HL Deb 23 November 1965 vol 270 cc783-803

2.48 p.m.

LORD THURLOW rose to call attention to the proposals of Her Majesty's Government for the reorganisation of the Reserve Army; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I make no apology for introducing this Motion into your Lordships' House to-day, despite the fact that as yet we have no White Paper on Defence or on the future of the Reserve Forces. I personally feel (and I am sure many of your Lordships will agree with me) that it is most important to discuss the proposals made by the Government before the publication of their intentions in detail, if for no other reason than to emphasise the grave apprehension and alarm that is felt among many shades of opinion in the country, including quite a large number of Government supporters.

The information that we have been given is, quite shortly, that the Army Reserve is to be reconstituted as a Territorial Reserve in three categories, including 2,500 Regular Army reservists and numbering just under 50,000, with a liability of call-up before general mobilisation; and that is to be at the expense of the existing Territorial Army, which is to be disbanded. What we do not know is what information and advice have led the Government to foresee the future with such uncanny accuracy that they can safely disband the Reserve Army—the forces in this country for home defence—and disband it so completely that it can never be revived. For that is what they propose to do.

The Secretary of State for Defence has announced that the British Army must train to fight one of two types of warfare, nuclear land battles in Europe or counter-insurgency operations elsewhere, and that all planning and training must be directed towards those ends. Thus the Government must be absolutely certain that no potential enemy will ever launch a large-scale conventional war. I personally do not think that such a thing is likely in the near future, but who is to know in five, ten or fifty years, with dictators ruling large countries, what may happen? Surely, it might suit the Russians or the Chinese to pour forth their immense manpower in a conventional war and not incur the opprobrium of being the first to use nuclear weapons; and it might not suit our allies to use nuclear weapons to stop them.

I agree entirely with the proposal of the Government to produce a better Reserve for the Regular Army, and I believe noble Lords on all sides of the House will support the Government on this. We must have the capacity to reinforce the small Regular Army at short notice with the categories of men that it needs. Moreover, I think most of us agree that the existing Territorial Army, except for the "Ever Readies", cannot fulfil this requirement as at present organised and constituted. So we have not even enough of the Reserve that we need for use at short notice. Nor, even when it is called out, is the Territorial Army capable of operating in a conventional war without more modern equipment and quite a long period of training which in future it will be most unlikely to get.

But it does have a great many qualities that we must consider most carefully before we discard them, because though by a simple Act of Parliament we can do that, it will take much more than an Act of Parliament to revive a citizen defence force. In addition to leaving the nation in this defenceless position, I believe that the total disbandment of the Territorial Army will wreck the very sensible proposals of the Government for the reform of the Regular Army Reserve, the need for which has been so amply demonstrated by post-war experience.

Now I wish to draw your Lordships' attention to some of the consequences of disbanding the Territorial Army. First, since it has been emphatically stated that the new Territorial Reserve is to be a Reserve for the Regular Army, there will be no force available for home defence, or any other emergency, other than units of the Regular Army which happen to be stationed in the country at the time and which, in the case of fighting units, are often of very low strength. I do not know whether your Lordships saw a letter from the noble Lord, Lord Harding of Petherton, in The Times yesterday which drew attention to reliance on the Regular Army for home defence. He said: To anyone who has lived through the emergencies with which this country has been faced, this appears a pious hope and an unrealistic assumption. As the Territorial Reserve will be used to bring the Regular Army up to strength, and to replace casualties, there would be no framework on which more units could be built—no basis for expansion. At least, general mobilisation would present no problem—there would be nobody to mobilise.

Secondly, the most important link between the Army and the civil population will disappear. The new Reserve will be sparsely spread over the United Kingdom, and vast areas, including all the countryside, will lose all touch with the Army, for the new Reserve will be raised by sub-units in a handful of cities and towns. All local interest will disappear. The Army will become more and more divorced from the nation as a whole. For example, I understand that it is at present planned that in the Highlands of Scotland there should be only four companies stationed. If the noble Lords who wrote an excellent letter to The Times this morning are correct (I do not know the details) these companies may be in Inverness, Aberdeen, Perth and Stirling. The rest of the Highlands—and this I feel very much, because it includes the entire area formerly recruited by my own regiment—which have in the past contributed so many battalions and other units for the defence of the nation, will lose all links with the military forces.

What of Northern Ireland? There are possible emergencies there in which the Territorial Army would be able to render the greatest possible support. What will be the effect of this new set-up on Regular recruiting? At present, the Territorial Army permanent staff of Regular officers and N.C.O.s, spread in a huge network all over the land, have responsibilities for recruiting Regular soldiers. Their mere presence, mixing with the civilian population, not only keeps the Army in the public eye but brings in Regular recruits, a large proportion of whom start their careers in the Territorial Army. Therefore the Government will have to spend a great deal more money on recruiting, with rather doubtful success.

There has been no mention of the W.R.A.C., of which there are a large number of splendid units in the Territorial Army to-day. I would ask Her Majesty's Government whether it is their intention to exclude the W.R.A.C. entirely from the new Territorial Reserve. Do they propose to offer any alternative form of service to these women, all of whom, under present plans, I understand, will be redundant. If not, are Her Majesty's Government aware of the effect that these decisions will have on recruiting for the W.R.A.C.?

One section of the Reserve, which is already known as the "Ever-Readies", is planned to be increased up to 7,500. To-day, from a nation-wide backing of 120,000 Territorials we have 6,000-odd, and in some of the categories not all that we need. I believe that, without a broad basis for recruiting such as the Territorial Army now provides, it is unlikely that the new Reserve will attract recruits after the "Ever-Readies", drawn from the Territorial Army, have completed their service and wasted out. I do not see how it will be possible to replace the ordinary wastage.

In these proposals, the Government are asking for more "Ever-Readies" for technical units, but they cannot raise the number they want under the existing scheme, with the whole of the Territorial Army behind it. Remember that the Territorials do not soldier for money: they give their time, energies and enthusiasms to the regiment in which they live, and fight, if need be, together. They will not give these to a manpower drafting pool. How can we possibly get on without a broad base, what the noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Montgomery of Alamein, described, in his most interesting speech on our last Defence debate, as a "second tier" to produce them?

My next point concerns the effect on our Army Cadet Force. This Force, a splendid, healthy youth movement, and a source of Regular recruits, depends a great deal on the Territorial Army. I believe that 50 per cent. of the Force is at present based on T.A. drill halls, and they receive a great deal of other assistance. Without the T.A. they must still be assisted, and still be housed, and if their standards and morale decline another source of Regular recruits will disappear and a bad image will be created in the public mind.

I come now to the effect on the Civil Defence organisation. This force—and I have three years' experience of working with it—is closely linked to the Territorial Army. Each has a vital part to play; the two are different, but interdependent. The present Territorial Army offers to the youth of the country, men and women, a healthy outlet for public service. The loss of this opportunity may be reflected in the still further reduced standard of morale among the younger generation, and the social consequences may not be inconsiderable. In an age of spoonfeeding and lots of pocket money, any organisation that fosters tradition, a spirit of adventure and discipline should not be lightly disregarded. An established community spirit of loyalty and comradeship will be lost, and a channel for a healthy mental outlook and physical fitness will be appreciably narrowed. I believe that the Territorial Army, or, if the Government relent, its successor, has an increased task as a unifying force, in which men and women can serve society according to different sets of talents. This could be a service worth far more than the few million pounds in cash terms.

The reduction in the armed strength of the country will not go unnoticed by the NATO nations and by other countries throughout the world, particularly those with which we have alliances, and to which undertakings have been given. Our ability to fulfil our commitments will be more closely questioned and our integrity as a nation will be put in doubt. One cannot help noticing that the President of France, who in 1939 was the only French leader to foresee the pattern of the last war, is reorganising and increasing his country's military strength and at the same time its influence in world affairs. At present, the French Army Reserve is one million. Norway has a local defence force and home guard of 100,000; Germany has a Territorial Force of 28,000 and its just bringing in a new plan, for which the target is to get 50,000 more for a citizen army reserve; Canada has 46,000. I could go on for a long time, right through all our friends, and some of our potential enemies, but I think that is quite enough to illustrate my argument.

Most of us agree that the Territorial Army needs to be reorganised. I consider that the requirement, in addition to the Territorial Reserve, is a smaller, unsophisticated force for home defence which volunteers can join, as at present, and which has the support of patriotic employers and the unions. This force should be able to provide a framework capable of rapid expansion at a time of national emergency.

The principal requirement for the Regular Army Reserve is probably for administrative units and signals; the principal requirement for expansion and home defence is for "teeth" arms. Such a force must provide value for money. It should be armed and equipped with good communications, and it must be well-disciplined. It should be based, in units and sub-units, on the cities and the counties of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, and retain the historic titles that ally the present units with Regular regiments and their own areas.

In my view, units should be responsible for finding their quota for the Territorial Reserve, and those units which cannot do so, or which have a poor recruiting record, should be disbanded. In this way, and I believe only in this way, shall we obtain and maintain the new Territorial Reserve. I estimate that the cost of such a force would be from £7 million to £10 million. I do not see why the Ministry of Defence should bear the whole of this burden from their Votes. Why should not the Home Office bear some of it? Otherwise, I believe that the Government's present proposal will fail to achieve its purpose and will lead in the end to selective National Service by conscription, as the present plans will not work and there will be no alternative left.

To sum up, total disbandment of the Territorial Army will deprive us of any form of Home Defence or basis for expansion. The Regular Army will become divorced from the nation, and recruiting for it will be adversely affected.

Without a broad base on which to draw, the new Territorial Reserve cannot be maintained. The Army Cadet Force and the Civil Defence organisation will be deprived of their most valuable prop. The youth of the country will be deprived of a healthy opportunity for public service, and the effect on world opinion, particularly on our allies, at a time of international tension and unrest, will be very serious. This is not a Party matter, my Lords. I feel we should become united on such an issue. Before taking the drastic step of totally disbanding the Territorial Army, I beg the Government to think again and ask the Territorial Army Council to produce a workable scheme. I beg to move for Papers.

3.9 p.m.


My Lords, I must apologise for the condition of my voice, and if it gives out before the end of the debate it will not be as a result of embarrassment in answering the noble Lord's speech. We have a very long debate before us, and a number of noble Lords with great experience of the Army will be taking part. We are all very glad to see that a maiden speech is to be made by the noble Lord, Lord Leigh, and we shall look forward to listening to all that is said in the course of this debate.

I must say that I thought Lord Thurlow's speech was a Jeremiad of the kind that I feel is a little difficult to take quite as seriously as he suggested. I make no complaint of what he was saying or the tone in which he said it, but when he examines the proposals when they finally come out I do not think he will find the situation anything like as gloomy as he suggests. I should like to give as much information as I can at this stage, bearing in mind that the Government's White Paper has yet to be published, and I think it is timely—and I welcome Lord Thurlow's initiative—that the Government should have the opportunity of hearing what Your Lordships have to say on this subject.

My Lords, at the end of July the Government outlined in Parliament their plan for reshaping the Army Reserves to meet the military needs of the country. I think there will be no disagreement between most of us—certainly not with the noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Montgomery of Alamein, although we never know what he is going to say—that there is a need, as indeed the noble Lord, Lord Thurlow, conceded there was, to reshape the Reserve Forces. I shall try to give some of the background of this and then focus on those points on which there may be disagreement between us.

The main feature of the plan, the one that has provoked the greatest comment and, understandably (and I use this expression in no contemptuous way), the greatest emotion, is the far-reaching implications for the Territorial Army. As the Government have acknowledged, as we all acknowledge—indeed several of my noble friends on the Government Front Bench have served in the Territorial Army and my noble friend Lord Chalfont, who is to wind up, began his military career in the Territorial Army—the Territorial Army has played a most notable part in our nation's life since Lord Haldane's reforms of nearly sixty years ago, and of course it is a truism to say that it has done magnificent work in two world wars. But I am afraid that no force can hope to continue unchanged on the strength of its past glories, and—again I am sure we all agree with this—if its structure and its state of readiness do not match the operational need but are still based on a concept of purpose which is to a large extent outmoded. Let me just quickly say that none of this is to detract from the enormous social value of the Territorial Army. We all acknowledge this. No one would suggest it is the only institution of its kind which does not have a great social value, and we obviously all agree that it has. But this by itself is not enough of an argument for retaining it unless it has a definite value in its present form from a defence point of view.

I think it might be helpful, although many of your Lordships are much more familiar than I am with the Army and the Army Reserve situation, if I just sketch in a little of the background. Here, again. I would remind your Lordships that, if I am not clear, there is a very convenient potted description of the Reserves in the noble and gallant Viscount's last speech, which I found a most useful reference document. The Army Reserves consist chiefly of the Regular Reserve, the Territorial Army and the Army Emergency Reserve. The Regular Reserve comprises men who have completed their Colour service and are for a fixed period of years liable for recall; this Reserve therefore represents a trained and experienced cross-section of the Army and its various trades and skills.

The 1964 Reserves Act, a measure which was introduced by the previous Government, increased for Regulars recruited after February, 1964, the period during which they are liable to be designated for Section A of the Reserve and therefore liable to be called out without Proclamation. Moreover, the pattern of Regular enlistments in previous years means that the number of men passing into the Regular Reserve will increase substantially in future years. The Reserve now totals about 27,000; by the early 1970's it will be near to 45,000 and should remain at about that level. It is, therefore, a steadily improving asset for the purposes for which we need it. The legislation which we shall introduce this Session will include provisions to facilitate the call-out of the Regular Reserve, part of which is now available only after a Proclamation.

The Territorial Army and the Army Emergency Reserve are volunteer forces, the former recruited and largely trained on a local or area basis and the latter centrally recruited and trained. The units of the Territorial Army have establishments totalling about 190,000, but their recruiting ceiling set by the previous Government was 123,000 and they are recruited up to 110,000. The Territorial Army is at present organised as an independent force with its own divisions and brigades. The greater part of it—I stress this—is directed to home defence and to producing a framework on which general preparations for a major conventional war could be made; the rest would provide reinforcements to meet our NATO commitments.

Proclamation is necessary before the Territorial Army can be called out, except for home defence and for service in the United Kingdom. Incidentally, the noble Lord made a slightly ominous remark about the Territorial Army's having some special rôle in Northern Ireland; I do not know quite what he meant. We have, of course, those members of the Territorial Army who have, in return for a special bounty, accepted the "Ever-Ready" liability to be called out for service at any time. I remember that when in Opposition we made a bit of fun of the Government over the "Ever-Readies", and I am very willing to pay tribute to the soundness of that conception.

The Army Emergency Reserve is composed mainly of logistic units. Category I volunteers, who number nearly 9,000 against an establishment of about 11,000, would be needed to reinforce the strategic reserve of the Regular Army in the event of a limited war; and they accept a liability to be called out for service overseas without a Proclamation; this is recognised by a bounty of £60. Category II volunteers of the Army Emergency Reserve, of whom there are about 4,000 against an establishment of 11,000, would be needed for the NATO reinforcement rôle, and like the Territorial Army cannot be called out without a Proclamation except for home defence. We have, therefore, at present a series of types and categories of volunteer reserves organised in different ways and serving on a different degree of liability. This arrangement clearly lacks flexibility; and a substantial part of the Territorial Army in particular represents a preparation for contingencies which are most unlikely to arise, although at the same time we are not as well prepared as we should be for those contingencies which do seem the more likely.

I believe that in units of the Territorial Army there has for a considerable time past been a sense of uncertainty about the realism of the rôle allocated to the force and the nature of their training for it. Undoubtedly there has been criticism of the equipment and clothing provided—I was going to say by the previous Government, but I am perfectly willing to follow Lord Thurlow's point and not conduct this debate on a Party basis. It is a fact that they have had obsolescent equipment and battle-dress surplus to our Regular Army's needs, and the allowance of paid training days for the weekend training was generally considered to be inadequate. Therefore, I think we cannot escape the conclusion that the Government were attempting to maintain a larger volunteer force than we could afford. The fact that the force could not be recruited as a whole above 60 per cent. of its establishment, and the high proportion of men leaving after two years' service or less, tell their own story.

To put it briefly, the volunteer Army Reserve is at present inadequately organised to meet an operational concept which is, as I shall attempt to show, largely unrelated to the contingencies against which we can justify taking out insurance. The Government therefore felt bound to re-examine the rôles which the volunteer Army Reserve should be designed to fulfil; and we have considered in the light of this study what organisation of the Volunteer Reserve is best suited to meet the needs. So far I think there is probably general agreement between most of us. The Government announced at the end of July that this examination enabled them to conclude that it is no longer realistic to think in terms of the Territorial Army for the defence of the United Kingdom itself, or as providing a framework on which general preparations can he made for a major conventional war abroad. It may well be that there are some noble Lords who do not agree with this view. I am not sure that the right honourable gentleman who speaks in the other place for the Opposition on defence matters would do so. He said that we needed (this was not in the House) to insure against the contingency that operations on the Continent might be so extensive and successful as to prejudice the safety of the United Kingdom without nuclear weapons being brought into use.

My Lords, if anybody—anybody who has visited NATO or SHAPE headquarters, or has had dealings with our military forces on the Continent—thinks that in any future European war large conventional armies will drive towards the Channel ports, he is really fighting either the last war or the previous one all over again. If there should be another major conflict in Europe—which God forbid!—it will not be like that. Although I would entirely agree with the noble Lord that the nature of any future war cannot be precisely foreseen, if war were to come in Europe it would be a nuclear war; and we believe that it would be unrealistic to think otherwise.

We believe that, provided the West retains its deterrent forces, the risk of a major war in Europe is small. NATO knows this, and the Russians know this. That is why we believe that any such act is most unlikely. If a nuclear war did come, it would be horrifying in its consequences, and entirely out of scale with anything that we have experienced before. There would be little chance of seriously considering the mobilisation of large armies from civil life, for which the Territorial Army has provided such an admirable foundation in the past. Now that we are in the nuclear age, the concept of a nation in arms is something which now belongs to history. After a strategic nuclear exchange, large-scale organised military operations on the Continent simply could not continue; for movements of armies, or what remained of them, would become impossible. In these circumstances, the invasion of the United Kingdom is not a contingency against which we think it right to make any special preparation, and there is accordingly no case on military grounds for keeping in being Reserve Army units for this rôle.

There remains, of course, the question of aid to the civil power after a nuclear attack, which provides the sole remaining commitment for more than half of the present Reserve Army manpower. It may be that it is on this point, and possibly on this point alone, that there is a real difference between the position of the noble Lord, Lord Thurlow, and the Government. I have said that an all-out nuclear war is unlikely; but if it came, the police and the Civil Defence forces would be helped by the Regular troops in this country. We thought most carefully about the question whether part of the Territorial Army should also be kept in being for this purpose. Clearly, tanks and artillery are irrelevant for such a task—and I assume that the noble Lord, Lord Thurlow, in his particular proposals, does not visualise otherwise. Of course it may be said that there would he advantage in having available formed bodies of disciplined men to help the civil power in their tasks. But after the fullest consideration, though accepting that there was some argument here, we decided that we could not justify retaining the Territorial Army units for this purpose. The cost would have been a heavy premium to go on paying for insurance against an unlikely eventuality.

Clearly, noble Lords will say, "You are taking a risk". But Governments at all times are taking risks. It is a question of measuring those dangers for which we must prepare and the dangers for which we do not have the resources to prepare. There was an air of unreality about the previously stated rôle of the Territorial Army, and many of its members would not have been attracted to join its units if their object had been solely that of Civil Defence. As your Lordships know, the Government are continuing their study of Civil Defence, and my right honourable friend the Home Secretary will in due course be making their views known. The noble Lord suggested that the Home Office might be invited to contribute financially to home defence. I do not know whether he meant this suggestion seriously. The Home Office make substantial provision for Civil Defence purposes; but it would be illusory to think that the retention of existing Territorial Army units could be achieved by a simple transfer of money from one departmental pocket to another. The savings which the Government intend to achieve through the reorganisation of the Army Reserve must be reflected not only in the Defence Budget but in Government spending as a whole.


My Lords, if the noble Lord is leaving Civil Defence, may I ask him one question, arising from his statement? I understood him to say that we should be hearing the Government's proposals for the reorganisation of Civil Defence in due course. Could he elaborate a little on what is meant by "in due course" in this context? In July, we were told that the Government were going to let us have their proposals in this regard in the near future. It is now "in due course". I wonder whether that is longer or shorter than "in the near future".


My Lords, if the noble Lord would prefer that I say "in the near future", I shall be happy to do so, and the next time some other noble Lord will be able to say "in due course". I am afraid that I am unable to answer the noble Earl further. This is clearly a matter which is subject to a great deal of study, and I regret that I cannot give him any more information. If it is possible to give some more information to-day, I will ask my noble friend Lord Chalfont to give it.

As I have said, the noble Lord suggested, rightly, that no Government can confidently forecast what the shape of future wars or other national emergencies will be, and that therefore the Territorial Army, or a new kind of Territorial Army (because I think we have already conceded that the old type of Territorial Army must be changed in a big way), should be retained as a general form of insurance. If we take out a suitable amount of insurance against all the contingencies which might be thought to have some plausibility, we should be faced with a collection of premiums which it would be wholly beyond our capacity to pay. The Defence Budget is a question of priorities. We must concentrate on the most urgent tasks.

I hoped that in their speeches in the course of to-day's debate, noble Lords would concede that the Government have, in fact, grasped a nettle which it was necessary to grasp, and that that, as I shall hope to show, will put our Reserve Forces in a much better posture to meet the needs of our present situation. The military problems of the second half of the 20th century are quite different from those of the first half, and our defence effort must be reorientated accordingly. We must have the courage to abandon traditional rôles in a changing world, and to devote our limited resources to those which make a real contribution to the security of the country. There is, of course, scope for disagreement as to what these should be, but in all things we must make a real contribution to the security of the country and to maintaining the peace of the world.

This is what we are going to do in our reorganisation of the Army Reserves. There are three tasks which, in our judgment, it is right to allot to the Army Reserves. First, to provide some individuals and a few units who can be called out at any time to reinforce the Regular Army, like the present "Ever-Readies"; secondly, to furnish such reinforcements for NATO as our commitments require; and, thirdly, to provide reinforcements needed to support the Regular Army in major operations outside Europe.

In considering these tasks, we have had to bear in mind the change which has taken place in the structure of the Regular Army over recent years. It is now an all-volunteer Army and its organisation was designed by our predecessors in office to produce a high ratio of "teeth" to "tail" units.

The logistic units in the Regular Army's order of battle are adequate for emergencies which fall short of major military operations, but if such operations became necessary the logistic units to support them could be found only from the Army Reserves. These logistic units and any others that might be needed to make up the Regular Army order of battle must be manned by volunteer reservists, supplemented as necessary by the substantial and increasing number of Regular reservists who have finished their service with the Colours. This means that the number and types of units in the Army Reserve must be governed by what extra units the Regular Army require in a variety of contingencies, from major military operations outside Europe to a full-scale reinforcement of NATO in a critical international situation.

I should like to emphasise that it is the need for these logistic units which is so very important, but I would not want to suggest that our new plan, when it is published, will not provide units in the "teeth" arms which could, after further training, be drawn upon if major operations outside Europe developed on a scale greater than can now be foreseen. Their call-out liability, unlike that of the Territorial Army, in general will be framed suitably to this purpose. I must make it clear that there is no case for including in our plan any greater measure of provision for reservists to be used in operations short of general war. The limiting factor is not that of men at all; it is the factor of equipment. We can see no point—and evidently our predecessors saw no point—in stockpiling large quantities of equipment in various parts of the world against types and scales of operations in which we have no expectation of being involved. If equipment is not available for such operations, there is no advantage in earmarking reserve manpower for it—a reserve manpower that to-day lacks the equipment and the training for purposes of this sort.

The Government's scheme will be published next month in a White Paper. It will set out details of their proposals for the new Reserve force, in amplification of what was said in the Statement of July 29 which I repeated in this House. Your Lordships will not expect me to anticipate the terms of the White Paper in my speech to-day, though I will give what information I can. I can certainly confirm that it will include as full a description as can then be given of the number and types of units to be raised either locally, like units of the present Territorial Army, or on a national basis, like units of the present Army Emergency Reserve. It will indicate the general areas of the country in which the locally raised units will be based. Details of the precise location of units are still being considered at the Home Command level, and a number of factors must be carefully weighed before decisions can be reached.

The noble Lord, Lord Thurlow, has proposed that the basis of the new Reserves ought to be as broad as possible—I can see the force of the argument; we all concede this—in order that it may cover country villages as well as big towns and cities and thereby preserve existing county affiliations and interests. But if we were to break up units of the new Reserve into a large number of small sub-units, dispersed over the countryside, our ability to train volunteers properly would in many cases suffer because the resources of the units, in terms of permanent staff and centrally held equipment, against the background of the rôle which I am explaining, could not be deployed as efficiently and economically as if the sub-units were more concentrated. Moreover, the cost would go up because a larger number of centres would need to be maintained. Your Lordships may be sure that when the order of battle for the new Reserve is finally settled we shall seek to hold as fair a balance as is possible between these two considerations—the achievement of reasonable coverage, on one hand, and of effective training arrangements, on the other.

The noble Lord put forward a much more ambitious, interesting, and perhaps more retrograde, proposal than the Government have in mind. As I understand it, this idea is that, in addition to the new Reserve, there should be the backing of a new Territorial Army with simpler equipment and basic training only, linked to counties as well as to cities like the present Territorial Army and costing, on his estimate, a further £7 million to £10 million a year to run. He suggested that otherwise it was unlikely that we should get the Reserves we need.

But whatever the merits of the proposal, I am afraid that it is open to the most serious objections. First—and I stress this point—it is not related to any operational requirement which, in the Government's view, could justify the spending of such large additional sums of money. Whatever value such a force might be thought to have as a basis for expansion in the event of another situation like that of 1914 or 1940, or of providing help to the civil power after a nuclear attack, the Government's view is that, for reasons which we have already explained, it is no longer justifiable to maintain Territorial Army units specifically for these contingencies. Secondly, as I have already indicated, we must face the fact that the Army's main requirements in major military operations would be for logistic units of the type which are now satisfactorily raised and very well recruited in Category I of the Army Emergency Reserve. The raising of additional units or sub-units, for which there was no recognisable operational requirement, in the "teeth" arms would do nothing to help us in recruiting and training men in the logistic units. On the contrary, it would divert resources from that purpose.

Our proposal is to establish, for the new Volunteer Reserve as a whole, a call-out liability bounty of £60. This should go a very long way towards ensuring good recruitment in the new Reserve, if experience with Category I of the Army Emergency Reserve, already recruited to 80 per cent. of its establishment, is any guide. Whatever gloomy prognostications may be made this afternoon, we simply cannot ignore the fact that the one section of the Volunteer Reserve which does have this liability bounty—Army Emergency Reserve Category I—is so much better recruited than either the Territorial Army or the Army Emergency Reserve Category II. The fact that these training arrangements will lay more emphasis than at present on weekend training, and that attendance at evening drills will no longer be obligatory, will make it easier than it would otherwise have been for people who do not live in the big towns and cities to play their full part as members of the new Reserve, since they will be able to claim whatever travel expenses are provided by the regulations. As I have said, we are still working on the detailed plans and we shall announce the decisions without delay, once they have been reached, but the important thing is to get the right decisions.

I should add that the White Paper will also deal, among other matters, with the liabilities of volunteer reservists for training in normal conditions, and for call-out should their full-time services be required. In this connection, I believe that there has been some misunderstanding about the call-out liability of the new Volunteer Reserve as a whole. On the one hand, it has been suggested that they will be like the "Ever-Readies"—available for call-out at any time at the discretion of the Secretary of State for Defence. On the other hand, it has been argued that in practice their liability will not really be different from that of the present Territorial Army. Neither proposition is true. The Reserve as a whole will certainly not have a liability like those of the "Ever-Readies". The "Ever-Ready" liability will apply only to those who specifically volunteer and who get the annual bounty of £150. But the call-out liability of the other volunteer reservists will undoubtedly be greater than that of the present Territorial Army. This is an essential feature of our proposals. The Territorial Army, at the moment, can be called out, except for home defence, only in the event of "imminent national danger or great emergency". We think that this formula is too restrictive. It could inhibit the Government from calling out members of the Volunteer Reserve in a serious situation where they are required for major military operations, but where the precise terms of the formula—imminent national danger or great emergency—may be said not to apply. We are therefore introducing, for the new Reserve as a whole, a call-out liability which will be more in tune with the needs of the present day, and will be similar to them, and which will be recognised also by an appropriate bounty.

Under the Bill to be introduced, members will be liable to be called out for service in the United Kingdom or overseas when warlike operations are in preparation or in progress. Your Lordships will appreciate that no Government can bind itself or its successors regarding hypothetical situations in which it might or might not be necessary to use the Reserve. But, as we have made clear in our discussions with the Territorial Army Council and with representatives of the Confederation of British Industries and the Trades Union Congress, there is no intention to call out members of the new Reserve under this liability unless major military operations are in progress or appear to be imminent. No member of this Reserve force, other than the "Ever Readies", will be called out for warlike operations until full use has been made of Section A of the Regular Reserve; that is to say until all suitable members of Section A, in the numbers and categories required, have been called out.

I shall not go on at great length about the actual call-out, because we shall have an opportunity to discuss this in great detail when the Bill comes before us. But I will say that the Government—and I am sure any Government—will have careful regard to the individual inconvenience that may be produced by such call-ups, and they will not enter into this lightly. We believe that this Reserve will be able to maintain recruitment at a satisfactory level and that its establishments will be considerably better filled than those of the present Territorial Army.

My Lords, I must apologise for the length of my speech, but the importance of the subject and the quality of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Thurlow, and of the speeches we shall hear, demanded as full an explanation of Government policy and thinking as we could at this stage give. While it is obvious that I can make no promises, the wealth of experience in this House is such that the Government will give most careful consideration to whatever is said in the debate, as indeed we have to the views expressed by the Territorial Army Council.

I should just like to say a word on this issue of consultation on the plan. I hope we shall not hear too much said to-day on the rather short but discouraging proposition that if only the Government had consulted other people before announcing their intentions, they would never have announced them. But this idea is misconceived. The fact is—and I think most of us would agree—that the rôle of the Army Reserves, and their size and shape, are the responsibility of Ministers. The Territorial Army Council clearly recognised this in the joint statement which was issued following the meeting which the Secretary of State for Defence held with the noble Duke, the Duke of Norfolk, on August 12. We could not ask the Territorial Army Council to share with the Government responsibility for the assessments which we have made on these questions of principle.

Furthermore, the Government had undertaken to announce their decisions, when pressed by the Opposition, in the first instance to Parliament. Since then there has been extensive consultation with the Territorial Army Council and the Ministry of Defence, both formally and informally, at various levels. We are very much obliged to them, and particularly to the noble Lord, Lord Clydesmuir, for the clarity and courtesy with which he, as Chairman of the Council's representatives on the joint working party, expressed these views. These discussions are now substantially concluded, and consideration is still being given to some of the views expressed on that occasion, but we agreed that at this stage we would not issue any official statement.

I would end only on this point. While we are perfectly prepared to face any criticism, I hope—and I believe from hearing the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Thurlow, that this will be so—that whatever is said in this House will not be of a kind that will damage morale or impair in any degree the future success of our Reserve Forces. Clearly, the Opposition, or any noble Lord, must feel free to criticise, and certain risks are inevitable in these circumstances. But I want to assure the House that the Government are in deadly earnest about the need to give this country the Armed Forces that we need and can afford. I am not making any complaint against the previous Government for their failure to grasp certain of these nettles. I think very few people realise to-day that our Armed Forces are carrying, as a result of the degree of overstretch that is imposed on them in meeting present commitments, a very heavy burden, and it is absolutely essential that the Government, or any Government of the day, should look realistically at these problems.

It is our view that in this part of the defence field we can, with good will, produce better equipped forces which will more closely meet the real needs of this country—and this is no empty phrase. I am sure that this new Reserve conception is one that is far more important in the world as it exists now. We can do this with greater efficiency and at less cost, and as our plans unfold they will come generally to be accepted.