphibious Warfare Squadron is replaced by the Navy's new assault ship. This pattern of world-wide deployment will be maintained with the all-Regular Army which we have set ourselves to provide and which we hope will grow steadily in efficiency as the volunteer principle is established. Of course, we could have chosen to have a much larger standing Army; but the possibilities of recruitment apart, this could have been done only at the expense of our national economy, on which our ability to maintain defensive forces at all depends, or at the expense of some other aspect of defence. Should we make do with a smaller Air Force or a smaller Navy in order to swell the ranks of the Army? It is, of course, a question of balance within the limits set by economic realities. We believe that we have achieved the right balance in our various aims, and that to upset it in any one direction would be foolish. So much for what we are aiming to do.

How is our performance matching our aims? It is, of course, too early yet to be certain that our first target of 165,000 men will be reached on time, just as it is too early to forecast a deficiency at this stage. No one can say with certainty whether existing trends of recruiting will continue, and the size of the future Army depends on a great many other factors as well. The number of recruits from civil life; how many men decide to stay on in the Army when their present engagements end; the percentage of recruits lost by wastage; that is, by discharge by purchase, on medical grounds, and so on—these are all considerations which must be taken into account in estimating how large the Army will be in eighteen months' to two years' time.

The noble Lord, Lord Nathan, gave us some figures of shortages which he said nobody would dispute. With respect to him, I do dispute them, because I think that he has greatly over-simplified the recruiting sergeant's problem and has not taken into his calculation account of the re-engagement and wastage factors, which could have a significant effect. I should prefer to stick to what we know. During the first four months of this year, the net increase (which, of course, is quite different from the total number of recruits every month), allowing for all the factors I have mentioned, was 1,854 men. The recruiting figures for April, which are published to-day—though I admit that this is only an isolated month, and that the comparison with last year is not quite fair, because Easter fell in March this year and not in April, as it did last year—were 1,840, compared with 1,708 in April, 1960.

My Lords, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for War is taking urgent steps to improve recruiting, and particularly to encourage Regular soldiers at present in the Army to stay for a full career and so reduce the existing rate of wastage. It is still too early to judge the measure of success that these efforts will have, but we shall be better able to do this at the end of the year. We shall then be able to see how we are doing and what other exceptional measures, if any, are needed to bridge the gap before 1963. I cannot, in any case, promise that during the transition from a conscript to an all-Regular Army, and while the process of run-down and reorganisation is still continuing, all our overseas units will be fully up to strength. There is bound to be some fluctuation in numbers, and there will be times when we should like to have more troops available in a particular area. But our strategic reserves are stronger than they have ever been before, and their mobility, as I have said, is constantly improving. The situation is worrying, but it should be a passing phenomenon which we believe will largely vanish when the build-up and reorganisation of the Regular Army is complete.


My Lords, I should like to ask the noble Lord whether he is quite sure on what he has just said about the strength of the strategic reserve. We listened very carefully to the dispositions that he gave us just now of the Army forces, which have two compartments, I gather—seven Brigade Groups in Germany, and all those other States that had to be manned. I should have thought that, leaving out those still in preliminary training in this country, our strategic reserve must he, ipso facto, very small.


The strategic reserve is larger than it has been. It is highly; mobile; it is extremely efficient, and it is well manned.

My Lords, for not far short of a generation National Servicemen have made a valuable contribution to the defence of their country, often at some sacrifice and with some hardship to themselves. But I do not think that there are many in your Lordships' House who will look forward to the end of National Service with regret, or who will dispute the Government's wisdom in seeking to achieve it. The system has inevitably been expensive. The conscript, with his comparatively short service and high proportion of time spent under training and in the pipeline, inevitably gives the Army less effective service, man for man, than the Regular soldier. Furthermore, Regulars have to be diverted to training conscripts, so that the administrative "tail" of the Army is increased at the expense of the "teeth". And the presence in the Army of large numbers of young men, however good they are, who regard their service with the Colours as no more than an incident in their lives, must inevitably tend to disrupt the spirit and morale of the whole force. I believe that the new and all-Regular Army will be vastly more efficient for its size than the old.

Now what are the Government doing to ensure that our planned numbers are going to be achieved? There is, I think, no single feature of Service life which one can isolate as being responsible for poor recruitment, and there is no one panacea that we can apply to put an end to all our difficulties overnight. Men either join or do not join the Forces for a variety of reasons. At all events, though the contrary has sometimes been suggested—indeed, it was suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, today—I do not believe that pay is nowadays a factor. The Government's present policy is to ensure that the pay of Servicemen does not lag behind that of the comparable civilian: and, provided that the young man can be shown, as the noble and gallant Lord said, that the Army offers a worthwhile career with a financial reward which is not out of line with that which he can expect in civilian life, he should find Service pay sufficiently attractive.

That is certainly so in my own Service. As I go round and talk to the sailors in the Royal Navy, I seldom have any complaints at all about the pay. But, bearing in mind that the Army is in competition for recruits with the Welfare State, our first efforts must be in the field of public relations. We have to persuade the young man that the Army does, in fact, offer an attractive, varied and well- paid career, in which he can rind the satisfaction of comradeship and of exercising his talents to the full. We have to persuade him that the New Model Army is different from the old, that it offers better prospects and living conditions than the old, and that it has been purged of petty restrictions. And this is what the Government are now seeking to do, by means, first of all, of a major national television advertising campaign, mentioned by the noble Lord opposite.

We have great hopes of this campaign. The pilot scheme which was carried out last autumn in particular areas showed very encouraging results. Recruiting in those areas went up by 18 per cent. at a time when the rest of the country was showing a decline. It is still too early to make a full assessment of the results of the first phase of the national campaign, but already there are indications that it will be just as effective on the wider scale. This campaign will be supplemented by Press advertisements, posters and exhibitions and displays of the Army on a very much larger scale than in the past. It may interest the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, if I might have his attention for one moment, to know that we are doing very much as he suggests. During the summer months, parties of up to 200 of all ranks from 46 different units will be touring the recruiting areas for ten days or so. In addition, recruiting displays and stands will be present at over 500 shows throughout the country. At the same time, another 60 recruiting teams will be going up and down the country. I therefore think that the noble Lord's suggestion is being carried out.

The aim of all this publicity is to show that the Army provides a worthwhile career as a professional soldier in the service of the country. We have tried to make truth and realism the keynote. The message and aim we are trying to get across is that it is a tough life, and that a man has to be both good and determined to measure up to what the Army wants. If we have not advertised the chores and inconveniences of the soldier's life, neither have we played up the rosy side—for example, the free travel and opportunities for sport which the Army throws in free. In this way we are trying to maintain a balance in our advertising, while, of course, encouraging a positive and favourable reaction in the potential customer.

The noble Lord, Lord Nathan, asked me whether we had undertaken any market research. In faot, quite a lot of work has already been done on various aspects, and the Army Operational Research Group is at present carrying out a comprehensive study of the reasons why men join or leave the Army. A preliminary report is expected at some time during the autumn. At the same time, we are trying to do more to live up to this picture of the modern Army by introducing more opportunities of realistic and tough training abroad. We started large-scale, airborne exercises overseas last year, and these will continue in 1961 on an even wider scale. Nothing is more important than realistic and worthwhile training in peace time, and with an all-Regular Army it is essential to maintain the soldier's interest and to make him feel that he is training for an important job.

This year, troops from this country are going to train at battalion strength in Canada and Libya, and at Brigade Group strength in Cyprus, and it is intended to continue this sort of thing each year. Apart from holding the soldier's interest, training of this sort is in Line with our concept of a strategic reserve in this country ready to fly anywhere in the world at short notice—and the lessons learnt from Army/R.A.F. co-operation on these exercises would undoubtedly pay good dividends if real trouble should ever come.

My Lords, I said earlier that there was no one aspect of service life which one could point to as the stumbling block to Regular recruitment. But there is, of course, one problem which must loom very large in the eyes—not perhaps of young recruits so much as in those of the older men whom we must encourage to re-engage; for recruitment is not just a matter of the monthly intake; it is also a question of prolongation of service, because the longer men are prepared to serve, the fewer new recruits are needed. I refer, of course, to the problem of disturbance and family separation.

The next three measures which I want to mention are all designed to attack this problem, and so help recruitment by increasing the rate of re-engagement. The War Office are going all out to ensure that the married soldier lives together with his family for as long and as frequently as possible, and in conditions comparable to those he might expect to enjoy in civilian life. This means a vast programme of construction of married quarters, and this is being pushed ahead as fast as resources will allow. Since 1951, over 30,000 quarters have been built or reconstructed, and everything is being done to make these quarters as good as possible. At the moment, 6,500 new quarters are being built or planned in the United Kingdom alone, and another 3,700 will be ready abroad during the next year. This programme is being supplemented by the renting of furnished houses and by the more extensive use, for the time being, of unit caravan sites, with the War Office providing the ground and services and the soldier paying a rent.

Next, as my right honourable friend announced in another place last week, a new leave scheme is to be introduced to help all those serving overseas who are entitled to have their wives and families with them but who, for one reason or another, have to serve unaccompanied. This may be because, despite the Government's efforts, housing is not yet available, or because, for domestic reasons, the family cannot travel to join the husband. Under this scheme, men will be allowed one free leave journey to the United Kingdom if they are on an overseas tour of at least two years of which not less than 21 months will be unaccompanied.

Finally—though this is not strictly to bring families together while the soldier is serving—the Secretary of State is planning to introduce, with the help of building societies and insurance companies, an imaginative scheme which he has called "Save while you serve". This scheme will be a simple one, to encourage the soldier to put aside enough of his pay—which is nowadays, as I have said, good—while he is serving to enable him to buy a house, or perhaps a small business, when he finally retires. It will help to put him in the same position, at the end of his Army career, as he might have expected to be in after a comparable period of settled civilian employment. These three measures should go a long way to help the married soldier, and to encourage re-engagement.

The War Office, however, are very concerned with the third factor which affects the Army's prospects of reaching their manpower goal by 1963—I refer to the heavy loss of recruits who purchase their discharge within the first three months of their service. Many of these would probably have made good soldiers if they had been prepared to give the Army a rather longer trial. Here the first essential, of course, is to ensure that new recruits are given a sensible and interesting introduction to Army life. The War Office is seeing what can be done to eliminate cleaning and all those unnecessary household chores, to prevent over-concentration on training in the early weeks, and to create a happy atmosphere in depôts and units where recruits carry out their initial training. It is too early yet to see what the results of these efforts will be; but, they should all bear fruit in due course. But apart from this, an effective means of preventing a new recruit from taking a hasty decision during the early weeks of his Army career would undoubtedly be to place a ban on the exercise of his right to purchase discharge until he had served for a stipulated period. A ban during the first two months of service is in fact provided for in the new Army and Air Force Bill, which is at present being discussed in another place. As your Lordships will in due course have an opportunity to consider it, I do not propose to say any more about it this afternoon.

My Lords, I have spoken at some length, I am afraid, about the manpower aims of the Government, and the measures which we propose to take to improve the three factors which must contribute to the achievement of these aims—direct recruitment, re-engagement, and wastage. What if, despite our efforts, it becomes clear that the target will not be reached? The solution which springs most readily to mind is the reintroduction of conscription in some form or other. But conscription is not the only answer, and there are many different ways of overcoming shortages—particularly if they are likely to be temporary—such as adjusting entry standards (about which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, spoke), overseas recruitment, and the replacement of soldiers by civilians on a wider scale. The Government would have to reconsider all these possibilities, and we should do it in good time. But we are confident that the target is attainable, and our calculations, based on reasonable and not over-optimistic assumptions, show that this is so. I hope that I have also persuaded your Lordships that the Government are taking really energetic steps to make sure that the goal is reached.

Before I sit down, I should like to say a few words about the Territorial Army and the Army Emergency Reserve, because the picture of the Army's manpower would not be complete without a mention of these two forces. My right honourable friend did not devote a great deal of space to them in his Memorandum. The reason for this was that, as recently as last November, in the case of the Territorial Army, and February this year, in the case of the Army Emergency Reserve, some very important announcements were made and given full publicity. Command Paper No. 1216 sets out in some detail the future rôle of the Territorial Army and the reorganisation which it is now undergoing, in the knowledge of the fact that, with the end of National Service, it must depend entirely on volunteers.

The Territorial Army has been reorganised, and I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, finds that this reorganisation has been successfully carried out in Wales. It has been reorganised so that the units will have sufficient volunteers and enough modern equipment to train effectively. The establishment will be 190,000. About two-thirds of these, 123,000, will be active peace-time members of the Territorial Army, and this is a figure which we are confident will be met by volunteers. At the same time, in order to make up the difference on mobilisation, the remaining one-third of the establishment will be filled by members of the new Territorial Army Reserve, which is open to other ranks who have served at least four years in the active Territorial Army and have attended three annual camps. This reserve will not train, but its members will receive an annual bounty of £5 in recognition of their mobilisation liability.

The rôle of the Territorial Army is clearly set out in the White Paper to which I have referred. If mobilisation should become necessary, it would provide units and individual reinforcements for the Regular Army overseas, particularly in Germany. It would also provide headquarters and units to aid the civil power and support the Regular Army in the United Kingdom. With this in view, the ten Territorial Army divisional headquarters have been amalgamated with Regular Army district headquarters, which, in their turn, are matched with Civil Defence regions. Finally—because no one can foresee the future with any certainty—not the least important rôle of the Territorial Army is to provide a framework on which, in a period of rising tension, general preparations for war can be made.

The Army Emergency Reserve, the successor of the old Supplementary Reserve, is perhaps less known in the country than the Territorial Army, but its tasks are equally vital. Apart from a small number of individual technicians, who are in a special category of their own, the Army Emergency Reserve is divided between officers and other ranks who accept a liability to serve before a Proclamation calling out the Reserve is issued (these are grouped in Category I) and those who will not be called up before general mobilisation, and who serve in Category II. Now that the National Serviceman has gone, we have reduced the numbers in this second category to 13,000. But Category I is a different thing. Its other ranks content is limited by Statute to 15,000. It is aimed primarily at a limited war. It would be a most uneconomic business to retain in the Regular Army specialist units which have no normal peace-time employment, such as, for example, port operating units, railway battalions, special postal units, and a host of others. On the other hand, if a limited war of any size were to break out, some, or all, of these units would be invaluable and might be needed very quickly.

The importance which we attach to this category of the Army Emergency Reserve is marked by the new individual bounty of £60 a year paid to officers and men who accept the pre-Proclamation liability. This is in addition to normal training bounties. I cannot stress too strongly the vital pant which the A.E.R. Category I plays in our plans for dealing with what one might call medium-scale emergencies—that is to say, situations short of global war, but of more seriousness than our small Regular Army can handle without specialist support. Anything that can be done,to make it as widely known as the Territorial Army will, I know, be most welcome to my right honourable friend, and I should like to enlist your Lordships' support to that end.

As I said at the beginning, I have concentrated primarily on the question of manpower and recruitment. I have no doubt that in the course of this debate those of your Lordships who follow me will have many criticisms and suggestions about the problem of finding men for the Army. Your Lordships may well be critical of some of the things we have done, and I can assure you that your criticisms will be noted and that any suggestions for imroving recruiting that you may make will be looked at with great care by the War Office. I hope that I have satisfied you that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for War in taking positive and imaginative steps of his own to deal with our deficiency. But it is not possible for the War Office and its political head to solve this problem on their own. It requires the cooperation of everyone who believes that the British Army has a vital rôle to play and that it is essential that we should get an all-Regular Force of adequate size as soon as possible. I hope, therefore, that all your Lordships who have listened to me, whether you intend to speak in the debate or not, will do what you can to help us in this recruiting problem. The target is attainable. We must see that we get it.

4.44 p.m.


My Lords, as an old soldier of two World Wars, I am convinced that the Army to-day serves as great a purpose as ever in its long history. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, for his most informative survey. National Service has done this country an immense amount of good. Physical fitness and discipline are excellent tonics for the young. But there is little doubt that the inclusion of National Servicemen in the Army has had a bad effect on its efficiency. All the best N.C.O.'s are required in the training units to produce an endless stream of National Service soldiers who, by virtue of the shortness of their service, can never reach a really high standard of efficiency, good as they were and good as they are. Morale was bound to be affected in the barrack room, where half the soldiers were looking forward to leaving and returning to their own occupation, while the other half have joined for a career.

I am told, and I believe it, that morale has already considerably increased as the Regular content gets higher and National Servicemen waste out. In my opinion, it would be disastrous to return to any form of selective National Service, with all its disadvantages, and I entirely agree with the noble and gallant Field-Marshal, Lord Harding of Petherton. We must hope for the best as regards recruits, and if we do not get them we shall have to think again and take action, regardless of popularity or unpopularity. No doubt the Government have some scheme in mind.

Perhaps too much emphasis has been placed on numbers—such as 165,000 or 182,000, which have been mentioned—and not enough attention paid to potential commitments. Obviously, if we have potential commitments for five brigade groups and possess only four, we have not enough in the Army; whereas, if we have potential commitments for only four brigade groups, we are all right. I am convinced that we shall always need our quota of conventional troops and conventional arms, and we do not want to be misled by those who consider nuclear weapons in themselves sufficient. But whether we can afford to save the £200 million, as suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, is another matter.

So far as possible, the Government have forecast what our commitments are likely to be and have planned the strength of the defence forces to meet the different contingencies. As your Lordships know, and as we have heard this afternoon, the eventual establishment of the all-Regular Army is to be 182,000, which excludes Gurkhas, colonial troops, W.R.A.C. and boys. Personally, I should like to see a larger Army but, having regard to the economic realities of the situation and the fact that not only the cost of the individual officer and man but also the cost of his weapons and equipment is mounting year by year, 182,000 is, I think, a reasonable compromise figure. On this we should be able to meet our commitments, although there is no doubt that within it we shall be tightly stretched. I was glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, mention one thing, which had not been mentioned before—that is, that inherent in the acceptance of this figure is the assumption that in anything more than minor emergency, the Army Emergency Reserve and Section A of the Army Reserve will be available to bring units up to war establishment and provide extra administrative backing.

Sad to say, and your Lordships know it only too well, recruiting figures have been disappointing. May I remind your Lordships that the present upper age limit for recruits is 25, unless they have had some previous service, in which case some latitude is allowed. This seems to me to be a very low age, particularly in view of where our shortages lie—drivers, signallers, medical orderlies, and electronic and other specialist categories. Older men would be more experienced and therefore of better value up to almost any reasonable age—I would say up to between 35 and 40—and I think that this is a point which might be considered later.

The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, also mentioned that we have been losing a lot of recruits under Section 14 of the Army Act, whereby a recruit has the right to buy himself out of the Army within three months of attestation, for a sum not exceeding £20. I believe that the figure up to March 31, 1961, was 13.7 per cent. of the regular intake of men without previous experience, which is a fairly high percentage. I was glad to hear that some steps are being taken, which sooner or later may be before your Lordships' consideration, and I suggest to your Lordships that a recruit should remain in the Army for 12 weeks before he can purchase his discharge.

I, too, would pay tribute to the Secretary of State for the imaginative and excellent steps he has taken, and is still taking, to improve the recruiting situation. It is not easy, but I feel that the figures will improve, and we must not panic. I like the suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, about more Boys Battalions and I hope that this suggestion of the noble Lord will be examined. Television could well prove to be a paying medium for attracting recruits, if well-composed and executed. The alleged monotony and dullness of Army life is one of the supposed troubles, so far as recruiting is concerned, though I do not believe that there is all that dullness. The main thing is to remove the causes, if any, and I am told that this is being examined and will be done.

I am also told that it has been found necessary, on account of expense, to reduce the petrol allowance for armoured units in Germany, with the result that tanks and armoured cars are often confined to their car parks for long periods on end. German farmers do not like armoured vehicles any more than do our own farmers, but the cleaning and maintenance of vehicles can be a bit boring, if too prolonged. But I am sure that the greatest single factor affecting morale in Germany is the shortage of married quarters, and I am more than glad to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, that the War Office have this matter really in hand.

I have always strongly advocated that exchanges within the Commonwealth—Australia, Canada and New Zealand—would be wonderful value. For instance, would it not be grand to see a battalion of Grenadiers being sent to Australia for eighteen months or so, and an Australian battalion coming to Great Britain? The same exchange could be applied to armoured regiments. All equipment could be exchanged, and there would be no cost other than the transportation of the men by sea each way, and I think it would be real value for money. These ideas, I am afraid, good as they are, are invariably turned down for one reason only, and that is finance. But it is very refreshing to hear that recruiting will benefit from all the advantages of imaginative training and exercises for troops of this country which are to take place in Canada, Cyprus and Libya, and, I was also told, Portugal.

There is one matter which does not appear in the Estimates to which I would draw your Lordships' attention. I understand that my old regiment, the 11th Hussars—sometimes known as the "Cherry-Pickers"—at present an armoured car regiment, are to be converted to a tank regiment, and that a tank regiment is to be converted into the rôle of an armoured car regiment. The 11th Hussars and the 12th Lancers were the first two cavalry regiments to be mechanised and turned into armoured car regiments over 30 years ago. Armoured car regiments require specialised training and bear no similarity to the rôle of a tank regiment: in fact, the two rôles are completely different. The 11th have a wonderful record of armoured car work throughout the war, and it seems a great pity that this vast experience and background should now he eliminated. There is a danger that if a crisis did occur you would have the 11th untrained in tanks and another regiment untrained in armoured cars and, therefore, both non-operational.

I know there is a reason, and probably a sound reason, for this policy of interchange; and I also realise that there is a preponderant number of tank regiments in Germany which are likely to remain there in the same rôle for a number of years. Armoured car regiments, on the other hand, have a better chance of serving outside Europe, and for this reason it is considered healthier, from the corps point of view, that regiments should change their rôles rather than that there should be two separate outlooks within the corps. Personally—and I express only a personal opinion; it has nothing to do with my own regiment, who have never mentioned the subject to me—I am unhappy about the wisdom of this policy; but if the decision has been made, I am certain it will be accepted in the right spirit.

We must do all we can to help to encourage recruiting, and do nothing to belittle the Army, which has played a vital and continuing part in our fortunes: prized in times of danger and war; taken for granted, and often ignored, in times of peace; but always part of our life and heritage. The greatness of the British Army is based on its comradeship and its sense of purpose. So let us unite in keeping these qualities alive to-day.

4.53 p.m.


My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, for once again starting off this debate on the Army. Like all noble Lords who have spoken so far, I have no doubt that the most important problem of the Army is the question of manpower. I should like to come down a little closer and discuss the matter from the point of view of the units.

As has been said, the problem of manpower divides itself into two. The first is recruitment, and that has been widely covered. I, too, would congratulate the Secretary of State for War and the Army Council, who have been doing a great job of work. Advertising the Army in order to persuade men to go into it is not something one takes too easily, but in fact it comes down to that. I think that sometimes people make a mistake when they say that we must glamorise the Army. I do not think that that is what the youth of to-day wants. What he likes is the training. I was glad to hear from the First Lord of modern equipment being taken round and shown in the various areas to everyone concerned. I am sure that if young men not in the Army were allowed to drop in parachutes it would produce thousands of recruits; it is always possible to get a large number of recruits for that kind of thing. The parachutists get more recruits because there is that extra bit of excitement which the young men like. I have said before that I was once told by a commanding officer who had just come back from Malaya that he never had any difficulty in getting recruits for his battalion out there. I am sure it is the excitement that the young men go for.

Then there is the question of inducing men to sign on and of keeping them in the Forces. The first question is whether we have the term of service right. I am sure that the present term of service—that is to say, six years—is right and is the one to aim at. But if it is going to be difficult to secure recruits, would it be possible (at any rate this is a line of thought) to reduce the term to four years with the Colours and eight years on Reserve. The Brigade of Guards have always had a short-service engagement of three years and nine years, and that has worked well. There is the possibility that in their case the terms might be "bumped up" to four years and eight years, and we could have that period for all. I think this is a point that cannot be dismissed out of mind. It may be that, to the young men, six years is "a bit of a mouthful" to take all at once. I am not certain in my own mind whether that is so or not. But if they had four years and a bounty after that, and a further bounty if they signed on after a further four years, that might induce more to join.

So far as I can make out from talking to various people (and the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said this), there seems to be no single reason why men want to leave the Army after they have finished their term of service. I am not going into the matter of those who buy themselves out, and I refer only to men who come to the end of their service. Our aim is to try to get them to take on again. I think that in all units every man who comes to the end of his service and elects to leave is questioned as to why he does not want to take on again; and the answers, as in the old Ministry saying, are various and many.

The sense of purpose was brought out by the noble Lord, Lord Norrie. The men enjoy training, particularly when it is out of barracks; that is to say, when they go on to higher forms of training. What bores them is this repetitive training in barracks and fatigues. All of us who have been in the Services know that one has to have this initial and individual training, and there are reasons why it has to continue for a long time. One of the reasons has been mentioned already by the noble Lord, Lord Norrie—that is, lack of petrol. I understand that not only are the tanks and the armoured vehicles cut down on petrol, but the training of the infantry soldiers is also cut down a great deal. The other reason is that there are not enough training areas. This applies equally at home and abroad. In B.A.O.R., many units of different nationalities have to use comparatively few areas for what is called full training—that is to say, for the use of live ammunition, digging, and the use of armoured vehicles. That lack of training areas is very important. I have not myself served in Germany, but I understand that the situation there is very difficult indeed. Whether anything can be done about this I do not know, but I hope that Her Majesty's Government will take another look at it, because it is important to get these chaps out on training away from barracks and away from the fatigues— a subject to which I will come in a moment.

There are one or two small points about lack of realism which I should like to make. I am told that, although they all have the new rifles, there is very little blank ammunition to go with them for use on training. That is a pity. They have new wireless sets which they are very excited about, but they have very few batteries. This situation seems to ring a bell with me, because I think we have all said this a good many times before: what is the good of producing beautiful new wireless sets and having no batteries for them? The only thing they can do is to use them to give the men the initial training, and then hold them in store for the occasion of the big exercises, when everybody is looking on I hope the authorities can do something about this.

One thing which seems rather ridiculous to me is that, as I understand it, before exercises can be given some realism by means of thunderflashes and so on, the commanding officer's authority is required. I do not think I need say any more about that. The noble Lord, the First Lord, mentioned petty restrictions. I understand that these have been largely cut out, and those which remain are only for some specific reason, such as hygiene. The old-fashioned kit inspection, and so forth, are gone, and I understand that the restrictions on the use of plain clothes have been practically done away with. That, again, is a good thing.

I am told that very few men, when they are asked why they are leaving the Army, complain about the discipline. Some of them complain about how it is carried out, but that is all. Of course, it depends largely on the unit and on the warrant officers and sergeants who, after all, are the backbone of the whole unit. One must take into consideration that they feel that discipline has been relaxed a good deal in the last two years, and that they must keep what they have left. Do not forget, however, that those who leave talk to the young recruits or the young men whom we want as recruits. A man who leaves because he is dissatisfied or bored is a man who can keep another man away; and that is why I have broached these few points.

A great deal has been said previously about the shortage of married quarters. We were pleased to head the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, say that a great deal is being done. I understand that in Germany, even after the order to go is given, there is the inevitable nine months of a contract. We are then into a new year, and the money goes. That surely is one of the difficulties of this yearly budget system. The young officers and the men—I was thinking particularly of the men—get married much younger nowadays, and they do not like leaving their wives behind, which is another reason for their leaving. The Army Council and everyone have done a great deal for the single soldiers with regard to accommodation in B.A.O.R. I understand that some of the barracks there are not up to standard, and the reason always given is that it is not known whether they are going to be a permanent station and, therefore, they have not been done up. But this does make a difference to the men.

Messing is mentioned in the Report which we are discussing. This, of course, depends enormously on units and on theatres of war. It is naturally much easier to produce good messing at home in England, where most, or the majority, of men go away on weekend leave, than it is in places abroad where they do not, and where they are in their unit all the time. I know of units in Germany who have spent as much as £100 a month because they do not consider the ration is enough. I should like Her Majesty's Government to take a look at that point. I understand that if anything goes wrong in the cookhouse, either with the equipment or the building itself, it takes an appallingly long time to get it mended.

On the question of pay, the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said he thought that we should pay more. I am led to believe that men who have been asked why they are not going to take on, or why they want to leave, say that they are adequately paid for the job they do. But there are in most units the really good men—and young ones at that—who could make more money outside. Of course, the ideal would be to pay them more, but whether we can afford it is another matter. I understand that in the Canadian Army they pay a little more than we do and that they have ten applicants for every vacancy on the establishment. The new uniform is generally welcome, but is it true that the contractors in the clothing trade can produce only 150,000 suits in a year? If that is all they can do, then the issue of this new uniform will be very slow indeed. A short word on the fatigues. The employment of civilians could be undertaken to a greater extent. One must remember that, with the run-down in the Army, the fewer men you have, the bigger percentage of those in barracks who will be on fatigues.

Most of my remarks apply to some extent to officers, but I will not go in detail into the question of officers. I understand that at Sandhurst now the numbers are going up, and I am delighted to hear it. I also understand that more boys go to Mons O.C.T.U. because if they do not like it they can come out after their short-service commission. I am not certain whether it is true, but I um told that it is the case, which is a pity, because obviously it is better for them to have full training at Sandhurst. The other point, of course, is that if they go to Mons O.C.T.U. they get to their units very much more quickly. A parent told me the other day, that her son put in his papers to go to Mons O.C.T.U. on January 1, or thereabouts; it took six weeks before he was given a medical examination and he was not called until June 1; that is six months out of his life when he is hanging about doing nothing. Possibly there may have been an error on one side or the other.

On the Friday before Whitsun, I went with a party—the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, was also with it—to the Hebrides, to see the firing of the Corporal missile. It was a very interesting day. I think in some ways it is rather a pity that when a whole crowd of Members of Parliament—if "crowd" is the right word for them; at any rate, a collection—goes on a journey like this it has to go in a chartered aircraft of rather ancient design, although perfectly safe. If we go to see one of the new weapons, to go by an aircraft made out of a Wellington bomber, seems to me to be, not going backwards, but not progressing very far in aviation. I am told it is cheaper for us to be taken up in a chartered aircraft than it would be for the Royal Air Force to take us in one of theirs. I have no possible means of knowing whether that is true or not, but it seems rather odd.

To get back to the Corporal missile: this time last year when the party went it failed to go up, and everyone was in great excitement. But this time it was really a very interesting performance altogether. I was very struck not only with the permanent staff there but with the regiment who fired the missile, which reached its target very well. I thought that the range was well run, and I understand they are very happy up in the Hebrides, except on the point we brought up last year: that, as there are no shopping facilities on the island, or practically none and the N.A.A.F.I. is very small, they have always wanted to be given four leave passes a year. Their position cannot be compared with that of men in Germany or on other foreign service. Nothing has been done and, so far as I know, they still get only three passes.

The thing that impressed me about the actual regiment which came over from Germany to the practice camp to fire the Corporal told us that although the Corporal may not be the answer, it has been of immense value. It has cost the nation practically nothing, and the amount of experience that this regiment has got out of it is really very heartening indeed. They are convinced that when they get their new missile—and they are hoping against hope that they will get it—the time it will take to convert this regiment will be very short indeed. I think, therefore, we can say that the Corporal has been of intense value. I should like to ask about another piece of equipment, the new troop carrier. It is mentioned in the Memorandum on the Army Estimates, but I am told that there are only about two or three, or very few in existence, with a battalion on Salisbury Plain. It says in the Memorandum that the troop trials—this came out some time ago—would be carried out. So far as I can make out, there are not very many about.

To go back to the subject of recruiting, I should like to say a word on cadet forces. They are one of the sources from which we expect to get recruits for the forces. I think there are two points that people who run cadet forces would like to make. One is that they think it would be of immense value if they could have a few modern rifles. It is the same old point that if you give modern weapons to people to take to bits and put together again and possibly to use even on a small range, it makes the interest that they take in the whole affair infinitely greater. If, instead of using old stuff, they can be allowed to use these, it will give them enormous interest. The other thing I am told is that in the more rural areas where the cadet forces have a hut, nowadays the one hut is in many cases too small for them. It is the old matter that they have not enough accommodation. With the new syllabus more studies have to be done and the actual accommodation is not enough. I hope that, if possible, we may see some improvement in this respect. It does not, I think, affect everybody, but I hope that for those who need bigger accommodation every effort will be made to get it.

This debate has ranged chiefly on manpower, but I think we all realise that the spirit and heart of the Army is just as it always has been, and that, if called upon, or even if not called upon, as we all hope they will not be, but merely in doing their ordinary tasks—and do not forget that one of the most difficult tasks the British Army has to perform is the semi-policing duties—that spirit will be revealed again. They are often asked to do these semi-policing duties and they do them with extreme courage, extreme restraint and also with extreme earnestness. I think we all wish the Army well in this next year, and we know in our heart of hearts that they, in their hearts, will carry out their duties as well as they have always done.

5.19 p.m.


My Lords, the only points I want to add to this debate this afternoon are all about the Territorial Army. As I am at the moment in the middle of my annual fortnight's T.A. camp the subject is rather fresh in my mind. I have to be back in Norfolk to-night to rejoin brigade exercises, and I hope my noble friend and your Lordships will excuse me if I cannot stay until the end of the debate.

The table in the Defence White Paper which gives the analysis of strengths of the various reserves shows an increase of 6,000 normal volunteers in the Territorial Army—and by "normal volunteers" is meant those not connected with National Service. This is a very healthy sign, as few Territorial units are yet up to strength. The recruiting campaign is going well, and figures of new recruits are on the increase. But a very much more important figure than the number of new recruits who sign on in any particular year in the Territorial Army is the number of existing members of a unit who stay on for the second year, and then for a third year, and so on. It is absolutely vital, if the Territorial Army is to be a strong and efficient force, that the interest and amusement which its members can get out of it is at a very high level.

If the training is interesting and if Territorial members can feel that the spare time they are spending is not being wasted in any way, they will learn more from their training; they will more readily stay on for a following year or more, and they will be a better advertisement to their friends who are potential recruits. After all, the best recruiting propaganda of all is that given out unsolicited, and perhaps unconsciously, by serving members of Territorial units. The various points—I will not say complaints—I was going to raise about the Territorial Army, have almost all been raised, I am very interested to find, by my noble friend Lord Goschen concerning the Regular Army. While it is nice to think that we are not being left quite as much out in the cold as we thought, I feel none the less that these points should be considered for both. Just how interesting and enjoyable the training of a unit is is largely up to the individual unit itself. But the best of all units is very much limited by the means it has at its disposal.

I should like, first of all, to deal with equipment. The Territorial Army must always be the poor relation of the Regular Army. Its members recognise that fact. An instructor lecturing to Territorial officers not long ago on the latest equipment ended his talk by saying "You need not worry too much about this stuff; we have not yet caught up with the latest obsolete equipment" I am very glad to read in the Memorandum on the Army Estimates that, so far as the infantry are concerned, the new Territorial Army will have new radio equipment and self-loading rifles. I very much agree with what my noble friend Lord Goschen said about the importance of radio. It is very difficult to achieve realism in exercises of company strength or above without some form of efficient radio communication; and there is no more disheartening piece of metal to drag about the countryside than a wireless set that does not work.

I hope that to the list of new weapons that will be issued to the Territorial Army will be added the Mobat, when it is available, and the 35 rocket launcher. All these things will certainly provide very necessary and up-to-date training and interest. Like my noble friend I am also thinking of the smaller items of equipment lower down the scale, which are perhaps more necessary, in spite of being less expensive. We have very limited supplies of blank ammunition. With thunderflashes, again, we have the same difficulty, only perhaps very much more so. The same applies to 2-inch mortar smoke bombs and smoke canisters. Bulletted blank for light machine guns, which is absolutely necessary on an exercise to show that firing is coming from a light machine gun and not from a rifle, is not on issue to the Territorial Army at all. We are, I hope, a very long way away from the old days of the Territorial Army when all the umpires rode on white horses and people waved flags about to show from what direction fire was coming. The shortage of these comparatively cheap things stops the best got out of training, and I would go far as to say that if it is a choice between getting the new weapons and getting more ammunition for the out-of-date weapons we have got, we would have the old weapons with more ammunition every time.

I, too, should like to deal with the question of messing, and particularly the fatigues aspect of it. Territorial battalions either have two cooks on their strength or are given a cash allowance instead. But there are a great many more duties connected with messing than two cooks can do—duties for which no allowance is made at all. There are all the fatigues, such as washing up, scouring pans, peeling potatoes, all of which have to be done by fatigue men, and those men have to be taken off the training for which they signed on. With two weeks camp, which is not a very long period, the training has to be very carefully geared so as to teach the men as much as possible in as short a time as possible. The training leads on from the first day, when the new recruits get the very easy things explained to them, to the time when they go out on more advanced exercises at the end. If throughput that period men are taken away for fatigues, they are just not going to know what to do when the particular problem which they missed owing to fatigues crops up at the end.

The third point I should like to mention is that of uniform. It is perhaps again rather a small point, but the Territorial Army is not issued with any No. 1 dress. The best they have is a suit of battledress. I do not know whether it would be possible to issue the Territorial Army with something slightly smarter. My own regiment, the Honourable Artillery Company, has a longstanding duty and privilege of providing a Guard of Honour for any visiting Sovereign who comes to this country on a State visit, and is therefore invited by the Lord Mayor to the Guildhall. For that Guard of Honour we have forage caps and buff equipment, but underneath it battledress. It looks rather incongruous beside Regular troops in their smarter uniforms who happen to be near.

I realise that my noble friend who is going to reply will be thinking more in millions and of bigger questions, and that he will therefore probably not be able to give any reply about these very minor points that I have raised. But I should be most grateful if he could consider them. They are small points, but important ones, and it always seems to be the small points that matter most in the Army where morale is concerned.

5.25 p.m.


My Lords, to-day I shall deal with certain aspects of the Memorandum and of the Army of which I have personal knowledge, and possible more experience than some. One of those is concerned with the reserve forces. I am very glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Denham, speak as a serving soldier of the Territorial Army. As a rather older soldier of this force, I have experienced many of the things which he has just now put before your Lordships' House. In my years in The Territorial Army, and connected with it, it has always struck me that in the past the War Office have not always thought far enough ahead in regard to the Territorial Army.

In my experience it is about every five years that the Territorial Army is reorganised. I think that in the past there has been too much a tendency to feel that "It is now being reorganised for the last and final time." Of course that is not so. Nobody really knows what the requirements are going to be five years ahead, four years ahead, or even perhaps one year ahead. In fact a few months after the last reorganisation, which I think was in 1956, when Anti-Aircraft Command was abolished, we were asked to help raise 48 Mobile Defence Corps battalions of the Army Emergency Reserve. They were never properly raised at all. The commanding officers had an almost impossible job, and the units have since been disbanded. There was a good example of how, although it is quite easy to destroy or to disband a unit, it is much more difficult to form a new one. Therefore, I am glad to see that in the recent reorganisation of the Territorial Army the theme has been towards amalgamation the whole way. With amalgamation, if at a later date the requirements are different, or an increase in units is required, the amalgamated units can be split up again.

The extent of amalgamation in the recent reorganisation has been great, but there is still the potential for future expansion. As I have just said, we do not know what are going to be the requirements next year or the year after. But there is the point always before us of the possibility that there will be ground-to-air missiles required from the Reserve Army. When Anti-Aircraft Command was abolished in 1956 we were told that this was going to be the responsibility of the Royal Air Force. Since then, I understand, there have been Regular Army ground-to-air missile units, and no doubt in due course there will be a demand for similar Reserve units. I would ask Her Majesty's Government, if and when this demand arises, to consider and to realise that it is much easier to split existing Territorial Army units, and raise the new units on that basis, than to try to start from scratch, whether the new reserve units are Royal Air Force or Army.

Necessary as this recent reorganisation may have been, I suggest that it was hardly handled in a way calculated to win the confidence of the Territorial Army. The Territorial Army Advisory Council was given the outline plan, confidentially, on July 12. The Council of Territorial Army Associations was consulted only a few hours before the announcement was made in Parliament, and the chairman of the Territorial Army Association was given the key plan only on July 21. Then the Territorial Army, the Territorial Army Associations and the innumerable people who are concerned with this, were given only from July 22 until August 30 to put forward their comments on it.

It is evident now, I think, that nobody who had any extended experience of the Territorial Army was consulted at all before the key plan was issued on July 22. Although five weeks may be thought to be a reasonable time to consider the alterations and amendments which one can make, on the other hand this occurred at the most inconvenient time of the year for all concerned. The commanding officers, in particular, are busy people. They are mainly of an age where they have young children at school. This was launched on top of them at the moment when they were setting off on their holidays. It was extremely difficult to get together the honorary colonels and the commanding officers of the various units who were concerned in these amalgamations.

The fact that this consultation was necessary was shown, I think, by the large number of amendments that were made to the ordinary key plan. Now that the amalgamations have been carried out, many officers and other ranks, both young and old, have been forced to give up their chosen hobby. The number of units has been reduced, and, as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said, units are now allowed to recruit to only 65 per cent. of their establishment. in some parts of the country—for instance in Northern Ireland—units were at 85 to 90 per cent. of establishment. It means that over the next two years they have to cut their numbers down, however many new recruits may be coming along and whatever their standard of training. Also, in view of what the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said about the future of the Reserve Army, it seems to me that what we want is plenty of keen young officers and N.C.O.s who, for some reason or another, do not see their life in the Regular Army but are yet prepared to spend a good deal of their spare time in order to make themselves as efficient as possible through evening courses, weekend courses and through the fortnight's annual camp. It seems to me that the country needs these people to form a reserve to be tapped when required.

I suggest that Her Majesty's Government should consider a greater degree of flexibility in the recruiting arrangements that appear to be available at present. I understand that during National Service 85 per cent. of the National Service officers came from the South of England. One may think that that was a bad thing. Nevertheless, I think it was a fact. Therefore, it is more likely that there are available in the South of England a greater number of young reserve officers for Territorial Army training. I wonder whether the War Office would consider that fact in arranging the establishment of the new units. It is also the case that recruiting varies from one part of the country to another on account of special factors, such as unemployment, short-time working and so on. It is also true that certain parts of the country tend to react more quickly and more violently to national emergencies. This again requires to be taken into account. I feel that the plan, at any rate as it is known to me, shows a lack of flexibility and does not allow for the large number of reserves that we really need.

Now just a few words on the other branch of the Reserve, the Army Emergency Reserve. This is complementary to the Territorial Army and, in the main, fulfils different purposes. There may, however, be a tendency to rely on it for increased requirements of the Army due to the idea that it is, perhaps, cheaper. I had a feeling that attempts were made to form the Mobile Defence Corps units within the Army Emergency Reserve because, perhaps, they were cheaper than the Territorial Army. But in fact a number of Mobile Defence Corps commanding officers went round and tried to get accommodation at local Territorial units so as to help with their recruitment. I see, too, that the Memorandum says that: Many of the new Army Emergency Reserve units will be raised in regions, like units of the Territorial Army. This reorganisation will assist their recruiting, administration, and training, may give their members the opportunity for social activities like the Territorial Army, and will result in closer ties with the Regular and Territorial Armies. It seems to me that that is bringing it much nearer the Territorial Army, and I think that the whole relationship between these two forces will require close scrutiny in future years. I know that already various Army Emergency Reserve units have approached Territorial Army associations to enable them to set up headquarters within existing drill halls. If that is so, they should be charged with the equivalent amount of expense in calculating the relative cost of the two forces.

The other point on which I should like to touch is the question of administration. Apart from what is included in the Memorandum, I know from my own experience that a great deal has been done to simplify administrative organisation and procedure, and I think this is a most excellent thing. Any enterprise which seeks to run its administration largely by regulations from the centre is bound to have cases which are not exactly met by the regulations, however carefully those regulations are drafted. What I call "administrative nonsenses" are bound to arise unless delegation is given down the line to make exceptions and unless flexibility is given in the interpretation of these regulations.

I was very pleased to hear (I do not think it has been referred to to-day) about the arrangement made for commanding officers of Regular battalions, and so on, to have a fund available to them to spend in any way they think fit on their own regiment, without previously having to refer the matter up the line for approval. This is just the sort of thing which enables people to make decisions on the spot, to remove what I call these "administrative nonsenses"—I am sure your Lordships all realise what I mean. But, in spite of this, one still bears of decisions, being made of the sort I have just referred to, and these have an extremely bad effect on Army propaganda.

There are two particular fields to which I should just like to refer in connection with it. The first is recruiting. A great deal has been said this afternoon, and rightly so, about recruiting. I am delighted to see that the enlistment procedure is being streamlined and that steps are being taken to improve the standard of recruiting liaison staff. But recruiting a man is a personal contract between the Army, on the one hand, and the man, on the other. It is essentially a personal thing, and the requirements of different parts of the country vary very much one from the other. I wonder whether, in fact, enough delegation of authority is given to local recruiting officers to make decisions regarding local publicity without having to submit it to the centre. This may need the expenditure of a certain amount of money, without prior reference to higher authority on such things as posters, and so on. But, my Lords, requirements for local publicity may arise at very short notice, and if the local recruiting officer has to depend on reference back to the centre before he can, say, get a poster printed, it is obviously undesirable.

I have also heard that in parts in the country distant from London, where there are local daily papers, advertisements for the Army are not allowed to include the address of the local recruiting office but only the address of the recruiting office at (the War Office in London. I do not know whether that it true, and whether it applies to all parts of the country, like Scotland, Northern Ireland, the North of England, and so on. But if it is, it seems to be something that should be looked into, because many people who would make useful recruits will not sit down and write a letter to the War Office. On the other hand, they will call into a local recruiting office just around the corner. And if they do not know where it is, and there is no indication of the address of the local recruiting office in an advertisement, surely something is being missed.

The other point which I think we have to watch very carefully on the question of these "administrative nonsenses" is in connection with soldiers' families. I was glad to see in the Memorandum the statement that It is the man or woman already serving who can make the most telling contribution to our recruiting figures. I agree heartily with that comment, but I would add that the soldier's wife also has a great deal of effect on this—not so much, perhaps, on the man's joining the Army, but on the equally important factor which was mentioned, of his staying on. I would suggest that Her Majesty's Government should look very carefully at all the administrative aspects dealing with families to see that the regulations are not such that they lead to anomalies, as sometimes happens, and that local people, the local authority, make decisions which will put them right.

I heard the other day of one instance of the kind of thing I mean. It is, in fact, indirectly referred to in the Memorandum, where it says: The trial scheme of air trooping to Germany has been successful and we now plan a complete changeover to air trooping on this route by October, 1961. Air trooping is therefore now well established as the principal means of moving individuals and families. It seems to me that this may mean that families are brought back to this country irrespective of the times at which they must move on to other parts of the country—parts very distant, in Scotland, Northern Ireland, or Cornwall; and it may be that there is only one train a day on which they can travel. It is necessary that this movement of families and of people should be kept to the time at which the majority of them have to catch trains.

I mention this point particularly because I have heard that certain schedules entail planes arriving back in England in the evening, too late for people going to Scotland or Northern Ireland to catch the night train. As a result, another day has to be spent by them on their journeys. It is this sort of thing, if this is correct, about which I suggest we must make sure that we do not tie people too closely to regulations. As one much concerned with administration in another sphere, I know how easily administration can be considered as an end in itself, and how convenient it is to administrators if regulations are carried out absolutely to the letter and no exceptions are ever allowed.

I am glad to see again in this Memorandum mention of the use of Organisation and Methods, Works Study, and other techniques (the Operational Research Team was mentioned), to try to find out what the situation really is, and I hope that matters will be put right where it is shown that "administrative nonsenses" are taking place. It is often so easy to make high-sounding reasons why the regulations cannot be altered or why exceptions cannot be allowed. Regulations are made for people, and not people for regulations, and constant vigilance must be exercised to see that the reasonable convenience of the people in the Army and connected with the Army is given its proper weight.

May I just finish, my Lords, by making a mention of the Army Benevolent Fund, as I am on the Council of that Fund, and mention of it was made by the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Harding of Petherton. It was not the intention of the Army Benevolent Fund Council that any reflection should be placed on the welfare of the Army. Its recent appeal, and the documents which Lord Harding of Petherton mentioned, had reference to the fact that the amount of money raised from the public on behalf of the Royal Air Force, through its Benevolent Fund, and by the Royal Navy, through its fund, is very much greater in relation to the size of these various forces than the amounts raised through Army channels, although the various Army charities, and also the Army associations, the regimental associations, do a lot of excellent work. The idea of the appeal which is now before us, and will become increasingly before us in future months, I hope, is directed at this fact. It is related primarily to the families in difficulties, and to old soldiers, rather than a direct reflection on the welfare of the serving soldier.

5.50 p.m.


My Lords, I hope you will forgive me if I turn a little away from the main current of the debate this afternoon to take up, once more, the rather difficult problem of the Army training arrangements on Dartmoor. Some of your Lordships may remember that when we had a debate on the Report of the National Parks Commission shortly after the Easter Recess I raised this problem, and on that occasion the noble Earl who is to reply again this afternoon gave me a reasonably sympathetic reply. Indeed, I should like to tell him that his speech on that afternoon gave a good deal of encouragement to those of us who are interested in the National Parks Movement. I have no doubt that his heart is very much in the right place in regard to these problems—as, indeed, I think, is the heart of the Minister of the Department with which he is rather particularly closely connected.

Of course, the trouble is that the Minister of Housing and Local Government, the Minister in question, is in competition with other Ministers who are often, unfortunately, rather more powerful in what one might call the Ministerial hierarchy, and who are not concerned with the preservation of natural beauty or with the access of their fellow citizens to the countryside or to the national parks. The recent chalk-pit case, which we have all heard so much about, is a very good example of this. The Minister responsible, I should imagine against his own personal inclinations, allowed himself to be, or had to be, overborne by the weight of the Minister of Agriculture and, as a result, there has been a great deal of feeling about it. I am sure that it is just the same in respect of Dartmoor. The Ministry of Defence and the War Department are very powerful in regard to these matters, and it must be very difficult for the noble Earl and for the Minister to struggle against them.

It was for that reason that I appealed to the Prime Minister himself to take a personal interest in these problems, as did the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, when he was Prime Minister in the time immediately after the war. His intervention in regard to these matters was undoubtedly, as I then said, the main factor in the smooth retransfer to the general public of many of the areas which had been taken over, and very properly and naturally taken over, during the war period by the Armed Forces for training and other war-time purposes. I doubt whether the present Prime Minister has quite the same personal interest in problems of this sort as the noble Earl, Lord Attlee. Indeed, I am sorry that his own holding of the office of Minister of Housing and Local Government is not looked back upon with any great feeling of enthusiasm by us in the amenities movement. But, after all, the Prime Minister is a very accomplished politician, and he must realise that there is a considerable and a growing section of public opinion which is very much concerned in these problems and which undoubtedly will, if it is not already doing so, begin to exert a good deal of influence on elections. If for no other reason, there is a considerable case there for the Prime Minister to take a personal interest in these problems.

Since the debate on the National Parks Commission Report I have had further communications sent to me in regard to this problem of the unsatisfactory character of the Army's use of Dartmoor, and it is for that reason that I decided to take advantage of the present debate, although, as I said at the beginning, it means that I am making a speech which is a little off the general line of the debate.


My Lords, before the noble Lord goes on, would he be very kind and, in the course of his speech, explain to the simple soldiers among those of us on this side of the House exactly what is the unsatisfactory character of the Army's use of Dartmoor? We should like to know.


I devoted quite a lot of attention to that on the last occasion, though I have no doubt the noble Viscount was not there; but I naturally will say something about it this afternoon, too. The Army's use of Dartmoor, as I said on the last occasion, goes back a considerable distance. It goes back to a time before that splendid piece of English countryside, Dartmoor, had been designated as a national park. When it was made a national park the War Department was allowed to stay on and to continue the use of Dartmoor as a training ground, but the fact that Dartmoor was made a national park naturally led, I think, to the belief that the War Department's continuance there would be of a temporary character.

Of course, there were very cogent reasons why the use of Dartmoor as a training ground should not be terminated immediately. In particular, there were a number of well-built camps there which it would have been expensive and wasteful to replace, at any rate until they became obsolescent, at which time one would naturally expect that new camps would be built in other parts of the country where facilities are more reasonable for Army training. I understand, however, that the War Department intend actually to rebuild the two camps which are particularly important in this connection, the camps at Okehampton and at Plaster Down, and this has caused a great deal of feeling locally.

The Dartmoor Preservation Association and the Ramblers' Association, which represent very large numbers of people using Dartmoor for recreational purposes, have both sent resolutions of protest to the Minister of Defence and have not, so far as I know, yet had any very satisfactory reply from him. They, and other people who are using Dartmoor for recreational purposes, are very much afraid that there is here a proposal to spend substantial sums of the taxpayers' money on making these camps permanent—building them in a permanent form; replacing the Nissen huts which are there now by permanent brick structures, and in that sort of way—a move which would, in effect, lead to the consolidation of the Service's use of the Dartmoor National Park instead of, as had been anticipated and hoped, their going away to some other place which would be more satisfactory for training purposes. Because there can be no question at all but that the continued and growing use of Dartmoor in this way is going to lead to continual and increasing irritation, and indeed anger.

The amenities interests feel very strongly that there is a strong case against the rebuilding of these two camps. I understand that it is proposed to start this operation in 1963, and that it will take about three years to carry it through. This lends very strong support to the feeling that the whole object of this thing is to establish a permanent type of camp on Dartmoor. We know, and it is very right and proper, that very substantial sums indeed have been made available in the Defence budget for the purpose of improving and re-equipping the general buildings used by the Army for the troops in one way or another. Indeed, in the Daily Telegraph on February 15 of this year there was a comment to the extent that the money provided was so very liberal that it would enable as much rebuilding to be done as could in fact be "physically spent", which is a rather remarkable phrase.

While that is very right and proper in regard to the provision of ordinary accommodation for the troops, I suggest that to use money in this way for establishing two permanent camps in Dartmoor would be a very serious mistake indeed. It would undoubtedly lead to making permanent this exacerbation which is going on in Devonshire at the present time, and which is leading, from all the information I have, to a great feeling against the Army itself, which is most unfortunate. And this in spite of the fact that the General Officer Commanding, South-Western Command, General Cubbon, has been doing his best, and has built up an admirable reputation for what he is trying to do in order to establish good relations with the people in those parts.

In my view—and it is the view of the amenities people on the spot—there is no real cure for this problem except the release of Dartmoor by the Government from its use as a training area. Far from showing any sign of doing this, the training exercises have, as it were, been stepped up. My information is that they are now being extended over the whole of the national park area, in addition to the areas which were set aside, as I explained on the last occasion, partly for live ammunition training—which I believe is an area of about 30,000 acres—and a smaller area for the use of training with non-live ammunition.

The noble Earl, in his reply on that occasion, said that we ought to be grateful, because the Merrivale section of the moor, which extends to some 4,000 acres or so, had been relinquished. We should, if that were what one might call a genuine relinquishment; but my information is that this area which is a non-live ammunition section of the training ground has not in practice been given up, and that the Army are now to be found on occasion anywhere on the whole of Dartmoor, both in and out of the non-live sections which were set aside for them. Reports are continually coming in to the Dartmoor Preservation Association, I will not say of the depredations of the troops, but of the exercises and manœuvres of the troops in parts of Dartmoor which are outside the areas supposed to be demarcated. For example, I am told that they are now using Whitchurch Down, on the Tavistock side of the national park, for these training exercises; and other reports are continually coming in of the use of areas outside the allocated boundaries. Again, there are increasing reports about dangerous mistakes which are being made. I referred to the continual use of live ammunition which did not explode properly—a new type of ammunition which is being used, and which has exploded and very nearly caused a good deal of injury. Indeed, as the noble Earl knows, there have in the past been fatal accidents, and no doubt they are likely to recur.

The difficulty is that there is no really efficient arrangement in regard to these matters. Printed notices are put up saying that there will be no firing on a particular date. Naturally, ramblers make a mental note of that, and on that date arrive at Dartmoor for the purpose of walking across the moor, and then have found the ranges are in use after all. I have in front of me a letter, which was published in the Western Morning News of May 20 last, written by a Miss Christine Raikes, which says: Having seen in your paper of May 12 that the firing on Dartmoor was nil for May 13, I walked on the Moor. I was surprised to find the red flag flying on Lynch Tor. For future guidance of the public perhaps some explanation could be made. I am told that this is quite typical of what happens. Also, the reverse is often the case: no firing is going on, but the red flag is flying all day. The result of that, of course, is that people begin to take a chance, and sooner or later there will be further fatal accidents, homes will be deprived of bread-winners, and the general state of exacerbation will be increased.

On the last occasion I suggested that provision should be made for a further inquiry to be held, at which all these matters could properly be gone into, evidence of this sort of incident could be put before the inspector, and the War Department could be allowed to make its reply, a proper investigation could be made, and the matter threshed out. The noble Earl said that he would look into that. I hope he has been able to do so, and that lie will be able to indicate that something rather more positive can be done than appears to have been done so far. That, I think, is all I need say, but I should like to assure your Lordships that this matter is very much a burning question, and I hope something can be done to deal with it.

6.8 p.m.


My Lords, to continue on the rather general line of debate, I should like to say a few words, first on the subject of recruiting, which has been the principal standard of this debate. I gave the noble Earl who is to reply, and who was good enough to come and see me, notice of some of the points I am going to raise. One of the problems of recruiting in the "new Army", as it were, will obviously be to get the right calibre of man. Here the recruiting officer may be in a difficulty. It is always easy to point out to a would-be recruit the glamorous side, so to speak, of Service life—the sport, the free travel, and the opportunities for promotion. But it often happens that when one gets on to the subject of discipline, the man fights shy.

I should like to ask the noble Earl who is to reply—I have given him notice of this point—whether, when a would-be recruit comes to a recruiting office, the necessity for discipline is sufficiently stressed. Because one of the main reasons why a number of men are buying themselves out of the Army is, I am told, that they do not like the discipline. As I have said before in your Lordships' House, I think discipline in any Service unit and in any business unit, is essential; and while the number of 165,000 men may well be difficult enough to attain anyhow, it is essential that when a man does join the Army, particularly on a Regular engagement, he should be prepared to take a reasonable amount of discipline. Most can, but there are the few who will join the Army purely for the adventure of it, and they can do a great deal of harm. I did most of my service in the ranks, and in the unit in which I served, which was not an unreasonably harsh one, we had a handful of what are known as "barackroom lawyers", who rebelled against the slightest instigation of discipline or of "spit and polish". In a small all-Regular Army, a handful of these men could do a great deal of harm.

The recruiting film which is being shown on television and the advertisement being shown by the I.T.A. illustrate fairly and convincingly what openings there are for men taking on a Regular engagement in the Army. I wonder whether the noble Earl who is to reply can give any estimate of how many men who sign on for a short-term engagement have the opportunity of going abroad for a reasonable time during their period of service. I realise that it is difficult to answer this question on the spur of the moment, but I think that a soldier who joins the Army for the love of it looks forward to overseas service rather than doing all this time at Tidworth, Aldershot or Cattaick. I think that manœuvres like the exercise held in Libya recently will do more good than anything to keep men in the Service.

As regards the figure of 165,000 men, I should like to ask the noble Earl, to whom I have given notice of the point, whether there is any possibility of the administrative side of the Army being decreased still further. In my opinion, much of the work done by orderly room clerks, transport clerks and others could be done by civilians or Servicewomen. During my National Service, I had the experience of being an orderly room clerk and I know that a good deal of the work which I did, which was not "top secret" or anything like that, could have been done either by a civilian or by a Servicewoman. At this point, I should like to pay tribute to the excellent work done by the Women's Service, particularly in the field of Army nursing.

On page 10 of these well-decorated Army Estimates is a picture of the new pay computer at Worthy Down. It looks a most involved bit of machinery, but I am sure it is very efficient. It will be interesting to know how much labour it will save. I believe that machines of this kind will release more men for operational duty, and it is in the context of operational duties that we must view the figure of 165,000 men.

Turning to the question of pay, I think it can fairly be said that a single man in the Service is well paid, considering that he gets his food, accommodation and clothes free of charge, but I am a little less happy about the married man. As pointed out by the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, who so admirably initiated this debate, the Services have to compete with industry and commerce, where rates of pay vary but in many cases are very favourable. I am not suggesting for a moment that pay in the Army is not in every respect anything less than good, but if there is to be any further increase in remuneration, I feel that preference should be given to the married soldiers, especially in the form of marriage allowance and disturbance allowance. Unless these points are looked into carefully, I feel that the Service will lose their most valuable manpower—the man in his middle thirties and early forties, who is the best type of officer and N.C.O. and who forms such an essential part of the Army's pattern.

Everything in the Army must depend on morale. Where I work I come into contact with many young men after they are released from National Service and I find that most of them have enjoyed it and admit that it did them good. I think that morale is a good deal better than it was five or even ten years ago. National Service might have a lot to do with that. Personally, I view the end of National Service with mixed feelings. It is essential from a financial angle. For obvious reasons, National Service is expensive, and a return to it now would be a retrograde step. It would certainly send up the Estimates to a very high figure and it would decrease the efficiency of the Army, which is now, I believe, very high.

In last year's debate on the Army Estimates, I made a somewhat scathing speech on Territorial Army equipment. I have shown it to two or three young friends in the Territorial Army and I am told that to-day equipment has improved tremendously, both in quality and in form. I think the Government deserve credit for that, and also for the great strides that have been made in regard to accommodation, particularly in Aldershot, where active work is going on in the building of new barracks. Here, again, accommodation is another important factor, and particularly married quarters. As has been stressed by my noble friend Lord Courtown and others, a great deal depends on the soldier's wife: if she is happy and comfortable, and the children are able to go to a reasonably good school, then the soldier is happy and he will stay on. This has been a valuable debate, and I am sure we all hope that the aims set out in the current Army Estimates will be reached effectively.

6.21 p.m.


My Lords, like many other noble Lords who have spoken this afternoon, I wish to deal with the ever-present manpower problem and some of the peculiar aspects that seem to attach to it. I do not know whether it is realised that during the time in which this debate has been going on a man who entered the recruiting office in Glasgow and asked to join the Royal Highland Fusiliers, if he could produce no evidence that he had connections with the regiment by his father, his brother, or some other relative serving in it, or a letter of recommendation from an officer who had been connected with that regiment, would not be permitted to join, even though in every other respect, such as physical and mental health and so on, he was acceptable. But if he went to the recruiting office in Ayr and asked to join the same regiment, he would be accepted; and I have the impression that he would not need such a high standard of fitness and mental intelligence.

It may be wondered why this comes about, but for some strange reason that regiment, which, as your Lordships know, is one of the amalgamated regiments between the Royal Scots Fusiliers and the Highland Light Infantry—amalgamated, we understand, because they had difficulty in maintaining their numbers by recruits—cannot take men from the Glasgow area, but can take men from its country area; that is to say, Ayrshire. But, as we all know, the Army as a whole still wants men, and it seems ironical that it has to turn these men away. And there is no evidence that any man who has been turned away has joined another regiment. True, if he asked for another Scots regiment, he would be able to get in one of those. We should be able to get these men and not haggle over details, because they are sent to the Lowland depôt to train, where they train with other regiments of their own brigade and, so far as I know, they all wear the same cap badge.

Another aspect in the same connection that I should like to bring out is the effect that the removal of depôts from various localities is having and will have. I refer to this in connection with the same regiment. Originally, when there were two separate regiments there was a depôt of the Royal Scots Fusiliers and a depôt at Maryhill Barracks of the Highland Light Infantry. After the amalgamation the depôt at Maryhill Barracks was closed and the new regiment started its life at. Churchill Barracks, Ayr. So far as recruits went, it did very well. Last year it moved to Lanark, and next year or the year after it is to be moved to Edinburgh.

The thing that interested me was the recruits they got during the time the barracks was in Ayr. A lot of young men I know joined the Highland Fusiliers. They were not from military families, but were from families which I will call not pacifists, but agricultural families with a steady way of life, and the Army was a completely new adventure. It was not catching their imagination that was difficult, but getting them to persuade their mothers and fathers to let them go. They had to fight their own parents, who had heard about Army life and the iniquitous things that happen, as we all know, to people who join the Army. They thought: "What will happen to my son; where will he end up?". But the depôt being where it was in the country area, they all knew the town and had friends in the town; and they knew that when a man got his leave he would go and see an aunt or cousin or some friend he knew. It may be asked: what about Glasgow? But they, to a great extent, had spent their holidays in the same locality, so that they were quite happy to send their sons down to Ayr, which was not a strange place. Possibly Lanark is not a strange place to Glasgow folk, but it is to people in Ayrshire; and when they get to Edinburgh, it will be like going to a foreign land.

I noted when the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, made his speech the emphasis he put upon processing. There, I believe, is the most important part. We must bear in mind that for anyone joining the Army it is a tremendous change. A great many of these men will never have been away from home, and it will be the first time they have looked after themselves. To take them completely out of an environment to which they are accustomed can be difficult for all sides. They know it is a change, and of course they must accept the discipline, the training and everything else. But if they could feel that when this stops there is at least somewhere where they could go where they would be welcomed, with friendly faces around them, and looked after, it would make them a lot happier. And not only the intending recruits, but the parents who care for them will feel much easier in their minds.

The other point I want to hammer home is the old saying that the best advertisement of any commodity is a satisfied customer; and no doubt your Lordships agree with that. I think it is important to see that when people join the Army to serve in it for any period of time they can leave content. I say this with emphasis. I have had the privilege of volunteering for the British Army on two separate occasions, and I am glad to say that I was accepted on both occasions. The first time was in 1943, in the middle of the war, when at the age of dead-on-the-minute 17½. I entered Caterham Barracks. I was received firmly, but as if I was wanted, and I was treated in the same manner: good strict discipline, yes; but there was always that feeling that you were needed and you had a job to do; that maybe you were not quite what was expected, but at least they were going to make the best of it.

When I left the Army at the end of 1946 I should not have hesitated to recommend it as a life to anybody. But later, on the outbreak of the Korean War, it may be remembered that volunteers were called for, and I was one of those who volunteered. Having gone through the recruiting office, I was sent to a barracks in Yorkshire where I was greeted by the corporal of the guard who more or less told me to go home. I was told to get blankets and go to a barrack room. The only way I can describe it is that I spent the intervening period between leaving the Army and rejoining living in hostels supplied by various employers, and if any employer had told me to live in a hostel of that condition, not only I but any of the other employees would have walked out. It was not only dirty just from lack of attention, but dirty from degeneration over a number of years. But being the Army one had to grin and bear it.

Then we went through an undignified occurrence. We had rejoined under the impression that we would get the rate for the job. But, literally, no sooner had we been placed aboard the troop ship than we were all informed that we were in debt to the Army. We asked, "Why?" We were told it was because we had been overpaid. We had been paid at the rate for the job. Command Pay had no record of any special entry. So far as they were concerned we were recruits and would be paid as recruits. After a time we made this known to our officers commanding us, and they looked into the matter and had to apologise. But it was so, and the only way that we could be paid the rate for the job was by waiting until we got to Korea. We then approached the Area Commander and persuaded him to upgrade us. There was some peculiar paragraph in the Pay Regulations which permitted this. But I shall always remember a remark made by one of the men. He said: "Sir, what happens if we are killed before this Part II order comes out? What will our wives get?" One took it as a remark then, but the situation did arise, and in fact there were men killed before the Part II order came out. I do not know to this day what happened, whether they were paid as recruits or trained soldiers.

The other interesting thing was that, having been sent out to my battalion, I was posted as a wireless operator to an out-station where I stayed for about six weeks, and was then recalled and put in charge of a signal office. The first message I had to pass through declared me a deserter. Fortunately, I was able to put that right very quickly, and there were plenty of witnesses that I had been at my post during the time when apparently I was thought a deserter by the Army. But, having gone through those things, I will not talk about other tribulations suffered out there, because they are things the Army have to put up with; they are used to them. Having been finally discharged, I find it difficult now to recommend the Army to someone. I "took it", but it is very difficult when you think it is going to happen to somebody else.

I should like to say a few words about the Territorial Army. Much has already been said this afternoon on this subject, and I will just deal with one or two aspects, mainly to do with recruitment. I think your Lordships will know that there are certain categories of men which are not allowed to be recruited in any number. The categories I refer to are people in mining, railway employees, certain industrial men and motor mechanics. These cannot be recruited except in a very limited number. But when they can be recruited an even more difficult situation arises, for these men enlist with a term against their entry as "not for embodiment", and it is exceedingly difficult to find out either from the Ministry of Labour or War Office exactly what that term means. Should there be a mobilisation Order, what happens to these men? Are they sent home, or do you take them with you?

In many cases this results in an even more serious position than would arise if there were only one or two men affected. In some cases there are companies of 30 or 40 of these men all under this designation. I know of one company last year which went to camp about 60 strong, 44 of whom were members of the National Coal Board and 40 were not for embodiment; and of that 40 another 30 all worked for the same pit. What is a person to do with a mobilisation order for these men. Send them home? If a man said, "Sir, I want to go with you", does the company commander say, "I am sorry, I must still send you home because your job is down a coal mine"? I think it would make life a lot easier for people if the exact position of these men was cleared up, and if it were possible to recognise that situation so that a unit such as that could be designated a home-defence unit and trained with that in mind. These men cannot be taken away from jobs because they are trained men who would be vitally useful for civil defence. Then what happens? The officers know they are going to be taken away from them, and that any good which has been done by training these men during the days of peace is virtually wasted.

Another aspect of the Territorial Army recruiting is the rather touchy one concerning Class A reservists. Your Lordships may know that the Territorial Army is not allowed to recruit Class A reservists. This is slightly a mistake. We are all aware that that man is liable for recall to the Regular Army. Nobody is denying this. But he has just left the Regular Army. He is up to date—something which, as we must admit if we are quite honest, the Territorial Army have a great deal of difficulty in being. So if he goes to a unit they have an efficient man. He has worked the latest weapons very recently; he knows what the la test techniques are, and he could be a tremendous asset. Equally, it would keep him in contact with a military organisation. It would keep him alive, too, because he would know what was going on, and keep him up to the mark; and if he were called back he would not be so stale as if he had been working in a factory and had completely forgotten all he knew about the weapons he had been taught. I wonder if Her Majesty's Government have thought about that aspect.

Last of all, I should like to draw attention to the question of equipment. This has been mentioned before by other noble Lords referring to various aspects relating to some quite new weapons and some old ones. However, I am going to the most mundane level of equipment: mess tins, packs, water bottles—the little bits and pieces without which one can hardly live., let alone exist. These things are very hard to come by. I know that in many cases these have to be purchased, not from the Army (The Army will not sell them to-day), but from people in London here who deal in surplus Army equipment. It is rather ridiculous where there are people who can make use of these items. I know of an incident not so long ago where an infantry territorial battalion was allowed only two hydro-cookers and the dixies and utensils to go with them, so that if more than two companies were Out in training at one time somebody had to go short. Yet one of these companies I know purchased the complete outfit, hydro-cooker, dixies, ladles and everything of "W.D." equipment surplus to requirements.

I appreciate that it would be very difficult to increase the establishments as laid down for training units, but surely it is possible to send a note to the various Territorial Associations that this equipment is available. If it is to be sold as surplus, surely they can have first choice, and the equipment could be held there and put out to units when they wanted it. It is amusing, almost pitiful, to think of the number of times it has happened that, when equipment is needed but cannot be obtained through normal channels, it can be bought in the streets. The surprising thing is that it can be bought at a quarter of the price you would pay in the Army if you had to pay for it.

I should like to make one further comment. I think the noble Viscount, Lord Goschen, mentioned messing in regard to the Territorial Army and the Regular Army. Last year there was an occasion when a company of Scots Guardsmen were staying on my estate, and to assist them I called out two Territorial Army cooks. On the second day one of my cooks came to me and said: "If we fed our men that food they would leave us". I was staggered. I went over to see what these men were getting. I agreed; I should be ashamed to offer it to any man. After a day's work they were getting a pot of tea, a slice of bread, some cheese, a piece of lettuce and a round of Spam. Again it made one wonder. I would finally, like other noble Lords, ask that Her Majesty's Government should do something to show the many people who do their best to try to encourage people to join the Territorial Army or the Regular Army that the Government are on the same side. Quite frankly, we sometimes wonder.

6.40 p.m.


My Lords, although I am certain that Lord Swaythling's Charollais bull is anxious to enter your Lordships' china shop, I hope I may be borne with for a moment or two while I try to say a few general things about the way this debate has gone. The first thing I should like to say is how grateful we on these Benches are to the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, for having again this year brought forward this subject in the way he does so well. Not only is he a great expert, especially on the Territorial Army, but we all know it is a subject very close to his heart.

I think we ought to be clear, and I think we have been clear this afternoon, what is the purpose of the Army debate as opposed to debates on defence. Nuclear matters belong, I think, almost entirely to defence debates, and so does the strategic disposition of forces such as the controlling of the Central Reserve. All these matters, however important they are to the Army, really belong to consideration on the inter-Service level. But, at the same time, many of these matters, such as the disposition of reserves, have a great deal more practical effect on those who belong to the Army than they do on those who belong to the Royal Navy or the Royal Air Force. So, from the domestic point of view as well as the strategic viewpoint, the concentration of reserves is an advantage not only to defence as a whole and to the handling of strategy but also to the welfare of those in the Army and those who are concerned with and live their lives in it.

To-day, with that kind of background, we are debating the domestic problems of the Army, and the Army Estimates. On a good many pages of the White Paper, there is not really a great deal to say. As the noble Lord, Lord Auckland, said, things like barracks and weapons and even vehicles are coming along in their own time. What is more, since we had a similar debate last year there has, to my mind, been a very notable absence of adverse comment on the Army and those running it. In these days, certain quarters are quick to take up any anti-Army cause—I am not referring for a moment to the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, who has left the Chamber, because I think my noble friend will probably have some counter arguments to put up, but I am thinking of all the ballyhoo which happens regularly every time a young soldier is refused permission to go to his aunt's funeral, and the week's ballyhoo we get every time a crooner is called up; and that is as good an argument for ending National Service as any other we have had this afternoon. If my right honourable friend the Secretary of State has gained some respite from ballyhoo of this sort, that is something, and we ought to congratulate him. I would associate with my right honourable friend his two senior professional advisers, civil and military, the Permanent Under-Secretary and the Chief of the Imperial General Staff.

I must ask for indulgence and say a word about the latter, Sir Francis Festing, who is giving up his three years' appointment at the end of this year, because he has been a friend of 40 years' standing since the day we met at the New Barracks at Gosport early in 1922. If one is to praise the present team in the War Office, it is no disparagement to say of them that whatever success they have had in looking after the Army is also due in part to the work which was put in by my right honourable friend's two predecessors. Not many good results happened in their time, but those results are now coming to hand, and we should be wrong not to take note that the harvest that they sowed is now being reaped in some measure. Therefore, in a lot of this field, particularly the field of military training, organisation and equipment, we should be content to leave the War Office alone and perhaps take note also that improvements in the equipment situation may well be due to the fact that the Ministry of Supply is no longer there to duplicate staff duties in regard to equipment.

My Lords, what remains at this late hour of the night? I think only two main things, as many noble Lords on all sides of the House have said: recruiting and the reserve forces. So much has been said about recruiting, particularly by my noble friend Lord Carrington, that I certainly do not want to go all over the ground again, but simply to sum up the position as I see it from what I have heard noble Lords say. I think we are all agreed on one thing, and that is that it would be the greatest disaster if for any reason National Service had to be reintroduced. But I would also say that I think it would be an even worse disaster if, when faced with the choice of reintroducing National Service or going short on the requirements of the nation, we failed to measure up to our responsibilities.

Having said that, I want to say immediately that I share the confidence which my noble friend has expressed that that state of affairs will not arise. When I say that, again equally I feel that we are by no means certain yet, however confident we are, that things will go right, and that we shall not go through a time when, as the Duke of Wellington said on another occasion, it is "a damned close run thing". However much we may want to think wishfully about recruiting, it is no good deluding ourselves into thinking that we are bound to reach the target whatever happens. I think the noble and gallant Field Marshal, Lord Harding of Petherton, made that point admirably in the speech which we heard from him. Therefore, I hope that the Government are not only taking every step to encourage recruiting but also have plans to deal with that unfortunate state, if it should occur, that for some reason the public, those Who could be recruited, fail to respond to the call of the recruiter.

One of the worst things that could happen from the point of view of our national defence, or of our strategy or our responsibilities to N.A.T.O., would be a dead point, where voluntary recruiting had fallen so low that certain units were ineffective, and at the same time we had no alternative measures. Another thing that we have to remember is that the shortage on the figure, whether you call it 165,000 or 168,000, or whichever figure it is, looms much larger in terms of the Army itself, because as long as the Army keeps to the same establishments, that shortage is reflected in every unit; and shortages in a unit inevitably turn into personal difficulties—postings which happen too quickly, overseas tours which happen too often and all the rest of it. Therefore, the shortage of recruiting, if unfortunately it is translated into these personal problems, is itself possibly a deterrent to future recruiting.

As I think has been made clear this afternoon, all this recruiting problem, although nominally a problem for the defence Services as a whole, is in practice a problem purely for the Army alone. The Royal Navy and the Air Force can get the recruits they want and do not feel the problem. Therefore the problem falls squarely on the shoulders of our right honourable friend the Secretary of State for War. For that reason I think we were all very pleased indeed to hear from my noble friend in front of me the energetic and active measures that are being taken to stimulate recruiting. When we are considering the measures which are being taken by the Government and the War Office, we ought also to pay tribute to the measures which every regiment that I know of is taking on its own initiative to assist with its own recruiting. That is something which has never happened in previous generations, to my knowledge, and it is something for which we ought to be most grateful to the regimental authorities, while bearing in mind that they are doing only what is in their plain interests.

Of the measures which have been suggested, there is, of course, the big public relations drive. That is all well and good, provided that the public relations drive corresponds to what I believe is the accepted role for advertising—namely, that you advertise only goods such as are actually for sale as advertised, and that any attempt to paint too rosy a picture of the Army would be at least as dangerous as an attempt to paint a too gloomy picture. In my mind there is no difference, in principle, between this problem of advertising and any other sales problem, and we shall succeed in this only if the goods which are advertised are being sold as shown.

There has been talk about altering standards. I certainly hope that we shall not alter the intelligence standard. To my mind, it is quite possible that certain standards of height or chest measurements or age might be altered for the people behind the front—for the "tail" units and not the "teeth". The announcement about families and leave was most welcome. There are the points which were raised by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, and by another noble Lord about boys and amalgamation. One point I would stress again, as I have done before: the possibility of offering a guaranteed job in Her Majesty's Service to everybody who signs on for twenty-two years. That would be the test of whether the Civil Service and those who control it are taking their share in putting over the Army's affairs.

Then there is the matter of pensions. We have had debates on pensions and I am not going to repeat what was said on those occasions, but I think this is the time to remind my noble friend in front of me of what we said then; that any improvements in matters like widow's pensions would certainly have a beneficial effect on recruiting. Lastly, there is the aged nonsense about uniform which has been raised by, among others, the noble Lord, Lord Denham. At this hour I say only that it is now fifty years since the Army, whether Regular or Territorial, has been allowed to have a full dress or No. 1 uniform for all ranks. I leave it at that, because to my mind, nothing fits that more clearly than Lord Courtown's definition of an administrative nonsense.

The other major point in this debate was that of the reserve forces. We have been extremely fortunate in having contributions from two noble friends who are close to the matter—Lord Denham and Lord Courtown. Here, as with other countries in N.A.T.O., the days are past when we could wonder whether there was any future for auxiliary forces because of nuclear weapons and so forth. We feel now that there is, and that conviction is growing stronger every day. Therefore it is just as well that the Territorial Army was saved from the perils of two or three years ago which Lord Courtown mentioned, and is still here to tell the tale and to take its place in home defence and in other tasks which may await it.

I listened carefully to what Lord Courtown said about this latest reorganisation of the Territorial Army as compared with the last one, the time when the home defence battalions of the Army Emergency Reserve were formed. I would certainly agree with him that the handling of this last reorganisation was a great deal better than the previous one, which had a number of unsatisfactory features. Where I would slightly differ from him is that my own impression of what went on was that the Territorial authorities were consulted a great deal more closely than they were last time, and that in nearly every case those consultations had the right effect. If there is any difference between him and me, I suspect strongly that it is because, as everybody knows, London possesses different problems with which he is much more familiar than I am.

So now we have a proper starting point for the Territorial Army and a proper starting point for the Army Emergency Reserve. I agree with those noble Lords who said how important it was that the Army Emergency Reserve units, if they are to have a corporate life, should be assimilated as closely as possible with the Territorial Army in everything except terms of service and liability for service, which of course have to be different. Now the way is clear for my right honourable friend to give the Territorial Army and the Army Emergency Reserve proper tasks, to decide what state of readiness they should have, and to give them the equipment to train for the state of readiness which is decided upon.

We have also to make the Civil Defence rôle more of a reality than it is. We have to deal with the other administrative nonsense raised by my noble friend Lord Ailsa about reserved occupations. I have not yet known a Secretary of State for War who has tackled the Minister of Labour properly on that point. We must have another look at Territorial Army administration generally. I feel quite strongly that the business, shall we say, in a county, of getting a new school or a new fire station or a new police station authorised by Whitehall, is much simpler than it is to get a new drill hall authorised—and that for two reasons: one is that, from experience, it appears that the Home Office, for example, are prepared to commit themselves to some reasonable expenditure two or three years in advance so that plans, and so forth, can be drawn up for police stations, whereas the War Office do not allow any such thing and the second is because the decentralisation of Commands carried out in 1946 has produced no good results, again for the simple reason that all that has happened has been a decentralisation of procedures with no decentralisation of financial responsibility. Therefore, whereas we have a three-tier structure in dealing with Territorial drill halls, we have only a two-tier structure, county to Whitehall, in dealing with requirements which come under the Ministry of Education or under the Home Office.

Then a point which links up both recruiting and the reserve forces; that is, the point of representation of the Army and of Her Majesty's Services in general, which has been touched on by a number of noble Lords. Now that National Service is on the way out we are losing, as I think, a very valuable means of representing that the Army is there and wants recruits. I know that the bad National Servicemen are the people who were in the news. I do not care about them. I am thinking about the good National Servicemen who went home on week-end leave and looked as a soldier ought to; and they, to my mind, were the great majority of the National Servicemen, whatever the newspapers may say. Now when we have lost them, if we adopt the policy, which I have no doubt is statistically right, of closing clown small drill halls in the Territorial Army and small units in the Army Cadet Force we shall be doing something which looks all right on the surface but will certainly militate against recruiting, both to the Regular Army and to the Territorial Army.

That applies not only to the Territorial Army, but also to the Army Cadet Force and the Combined Cadet Force, Again, on cadet representation, the new schools which are developing every day under the 1944 Act are schools with which the Army Cadet Force are not keeping pace, any more than the Territorial Army are keeping pace with the development of the new towns; and that is a service which ought to be performed quite irrespective of any petty views of economy.

So much, at this time of night, for the tasks which I think await my right honourable friend and all of us in and out of the Army who are trying to help him. I would add only two tasks which I hope he will be successful in undertaking. One is to get more detailed control away from the Treasury and into the hands of his own very capable finance officers. As I have said before in this House, I think, the control over Army matters in the Treasury is far more detailed, so far as I can see, than the control of similar matters in other Ministries. That must be wrong. I think it is a great cause of weakness in Army administration and I therefore think that it is a subject for inquiry.

One last word. I saw in the newspapers the other day that a small tattoo had been held at Aldershot in connection with the Horse Show. I beg and pray my right honourable friend on no account to allow tattoos to rear their heads again; because, if they do, the Army, which we care for so much and which has so big a rÔle to play in our national defence, will certainly not be ready for war when the time comes.

7.5 p.m.


My Lords, the House at this time of the evening sometimes makes me think of the couplet of Omar Khayyám: a number of noble Lords seem to Have drunk their cup a round or two before, And one by one crept silently to rest. Whether they have gone to rest or not, I am not quite sure, my Lords; but we here want to wind up this debate as rapidly as we can, in view of the fact that the noble Lord, Lord Swaythling, is waiting to raise the question of the Charollais bulls.

My Lords, by common consent, nearly everybody has spoken almost exclusively about manpower and recruiting. I think that that is perfectly justified, though it leaves out of account so many subjects referred to in the Estimates and in the Memorandum, not least the subject which my noble friend Lord Chorley raised of the War Office's occupation of National Parks. But we must confine ourselves, I think, to the question of Regular recruiting: what is stopping it; what more can be done to ensure that the Army gets the recruits that it needs in the numbers and in the qualities that it needs. In passing, I would refer to what the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, said: that the shortage covers all units and affects all units. I had understood that the shortage was primarily in certain skills, certain trades, and certain arms and corps; so perhaps it is not the kind of shortage which affects all units all over the world. I think that may be in some ways a more difficult problem, but it is in fact a rather specialised one.

I would say here, as the noble Viscount, Lord Goschen, said, that some of us were fortunately able to visit Benbecula and the rocket-firing range which is occupied by the guided-weapon regiments of the Royal Artillery from Germany. We saw a Corporal missile fired. One could say a great deal about that. The thing we must all hope for, of course, is a changeover from the liquidfuel to the solid-fuel weapons; and many other things can come in. But the point that struck me, about which I should like to ask Her Majesty's Government, is the question of the skill required in operating these new types of equipment.

Briefly, is it not the case that the Army is now moving into the state that the Navy and Air Force have been in for a good many years, where the extremely technical and specialised nature of some of the equipment means that a number of senior non-commissioned and commissioned ranks have to be technically highly qualified? Indeed, the point must arise where the most highly technically qualified persons will, by reason of seniority, become eligible for the higher ranks. And do we not there get into a state where there is a conflict? There certainly was in the other Services from time to time between the wars, when the ordinary deck rating or the disciplinary N.C.O. felt that he was being relegated to a less important position in the scheme of things owing to the promotion of these young, highly skilled, highly qualified, people. It is a big subject, but that is the sort of idea that came to me, and I offer it to Her Majesty's Government to see whether they have it in mind also and what they propose to do about it.

Now, my Lords, I was very glad that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, the First Lord—not, as I think he was called, the First Sea Lord; not now, anyway—


Or ever.


—said that it was not pay alone which attracted men into the Services. I would go further and say that it is not pay, uniform or material comforts by themselves. Another thing I was glad was recognised by many speakers was that the soldier himself is the best recruiting sergeant. There we have, I think, the clue to any remedies for the present shortage. If a man goes on leave and meets his friends and says, "Yes, we had a wonderful patrol to the Buraimi Oasis", or, "We went up the bamboo forest in the Aberdares," or, "We did an amphibious exercise to Mirs Bay", then he really is "somebody" when he goes home. They see that he has been doing a worthwhile job; his status rises, and the status of the Army rises, in the eyes of his civilian friends and relations.

That was the basis of the Starred Question put down a week or two ago by my noble friend Lord Nathan, asking about Adventure Training in the Army. We are very glad it has been introduced, but it was disappointing that the Government could not give any definite details about the extent of this training. My Lords, training is obviously decentralised to units in lower formations, but do not the Army Council know what is going on in the Army? Is it not the directives from the higher command that have to put this Adventure Training into action? Do not higher commanders tell their juniors what training has to be carried out? It surely cannot be a very difficult task to say that every unit of a certain size must carry out so many exercises involving so many men in the year. It was most disappointing not to be told the details. For all we know, it was just a paragraph in the Memorandum. I suggest that the Government try to give a bit more detail about it.

Incidentally, it might have publicity value to give much more details of smaller exercises, wherever they may take place. My fear is that, instead of the man who goes home and says that he has been to all sorts of out-of-the-way places, you will get the man who says, "We had nothing to do. We just sat and sweltered in the sun, and there was nothing to do. Some people, I believe, went and did some exercise, but I never saw anything. I just sat and did cookhouse fatigue", and so on. That is my fear, and that is why I think the publicity campaign, both on television and by other means, which we all welcome, is an admirable thing.

The noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, said that you must have the goods for sale before you run an advertising campaign. I would say that you must make sure that the goods are of the quality specified. I would put it this way: that the Minister can give these instructions and adopt these policies and have them put out in pamphlets from Whitehall; but his job does not end there. His job does not end until he has imbued every rank of commander, from the Army Council down, with the idea that this new policy is a good thing, and is to be carried out wholeheartedly and to the limit of the resources. Talking of resources, the noble Viscount, Lord Goschen, spoke of training being impeded because of a shortage of blank ammunition and of batteries for wireless sets. I hope the Minister will be able to say that that is not true, because could there be anything more foolish than to allow limits like that to hinder a good programme of training?

My Lords, the soldier must realise that he is doing an important and worthwhile job, and that his training is designed to that end. I will not go into the question of how much discipline, and what kind of discipline, is necessary to produce a good soldier, because we might be here all night if I did. But surely the training must be visibly related to the task that the soldier would have to carry out in war. I wholeheartedly support the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, in what he said about tattoos. In fact, in our Army ceremonial training takes up a large part of the time—possibly too large a part. I saw a reference in a paper to some German N.C.O's. or officers who came over on exchange to a British unit, and who said, "We do not have time for any ceremonial drill like you do. How do you find the time?" I think that there is a point at which ceremonial drill and parades can take far too much time.

Another point is that, with all the training in the world, with magnificent exercises, large or small scale, unless the individual soldier knows what it is about and what he is doing he gets bored with it. I was with a party visiting an exercise in air movement from Abingdon to Wattisham, I think, with the Duke of Edinburgh's Regiment. They had produced a most admirable unit news-sheet for that exercise, giving some fictitious and some real information about the strategic and tactical idea on which the exercise was based. That news-sheet, circulated down to the private soldiers, gave them a chance to know what it was all about and what they were doing.

The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said that they were out to persuade the public that the New Model Army is different from the old. My Lords, as I have said, it is on the success of that aim that the whole recruiting campaign depends; and from Whitehall he cannot be sure that waste of time and unnecessary routine tasks have been eliminated from the Army. I suggest that something like the Wolfenden inquiry, some independent civilian inquiry to examine the domestic affairs of units, the life lived in barracks by soldiers of all arms and in all quarters of the globe, might give the Minister a very powerful weapon. If an inquiry like that could give the Army a clean sheet, it would be magnificent propaganda. If an inquiry like that disclosed that things were not all rosy, that would, equally, be to the good.

Lastly, my Lords, there is one more thing that should be mentioned. I think the Army lacks glamour—and by "glamour", I do not mean what the noble Viscount, Lord Goschen, meant. He was thinking, I imagine, of uniforms, bands, and ceremonial. By "glamour", I refer to red berets, green berets; parachutists, commandos, and all the rest of it. The decision was taken long ago in the war—whether it was right or wrong, I do not know—to raise special units and special corps for the more arduous and exacting tasks of the war: airborne and amphibious landings, and that sort of thing. It may have been right or wrong, but it was done, and we are left with the commando conception, which is a very special unit with special tasks, and the airborne people, also with special tasks and badges. The Army misses all that.

It is really a vicious circle, because if the Army does not have glamorous jobs all over the world, these jobs falling to the Marines, there is that much less attraction for young men to go into the Army. When the Army units cannot be kept up to strength, the Government raise Royal Marine Commandos for those tasks overseas. I have the greatest admiration for the Royal Marines and used to know them very well indeed; but the fact that the Army is being cut down, and Royal Marine Commandos are being expanded and used for all the exciting jobs all over the world, must steal the limelight and the glamour; and the Army suffers. I would offer that thought also to the Government. My Lords, it is time that this debate came to an end. I would say that the Minister has the very best wishes of noble Lords on this side, and if any suggestions we have made help him that will please us.

7.23 p.m.


My Lords, I think our debate to-day has been useful. It has also been opportune, since it has come at a time, as your Lordships have learned to-day, when the Army is grappling with two basic problems: its transition from a mixed Regular and non-volunteer force to an all-Regular force; and the problem posed by the radical reorganisation of our reserve forces. Before saying anything else, I should like to assure your Lordships of two things. The first is that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State is receptive to new ideas, and I know he will wish carefully to consider the many suggestions which have been put forward in your Lordships' House this afternoon. Second, there is one thing about which he and the Government are quite adamant, and that is their determination to achieve a modern mobile Army of adequate strength.

I thought I might spread myself a bit at one moment about the rÔle of the Army to-day, but I have decided not to, since that rÔle has been made pretty clear in the Memorandum which we have been discussing, by my noble friend the First Lord and, indeed, by other of your Lordships. But to discharge its rÔle, the Army requires four tangible assets. There is, of course, the intangible, Napoleonic, one of morale. The four tangible ones are: adequate manpower; first-rate equipment; good training; and well-balanced reserve forces. May I, in winding up on this side of the House, just touch on those four factors?

As my noble friend the First Lord made clear, we have a double target as far as manpower is concerned. The first is to obtain an Army of 165,000 officers and men, all Regulars, all volunteers. The second is to build up from that to a force of 182,000 as quickly as possible. The first question—and I should just like to summarise, as it were, some of the remarks which have been made—is whether this is the right target. The critics suggest that with an Army of this size we shall not be able adequately to discharge our military commitments. They point to the fact that our resources are already stretched, and that in any given theatre the soldiers on the ground might even now prove inadequate in the worst case. If, then, the critics say, you are already stretched with an Army of about 213,000, will not the position become quite unmanageable when you are down to around 165,000 or so?

To that, my Lords, I would return the following answers. First, we propose to build up to 180,000-plus as quickly as possible. We do not hide the fact that the lower figure will present difficulties, albeit not insuperable ones. We also believe that the smaller Regular Army of the future will be in every way significantly more efficient than the larger mixed force which we have to-day. Manpower will not be expended, as to-day, on training National Servicemen. We shall not, as to-day, have a great many National Servicemen in the pipeline joining units abroad or returning to this country on discharge. And, as I hope briefly to show, we shall have a better equipped Army, rifle for rifle, gun for gun, tank for tank. Finally, the growing tactical and strategic mobility of the Army will steadily increase throughout the coming decade. All in all, I wish to reaffirm that it is the Government's considered judgment that, with an Army in the numerical range of 165,000 to 182,000, we have no reason to believe that this country will be unable to discharge either its national or its international obligations.

Assuming the target to be reasonable, the next question is: What are our prospects of hitting it? Without wishing to crystal gaze, and without wishing to dodge the fact that this is likely to be—in Lord Bridgeman's and the Duke of Wellington's phrase—a "close run thing", I would assure your Lordships that the Government are confident that this target is attainable. However, whether it is in fact attained or not—and at this stage that is as speculative as next week's Ascot's results—I can assure your Lordships of two things. First, if we do not reach that target it will not be through lack of trying. My noble friend has already outlined in considerable detail the vigorous and imaginative steps which my right honourable friend is taking to get the recruits we need. These steps extend, as my noble friend has shown, far beyond what the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, in what I thought was the only slightly unfair passage of his very constructive and objective speech, termed "sales promotion techniques."

Second, if in the course of the coming months it becomes clear that we are not going to reach our target, the Government are not going to sit idly by. Various other possibilities, to which my noble friend alluded, are open to us, and I can assure noble Lords that they are already being looked at very thoroughly. The possibilities, of course, include the reintroduction of some form of compulsory service, but that is by no means the only possibility. Neither the Government nor, I am sure, most people in the country, wish lightly to discard the very great advantages which flow from a purely Regular Army, every member of which, officer or man, has joined as an act of conscious and deliberate choice.

That said, I shall try to answer some, but not at this hour all, of the suggestions made in this debate on manpower. First of all, may I say how wholeheartedly I agree, like other noble Lords, with what the noble Lord, Lord Nathan (and I think I got his words right), said: "The best ambassador for getting recruits is a satisfied soldier already in the Forces". I am sorry that he is not here, but the moral of that was vigorously (I think that could be the adverb) rubbed home by my noble friend Lord Ailsa, and some of the incidents with which he regaled your Lordships are precisely the sort of thing which my right honourable friend is determined to see stamped out.

My noble friend Lord Goschen suggested that we should look at the possibility of introducing shorter-term engagements. I am sure that my right honourable friend will be glad to note that suggestion, since he is himself considering this possibility at the present time. My noble friend also referred to an incident where a young man anxious to go to Mons had to sit round waiting for six months. I should like to look at that, if I may, and write to him about what, on the face of it, seems quite unnecessary delay.

My noble friend Lord Courtown referred to the need for greater decentralisation in our recruiting methods. Parenthetically, may I say that I think he carried many noble Lords with him—he certainly carried me—in his plea for administrative flexibility and a sensible interpretation by everyone concerned of general administrative instructions. So far as the decentralisation of recruiting is concerned, especially of financial powers, my information is that the Army see an advantage in having recruiting funds controlled at Command or District level. However, I am assured that if a local recruiting officer requires funds for a particular scheme and if that scheme is judged to be worth while—Commands are very receptive to sensible, schemes at this moment—then he will get those funds. As regards instructions in local advertisements to apply to the War Office, my present information is that this applies only to officers and not to other ranks. But I will also look into this point.

My noble friend Lord Bridgeman strongly urged that it would stimulate recruiting if we could offer the potential recruit guaranteed employment in Government service after he left the Army. This is certainly an attractive idea, but it has a number of drawbacks. I have not time now to go into them, but I should be glad to put the position in writing to my noble friend. Meanwhile, may I just say this? I wonder whether, in this era of full employment, a guarantee of this sort is what people need or want. The present arrangements, which of course form part of a comprehensive Resettlement Service, seem to be pretty effective. In the twelve months which ended last March, 23,245 Regular soldiers left the Army but only 294 were registered as unemployed, and of these only 91 had been registered for six weeks or more. Those are pretty satisfactory figures. Surely, my Lords, these days, when a soldier leaves the Army, it is usually a home not a job which is the main problem confronting him. That is why I personally would put my money on my right honourable friend's "Save while you serve' scheme.


My Lords, I think that one of the main attractions of the idea I put forward is that a soldier would have a pension scheme working through his entire life; and with everybody else in civil life having a pension scheme, a break in the thirties or forties is a very serious matter.


My Lords, I can see the advantages of that and I will write to my noble friend. My noble friends Lord Bridgeman and Lord Auckland touched on the related problems of entry standards and selection techniques. It is no easy matter, with a large machine, to steer a sensible course in this field. All I can say is that this is being kept under the closest review and that, whilst individual mistakes can and do occur, on the whole we think that the criteria for acceptance and the present machinery are sensible and sufficiently flexible.

My noble friend, Lord Auckland, also asked if we were doing all we could whenever we could to replace the male soldier by the civilian or the member of the W.R.A.C. My Lords, I think the right answer is, by and large, Yes. There are some built-in limitations to the proportion of pen-pushing, ballpoint-wielding, civilians which the Army can employ. But the Army Council's policy is that wherever a civilian can be employed in place of a soldier he should be. In 1957 the ratio of Servicemen to civilians was 5: 3, now it is 6: 5; by 1963 it should be 1: 1. As for the W.R.A.C., your Lordships know the value of this fine corps. But its wastage by marriage—I hope your Lordships will excuse this loose language—is some 30 per cent. a year. It is below strength, unfortunately, and until that strength can be built up it would not seem sensible to pile increased responsibilities on it.

Finally there is the problem of the skilled tradesman to which the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, referred—the instrument mechanic, the staff sergeant, in Class X as it is called. Are the Army's methods of selecting and training skilled tradesmen right? Have we found the right way of fitting this rather special person into the life of the Army? I cannot give a discourse on this now, but I can say that the War Office are fully aware of the tremendous importance of these skilled technicians on whom the modern Army more and more depends. That is why the Army's apprentice schools are so important and why the possibility of expanding them is under study. At present recruiting for these schools, which do a splendid job, is satisfactory. I know that the War Office would be delighted to help if the noble Earl, or other noble Lords, would like to visit one of them—for example, Arbor-field, the R.E.M.E. Apprentice School, which has an exceedingly high training standard in the more difficult skills.

I confess that it is with some pleasure that I step from the problems of the Army's manpower on to the surer terrain of its equipment. In so doing I should like to repeat something which I said in the Defence debate last March—namely, that virtually all the equipment, personal or otherwise, with which the British Army of the Rhine was equipped as late as 1957 has already been replaced, or will be replaced within the next two or three years. The only change I wish to make to that statement is that it applies not only to B.A.O.R. but also to the Army as a whole. (I shall deal in a moment with the equipment of the Territorial Army).

I do not propose to weary your Lordships with a long shopping list of the Army's new equipment. Nevertheless, I should like to sketch the striking advance in the Army's re-equipment. I was glad that the noble Lord, Lord Norrie, drew our attention to this, because I think it is of great importance if only for the effect which first-rate equipment has on recruiting, as the Grigg Committee pointed out two years ago. May I first deal with the "Moss Bros." side of the Army—clothing and personal equipment? Issues of new combat clothing are starting in quantity this year, following the complete supply last year of the new pattern of web equipment. As for the daintier items, complete issues of the new raincoats and the new suitcases should be completed by next year. On the principle that ladies should come first, the W.R.A.C. will receive their new Service dress this year, with the men politely waiting until next year.

Much the same applies to personal weapons. Here it is really not a case, as some of the critics have suggested, though not to-day, of "jam to-morrow and no jam to-day". By the end of this year all Regular units should have been completely re-equipped with their full entitlement of small arms, including F.N. rifles. Later—within the next two or three years—the new F.N. general purpose machine gun will come into general service. This is designed to replace both the Bren and that patriarch of the battlefield, the old Vickers medium machine gun. Its weight will be only half that of the Vickers and its rate of fire far higher. At much the same time the 3-inch mortar will be being superseded by the new 81-millimetre mortar, which I am told is an absolutely first-class weapon. Therefore, well before the mid-'sixties (to use that hallowed phrase) the British army will have received a complete new range of infantry weapons.

As regards armour, your Lordships are already familiar with the present generation of vehicles—the ubiquitous Ferret, the Saladin armoured car and the Centurion tank. As for the Centurion, I would only remark that by the end of this coming winter armoured units will have received their quota of the up-gunned 105 millimetre version, probably the best all-round tank in the world today. The Centurion will be supplemented in a few years by the Chieftain, a lighter tank with an exceptionally powerful 120-millimetre gun. My noble friend Lord Goschen asked about the tracked armoured personnel carrier. At the moment, as your Lordships know, certain units are equipped with the Saracen, a wheeled armoured personnel carrier, and there has been a long-standing need (I would not put it stronger than that, but I would put it that strongly) for a tracked.armoured personnel carrier. We are confident that the new tracked A.P.C., with its powerful Rolls Royce engine will fill the bill. I can confirm that it is about to start on an extensive series of Army trials—it has already had its technical trials—and that its development, broadly speaking, is proceeding satisfactorily.

From the tank, my Lords, I come to its antidote. I was struck by a sentence in a slim red pamphlet entitled The British Army in the Nuclear Age, produced by the Army League a year or two ago. That sentence read: It is clearly in the West's fundamental interest to find some antidote to the tank, which still remains the key offensive weapon. To my mind, this is a field in which the West, in general, including ourselves, may have lagged a bit behind. However, the situation is changing rapidly for the better, with the introduction into service of the Wombat Recoilless anti-tank gun as a replacement to the heavier and shorter range Mobat, and of the Malkara anti-tank guided weapon. Many, of course, would claim that what we most need—in particular, perhaps for the Strategic Reserve—is a really lethal tank killer which one man can carry. To that I would reply that we have under trial some very effective alternative small weapons as replacements to the old 3.5 inch Bazooka, in addition to the Vigilant, a promising anti-tank guided missile.

It is not only the infantry and the tank and anti-tank arms which are in the process of virtually complete re-equipment. The same applies to the Royal Artillery who are this year receiving the Italian 105-millimetre pack howitzer. It will be followed within a few years by the 105-millimetre self-propelled field gun, with a range far superior to any gun of its size and weight in the Western World. Thus, so far as the Regular Army is concerned, the 25-pounder will quite soon follow the Vickers machine gun into honoured retirement. So it is with the Royal Engineers; so it is with M.T., where all the "old crocks" have now been retired; and so it is with signals equipment: ten types of new wireless sets have already been issued since 1958 and more are due by 1963. My noble friend Lord Goshen, when talking of wireless sets, complained that we are short of batteries for some of the new sets, especially in Rhine Army. The answer, as I am given to understand, is that we are not, with one exception; and that exception is the new man-pack wireless (the A.41) the life of whose new-type battery was estimated to be 24 hours. Apparently, owing to the high transmitting-to-receiving ratio in B.A.O.R. (and I do not know why our troops in Germany are so talkative) its life has proved shorter. But a modified design is being made available very shortly.

Perhaps this is not the moment to refer to this, but, so far as blank ammunition is concerned, to which my noble friends Lord Goschen and Lord Denham drew attention, I might say that personally I have the greatest sympathy with what they had to say. There are, I understand, approved scales for things like training ammunition, and I will certainly see that any allegation that these are inadequate is investigated. It was certainly not my impression that there was any general shortage in either the Regular Army or our Reserve Forces, but I will have that point looked into.

My noble friend the First Lord has described the far-reaching steps being taken to reorganise and modernise the Reserve Forces, and a great many noble Lords have rightly concentrated attention on that sector. In dealing with the Territorial Army I hope to present as small a target as possible, since I know the size and accuracy of the Territorial guns trained on me at present, fore and aft. But before trying to deal with particular points about our Reserve Forces I wish to emphasise how keen my right honourable friend is that reorganisation should prove a real success—and a sign of it is the fact that he is spending many week-ends this summer visiting Territorial Army units. But enthusiasm on these matters is a two-way street, and I think all your Lordships were glad to see and hear from my noble friend Lord Denham, who has come straight from a training period. I hope that he was back in time for his exercise this evening.

I must thank the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, in his absence, for his generous tribute to the way the reorganisation of the Reserve Forces has been handled in Wales. I will, of course, take careful note, as I am sure my right honourable friend will, of my noble friend Lord Courtown's strictures as to how the reorganisation was pushed through, and on which my noble friend Lord Bridge-man commented. The difficulty, as in many things in life, was, I understand, the time factor. The Government wanted—and I am sure my noble friend would agree with this—to get the reorganisation settled in time for it to become effective before this year's summer training period. This involved tackling it during the summer and early autumn last year, admittedly an awkward period. But it is certainly my understanding—and I was glad my noble friend Lord Bridgeman confirmed this—that very full discussions took place between everyone concerned.

Two of my noble friends, Lord Bridgeman and Lord Ailsa, have mentioned the gaps in our Territorial recruiting network which the reorganisation may cause, both for the Territorials and, indeed, also for the Cadet Forces. There may be difficulties here, but I must emphasise that the decision, as I understand it, to re-deploy to new areas is a local one—it rests with the Territorial Army Associations in conjunction with the Home Commands. Thus, permission has just been granted to build a new T.A. centre at Newton Aycliffe, near Darlington, where the local association knew there were sufficient volunteers. My noble friend Lord Courtown drew the House's attention to the danger that the Territorial Army may be in of losing good material, especially, I think, in Northern Ireland and Southern England—the one an area where Field Marshals are born, the other where they tend to die.

Of course, the new ceiling of 123,000 does carry with it this danger, but there are other factors. The new reorganisation will not become fully effective until May, 1963, and no ceiling for particular Commands has yet been decided. We should have until then to assess how things are going. There is also some provision for flexibility—the 65 per cent. rule is not sacrosanct. But, perhaps most important of all, the average annual wastage in all Territorial units is some 25 per cent. Thus, even with the new limits, there will be inflows as well as outflows.

A number of noble Lords, Lord Ogmore, Lord Denham and my noble friend Lord Bridgeman, drew attention to the question of more colour for the Territorial Army and particularly the need for a smart uniform. I am afraid that what I can say is not very encouraging on that point. There are no plans at present to equip the Territorial Army with No. 1 dress since other requirements are felt to have priority within the limits of money available. But the point which has been made has been taken and it will be looked into. A number of noble Lords also referred to the need to give the Territorial Army an adequate scale of modern equipment, and I think the House listened with sympathy to the description given by my noble friend Lord Ailsa of what one can term his example of "adventure buying" on behalf of a unit. As regards equipment, I should merely like to mention that £.12½ million has already been earmarked for the re-equipment of the Territorial Army, and this should serve to give units the feel of the new equipment. But, of course, it provides for only a limited scale of re-equipment. It may be on a much lower scale than, ideally, one would like; but it will help. For example, infantry battalions have already been equipped up to their scale with F.N. rifles, and each armoured car regiment is due to receive 12 Saladins.

My noble friends, Lord Bridgeman and Lord Goschen, rightly focused our attention on the Army Cadet Force and the Combined Cadet Force. I do not think I need labour the importance of these units. Suffice it to say that 15 per cent. of the Army's Regular soldiers have been in the Army Cadet Force and over 30 per cent. of the junior leaders. I should like to mention three specific suggestions which were put. One was a suggestion for forming Boys' Battalions to catch the boy who is neither a potential apprentice nor is particularly bright. A number of possibilities in that general field are, in fact, under study at the present time, and I will bring the suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, who first mentioned this, to my right honourable friend's attention. My noble friend, Lord Goschen, also had two specific queries about cadet forces. He mentioned accommodation and equipment difficulties. Accommodation is a problem, but it is in hand: £210,000 has been earmarked in this year's Estimates for Army Cadet Force accommodation, and this will provide for 50 new huts at a cost of £125,000—quite large sums.

On equipment, again we come up against the priority barrier. It would be nice for each cadet unit to have two F.N. Rifles, but even that would cost £80,000. However, perhaps something could be done, and indeed often is done, I understand, where there is good liaison between cadet forces and the Regular units or reserve units in their area.

A number of points were made regarding training. I will deal with only three. Of course, training in our new Army should be as realistic as possible. Both my noble friends Lord Goschen and Lord Norrie touched on the question of how the petrol cuts which were imposed on B.A.O.R. last year had interfered with realistic training. I am informed that they did not, in fact, affect training to any serious extent, but in any event the allocation of M.T. fuel to Rhine Army this year is, I understand, a great deal bigger than last year, and in the case of the most important of these fuels—M.T.80—it is twice as great.

The noble Earl, Lord Lucan, referred to the great importance of Adventure Training, both on its own merits and as a magnet for recruiting. May I just say that I am in entire agreement with what he has said. Might I add something which is perhaps more important? With that my right honourable friend is in entire agreement. I regret that I was not able, in replying to the Question by the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, earlier this week, to give precise figures. It is not because the Army are not keen on this idea; it is because of the decentralisation to Commands. I think more detailed figures could be produced if the noble Lord would like them, but it will take time because of the decentralisation.

Finally, while on training, I would refer to the point to which the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, spoke—namely, the use of Dartmoor by the Army for training purposes. When I replied to the debate on National Parks last April, a couple of months ago, I was wearing my National Parks deerstalker; as I have on now my small military bowler I am on this particular occasion in a slightly schizophrenic position. But I do not think that at this stage your Lordships will wish to debate this particular question in any great detail. May I just say that during our debate last April I undertook to look into the position and I have done so. I understand that the land which the Army still holds on Dartmoor is required for training; in particular, the live firing ranges are extensively used by the Territorial Army. The Royal Marines also make substantial use of this land and, as we know, the existing Royal Marine Commando in Plymouth will soon be joined by the new Commando there.

At present I cannot give the noble Lord much encouragement on this matter. There is not at present any intention to give up further land, although possible future redeployment may give the Army an opportunity of doing so. I would only add that the Army requirements here are kept continuously under review, and when they change any surplus land is given up as quickly as possible. The noble Lord referred to a number of reports which he had received. What I would suggest is that he should let me or my right honourable friend the Minister of Housing have those reports from the Dartmoor front, and I will gladly undertake to have the specific difficulties to which he has referred looked at attentively.

My Lords, in view of the hour I feel that it would be quite wrong for me to stand any longer between the noble Lord, Lord Swaythling, and his lowing herds. I am conscious that I have left a great many questions unanswered, and my noble friend the First Lord of the Admiralty or I will naturally write to those noble Lords who may have been left, as it were, in the air. May I end on this note? I think that this debate has again shown that your Lordships have the interests of the British Army very much at heart. These are admittedly—and let us be frank about this—not altogether easy days for the Army. Despite this, we remain confident that, with the co-operation of the nation, we shall succeed in building up the Army we need; and I am sure that your Lordships, with your intimate knowledge of the Army and its affairs, will be able to assist that process in a great many ways.

8.3 p.m.


My Lords, I think I may perhaps be forgiven two or three non-controversial sentences. In the first place, I hope that the fact of this debate may become known to the Army, for I think the Army should be interested and concerned to know that your Lordships have spent five hours in debating its interests, both as to manpower and recruitment and as to equipment and its general condition, and that during those five hours two Ministers of the Crown have sat upon the Government Bench and an answer has been given by the two Ministers, one in the early part and one at the conclusion of this debate. I think it well that it should be known, if it can become known, that so much interest is taken by your Lordships in the welfare of the Army.

I might add that for about fifteen years the noble Viscount, Lord Bridge-man, and I have spoken in these debates, sometimes one of us on that side of the House and sometimes on the other; but either he or I have initiated this debate or taken some prominent part in it for all those years. I think that is another indication that the Army is not dealt with in your Lordships' House in any Party or partisan spirit. It shows that we are united in the hope of doing the best we can for the Army, and that that is the common objective of us all.

I was greatly interested in what the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, said just now about the target, that it was increased, as I understood him, from 165,000 to 182,000, if achievable. I am delighted that it should be so, and I shall watch with great interest to see how the passage of time brings forth the result. I said at the outset of this debate that I was doubtful whether 165,000 could be attained by the stipulated date. I have been somewhat reassured by what has been said from the Front Bench opposite, and I hope that my misgivings may prove to have been mistaken. If so, nobody will rejoice more.

Finally, perhaps I might just say this. There is not much discussion about the Territorial Army or Reserve Forces, although the noble Earl who has just sat down gave us a good deal of most helpful information. I am quite certain that I am the oldest Member of your Lordships' House here present who is going to camp this year with a Territorial unit. When I come back I shall have tested out to some extent what the noble Earl has said, and I propose by mutual arrangement, at some convenient moment in the autumn, to inaugurate a debate on the Reserve Forces and the Territorial Army. Meantime, let me tell the noble Lord that I am not quite certain when I go to camp what I am going to see. I started 25 years ago as Honorary Colonel of one regiment; in 1955 I became Honorary Colonel of three; now, as the result of the latest reorganisation, I think I am Honorary Colonel of what were nine separate units now amalgamated. I shall see them all assembled together, as one unit. Do not take me too seriously, my Lords. I am going to camp not for training but to encourage the others. Having said so much, and having been greatly interested in what has been said, and reassured by much of what has been said, I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.