HL Deb 01 October 1976 vol 374 cc754-6

2.43 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 what steps they intend to take to implement the resolution to the effect that they should compensate the Green Howards for a proportion of the cost of replacement of their regimental band instruments and equipment, which was approved by this House on Tuesday 28th September, without a Division.


My Lords, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence is attending the Labour Party Conference at Blackpool this week. I will ensure that your Lordships' Resolution is brought to his attention on his return. I will therefore make a Statement at a later date.


My Lords, I am grateful for that reply. Will the noble Lord bear in mind that in the last 16 Sessions there have been only seven Motions of a similar nature agreed to without a Division? This case is that of a gallant regiment who lost their regimental property when it was under the care and protection of Her Majesty's Government. Therefore the matter is now urgent. It happened more than two years ago.


My Lords, the matter will be treated as one of urgency.


My Lords, will the noble Lord convey to his right honourable friends the simple fact that whenever this matter has been raised in this House by the noble Lord, Lord Tranmire, and others, sympathy has been expressed from all sides of the House; that the Motion on 28th September was carried without a Division and that the whole House would welcome an act of justice to a fine regiment and a compliment to its great traditions?


My Lords, is my noble friend aware that, in addition to the approval which was obviously in evidence the other night when no opposition was produced by the Government, there are at least seven ex-Ministers of Defence in this Assembly among those who regularly attend? As they have given their approval, is that not overwhelming support for the Resolution of the noble Lord, Lord Tranmire, and others? Can we have the assurance from my noble friend, apart from the Secretary of State, that he will use all his influence and strength, even to the point of threatening his resignation unless the Green Howards are afforded reasonable compensation for their loss?

A noble Lord: And the entire Front Bench, my Lords.


My Lords, I agree that the support is very strong but not necessarily overwhelming. But what I will undertake is personally to convey to the Secretary of State the feelings of your Lordships' House which I felt on my own skin.


My Lords, the noble Lord was certainly overwhelmed the other night. Since it is comparatively easy to telephone from London to Blackpool, would the noble Lord perhaps give an indication that his temporising answer means that there is some movement?


Yes, my Lords; telephoning is not so easy, but I am seeing the Secretary of State on Monday.


My Lords, may I ask my noble friend—I do so as one who once played the euphonium in the brass band of which my father was the bandsmaster—whether he does not think it rather a pity that members of the Forces should be given a grievance when it can be remedied by the expenditure of a few thousand pounds?


My Lords, when I meet my right honourable friend the Secretary of State on Monday, I can only add these views to those expressed by your Lordships on the last occasion.


My Lords, can we be certain that, if a similar sensible Resolution is agreed to in another place, the money will be paid forthwith in recognition of the Supremacy of Parliament?