HL Deb 01 March 1972 vol 328 cc1083-4

2.38 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 will make a Statement about future plans for the depots of the Prince of Wales Division.]


My Lords, the plans for the reorganisation of infantry depots announced two years ago have now been thoroughly reviewed in the light of the latest circumstances and of the representations made on this matter in your Lordships' House and elsewhere. To maintain depots at Exeter, Lichfield and Cwrt-y-Gollen in the long term would give rise to extra costs in money and manpower which we could not justifiably incur; but to allow adequate time for reorganisation the closure of the Exeter depot has been deferred for two years until the end of 1974, when the site will be required for other purposes. It would also be more expensive to restrict training at Cwrt-y-Gollen to Welsh recruits only, and we have decided, therefore, not to alter previous plans in this respect. Local arrangements at the depot will, however, be designed so as to maintain its Welsh character.


My Lords, is the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Defence aware that his statement, to-day of all days, will cast a pall of gloom over the Land of my Fathers? May I ask him whether this decision means that if there should be any further reorganisation of the infantry, and particularly any increase in the number of infantry battalions, this would preclude the possibility of an extra infantry battalion of the Welsh Brigade?


My Lords, I must say that I thought St. David's Day was a very suitable day for the Ministry of Defence to reaffirm that this depot, which has been specifically put in Wales because of Welsh feeling and Welsh interest, will remain there and that we will have regard to its Welsh character. I do not quite understand why there should be gloom. In answer to the noble Lord's second question, of course nothing is impossible in the future.


My Lords, may I thank the noble Lord for that extremely unsatisfactory answer? May I also ask him whether he is aware that the pall of gloom which has been cast over Wales is that we are apparently going to have Sassenachs there.