HL Deb 27 September 1976 vol 374 cc11-2

3.15 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 can now confirm that, as stated by Lord Winterbottom on 25th May (col. 254), the Green Howards in June 1974 could have insured their band instruments for £23,000.


My Lords, I am afraid the noble Lord, Lord Tranmire, is misquoting me. I did not state that the band could have insured its instruments for £23,000. What I did say was: …the regiment could have insured its instruments properly and it did not.—[Official Report, 25/5/76; col. 254.] This is rather a different matter, since the band's own estimate of the cost of buying new instruments to replace those which they lost was about £15,000 only, not about £23,000. The additional £8,000-odd was, according to the regiment's original claim, for replacing uniforms, helmets, accoutrements and music scores. I am being rather meticulous about this because I do not wish to mislead your Lordships.

I confirm that Her Majesty's Government have been advised that the band could have insured its instruments in June 1974 for a sum which would have enabled the lost instruments to be replaced by similar, new ones.


My Lords, while thanking the noble Lord for this attempt to clarify the issue, may I ask him whether he still agrees that, just as he could have insured his life for a quarter of a million pounds, he said the band committee could have insured their instruments and equipment for any value they wished: and, as that is contrary to both the opinion of the insurers and the opinion expressed by the Prime Minister, is there not need now to reconsider that attitude?


My Lords, we have been advised by Lloyd's that the band could have insured its instruments for agreed replacement value. That, I believe, confirms the point that I made, that the regiment could have insured its instruments properly and it did not.


My Lords, could the noble Lord tell us this? Surely, to a band, instruments are just as much part of their equipment as a rifle is to a rifleman. Are they expected to take out insurance on other parts of essential equipment, or is it only bands which have to be insured?


My Lords, the rifle is the property of Her Majesty's Government: the band's instruments are the property of the regiment.