HL Deb 15 July 1964 vol 260 cc239-41

2.27 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are aware of the need to provide for the future of the Royal United Service Institution as a centre of professional studies for the Services; and whether they have yet reached a decision on the report of Sir John Cowley which has been sent by the Institution to the Minister of Defence.]


My Lords, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence recognises the value of these studies and is anxious to do what he can to facilitate and further them. Those familiar with this field will recognise the problems of policy and security which can be involved. My right honourable friend has now set up a Committee within the Ministry of Defence to study the subject in depth and to report to him. The Committee will take outside evidence and will draw on the experience of other countries. One part of its task will be to evaluate Sir John Cowley's report.


My Lords, in thanking my noble friend for that reply, may I ask whether the composition of the Committee has yet been settled and when it is likely to report? May I also ask my noble friend whether his attention has yet been drawn to an article in the Journal of the Royal United Service Institution of May, 1964, which I think has just been published? The first article in that magazine on the Organisation of Defence Studies is by Alun Gwynne-Jones, who is the military correspondent of one of our leading daily newspapers. May I suggest that the views expressed in that article be fully taken into account?


My Lords, I do not think that the composition of the Committee has yet been finally decided, but I can inform my noble friend that Sir Henry Hardman, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, will take the chair, and that it is intended that the membership of the Committee should include senior representatives of the Services, of the Defence Staff, the Defence Scientific Staff and officials of the Defence Secretariat. I do not think it would be right for me to tie down the Committee, as it were, to a time for their report, but I think it is the intention that they should report before the end of this year. In answer to my noble friend's third supplementary question, I regret that I have not yet seen the article to which he referred. I am a member of the Institution and I can only assume that my copy has perhaps been delayed by certain postal difficulties; but I will, of course, make a point of reading the article to which he has drawn my attention and of bringing it to Sir Henry Hardman's attention.


My Lords, can the noble Earl inform us what has happened to the very interesting military exhibition that used to be held in the Banqueting Room?


I speak subject to correction, but I think the majority of the exhibits were in fact on loan. I gather the Institution has approached those who have loaned the material and they have made their own dispositions. I know that in certain cases the articles which were on exhibition have been loaned to other institutions.