§ 17. Mr. G. Brown
asked the Minister of Defence to what extent the cuts in maximum number of the forces as shown in Estimates represent any change of the policy announced in Command Paper No. 9608 of 1955.
§ Mr. Brown
As a comment on my previous comment, that might have been intelligent; but, as an Answer to Question No. 17, it seems to require a little understanding. If I understand that Answer to mean that these cuts mean no change at all in the policy announced in 1955, is it not time that the right hon. Gentleman stopped hinting to the Press that he has in fact been slashing the forces all over the place? Had he not better "come clean" pretty soon as to what he is in fact doing?
§ Mr. Sandys
There seems to be some misunderstanding about these figures. As was made clear in the Vote on Account, they are ceiling figures, that is to say, they are figures beyond which the size of the forces will not rise during the forthcoming financial year. They do not provide any indication of future policy; they are, in effect, more or less the present size of the forces today. The only indication of future policy which they give is that we do not contemplate an increase in the size of the Forces during the next financial year.
§ Mr. Shinwell
Will not the right hon. Gentleman tell the House that the ceiling figures in no way indicate that the Forces cannot be reduced. and that there is an opportunity for him to tell us, when he produces the White Paper, that he proposes to reduce them?