HL Deb 16 March 1993 vol 543 cc83-5WA
Lord Gainford

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What plans they have for the future of Army bands.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Viscount Cranborne)

The organisation of Army bands has been reviewed in order to ensure that the right numbers of bandsmen, providing music to the high standard expected, are employed in proportion to the Army's total size, and that the important contribution that bands make to the regimental system is retained. The results of this review are as follows.

The number, size and affiliation of the State bands of the Household Division and of the Royal Artillery will be unchanged.

The size of other future bands will increase. In future all bands will have either 35 or 49 musicians, replacing present arrangements where many bands have fewer than 20 musicians. Such small bands are not musically viable and have proved to be difficult to recruit.

The need to ensure that bands are large enough to be musically viable makes it impossible to retain the present number of bands, taking into account the number of bandsmen who will be available as the Army reduces in size. However, in bringing forward new arrangements it has been considered highly desirable to ensure that a substantial link is retained between an Infantry or Cavalry regiment and an allocated band. It is possible to do this while providing fewer bands overall by allocating a number of bands to the Royal Armoured Corps and to each of the Divisions of Infantry. The precise way in which these bands will meet regimental needs will be determined in accordance with the wishes of the regiments within the infantry divisions and of the Royal Armoured Corps. Under present arrangements many regimental bands play for their regiment on only a limited number of occasions, and under the new arrangements there will be sufficient musical capacity overall to meet all regimental needs, and to do so in a manner that will be consistent with regimental ceremony and traditions.

All other arms and corps which now have bands will in future have a band of 35 bandsmen, as for the first time will the Army Air Corps.

The overall organisation will be as follows:

Bands Size Numbers
Household Cavalry 2 35 70
Foot Guards 5 49 245
Royal Armoured Corps 4 35 140
Infantry Divisions:
Scottish 2 35 70
Queens 2 35 70
Kings 2 35 70
Prince of Wales 2 35 70
Light 1 49 49

Bands Size Numbers
Parachute Regiment 1 35 35
Royal Irish Regiment 1 35 35
Royal Artillery 1 49 49
Royal Engineers 1 35 35
Royal Signals 1 35 35
Army Air Corps 1 35 35
REME 1 35 35
Royal Logistic Corps 1 35 35
Adjutant General's Corps 1 35 35

In addition, we shall be establishing a Central Music Authority for the Army, headed by an Inspector of Army Music, responsible for recruitment, training and appointment of Army musicians. This will help to ensure the improvement and future maintenance of musical standards throughout the Army.

The operational role of bandsmen will remain unchanged.

These arrangements will ensure that the traditional role of music in support of the regimental system will continue, and that the Army as a whole will enjoy the highest standard of musical support.