§ 3.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward Heath (Bexley)
I beg to move, to leave out from "That" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:this House rejects Her Majesty's Government's proposals for the Territorial Army outlined in Command Paper No. 2855 as shortsighted, ill-conceived and tantamount to the destruction of the Force.This is a very important debate. The Government's proposals to abolish the Territorial Army as we know it and to substitute the Army Volunteer Reserve, which was described in the White Paper published yesterday, have aroused deep hostility throughout the country. This hostility is not confined to the Territorial Army. Those of us who know it and are connected with it know how strongly they feel. The hostility, however, goes much wider than that.
I ought, perhaps, to declare my interest, although it is, I think, known to the House, that for four years I commanded a regiment of the Honourable Artillery Company, the oldest regiment in the British Army, and I am still a member of the Honourable Artillery Company. I have to acknowledge that that regiment is included in Part II of Annex B to be retained, although, I do not doubt, in a different shape from what it is at present. My concern, however, is just as great with the remainder of the Territorial Army as it is with the H.A.C.
This spontaneous outbreak of hostility is not due to the fact that the Government have embarked on the path of reform. Over the last 20 years there have been many changes in the structure and rôle of the Territorial Army. There has been redeployment of units to meet modern requirements. The Territorial Army itself accepts the need for further 1476 change. This has been made clear by the Council of the Territorial and Auxiliary Forces Associations. It is well appreciated by the members of the Territorial Army.
The Secretary of State knows that a number of detailed schemes for reform have been put forward. Certainly, we on this side—and, I believe, the whole House—will support the reform of the Territorial Army. Let me add at this point that we agree that there should be a rationalisation of the reserve arrangements. We took steps to this end when we were in power, and we support this rationalisation. In particular, we accept the need in modern times for the older and admittedly cumbersome procedure of proclamation to be replaced by Queen's Order. We shall, of course, need to look at this in detail when the legislation comes forward, and, in particular, the safeguards which it embodies, but we accept the proposal in principle.
It is not reform that causes the hostility and arouses opposition throughout the country. It is the abolition of the Territorial Army as an auxiliary force and the substitution of the Army Volunteer Reserve to provide reserves for the Regular Army and for N.A.T.O. which has stirred up so much opposition to the Government's policy, as, I think, they now realise. There are many reasons for this, and I should like to put forward some of them.
There is, first, the way that this whole matter has been handled by the Secretary of State from May until the presentation of the White Paper yesterday. There is the failure sufficiently to explain or justify the military grounds on which such a far-reaching decision has been taken. There are the contradictory statements in the White Paper about the lack of a home defence rôle for the old force and about the equipment for the new Reserve. There are the doubts about the real financial savings which are going to be achieved. If there is to be such a scheme, there are doubts about the attractiveness of the types of units proposed for many of the volunteers. There are doubts whether sufficient numbers will come forward for these sorts of units and, if they do not, there are anxieties as to what the next step will be. Does it logically lead to the reintroduction of some form of conscription to meet the needs of defence?
1477 There are doubts about the distribution of units under the scheme in different parts of the country. There are doubts as to why some of the strongest areas of recruitment apparently receive a low proportion of the new establishment. There are fears about the effects on Regular recruiting to which the Territorial Army and, let it be said at once, the Regulars serving with them have always contributed substantially.
There is also the disbelief that anyone can be so certain about the nature of future warfare as to entitle him to be as dogmatic as the Secretary of State is about the need to abolish the Territorial Army.
There is the widespread belief that these proposals are based on a purely political decision to reduce expenditure by £20 million by the year 1970 which has fallen on the Territorial Army without any regard to a proper assessment of the needs of national defence at home, and I must add that the White Paper confirms that impression by its slipshod and inconsistent approach.
However, there is something deeper than all these factors underlying the hostility today. I believe that it is a deep-seated instinct in the British people that a disciplined, effective volunteer force widely spread across the country is required and still required today to deal with both the foreseeable and the unforeseen in time of emergency, stress and war. There is also a deep-seated belief that from that other benefits flow which are not to be ignored, however funny they may appear to the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, West (Dr. Bray). There are the opportunities for voluntary service, for developing the individual's potentiality and for reinforcing the life of the community. Anyone who has ever been associated with the Territorial Army, with local government or with employers and trade unionists in the Territorial Army, knows the values of that reinforcement of communal life. That is essentially true of the more remote parts of these islands. I remember during my tour of the Highlands in September that the subject of the Territorial Army was raised with me far more than any other single subject, political or non-political, Now, five Highland battalions as well as five Lowland battalions are to go.
1478 I must say that I am surprised not to see the Liberal Members for the Highland constituencies in their places. I hope that when it comes to the Division later tonight they will be accompanying their colleagues into the Lobby supporting the views which have been expressed already by representatives of the Liberal Party. If they are not there, one can only deduce that the thought of the dissolution of the Liberal Party at an election as a result of the defeat of the Government tonight is more abhorrent to them than the dissolution of the Territorial Army.
I want now to concentrate on some of the individual points which I have mentioned. The first of them is the handling of the affair by the Secretary of State. Time and again, both in Ministerial speeches and in this year's Defence White Paper, the Government have stated that the Defence Review and the Civil Defence Review would be completed before decisions of the present kind were taken. It was stated quite clearly in paragraph 2, right at the beginning of the White Paper:The present Government has therefore set in train a series of studies on defence policy; these will cover the effects on force levels and capabilities of a number of different possible courses of action. In the light of these studies it will be possible to review our strategy, taking into account not only the economic position, but also new or reaffirmed political objectives which our strategy must be designed to implement.It went on in paragraph 23:The need is for highly trained and versatile forces and for Reserves of the same high quality, organised for the requirements and priorities of the future. The current N.A.T.O. force planning exercise is directly related to this problem.They have repeatedly stated that it was part of the whole picture of defence.
We have still had no Defence Review. The Secretary of State has now promised it in the next White Paper. There has been no Civil Defence Review. There has been no report on commitments such as those mentioned in paragraph 2 of the White Paper. No strategy has been outlined on how these commitments, which so far we are not aware of, will meet them. There have been no decisions on the N.A.T.O. force planning exercise, if I understand correctly the reports from the Paris meeting yesterday. Yet the decisions on the Reserves and the Territorial Army in particular were announced 1479 on 29th July, 1965. Any decision that the Territorial Army had no home defence rôle must have been made well before that for the rest of the White Paper to be produced.
The whole approach has been inconsistent with the Government's own declared objectives of completing the Defence Review, the Civil Defence Review and the N.A.T.O. force planning exercise before making any decisions about the future of the Territorial Army.
The decisions, when they were made prematurely, were made without proper consultation with the Council of the Territorial and Auxiliary Forces Associations about their own proposals which they had put forward in May. The White Paper speaks of discussions with the Associations and says that the views that they have expressed have been "carefully considered". But it is also quite apparent that after that consideration, very little notice has been taken of any of the views put forward by the Territorial Associations or the representatives of the Territorial Army, and I understand that in any case the question of the future rôle of the Territorial Army was specifically excluded from the discussions.
So much for the handling or mishandling of the affair. Now let us look at the scheme itself. Let us look at what is involved and try to get some general picture other than the plain figures and the numbers set out in the White Paper.
As I understand it, all the Territorial Army divisions and brigades and 127 units will disappear. Ninety per cent. of the Territorial units, 95 per cent. of the armoured, 91 per cent. of the gunners and 81 per cent. of the infantry are to be disbanded. Those are enormous figures. A thousand drill halls out of 1,300 are to be closed down. That is the impact on community life up and down the country. Seventy-three thousand men, or 67 per cent. of the present strength, will not be required. I understand that the Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Army said in Edinburgh in September that there would be a place for every man. We now see that 73,000 of the present voluntary strength is not required. How extraordinary it is that the Government believe that they are in a position today to rebuff voluntary effort on that scale.
§ Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
I happened to be in the Government after the war, and at that time the best military appreciation of the future was that on our territory neither the Army nor the Territorial forces would have any other purpose in the early stages of a war than to keep public order and act in rescue operations. Why does the right hon. Member for Bexley (Mr. Heath) need all that activity for these matters?
§ Mr. Heath
We will come to discuss those matters in a moment or two. The right hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) must realise that his right hon. Friend no longer accepts that view. Fortunately, the right hon. Gentleman was not allowed to abolish the Territorial Army.
As a result of that picture, a comparatively small number of units dotted about Britain will remain, mainly in the towns and cities. Forty-nine per cent. of those will be logistic units.
I would like to make a few specific examples, so far as I can obtain information, to bring home what that means to individual units. I understand that the 5th Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, which has three Territorial Army battalions with a total strength now of 73 officers and 1,414 men, is to be reduced to a total of one company. The Welch Regiment, with three battalions, will be down to one company. The Black Watch, with two battalions, will be down to one company. The Lancashire Fusiliers with one T.A. battalion of 26 officers and 326 other ranks, and four drill halls, will come down to one company and it is worth noting that in seven years 166 regulars have been recruited from this T.A. battalion alone. In the Fusilier Brigade of four regular battalions, there are 240 men, or two full strength rifle companies, recruited from T.A. battalions. The 42nd Division in Lancashire, with nine battalions, is to be reduced to a battalion headquarters and three companies. That is the picture of what it means in terms of units and their present recruited voluntary strength, and how little is now going to be required.
The next question is, on what principle is the strength of the new reserves going to be allocated to counties? Over the 1481 country as a whole, 51,000 men are to take the place of the present recruited strength of 107,000. In other words, the new is 47 per cent, of the old arrangement, with a certain phasing out. The allocation seems to be somewhat erratic. In Northern Command, the proportion allocated to counties varies from as low as 12 per cent. in Derbyshire and Lincolnshire, to 28 per cent. in Nottinghamshire, 52 per cent. in the West Riding, and 75 per cent. in the North Riding.
I do not know what possible explanation there can be for this extraordinary divergence of strength in the areas where the recruitment exists. This means that Nottinghamshire, which in the past, in proportion to its permitted establishment, has had a much higher number of volunteers than any other county in Northern Command, has to cut down its present strength of 1,750 to 515 of the new reserve, while the North Riding, which can muster only 940 today, only has to reduce to 706 as a result of this erratic distribution.
If this plan proceeds, it will mean that in Nottinghamshire, regiments which have been outstanding in peace and war, the South Notts Hussars, The Sherwood Rangers and The Sherwood Foresters will either disappear or practically cease to exist.
§ The Deputy-Secretary of State for Defence and Minister of Defence for the Army (Mr. Frederick Mulley)
The figures which the right hon. Gentleman has given comparing the North Riding with Nottinghamshire, to the advantage of the North Riding, refutes his argument that we have neglected the rural areas.
§ Mr. Heath
I did not say that the Government had completely neglected the rural areas. I said mainly in the towns and cities, and this is the case. Does the right hon. Gentleman deny that, taking the country as a whole, the dispositions are mainly in the towns and cities? He cannot do so. He is using a special pleading point about the North Riding. The right hon. Gentleman has accepted that the main distribution is in the towns and cities. This is my point. This really is the explanation of why we have this sort of White Paper before us today.
As I have suggested, the effect will not be confined to the volunteer army. Only three years ago the South Notts Hussars were affiliated to the 1st R.H.A. and 1482 already there are 100 Notts men serving with that regiment as Regulars. This is due to the close relationship between the Notts Hussars and the 1st R.H.A., and when the plan comes in that sort of relationship, and the recruiting that follows, will disappear.
There will remain a comparatively small number of thinly spread units. As half of them are logistic units, they will not have the same appeal to volunteers to join as the old Territorial Army had.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Army (Mr. G. W. Reynolds) indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Heath
The Under-Secretary of State for Defence shakes his head, but I have no doubt about it. The plain fact is that to bring in the volunteers there must be the emotive appeal largely of the fighting units, and this is going to be lacking in the balance drawn up in the Appendix to this White Paper.
§ Mr. Reynolds rose——
§ Mr. Heath
I cannot give way again. The Under-Secretary of State can answer the point later. If he believes that having 50 per cent. logistic units is going to appeal to young men to join up, he can prove it. It is not the view of the six field marshals who wrote to The Times.
What is more, training above platoon or company level will be difficult, and the Territorials themselves, in units which are so widely spaced, are not going to feel that sense of unity which they have had hitherto. It is the sense of unity in a regimental unit which binds the T.A. together, and which appeals to and attracts the volunteer.
I propose now to deal with the effect on recruitment. Last year the Territorial Army and Cadet Force combined provided more than 7,000 recruits for the Regular forces. The Deputy Secretary of State has declared that recruiting this year is "disappointing". Some of these 7,000 men will go on joining, but others will not. Can we afford to lose the others who come through this regular channel of supply of the Territorial Army, and associated with it the Army Cadet Force? Under the White Paper, the Army Cadet Force will continue, but with Regulars to staff it. This will mean that the former contact with the Territorial Army will be lost, and it will remove a great 1483 deal of the encouragement to and objective of the Cadet Force to go on to the Territorial Army afterwards.
My next point is concerned with cost. We have heard a great deal about saving £20 million by 1970. Is this based on full recruitment of the Army Voluntary Reserve as shown here, the Army Volunteer Reserve, or only on 80 per cent. recruitment of the Reserve? If it is the latter, the saving will be only £18 million on full recruitment, and it is a fallacious argument to say that it is a £20 million saving with this figure, and then estimate it only on 80 per cent. recruitment. Does it allow for the extra cost of servicing the Army Cadet Force? Does it allow for the extra cost of Civil Defence which will have to be covered—perhaps £3 million to £4 million?
I should like next to deal with a contradiction in the White Paper about equipment. In paragraph 26 we see the attractive sentence that units will in all probabilitybe equipped with current vehicles and equipment to the standard of those in equivalent Regular Army units, although on a lower priority and taking into account the units primary role.Paragraph 27, however, says:Nevertheless it is unlikely to be justifiable, in view of the rôle of the force, to provide for its re-equipment in future with all the major items of new equipment…Thus, the apparently attractive proposition that the new force is to be better equipped, more mobile and more up-to-date than the existing force, is denied in the second half of the second paragraph. These are the points which arouse the anxieties and misgivings which exist today.
I turn now to the real basis of the argument, which is, is there a rôle for the Territorial Army as an auxiliary force? I propose to deal first with Civil Defence. This is the first rôle of the Territorial Army today, not necessarily the first priority, but the first which I wish to consider. This decision about the Territorial Army has been made without regard to any decisions on Civil Defence. The Home Secretary said only recently that he was not in a position to announce anything. What is to replace the Territorial Army in the services it provides for Civil Defence by way of transport, com- 1484 munications and command structure? The House is entitled to know the answer to that.
Alternatively, is there now to be no Civil Defence? If this is the case, the Government must accept that the deterrent on which so much is now being based must become less credible. If there is to be no Civil Defence, no agressor will believe that any Government will have the willpower to use a deterrent.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
Not long ago we discussed the Polaris base and the fact that that district is one of the most dangerous places in the country. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the hon. Member for Bute and North Ayrshire (Sir F. Maclean) said that one megaton bomb would destroy everything within a radius of 100 miles of Glasgow? What possible defence could we have there?
§ Mr. Heath
The hon. Gentleman can discuss Civil Defence at some other time if he wants to. What I am setting out is the general principle that the country needs a degree of Civil Defence, an effective organisation in which the Territorial Army today plays a part.
The second function is that of internal security. What is to replace the Territorial Army here in times of tension, in times of emergency, and during the early stages of a war if the deterrent is not used immediately? Is it really believed that the police alone are able to do this, under-staffed as our police forces regrettably often are? I do not believe that any arrangements have yet been made to deal with all these items which are now carried out by the Territorial Army.
What is the answer? The Secretary of State may say, "It will be up to the Regular Forces in this country to continue to carry out these two duties." But the Regular Forces in this country consist of the Strategic Reserve, which may well be deployed elsewhere, and the headquarters and training battalions, which will be required for their normal tasks, or to be trained for use elsewhere to back up the Strategic Reserve in time of emergency. If this is his answer, the real question is, first, whether there is a home defence rôle at all and, secondly, whether it should be filled by the Territorial Army.
1485 Here we are faced with a most extraordinary situation. The Government came to the conclusion that there was no home defence rôle for the Territorial Army. This was announced on 29th July and confirmed by the noble Lord the Minister of State for Disarmament in another place on 23rd November, 1965, when he said that this decision was taken because the Territorial Army would no longer be needed for home defence. That is a perfectly clear statement, although it is to be noticed that it does not appear in the White Paper that we are discussing today. Other reasons for taking decisions concerning the Territorial Army are set out, but not that one. In paragraph 4 of the White Paper we read these remarkable words:The Government are, however, continuing their examination of how best to secure appropriate provision for home defence and what contribution military units might best make towards this. They will announce their conclusions in due course.That statement admits that a home defence rôle exists. The Government say that they are now considering how to fill it, but in the meantime they have decided to abolish the Territorial Army which carries out this task at the moment. This is an irresponsible approach to the question of home defence.
Under the new arrangements the Strategic Reserve will be required for duties elsewhere, and other units will be required for deployment. The Army Volunteer Reserve, under this scheme, has to fill up the Regular Army and logistic units will support the Regular Army. The gap is in home defence and in the lack of any structure in which any sort of expansion can thereafter take place. Our belief is that this gap, both in home defence and in a structure for expansion, must be filled. No one can be absolutely certain either about the nature or the beginning of the next major war in which we shall be involved, or its location; nor can anyone be absolutely certain of the extent to which we shall require orthodox forces. Incidentally, it was the orthodox forces on which the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues used to put so much emphasis when they were in Opposition.
Nobody can be absolutely certain that there will not be a need for an expansion of our existing forces. In fact, this 1486 is an insurance policy which is absolutely essential against the dangers of uncertainty. It is worth drawing the attention of the House to the letter in The Times on 14th December, signed by six field marshals, dealing with this point. It says:Twice in this century the Territorial Army has been the framework for military expansion in dire emergency. Neither World War developed according to the original expectations of the political experts and their military advisers at those times. Nothing is more certain than that any future war will develop along unexpected lines.[An HON. MEMBER: "What did Lord Montgomery say?"] Lord Montgomery made his views quite clear in the House of Lords debate.
So, putting it at what the Secretary of State no doubt likes to think of at its lowest, the Territorial Army is an essential insurance policy against the uncertainties of future warfare, and it is required to meet the home defence requirement for which the right hon. Gentleman admits there is a place. I therefore urge him to think again on these lines. There is a rôle for a reformed Territorial Army. A variety of schemes have been put forward. General Sir Brian Horrocks, in the Glasgow Herald today, has put forward a two-tier scheme. I am not wedded to that, because I do not think that it is satisfactory to try to create a two-tier arrangement within Territorial Army units. A scheme has been put forward for county columns, which would be available to deal with civil defence and internal security, and would fulfil a home defence rôle if required in an emergency.
What is required today is that the home defence rôle should be quickly settled in the context of the Defence Review, and that the Territorial Army should be reorganised to meet it. What is not justifiable is the bringing forward of the proposals in this White Paper to abolish the Territorial Army in the meanwhile, and then, our having lost a precious asset, for the Government to find themselves in the position of having to build up an alternative to carry out the home defence rôle. The action taken by the Secretary of State is short-sighted and the scheme which has been put forward is ill conceived. The proposals are tantamount to the destruction of the Territorial Army and should be firmly rejected by the House today.
§ 4.25 p.m.
§ The Deputy-Secretary of State for Defence and Minister of Defence for the Army (Mr. Frederick Mulley)
The right hon. Gentleman had a distinguished war record, beginning as a Territorial Army soldier and ending as the C.O. of a Territorial Army regiment. The House will have accepted his proper pride in the T.A. and the concern he feels that many fine regiments are to be disbanded or much reduced in size. We are all to some extent prisoners of our past, and I share these sentiments. My father served for many years between the wars in a T.A. regiment, and I went to France in a T.A. battalion.
I assure the right hon. Gentleman and the House that we have not in any way been actuated by enmity to the T.A. Our objective has been to provide a proper Reserve for the Army today and tomorrow. The right hon. Gentleman's arguments on this, against the background of the Conservative record since 1951, I found totally unconvincing. Indeed, listening to his speech, I was reminded of the occasion in February, 1953, as chronicled by both The Times and Crossbencher, when the right hon. Gentleman was in charge of a battery of guns at the Tower of London which failed to complete the Royal Salute. As The Times put it:First one and then another of the four guns misfired until all four guns were out of action".No doubt it was not his fault but was due to defective ammunition. He has used defective ammunition again today, but I am afraid that today he has no one to blame but himself and his party for the fact that the conduct of the Conservative Party puts it out of court to make the criticisms contained in the Amendment.
§ Mr. Julian Snow (Lichfield and Tamworth)
May I point out to my right hon. Friend that the right hon. Member the Leader of the Opposition is not the only ex-leader of the H.A.C. in the House, and that we suffered from some bad C.O.s as well as good C.O.s?
§ Mr. Mulley
Before dealing with the points made by the right hon. Gentleman, there is one matter on which I can agree with him—namely, the proud record of 1488 achievement of the Territorial Army. Established by Lord Haldane, one of the greatest Secretaries of War in our history, in 1908, within six years the Territorial Army was earning glory on the battlefields of France. Equally, in the last war, the Territorial Army responded fully to the calls which the nation made upon it.
Few of us can have been unaware of the special place which the T.A. occupies in our national life. The tradition of voluntary service is woven into our social fabric. I am glad to carry the Opposition with me thus far, because if the Conservative Government had had their way there would have been no Territorial Army.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Will you kindly get the Opposition to preserve a little silence? It is impossible to hear what is being said because of the lack of discipline on the other side of the House.
§ Mr. Quintin Hogg (St. Marylebone)
Further to that point of order. We thought that the right hon. Gentleman was jesting.
§ Mr. Speaker
I think that the House still must leave the Chair to decide when bursts of hilarity or indignation have gone too far. I am grateful to the hon. Member and to the right hon. and learned Member for their help and advice.
§ Mr. Mulley
The Opposition make great play with the history and tradition of the Territorial Army, so surely they will not mind if I use a few historical references. I can assure the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) that he will find nothing to jest about when I conclude my survey of what the Conservative Party has done.
In 1907, they moved and voted upon a reasoned Amendment to the Second Reading of the Haldane Bill:That this House, though anxious to increase the capacity for expansion of the forces of the Crown in time of war, regrets that the Government should make proposals which, while destroying the Militia, discouraging the Yeomanry and imposing new and uncertain liabilities on the Volunteers, would not, in a period of national peril, provide an adequate force for home defence, or prompt support for the Regular Army in the Field.1489 In fact, that is a rather better Amendment than the one which the right hon. Gentleman has just moved. In 1907, the Opposition said, as the right hon. Gentleman said today, that it would not work—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. This is a place where hon. Members must hear many things said with which they disagree, but they manage to do so, on the whole, with a certain amount of self-control. I hope that we can keep it so.
§ Mr. Mulley
Tanks, aeroplanes, nuclear weapons and guided missiles have all evidently failed to produce a change in basic Conservative defence thinking in the last 60 years. This is not Conservatism: it is catalepsy. Before the paeans of praise pour from the benches opposite, I will tell the House the sorry state of the Territorial Army when we took office a year ago.
Lacking the courage to reorganise it on the lines necessary to make it a proper reserve for the Regular Army, the Conservative Government——
§ Mr. William Yates (The Wrekin)
On a point of order. In view of the nature of this speech and the time being wasted because it is of no value to the House or the country, I beg leave to move, That the Question be now put.
§ Mr. Mulley
I had not thought that I should have drawn blood so early in my account of the history of the Conservative Party's dealings with the Territorial Army.
Lacking the courage to reorganise it, the Conservative Government removed its sense of purpose, took away its rôle and starved it of money, so that the Territorial Army became the poor relation of the Regular Army. Hon. Gentlemen opposite know that this is so. Its survival owes nothing to the Conservative Party: it is due only to the enthusiasm of the volunteer soldiers and the Associations which have kept going with obsolete equipment, inadequate clothing and no real encouragement.
Despite the constant pressure of the Territorial Council, the bounty today is virtually the same as it was in 1948, the uniform consists of battledress and out-of-date webbing equipment. Despite fine words and promises, there has been little 1490 improvement in equipment. For most units, there are no mobilisation stores for an active rôle overseas, and it would cost about £135 million to bring the existing "teeth" arms of the T.A. up to a good modern standard of equipment.
This is what it would cost just for armour, infantry and artillery. Much more still would be required to fit out the signals, the sappers and other branches. Apart from the money, it would take at least 18 months to make good these deficiences, even if all the stops were pulled out.
We intend to put these things right for the new Reserve, as the White Paper explains. The reorganisation carried out in 1960 by the Opposition was an admission of the parlous state into which the T.A. had been allowed to fall. For instance, though it set a ceiling for its establishment of 190,000, it limited the recruitment to 123,000 and explained that, to bring units up to full strength on mobilisation, the Territorial Army Reserve for other ranks would be expanded and open to volunteers who had completed their active service in the T.A., as well as to National Service men who were drafted there.
The call-out of the T.A. on service would have meant drafting in Regular reservists and National Service men to make up the numbers. Unfortunately, the Territorial Reserve, which was meant to provide 70,000 men, never recruited more than a few hundreds, so the problem of how to fill the ranks of the T.A., if the Territorial Army were ever embodied, has remained unsolved.
§ Mr. James Ramsden (Harrogate)
As the right hon. Gentleman was here with the rest of his party when, in connection with the last Conservative Navy, Army and Air Force Reserves Act, it was explained how the T.A. would be brought up to strength, surely he, like his party, accepted and endorsed the measures contained in that Act.
§ Mr. Mulley
We endorsed them only because we realised the radical reorganisation which was needed in 1959 and we knew that it was a waste of time to ask the party opposite to carry out a radical reorganisation like the one which we are now undertaking.
1491 Despite the reorganisation of 1960 and the Acts of 1960 and 1964, to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, the Army Reserve did not measure up to the operational tasks for which it might have been required. As a result of all this legislative activity, there are now seven types of Reserve and eleven kinds of liability, and the different reserves range in size—this bears no relation to their importance—from the Army General Reserve, consisting of about 130,000 men, to the T.A. Reserve, with about 320.
Hon. Members will not find a reference to the T.A. Reserve, to which the right hon. Member referred, in Annex A of the White Paper. We thought it best to inter it in decent obscurity——
§ Sir Richard Glyn (Dorset, North)
There is no reference in the White Paper to the T.A. Reserve of officers. Would the right hon. Gentleman say something about this, because some of us think that the omission is unfortunate?
§ Mr. Mulley
I do not have the facts about the size of the T.A. Reserve of officers at the moment—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] The list in Annex A concerns all the major reserves, Regular and Territorial, and I thought that that would be all that the House would require—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Detailed questions of this sort can be answered if required.
Can anyone doubt the need for a reorganisation? I was glad to note that the right hon. Gentleman at least paid lip service to this need. The Territorial Council put it in this way in their statement, published on 22nd July, a week before my right hon. Friend made his statement to the House:The reorganisation of the present Reserves is clearly unsatisfactory on the grounds that the proliferation of types of reserve from the original Territorial Army has led to duplication and waste…and that it was created for a purpose that no longer exists.When the right hon. Gentleman pays tribute to the Territorial Council, he should weigh those words. Again, The Times on Tuesday last said:That a reorganisation of the Territorial Army was long overdue is disputed by nobody. As with all difficult reforms, the longer it is deferred the more drastic the changes prescribed become in relation to the existing framework.1492 The distinguished field marshal who did not sign the letter to The Times on the same day has said:The re-shaping should have been carried out ten years ago or more when we were definitely in the age of the hydrogen bomb but nobody in those days would grasp the nettle.He went on to give us credit for grasping this nettle and said we found it very, very prickly. I can agree with that, but I assure him and the House we intend to follow the traditional advice—we shall continue to grasp it firmly. Our approach in formulating our proposals was the same as Haldane's when he said:No Army is worth anything which is not ready to take the field."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th February, 1907; c. 1285.]Our essential purpose was to create a viable and available reserve for the Regular Army, and I venture to suggest that no Army in peace-time has been so stretched or called upon to perform so many varied tasks in every part of the world as the British Army has done in recent years and is still doing.
Specifically we need, first, some individuals and a few units to reinforce the Regular Army at any time, corresponding exactly to the present "Ever Readies"—the Special Army V.R. Secondly, such reinforcements in Europe for NATO as our commitments require: and thirdly, reinforcements as may be required in major operations outside Europe.
The House will not, I am sure, wish me to repeat the arguments and information set out in the White Paper. However, there are one or two points I feel I should amplify—the choice of name, consultation with the T.A. Council and Associations, changes in the original plan and the basis of the liabilities to be undertaken.
I confess I had a slight personal preference for the title "Territorial Reserve" but after consultations with Army Commands and the T.A. Council and Associations it became clear that the title "Army Volunteer Reserve" was preferred by the majority and we have thus adopted it. It also accurately and simply describes the new Reserve. Inevitably it was not so easy to accept all the other views we received from the Council and the Associations. We have, however, been in consultation with them a great deal since August, and I should explain, although I make no complaint about it, that these 1493 consultations account for the publication of the White Paper being a little later than was at first envisaged.
I hope no hon. Member will charge us with inadequate consultation on the one hand and chide us for delay on the other without at least being aware of the inconsistency of his argument.
We had no consultations before my right hon. Friend made his statement on 29th July because we thought it right that these proposals should first be announced to the House, and indeed we had been properly urged to follow this course by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bedford (Mr. Soames), speaking for the Opposition.
I rather gathered from the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition that he did not agree that we should have first told the House what we intended to do in this matter. He preferred that we should have consulted the Council before the House, but I cannot accept that this is a proper course for the Government to follow.
Since there has been some publicity about this consultation I should say a word about the part played in the discussions by the Council of Territorial and Auxiliary Forces Associations. The Council is the representative body of Associations which are constituted by the Auxiliary Forces Act, 1953. Each Association has a statutory duty to make itself acquainted with, and conform to, the plan of the Defence Council for the organisation of all Her Majesty's Forces within its area, and to render advice and assistance.
Accordingly, the Council recognised that the framework of the new Reserve and its shape and scope were the responsibility of the Government. We have, however, received much help on the details of its implementation and I wish to express my thanks to all who have given so freely of their time to participate in these discussions. The T.A. has depended a great deal on the Associations and we hope very much to have their assistance in launching and maintaining the new Reserve.
§ Sir Douglas Glover (Ormskirk)
I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether we may take it that the Territorial Army Associations are to continue and to be consulted?
§ Mr. Mulley
I am a right honourable Gentleman and I resent the mutterings from the benches opposite which imply that only members of the Conservative Party have any respect for the Territorial Army. The answer to the question put by the hon. Gentleman is that we hope very much that the Associations will continue and help with the new Reserve, as the White Paper says. The actual arrangements under which they will operate will depend partly on what they themselves want to do. These are matters under discussion which can be negotiated with the Associations.
As a result of consultations with the Council, Associations and Army Commands and a re-examination of our reserve requirements we have made a number of changes in the first plan circulated. There is no basis for the charge that we have been inflexible. We have made some reductions in transport and medical units and added some extra "teeth" arms. These extra units—two infantry companies in Scotland, two parachute battalions, a parachute brigade H.Q. and gunner battery, a light air defence regiment and a company of infantry as well as gunners for the Honourable Artillery Company—enable us to produce a better geographical spread of the "teeth" arms as well as making the total Reserve more viable and attractive. The changes also assist in providing the "Ever Ready" volunteers in categories desired by the Regular Army.
The order of battle set out in Annex B adds up to a total of about 50,800 men instead of a little under 50,000. With the overbearing mentioned in paragraph 23, the size of the new force at its inception on 1st April, 1967, will be about half the present strength of the T.A. and the Army Emergency Reserve combined.
The right hon. Gentleman made great play of the cut-back in numbers. What he did not say is that the average length of service in the Territorial Army, unfortunately, in recent years, has been as little as two years. Nor did he say that whereas the new units, we hope, will be substantially above the establishment in the first years, many of the units today are at 50 per cent. or even less.
1495 The Force is divided about 50–50 between "teeth" arms and logistic units, and armoured, artillery and infantry units account for 28 per cent. The right hon. Gentleman said we should have difficulty in attracting recruits for the logistic units. I agree that it would be more difficult than for the more glamorous "teeth" arms, but the need for a Regular Army is there. But in the reorganisation of the Regular Army carried out by the previous Government the Regular Army had a disproportionate amount of "teeth" arms in its composition. I do not complain about that. It is a fact and it is explained in the White Paper. It also appears to be the case that the Army Emergency Reserve carries the same liability as is now proposed for the whole Reserve and is recruited up to about i0 per cent. in all logistic units as compared with an average of about 50 or 60 per cent. of establishment of the present Territorial Army. Final decisions have still to be taken on the selection of existing units to fill the order of battle, but we have set out as far as we can at present do so, the number and types of major units and their probable locations in Annex B of the White Paper.
§ Dame Joan Vickers (Plymouth, Devonport)
What will happen to the women in the Territorial Army? As far as I understand it, paragraph 29 of the White Paper refers to nurses but, apart from that, there is no other mention of women in the Territorial services.
§ Mr. Mulley
There will be no specifically women's units in the new Army Volunteer Reserve, but women will be recruited to serve in signal and other comparable units as operators, drivers and so on, as they serve at present.
§ Mr. Daniel Awdry (Chippenham)
Would the right hon. Gentleman agree that the best basis of recruitment is the regimental spirit? If we do away with regiments, is not recruiting bound to suffer?
§ Mr. Mulley
I agree with the need for recruiting and, on the hon. Gentleman's other point, that does not apply if a unit has a strength of only about 50 per cent. of establishment, which is unfortunately all too often the case today.
1496 There has been general agreement that in modern conditions a grave weakness of the T.A. is that it can be called out only after a Proclamation. We have tried to remedy this defect and the new call-out liabilities are set out in paragraphs 18 to 22. They have been accepted by the T.A. Council, the Confederation of British Industry and the T.U.C. I was glad that the right hon. Gentleman gave his blessing today to this new liability. However, since there has been some misunderstanding of our intentions I would like to explain what our proposals mean.
First, I must make it quite clear that we are not proposing an "Ever Ready" type of liability for the whole of the Reserve. There will be "Ever Readies" in the new Reserve who, as now, will be volunteers and will receive a bounty of £150 a year. They will be liable, as they now are, to serve anywhere in the world for up to six months in a year at the decision of the Secretary of State. But the rest of the Reserve will not have this liability. They will have one similar to that at present undertaken by Category I of the A.E.R., which is recognised by a bounty of £60.
The Bill which we shall introduce will provide that when warlike operations are in preparation or in progress, the Queen may order the Reserve to be called out, and that this Order may be signified under the hand of a Secretary of State. This liability is certainly higher than that of the T.A. The T.A. at present can be embodied only after a Proclamation. This is a slow, cumbersome and antiquated proceeding. Moreover, the speed of communications today and the impact of publicity are such that it is only when a crisis has got quite out of hand that these steps can be taken without the risk of making things worse.
But this does not mean that the new Reserve will readily be called out for service or that it will be used to supply the Regular Army when recruiting is going badly. The new formula which has been evolved to describe the circumstances in which the Reserve may be called out has itself defined the limits within which the Reserve may be used; but, further than this, the application of that formula to a particular occasion must be justified to Parliament. There is no need, therefore, for employers whose men join the new 1497 Reserve to feel that they will be spirited away at the drop of a hat to help Whitehall settle some minor crisis thousands of miles away.
§ Mr. Peter Kirk (Saffron Walden)
Will this Order mean the calling out of the whole of the Reserve or will it be selective—particular units or people?
§ Mr. Mulley
We still have to get the legislative sanction for the change, but we would hope that we will be granted some selective powers because obviously if the need was for logistic or medical units it would be no use calling out parachutists. On the other hand, if the need was for a parachute operation, it would not be necessary to call out all the rest.
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Wolverhampton, South-West)
Would the right hon. Gentleman help the House a little further in connection with what he has referred to as the formula which has been worked out and which, I take it, refers to the form of words employed in paragraph 21 of the White Paper:…unless major military operations are in progress or appear to be imminent and when a serious situation affecting vital national interests has arisen".I take it that the formula to which he is referring is enshrined in those words. While I appreciate that one cannot be too hypothetical, I wonder if the right hon. Gentleman would go a little further by way of explanation and illustration of that formula. For example, has there been any occasion in the recent past which would fall within those terms? If he could give an illustration it would be of great help.
§ Mr. Mulley
Once one starts to give examples one becomes rather hypothetical. One cannot bind any Government in advance. There have been occasions when the Army Emergency Reserve has been called out, the last occasion being Suez.
§ Mr. Powell
Is the right hon. Gentleman then saying—and this is not a hypothetical question but is related to past circumstances—that for an operation such as Suez he would envisage that the A.E.R. would be called out?
§ Mr. Mulley
It is now the A.V.R., of course. It was called out in such circumstances in the past and I imagine that 1498 it is quite likely that this would happen in the future. It would, of course, be a major military operation and, as the right hon. Gentleman indicates, it is hard to define these proposals. We had lengthy discussions with the Teritorial Council on this formula and the Council has accepted this form of words. As I have said, the circumstances must be judged by the nation at the time and Parliament has the right to challenge any such decision.
I can tell the House that this Government or, I believe, any Administration, will think very hard before embarking on so grave a course of action; but if they do have to do so, they will henceforward be able to do so earlier and more effectively than under the Proclamation procedure.
I turn to some of the criticisms that have been levied against our proposals, particularly by the right hon. Gentleman—the £20 million savings, dealing with the reserves before the rest of the Defence Review, the effect on recruiting, and the charge that we are neglecting home defence. Twenty million pounds is not some kind of magic figure. After we have provided for the men, equipment and facilities the Army reserves require, £20 million is the saving that results. But I make no apology for the fact that our Defence Review is, in part, designed to reduce Defence expenditure. The test of Defence expenditure has been well defined as follows:It is therefore in the true interests of defence that the claims of military expenditure should be considered in conjunction with the need to maintain the country's financial and economic strength.I hope that no hon. Member will object to those words, which are not mine. The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) will remember them well. They come from paragraph 6 of the Defence White Paper, 1957. They set out an impeccable doctrine and it is a national tragedy that the party opposite did so little to apply it in practice. The attitude of mind shown in dismissing £20 million a year as chicken feed explains their failure. This is why this Government inherited both inadequate Defence forces and the most serious economic crisis in our history.
The hon and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson), welcoming 1499 our proposals for the Liberal Party on 29th July, said:…any responsible Government would have to take this step unless the country were prepared to run at some time the risk of bankruptcy…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th July, 1965; Vol. 717, c. 701.]I am sorry that the hon. and learned Gentleman is not in his place and even more sorry to learn that he intends to lead his hon. Friends down Carey Street.
§ Mr. Peter Bessell (Bodmin)
Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it would have been much fairer had he quoted my hon. and learned Friend in full?
§ Mr. Mulley
I am only trying to save the time of the House—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] A copy of HANSARD is available to any hon. Member who wants it, and in this quotation there is not a word of criticism of my right hon. Friend's statement.
The right hon. Gentleman then asked: why did we not wait until everything else was settled before deciding our reserve requirements——
§ Mr. Mulley
I am afraid that I do not have in my mind the right hon. Gentleman's three questions. As he knows, it is not always too easy for the following speaker to give statistical material, but he will be supplied with the answer when my right hon. Friend replies later——
§ Mr. Mulley
I am not sure—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—that this Parliamentary term was used, but I have heard hon. Members opposite, certainly privately and in deputations, use stronger words—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]
§ Mr. William Yates
As the Minister and the Under-Secretary have received hon. Members, will the right hon. Gentleman please tell the House which hon. Member representing his constituency on behalf of the Territorial 1500 Army referred in his presence to £20 million as chicken feed?
§ Mr. William Yates
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I submit that under the rules of order an allegation of that nature ought to be withdrawn.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Samuel Storey)
It is not an allegation against a definite person. Therefore, I cannot insist on its being withdrawn.
§ Mr. William Yates
Further to that point of order—[HON. MEMBERS: "It is not a point of order."] The Chair will decide whether or not it is a point of Order. The Minister referred to hon. Members who had been to him as part of deputations. We in this House know that many hon. Members have been on deputations to the Minister. Therefore, the imputation was against one of those hon. Members who went on a deputation to him.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Unless the allegation was against a named Member, I cannot take any action in the matter.
§ Mr. Mulley
I can perhaps explain exactly why—[HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] The right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone is lacking in his usual courtesy——
§ Mr. Mulley
A check On HANSARD will show that I did not refer to any hon. Members having said this—it was an attitude of mind—but if any hon. Member thinks that I have, I willingly withdraw it. It has often been argued in the public Press and elsewhere that the saving we are making is exactly equal to the egg subsidy, and whether that is called chicken feed, I leave it to hon. Members opposite to decide.
The right hon. Gentleman asked why we did not wait until everything else was settled before deciding our reserve requirements. The argument is plausible, 1501 but does not bear close examination. Our N.A.T.O. commitment is known. Much has been said about insurance against the unforeseen which, by definition, cannot be quantified at the end of the Defence Review, or at any other time. The insurance policy argument which was deployed with great enthusiasm by the right hon. Gentleman, is surely contrary to the experience of every one of us. I know of no insurance company—although I bow to the superior commercial knowledge of some hon. Members opposite—which will issue a policy without a very precise specification of the risks to be insured against. One cannot take out an insurance policy against the unforeseen, the unknown—[HON. MEMBERS: "Rain."] If hon. Members opposite are suggesting that in this country rain is such a remote contingency that it is unforeseen or cannot be measured, they should look at the weather statistics. I should have thought it very simple to work out the probability.
Unavoidably, this reorganisation takes time, there was inevitable speculation among those in the T.A. about their future, as well as a clear desire for change, and we thought they were entitled to know our intentions at the earliest moment. After Opposition spokesmen have pressed week by week for a statement before the Recess, it ill becomes them to complain because they get one.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to the effect of this reorganisation on Regular Army recruiting. We are, of course, aware that in some parts of the country this will make the task of Regular recruiting more difficult. The right hon. Gentleman gave a figure of 7,000 last year as between the Territorial Army and the Army Cadet Force, I think he said. Last year the Territorial Army itself produced only around 1,300 or 1,400, and the rest of his 7,000 came from the Army Cadet Force. We are only too willing to carry on the work of the Army Cadet Force.
The allegations that we have made no arrangements for home defence, and insufficient provision for expansion of our forces to meet a 1914 or 1939 type of emergency, are the most vociferous arguments against our proposals, and the right hon. Gentleman employed them to full effect. But what is meant by "home defence"? The argument is muddled by 1502 all the double talk indulged in by the last Government with the Territorial Army on this subject. Two-thirds of the T.A. is at present assigned a home defence rôle, and other units are in the order of battle as line-of-communications troops in Germany. In neither case do they need their guns, their armoured cars or mortars. But they were never told this.
In the 1957 White Paper, the then Government said:The Territorial Army will, as at present, be trained and equipped as a fighting force primarily assigned to the task of home defence. Under present plans Britain is due to provide two Territorial Army divisions as reinforcements for NATO. Since these certainly would not be ready for action on the Continent in less than three months, which in nuclear war would be of little value, the Government consider that it would be more appropriate to assign them to home defence duties like the rest of the Territorial Army.The three months mentioned is clearly an under-statement for the T.A. as a whole.
The deliberate policy of the last Government starved the T.A. of equipment—and it is equipment, not manpower, which so severely limits the T.A.'s capacity to expand. Men could be trained much more quickly than the equipment could be provided. The 1960 T.A. reorganisation was based, again, on this undefined home defence requirement, but still Ministers went to great pains to conceal their real rôles from the individual units. Usually, only one year in four was spent in the home defence rôle, although they had no place in the order of battle, no other operational rôle.
The obsolete armoured vehicles, guns and mortars were just window dressing. Surely none, except perhaps the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West, believes we should provide forces specifically for home defence in the sense of defence against a seaborne or airborne invasion? Certainly the previous Government did not, or why did they abolish Anti-Aircraft Command in 1954? Why was the anti-aircraft rôle of the Territorial Army in the defence of the United Kingdom virtually abolished in 1960? Why was Fighter Command drastically reduced so that for every eight fighter aircraft we had in 1951 to defend this country from attack there was only one when we returned to office last year? Obviously the previous Government believed neither in home defence in this sense nor in the 1503 need to have a framework for expansion. Actions speak louder than words.
What then of the other sense of home defence—aid to the civil authorities, particularly in the maintenance of law and order, before and after a nuclear holocaust—what is generally known as civil defence? Home security would perhaps be a more apt description. This is quite another matter. In the appalling event of such an attack, the requirement for help of all kinds would be unlimited. Military units would have a part to play; and there are at any time a substantial number of regular units of all three Services in this country. However, all aspects of civil defence are under examination within the Government, and our conclusions will be announced in due course. [HON. MEMBERS: "When?"]
§ Mr. Richard Sharples (Sutton and Cheam)
Then why did the Secretary of State for Defence say on 29th January that a statement would be made in the near future?
§ Mr. Mulley
My right hon. Friend will be only too willing to answer for himself. Hon. Members really cannot have it both ways. We have been criticised for bringing these proposals out in the middle of our Defence Review. The Leader of the Opposition himself levelled this criticism this afternoon. We are meeting what the Opposition want us to do by bringing out our civil defence proposals at the end. Surely hon. Members are not in a position to complain about that.
Paragraph 4 of the White Paper—it is sheer coincidence that controversial clauses tend to bear the number "4"—means exactly what it says, surprising though this may seem to right hon. Members opposite, who may well believe from their own experience that this is the last thing to expect from a Defence White Paper. Such an examination is bound to take a considerable time. Many aspects are involved and many Departments are concerned in problems of civil defence.
Let me remind the House that the purpose of this White Paper is not to deal with civil defence, but to provide an adequate, viable and available volunteer reserve for the Regular Army. I know it may not satisfy the right hon. 1504 Member for Wolverhampton, South-West. He brings a fresh mind to these problems, and his views deserve some comment. He told us recently that in his view a Front Bench speech commits the party. I assume therefore that he would accept that a speech from the platform at a party conference does the same. The right hon. Gentleman's Brighton speech must therefore represent current Conservative thinking and I feel that he has been given insufficient credit for the measure of his achievement on that occasion. Not only did he reverse Conservative policy outside Europe—I note that he did not use the phrase "east of Suez"—to the consternation of our allies all over the world, but he completely reversed Conservative policy in Europe, in N.A.T.O., particularly since 1957, as well. And to make sure that the point was taken he wrote an article in the Sunday Telegraph on 5th December to underline it.
Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman reminds me of the White Knight in "Through the Looking Glass" who believed in being provided for everything, including carrying a mousetrap on his horse—all, of course, as he proudly said, his own invention.
§ Lieut.-Commander S. L. C. Maydon (Wells)
On a point of order. Is this speech relevant to the Territorial Army?
§ Mr. Mulley
The House will recall that the knight also frequently fell off his horse. I hope this will be a warning to the right hon. Gentleman. I do not doubt his political horsemanship, but he may well receive a well-directed push from the benches behind him. I gather that they did not wish me to discuss at length the right hon. Gentleman's Brighton speech. We shall listen to the right hon. Gentleman's speech tonight with interest. I hope that he will abandon the impertinent Amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition and tell us what he would do to provide the Army with a proper Reserve and why successive Conservative Governments failed to do so.
Hon. Members opposite resisted change in 1907 and they are resisting it again today. They were wrong then, and they will 1505 be proved wrong again now. As for the charge that our scheme will not work, I prefer the final words of the considered statement of the Council of Territorial and Auxiliary Forces Associations of 22nd July last to the observations we are likely to be offered by the benches opposite in this debate. The Council said this:Finally, the Council believes that the volunteers in the Territorial Army and other Army Reserves will accept any rôle and respond to any challenge, provided that it is fully explained to them and they are convinced that it is worthwhile.We are giving each volunteer a clear rôle and a worthwhile job.
§ Mr. Powell
Will the right hon. Gentleman in fairness quote the comments of the Territorial Council on these proposals?
§ Mr. Mulley
It would trespass on the time Of the House. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I am quite willing to read them out and to comment on them, if that is the wish of the House. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] The right hon. Gentleman, now that he has been furnished with a copy, will no doubt comment on it when he winds up tonight. My quotation is the result of a study of the Territorial Council and was not drafted in haste, perhaps, yesterday on seeing the White Paper. We are giving each volunteer a clear rôle and a worthwhile job. We are providing the Army with proper reserves and giving voluntary service a framework in which it can flourish in the future, to the great benefit of the nation, as the Territorial Army has done in the past. I commend the White Paper to the House.
§ 5.18 p.m.
§ Brigadier Sir John Smyth (Norwood)
I agree very much with what my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said at the beginning of his speech, that these proposals of the Government are very important indeed because they affect the safety, and in large part the way of life, of the people of this country. I also think that they are some of the most unpopular proposals that I have ever heard put forward by any Government so long as I have been in the House of Commons. I think that the Government will realise this as every day goes by.
1506 I am not surprised that the Council of Territorial and Auxiliary Forces Associations should have expressed yesterday its distress and disapproval of the Government's White Paper, in that despite all the protestations and recommendations that they made there has been no change from the original announcement which was made on 29th July, except for a few matters of detail. The Council ends in this way:The Council do not believe that the country will be well served if the Government continues to ignore the advice, on major issues, of those who know most about civilian volunteers and recruiting.We should remember that.
My chief complaint about the White Paper is that the vital matter of home defence and civil defence is dealt with in an after-thought sentence in paragraph (4) which simply tells us that the Government will continue to examine the matter. I should like to have seen right at the top of this White Paper, in bold black letters, these sentences:We must always bear in mind that the defence and safety of Great Britain is a matter of first priority for our own people, our Commonwealth, our allies in N.A.T.O. and throughout the free world. Because we escaped invasion in 1940, we must never relax our vigilance or lower our guard. The advent of the space age, the ever increasing power and range of vast air armadas and the likelihood that our Regular Army and probably our Army Reserves as well will be out of the country all put a much greater responsibility on the home defence and civil defence forces of Great Britain.We should have got the whole thing in the right perspective in that way. Instead of having just a little sentence about the most important question being examined afterwards, we should have put it right at the front.
There are some very woolly and dogmatic statements on the first page of the White Paper. First, we are told that a major war in Europe would be a nuclear war. This may be so, but it is not entirely our choice. I wonder whether the Secretary of State consulted the Russians before he put that into the White Paper. Certainly, such a statement coming from a Labour Minister is quite remarkable.
§ The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Denis Healey)
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman will be aware that both the Russians in all their public statements about a future war in Europe and all our 1507 allies in N.A.T.O. take it for granted that any war in Europe will be a nuclear one.
§ Sir J. Smyth
Then I should never believe that that is what will happen. The White Paper tells us in paragraph (4) thatif nuclear weapons were used"—and it is presumed that they will be—…the United Kingdom would be a target for massive attack. The damage in this case would be so great and widespread that the present Territorial Army would be unable to offer assistance…".It is a matter of opinion whether Great Britain would be one of the prime military targets. If the Russians were to have any chance whatever of competing with the United States in a nuclear war, it would be essential for them to have first strike and in that first strike to knock out quite a large part of the much more massive nuclear launching site armoury of the United States. Whether we should have a dose of nuclear bombs or not is a matter of opinion. But my point is that it is just when there is widespread damage that the Territorial Army will be called in. When the ordinary civil defence services cannot cope, the Territorial Army will be of the most use.
I have no quarrel with the Government over their reorganisation of our reserves, and I think that certain changes and reorganisations in the Territorial Army are needed. But, as my right hon. Friend pointed out, what they propose is the virtual destruction of the greater part of the Territorial Army. This I regard as an act of supreme folly, for a saving of what is estimated at about £20 million between now and 1969. I am not blaming the Government for conducting a review of defence expenditure. I have several times said in the House that our defence expenditure could easily escalate to £3,000 million a year and yet we would not necessarily get greater security. My quarrel is with their priorities. Subsidising eggs, for instance, costs us £32 million a year and free prescriptions cost nearly £50 million a year. One must relate these different calls on our resources one to another. As my right hon. Friend said, the Territorial Army is much more than just part of our military defences. It is part of our way of life in this country. It certainly has a great effect on recruiting. I have found no one to agree with the Minister that his proposals will not 1508 adversely affect recruiting to the Regular Army, and I wonder whether he has it in his mind to reintroduce conscription.
The Secretary of State has ordained what the next war will be like. He poses no alternative between the quick and the dead. On Tuesday, in a leading article, The Times rightly said that he should re-examine the requirements of home security, asking,Is it so certain today that the alternatives lie exclusively between the sort of overseas operation envisaged and stark nuclear obliteration of the British Isles?".But the oracle has spoken, and the same ideas are given out by junior Ministers in this House and in another place, as I heard, listening to the debate on the Territorial Army there the other day.
On 24th November last, the Deputy Secretary of State for Defence and Minister of Defence for the Army said in the House:…we do not believe that an attack against the United Kingdom is likely and we cannot afford to pay the heavy premium that preparation against any contingency would cost us."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th November, 1965; Vol. 721, c. 482.]I find that a very alarming statement, and I hope that all hon. Members will think the same. Speaking for the Government in the other place, a few days ago, Lord Chalfont said that the next war would be a nuclear one and, therefore, an invasion of Britain would be the least of his worries. Yet, only two or three years ago all Labour spokesmen in the House, and Lord Chalfont, who was then political correspondent of The Times, were saying that there would be a large conventional war on the Continent and that we must have many more men there. The figure of 80,000 was suggested at the Opposition Dispatch Box in the defence debate in 1963, and the Labour Party spokesman went very wide in telling us how the operations would go, with the Russians sweeping on to the Rhine before we could arrive at the Weser, and so on. Now, in order to fit in with the right hon. Gentleman's theories about the Territorial Army all that has been scrapped.
In former days, before the advent of massive air armadas, the British Navy was our safeguard against invasion. The right hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg), now the Paymaster-General, whom I advised that I proposed to mention him, not like Mark Antony, to bury 1509 Caesar but to praise him, always used to be considered just about the greatest expert in the Labour Party on these matters. Indeed, I have heard him so described on television. In the Army Estimates debate as recently as 9th March, 1964, the right hon. Gentleman paid a great tribute to those dedicated people who were keeping the Territorial Army going and preparing for an emergency which we all hoped would not occur. He went on to say:I hold the view that the Territorial Army is one of the most important sections of the Armed Forces"—I am sure that he believed that—In my judgment, it is far more, infinitely more, important than the Navy. I would get rid of the Navy tomorrow and spend the money on the Territorial Army."—[OFFICIAL RLPORT, 9th March, 1964; Vol. 691, c. 58.]
§ The Paymaster-General (Mr. George Wigg)
I will relieve the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's mind about anything I said on that occasion by stating that I stand by it. The difficulty the House faces, of course, is that the reorganisation of the Reserve Forces is 10 years out of dateL—and this situation has arisen entirely because the Conservative Party had not the guts to tell the country the truth.
§ Sir J. Smyth
We must leave it there.
Without wearying the House, I want to quote a little of my experience in the Territorial Army because I saw it at the time of its greatest test, as chief of staff of a Territorial division at the beginning of the war—a second-line division—and then commanding a first-line Territorial brigade at Dunkirk and in the period of tension afterwards.
I think that the House will agree that the things I shall mention are even more important for the future than they were then. They are lessons not only for the past but for the future. The 2nd (London) Division, of which I became chief of staff, was entirely employed at the begin- 1510 ning of the war on anti-sabotage duties in London, as were other Territorial divisions elsewhere. This was because the police and the Secret Service had good information that a lot of sabotage was intended.
These troops did their job very well. There were no "Guy Fawkes" incidents or anything like that, although Hitler achieved much the same thing by other methods a little later on. The Field Marshals, in their letter to The Times on Tuesday said:The guarding of installations and public utilities against saboteur parties, aid to local authorities, assistance in civil defence are some of the many tasks in a Home Defence rôle which disciplined units of high morale could perform requiring only basic military training and light scales of equipment.Does the Secretary of State think that the age of sabotage has passed and that in future emergencies none of this guarding will be necessary? If he thinks that, I would say it is absolute nonsense. The age of sabotage is just beginning. In the Vietnam war and in other conflicts we find such devices being used as bombs in suitcases and cars loaded with high explosives drawn up outside important buildings. In fact, the age of sabotage is only in its infancy and anti-sabotage activity will be far more important in future emergencies than ever before. We want all the men we can get on the ground—men in uniform who will counter sabotage right at the beginning of an emergency. The second lesson I learned——
§ Mr. Wigg
Before the right hon. and gallant Gentleman leaves the first lesson, may I ask him, in view of his very great expert military knowledge, how, if he considers that manpower is so important, he supported through thick and thin an Administration which left us with not a single Army battalion up to establishment?
§ Sir J. Smyth
The right hon. Gentleman must address himself to the point I am making. He goes off at a tangent. What I am saying is that there was very great danger of sabotage at the beginning of the last war, that there will be such danger in any future emergencies, and that it must be countered. I want to know the plans of the Secretary of State for any future occasions.
1511 The second lesson I learned from getting the command of a first line Territorial brigade. This was the Manchester Brigade in the 42nd (East Lancashire) Division. It was a magnificent division with a wonderful record at Gallipoli in the First World War and with tremendous spirit and comradeship. The morale of these Lancashire battalions was tremendous. I have the greatest admiration for them. But that division is to be wiped out. I believe that one unit out of nine is to remain. All the training they did together and everything else is to be destroyed. Although, of course, the division was a bit short on training compared with a regular formation, nevertheless these men in the last war fought their way back from Belgium to Dunkirk and acquitted themselves extremely well.
But the third lesson is much the most important for the future. It emerges from the job of the Territorial Army and all the troops who were in Great Britain at the time. The job of the returned B.E.F., of the first and second line Territorial divisions and of all the new divisions that were in training was to counter any invasion of Britain. The brigade I commanded was employed on every sort of job. We were on the beaches and on the Yorkshire Moors, and in charge of nine aerodromes, for which duties we were equipped with buses.
The thing we feared more than anything else—far more than landings on the beaches—was a night bombing attack on all the fighter aerodromes with heavy concentrations of mustard gas—which had not but might easily have been used—followed at dawn next morning by an attack by the Luftwaffe, drawing off Fighter Command and covering crash landings of troop-carrying aircraft, together with parachute troop landings all over the country. That was what we were really frightened of, but of course it never came.
Field Marshal Goering was an airman himself and he wanted to have to his credit the defeat of the R.A.F. in the Battle of Britain, and any sort of invasion operation had to follow the defeat of Fighter Command. But do not let us forget that some of the places that we thought the Germans more likely to land were with straight main roads. 1512 We have become much more vulnerable to that sort of attack now because of the enormous number of new motorways. They are made to measure for landing troop carrying aircraft by men who do not mind killing perhaps 100 or more people in cars in the process. It is no good our thinking that, because that was not done in the last war, it will never be attempted in future. We had all these troops to prevent it happening then.
Every responsible nation would fall over backwards rather than start a nuclear war but even if the next war is nuclear, as the Secretary of State believes it will be, that does not mean that there will not be periods of great tension between nations and even large scale conventional operations such as we are getting in Vietnam. One of these operations could easily be the occupation by air of a defenceless Britain in a vast continental air landing operation. People may laugh at that idea but it was a distinct possibility in 1940 and we must bear it in mind in considering the safety of the country.
Every war turns out to be quite different, in its beginnings and every other way, from what was expected and so every wise commander keeps a reserve, and for 60 years our reserve has been the Territorial Army. To throw it overboard just when it is so important that we should remain so obviously strong and secure at home would be letting down our N.A.T.O. allies and encouraging an aggressor to overthrow N.A.T.O. by the back door.
I seriously advise the Secretary of State to hang on to that £20 million and make the saving which he proposes to make in the Territorial Army in something less vital. It was said of the First World War that Admiral Jellicoe was the only man who could have lost the war in one afternoon. The Secretary of State for Defence is the only man who could lose the next war in the Division Lobby tonight.
§ 5.41 p.m.
§ Mr. F. J. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)
I cannot appreciate the relevance of the last remark of the right hon. and gallant Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth). He is referring to an entirely different situation when he refers to what was said about Admiral Jellicoe losing the war in one night, as we very nearly did in the Fleet 1513 action at Jutland. However, I do not want to go too much into that, because it is out of proportion to this debate.
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman refered to sabotage and I agree with him that it could be the modern form of warfare. Of course, it could not be carried on to any great extent before the saboteurs were mopped up. However, if we were considering the whole concept of future operations and not only the Territorial Army as a reserve—and it is one of my criticisms of the Government that we are not doing so—I would ask the House to consider that we nearly lost the last two wars by starvation.
Considering Britain's position as a fort, what is to prevent us from being besieged by naval operations, by submarine warfare and so on? Our supplies from overseas are extremely vulnerable. That is probably one of the reasons why Russia has a very substantial submarine fleet. This is part of the strategic picture about which I regret to say, we have not heard anything from the Government and this is one of the points I want to make in what I have to say about the Territorial Army.
I wonder how many hon. Members remember how Haldane's Territorial Army came into being. When it was inaugurated, it had only a home service obligation. As a consequence, at the outbreak of war in August, 1914, when I was asked by my employer whether I thought that I ought to join the Territorial Army—incidentally, he was an enthusiastic Territorial—I replied, "No, Sir." The news from Belgium was very grim and I said that if it was necessary for young men like me to enlist, our place was over there and not as part of a Territorial Army whose obligations were limited to home defence. It was only much later in the war that the obligation was altered, particularly when conscription came into force.
§ Colonel Sir Harwood Harrison (Eye)
I think that the right hon Gentleman's memory is at fault when he says that it was much later in the war when the obligation was altered, because my own 4th Battalion, the Suffolk Regiment, was in France in 1914.
§ Mr. Bellenger
That is quite true, but the Territorial Army had to get rid of that home defence rôle obligation. I 1514 pay a compliment to the hon. and gallant Gentleman's regiment and of course many young men threw out their home defence rôle obligation and volunteered for overseas duty. I was in France in 1915 and I know that they fought very well as Territorials. I am bound to say that throughout the Regular Army there was always a feeling which while not of contempt, under-rated the so-called weekend soldiers. At the outbreak of this war General Sir John Brown was on the Army Council especially to represent the Territorial Army, but it was still regarded as a poor relation.
However, I do not want to go into all that too deeply, but I ask hon. Members who are to take part in the debate to try to discuss the subject relieved of the sentimentality, some of it very false, which is now running throughout the country. I understand it only too well. In my constituency there are two subunits which will be wiped out under these proposals, but I have taken the opportunity of discussing the matter with their commanding officers. One of the subunits comprises 63 men, many of them miners in Worksop. I am the last to under-rate their patriotism and their public spirit, but nevertheless everyone to whom I have spoken or written admits that the Territorial Army as it is now constituted has to cease. The only question which we have to consider is what to put in its place. Let us get rid of the sentiment. We are discussing the future and not the past. I can pay tribute as the right hon. and gallant Member for Norwood did. In the First World War and even in the second I had a good deal to do with Territorials. I know their value as fighters and loyal subjects and I am the last to want to see the end of them.
That is why I say in all sincerity to my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench that they might have used a little more imagination in presenting their proposals to the country and particularly to the Territorial Army, because, while always admitting the necessity for reorganising, it is wasteful in the extreme to throw overboard all that wonderful spirit and organisation from recruiting to county associations which have been built up over the last 60 years. There is a great deal of good will among 1515 employers, commanding officers and men and the community which it would be totally wrong to destroy.
Although I shall support the Government in the Lobby tonight and I shall give my reasons for doing so, I am bound to say that, recognising the need for reorganisation, the Government cannot rely on continued support for scraps of pieces of paper like the White Paper. Those of us who are concerned with the country's defence want something more substantial.
The whole operational rôle of the reserve forces, as of the Regular Army, has changed completely since the last world war. As the Regular Army changes, so the reserves have to change. With the terms and conditions which the Government are now offering and with the present Army recruiting organisation, I doubt whether they will get the numbers required. Therefore, I would willingly' have conceded the Territorial Associations something—and they are not asking too much, although they cannot expect to have the whole range of drill halls and so on kept going for they are valuable properties which will no longer be necessary. However, I am not at all sure that the organisation needs to continue in the conventional, traditional pattern.
If the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is right about sabotage I should have thought that one would have wanted, dotted around the country, in the most vulnerable spots, smaller units or subunits which could tackle such sabotage. There is always the possibility of airborne invasion and one will need more than is envisaged in the White Paper to deal with this.
§ Sir Richard Glyn
I think that what the right hon. Gentleman has said about sabotage is important. He also said that all of the saboteurs would soon be shot. By whom? The whole of this Reserve is committed to the Regular Army which will be overseas. Who will shoot the saboteurs? The Army police?
§ Mr. Bellenger
There should be a home defence force. The Continental armies always had such forces. There was the Landsturm, for example, in Germany in the First World War, and the French organised on a territorial basis some of 1516 the older soldiers and pensioners. I think that we should do that. We have to do that in association with something else, civil defence, about which we are told nothing in this Paper. I know that civil defence is a matter for the Home Office and not for the military part of the Government, but it is entirely wrong for civil defence to have to cope with what it is supposed to be dealing with now. We are misleading the people if we say that today the civil defence force could deal with nuclear attacks. I do not say that a Territorial Army could do so. We should need to reorganise considerably.
§ Mr. Ramsden
The right hon. Gentleman has mentioned civil defence. Does he think that it is fair to ask the House or the Territorial Army Council to discuss the future of the Territorial Army in the absence of any information about the Government's future plans for civil defence, bearing in mind that 60 per cent. of the Territorial Army was engaged in this?
§ Mr. Bellenger
We know that something like 80 per cent. of the Territorial Army was engaged in pseudo-defence duties. I do not think that is enough and, if it were, there would be no reason for disbanding the Territorial Army. Her Majesty's Government have not told us what the rôle of civil defence is to be. They must take that criticism, because I am one of those people who believe that we ought to have it put before us and not have a White Paper dealing with one part of our military force in isolation. I have appealed for a defence committee of this House year after year, where hon. Members knowing something about these matters could discuss them in secrecy and with expert advisers to give estimates of the strategic position, thus enabling us to form opinions of the balance of forces which we require.
I have no objection to the change in the procedure for calling up reserves. But the House ought to be under no misapprehension. Whether one calls it a Queen's Order or a Proclamation it is really a call to arms. If this happens one is in a position where all these little reserves will fit into a much bigger picture. Hon. Members will remember what happened before the last war, when conscription was brought in and when the 1517 Territorial Army was doubled in a night, creating, incidentally, quite a lot of confusion for Mr. Hore-Belisha. It is probable that the House would be asked, in those circumstances to go back to conscription. In the event of total war, such as a Queen's Order would envisage, one must have total mobilisation of the forces throughout the country otherwise there is an imbalance such as we had in the First World War, with reserved occupations and so forth. It is some time since I was at the War Office, but I do not think that today we are as fully advanced in preparations for any kind of war as we were in 1914.
My right hon. Friend was quite right about Lord Haldane. He was a man of immense thought and not only did he bring in the Territorial Reserve, but he also prepared the Regular Army which saved this country—the "Contemptible Little Army"—when it was faced by the hordes of the Kaiser. Everything was prepared in advance, at least everything that could be foreseen. There were special orders for movement of all sorts of forces in anticipation of the main threat, which we knew would come from Germany. It is recorded in The Times today that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence said yesterday in N.A.T.O. that it might even be necessary in years to come, I do not know how many years, for the balance of our forces to be changed from Europe to the Far East.
That is a very interesting statement, because it only confirms what I have been demanding, that this House should have a much wider survey of the military situation than we have at present. If my right hon. Friend is right, and he could have been mis-reported or his words taken out of context, how are we going to discuss the Defence Estimates when they come in early next year? Not on the information vouchsafed by previous Secretaries of State and other military Ministers in the past.
The powers given to the Secretary of State, in paragraph 11, to call up reserves seem to be pretty wide. The House will want to know quite a lot when the Secretary of State puts his signature to the call-up of reserves, not only for B.A.O.R. but farther afield. When it does he is going to tell them nothing about the 1518 period of call up—"We will take every case on its merits". I wonder whether in those circumstances the Army is going to get young men to volunteer. This is quite a different thing from taking on obligations merely to serve in the Territorial force. It may be that the young men have thought, because of the circumstances of the local drill hall and so on, that the war would be fought round their particular area. Perhaps my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will say something about the powers for which he is asking in that paragraph.
I welcome the paragraph about the training and equipment of new reserves. It has been a scandal in the past few years that the Territorial Army has been denied proper equipment. How can we have trained men if they know very little about the equipment which they will have to use? It reminds me of the year preceding the outbreak of the last war, perhaps this may not be taken too well by hon. Members opposite, when, for the anti-aircraft defence of London we had seven 3.7 guns. That was why the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) tried to raise in the House the issue of our unpreparedness—he was serving with a territorial regiment—and was nearly court martialled for so doing. That is why, in spite of what my right hon. Friend says, I cast doubts on the belief that we are prepared for an emergency.
I said that I should support my right hon. Friends in the Lobby. May I say to my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Toxteth (Mr. Crawshaw), whose well-meant remarks about abstaining have been given great publicity, that this is not the last word. The Bill has yet to be presented, and that will be the time for us to examine the Government's intentions in detail. However it does not matter much, I suppose, in view of our small majority, whether we have a majority of two or three, so long as the Government get approval for what they are proposing.
What I regret most is the absence of a defence committee of this House. If we had one, more hon. Members would be able to make well-informed speeches and it might save the Government a good deal of trouble which they are involved in tonight and in which they possibly will be involved in future. Germany, which now has the biggest force on the 1519 Continent—12 divisions—has an all-party defence committee in its Bundestag. It can call for officers or anybody else whom it wants to give evidence. It saves the German Government a good deal of trouble, even though it is a Government with which the Opposition, the S.P.D., disagrees.
My right hon. Friends must not presume too much on the good will of some of their supporters. I say to them quite frankly that when we come to the Defence Estimates we shall want a better balance sheet than we have had tonight. Otherwise, there might be abstentions on the Estimates. These are serious matters. I am not concerned with all the sentiment which has grown up around them. I am concerned, as I have always been concerned, with the true defence of our country. Therefore, if the Government want my approval, they have to present me, as a shareholder in this country, as one of the citizens of this country, with a proper balance sheet so that I can examine the assets as well as the liabilities.
§ 6.3 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Fraser (Stafford and Stone)
Most Members will regret the speech made by the Deputy-Secretary of State. Unfortunately, he did not rise to the occasion. This is a very serious occasion for the country and the House. There are not only Members on this side of the House but 20 right hon. and hon. Members opposite who serve with the Territorial Army. This is a very wide issue which has been put forward by the right hon. Gentleman in the narrowest, meanest and most political of senses.
We have to rise to the level of events which this country has to face. I am not prepared to put blame either on my party or on the Labour Party, but the Paymaster-General well knows that at this stage in our history we are faced with very grave difficulties indeed. There is complete uncertainty about the future of nuclear war. There is an absolute division among the most advanced thinkers on this subject. We are faced by the fact that the areas of disorder throughout the world are growing. We are faced with the fact that the Government, for reasons good or bad, seem determined to commit us to a rôle not merely east of Suez but south of the 1520 Sahara. We know that recruiting for the Regular Forces throughout the West is falling. No country is having greater difficulty than ours. Yet, at this stage, the Government have made the grave error of bringing forward this White Paper in such a way that it does damage to the spirit of volunteer service in this country. This is my main contention against the White Paper.
Some of the other things which I believe are erroneous must be mentioned. There is the bringing forward of this White Paper before the general aspects of our global defence commitments can be seen; before the Defence Review is completed; before the structure of the Army at home is decided; before the command structure which we know should be changed has been changed; before it is clear what will happen to the Gurkha Army over the next few years. These matters are absolutely unresolved and uncertain. The White Paper deals a death blow to the spirit of voluntary service in many areas of the country. This is the burden of our attack on the Government. I will not dispute the details of the White Paper. We all hope that it will work, but we have most serious and grievous doubts about it.
The base from which these specialist volunteers are drawn is not sufficiently broad. It is far too narrow in its appeal. What is more, the White Paper destroys the territorial base which is the only possible alternative to conscription if we are to have military expansion in this country. These things are destroyed by the White Paper, and I must regard it as a matter of supreme importance to this island. It is not a party matter; it is a matter of the defence interests of our country.
I come from Staffordshire as a Member of Parliament. In the north of Scotland I have the great honour to be honorary colonel of the Lovat Scouts. I hope that some of my Liberal colleagues who are my military representatives in the area will be here tonight. This is a serious matter from the point of view of recruiting. The defence of a democratic State, if it is to be based on the voluntary principle, must be an organic whole of young boys going into the cadet force, from there into the Territorial Forces and beyond that into the Regular Forces. This is the pattern which has grown up in this 1521 country, and this is the pattern which is shattered by this dogmatic and foolish document. It is broken. The pattern, once broken, will be very difficult to put together again.
The regiment of which I have the honour to be honorary colonel has had many rôles during its time. My father was fortunate enough to be in a position to create it in the Boer War. It was created because the War Office, in its great wisdom, believed that the Boers could render themselves invisible. It was in error in that. Members of the regiment were snipers in the 1914 war. The regiment then took on an armoured car rôle. Today is fulfils a light anti-aircraft rôle.
Once there is a military framework on the ground, and once there are men who are able and willing to do so, they can turn their hand to any job. This is precisely why the Government are in error tonight. They believe that the rôle, the precise order of battle, and so on, must be laid down and immutable. They talk about basing their strategy immutably upon what is agreed allied strategy because of the present interpretation of the nuclear danger.
It would be equally ludicrous to say that in the whole of the last war our strategy was based on the Maginot Line. The only strategy that this country can have is one of maximum flexibility based upon having, and continuing to have, a building up of the voluntary spirit of peacetime soldiering, because this is the only basis from which the Regular Army, the Regular Reserves, civil defence and the general defence of the country can be drawn.
§ Mr. Fraser
I am sorry, but I am just finishing. It must be an organic whole of civil defence and military defence as part of our civilian life. Tonight, this has been shattered by what the Government propose to do.
§ 6.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Crawshaw (Liverpool, Toxteth)
Today's debate is, in my view, a watershed in the life of our Armed Forces. Anything that I say is not based upon sentiment, because I do not believe 1522 that sentiment has any place in the organisation of our Armed Forces. I hope that what I say is based upon a realistic appraisal of the situation.
I know that what I say will not be popular. The spending of money on defence in this country is never popular. It is only when the deficiences are noted that people start asking why we did not do so and so. Certainly, on this side of the House, it is even less popular. One sometimes gets a little tired of hearing people who constantly ask for the defences of the country to be brought down wanting, in the next speech, to know why we do not have an army in Rhodesia. I cannot believe that the proposals envisaged in the White Paper can possibly fulfil the rôle which the country is likely to have to face in the future.
One of the biggest handicaps is that we have an absence of information about what the Reserve Forces are trying to support. If I complain, I know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence complained in similar vein on 21st November, 1963, when he said:There is in the Bill no commitment whatever as to the precise shape of the defence organisation when the Bill has been passed."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st November, 1963; Vol. 684, c. 1210.]That is exactly what I say about the White Paper that is before us.
Today we are not merely putting the cart before the horse. I begin to doubt whether there is even a horse there. In fact, it looks pretty much like the Biblical phrase of the mule that hath no understanding. It is very much like asking a housewife how much money she will put into National Savings Certificates before she knows what expenses she has on the house.
We do not know what the strength of the Regular Army is to be. We hear all sorts of reports that it will be cut or increased. On what are we basing the reserves? We are told that there is to be a reappraisal of our commitments, and yet we are asked to decide what reserves we require for those commitments even before we know what they are. We cannot even find out whether there will be any civil defence in this country.
There is a line of argument, contrary to the argument of the Leader of the Opposition, that the very fact of doing 1523 away with civil defence would leave us open to military attack. There is a line of argument—I believe it to be a dangerous one—that one shows one's decision to use the atomic weapon by the mere fact of leaving oneself completely open from civil defence. That is a dangerous line of argument and one which we should not follow.
Tonight, we ought to be told whether we are to have civil defence. The people are entitled to know. It is not sufficient to put into a White Paper something that can mean anything or nothing and expect people to support it. We should be told categorically one way or the other.
Apparently, as has been pointed out, we seem to be committed in Europe to the use of the nuclear weapon from the word "Go". Is this really so. Unless I am very much mistaken, there are all sorts of theories about how the nuclear weapon would escalate.
I believe that the time of the Cuba incident showed both America and Russia that the days of all-out atomic wars are out. In my view, the danger that confronts us is that if a situation arises in Europe that troops come into the Western part, if we cannot hold them with conventional forces we shall use tactical nuclear weapons to begin with. One supposes that either that would halt the aggressor or that he would respond in kind. One would then start using the nuclear weapon in strategic shots.
Then we have that delightful terminology of what I believe is known as "taking out" a town. When one shows one's determination to use atomic weapons, one takes out an enemy town. Even that might not succeed, however, and we might be landed in a situation in which one of our towns is taken out. Do right hon. and hon. Members on the Government Front Bench say that there is no need for civil defence in those circumstances? Can they imagine the sort of panic that would go through the public if they knew that one of our large towns had been taken out and that the same thing was likely to happen to another at any time? Is not this exactly the sort of thing for which the Territorial Army and the Reserve Army are useful even in this country?
The idea of all-out nuclear war in Europe is getting very much more 1524 thought about. I do not know whether my right hon. Friends are acquainted with the Director of the French Institute of Strategic Studies—I think that the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) certainly is—and a recent book of his entitled "Deterrence and Strategy". Having examined the situation quite fully, these are the conclusions at which that gentleman has arrived, and I ask hon. Members to remember the position he holds. He says that there is a determination by all not to have an all-out nuclear war. I do not think that anybody would dissociate himself from that view. This, he says, increases the possibility of those operations which have the least possibility of escalation. A capacity to sustain a long war is essential if only as a deterrent purpose. Therefore, there must be a long-terrm logistic system and a highly flexible echeloned mobilisation system.
What is the conclusion to which that gentleman comes? Speaking this year, in 1965, he says that all these add up to a good cause for the organisation in France of a real militia alongside the permanent fighting forces.
That is a conclusion arrived at by him, and I do not know how many hon. Gentlemen saw in The Guardian this week the following little item which I feel is pertinent to the occasion. It said:West Germany calls up men for Home Guard. West Germany yesterday announced a call-up for former members of the Bunderwehr because of a shortage of volunteers for reserve service. Ten thousand men up to the age of 45 will be called up in batches of 1,000 for a total of 15 days' training. The Territorial Reserves—now to be named the Home Guard—are the only West German units not integrated in NATO. They are raised on a local basis to guard military installations and communication lines.I think that the last sentence is the most important one.
The Defence Ministry plans to have 50,000 trained reserves by the end of 1966, but only 5,500 suitable men have volunteered. What a disgrace to the country it is to talk about axing 73,000 people who have volunteered.
We hear that there is never going to be any need for any large-scale mobilisation, and that is said at a time when it can be seen headlined in every newspaper:L.B.J. on the verge of a great decision. Full war in the Far East.1525 Does anyone honestly believe that we can detach ourselves indefinitely if it comes to that?
Are we really committed to an all-out nuclear war in Europe which, as I understand it, is supposed to last 30 days? If we are, we ought to start getting our thinking on to correct lines, because in answer to a Question that I put down a week ago we were told that we are spending £30 million this year on the submarine service. I am not decrying the submarine service, because it is an excellent one, but what are they doing in a 30-day war? What call is there for them? Why do we stockpile supplies in the north of Scotland if we are going to have a 30-day war which will wipe us all out? Is it because there is so much uncertainty in our thinking that the Navy is being called on to fight one sort of war and the Army another?
I regret that it will be necessary to refer to one or two previous contributions that have been made in the past by my right hon. and hon. Friends, not because I think necessarily that they were very good contributions but because I do not think that people out of office should say things which are not carried out when they come into office. I never object to anyone changing his mind. I believe that everyone, including myself, is capable of being persuaded and changing his mind, but I think that anyone who does change his mind ought at least to stand up and say why.
On 16th January 1964, the Secretary of State for Defence, having said that European commitments in N.A.T.O. should be revised to take into account the real danger in Europe and not the imaginary dangers we believed existed some years ago, continued:At the same time, as the danger of global war is declining, instability in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America seems to be growing.We would agree with that. That is precisely what is happening. He went on to say:… and it is a danger to which the whole apparatus of nuclear deterrence is totally irrelevant."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th January, 1964; Vol. 687, c. 544.]Of course it is completely irrelevant. It is a danger that can be met only by conventional forces on the ground, and pos- 1526 sibly most of my hon. Friends on this side might wonder to what extent that is now accepted.
§ Mr. Healey
My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Toxteth (Mr. Crawshaw) will be glad to know that those were almost exactly the words that I was using to my N.A.T.O. colleagues in Paris yesterday.
§ Mr. Crawshaw
I am certainly very glad to hear that, because it seems as though we have, in our defence arrangements at least, gone away from those ideas and that we are now more concerned about sophisticated and atomic weapons than we are about conventional forces on the ground, they must at least be supplied with adequate equipment in order that they should be able to do their job properly. I do not object to a reorganisation of the Territorial Army. I believe that it is necessary, but the fact must be faced that it is not a reorganisation. It is the destruction of it.
Whilst we are throwing this manpower away, may I again refer to what the Minister of Defence for the Army had to say on 27th February 1964:Just as the total defence is defective, so individual battalions, although they are on active service, are seriously short on an establishment figure fixed to take account of reduced Army recruitment figures."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th February, 1964; Vol. 690, c. 746.]In the same debate, a few sentences farther on, the Secretary of State for Detence reinforced that. He said:the peacetime establishment of a British battalion is something under 800 men … it would be dangerous to commit a battalion to military action of under 700 men."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th February, 1964; Vol. 690, c. 472.]In answer to a Question that I put a week or two ago we find that the average strength of a British battalion in the army of the Rhine is 589, and on the Strategic Reserve 592. Does that really mean that we can afford to get rid of any manpower until we are absolutely certain of our commitments, which we are not today? I might add that at the end of the Answer to that Question we were told that these numbers excluded bandsmen and attached personnel. I know that in the past the enemy has often been put to spirited flight by men from the cookhouse but it would be unwise to base our fighting strength on that sort of thing happening too frequently in the future.
1527 In the debate the other day my hon. Friend had to report that recruiting had fallen below target and that for the three Services during 1965 it had been disappointing.It began well but numbers declined rather more than usual during the summer months and the tendency has carried through into the autumn."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th December, 1965; Vol. 722, c. 924.]I wonder if he thinks that recruiting figures are going to be improved by what is happening to the Territorial Army. Whatever one likes to say, it provides a great source of recruitment and, if not directly, we know that it supplies it indirectly by the associations that families have with it over a period.
May I then refer to my right hon. Friend the Paymaster-General who, when speaking in a debate on 9th December, 1963, said:Figures of 165.000 and 180,000 have been mentioned. Nobody has ever mentioned the real target of 200,000, the figure set by the Hull Committee.That was the figure for the Regular forces set by the Hull Committee.The figure of 165,000 was introduced for party political reasons."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th December, 1963; Vol. 686, c. 87.]I wonder what is behind the proposals today. Is it for party political reasons? In case it might be thought to be the reason, perhaps I might quote what the Secretary of State for Defence had to say as recently as last year:As far as I have been able to discover … the reason why they decided, a year ago, to cut Gurkha recruiting from 15,000 to 10,000 was not political or military. It was Treasury. It was money. The reason why the Government stopped recruiting married men earlier last year was not defence. Again, it was money."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th January, 1964; Vol. 687, c. 546.]We are entitled to know today whether it is money. Is it military, or is it political? Certainly it is not based on sound common sense.
§ Mr. Wigg
My hon. Friend has been good enough to quote me on the question of recruitment targets. It is true that I have often used them in the House. It is equally true that I have challenged the party opposite, and I repeat it today, that the targets were fixed entirely for political purposes. But if he is associating me with any action now by the present 1528 Administration, let me tell him that I would not stay a member of the Government for 30 seconds if I thought that they were doing what was done by those on the benches opposite over the last 13 years.
§ Mr. Crawshaw
Knowing my right hon. Friend, I accept that assurance.
In case anybody might think that I should not say what I am saying today, let me add that I fought an election on certain issues, and one of those issues was set out in "Policy for Peace", a pamphlet issued by the Labour Party. I propose to refer to only one part of the pamphlet where it says:The West must never be the first to use the H-bomb … Britain should press urgently for the following objectives:To make it possible for N.A.T.O. to halt a local conflict with conventional weapons alone …I am glad that yesterday my right hon. Friend said that he was still trying to insist in N.A.T.O. that this should be so, because I believe that we all believe it should be so. But does not this then throw my right hon. Friend back on the argument that to say there is never going to be any need for any large-scale forces is completely irrelevant? Once we do away with the nuclear deterrent, once we make up our minds not to use it, there is only one answer, and that is large conventional forces, and by the very act of this White Paper we will lose any ability ever to build up a second Army which will be able to go overseas.
Is the Secretary of State to blame for this, or is it that the task is too great? I ask this in all seriousness because I should like to remind him of what he said on 21st November, 1963 during the debate on the Defence Transfer of Functions Bill. He said:That takes me to my third major complaint, which is that the new Secretary of State for Defence is to have such a colossal range of responsibilities to cover that the prospect of his giving the time and energy required for decision on the major political issues is almost nil … nobody … is superhuman enough to carry out the manifold responsibilities of policy formation and administration imposed on the Secretary of State alone …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st November, 1963; Vol. 684, c. 1224.]I do not know whether my right hon. Friend has found that duty burdensome, or whether he has surprised himself by 1529 being one of those superhuman people who has been able to cope with the situation, but I would remind him of what he said on 22nd February, 1964. When dealing with atomic bombs, he said:The trouble about this type of expenditure is this. … one can do anything with a bayonet except sit on it, but you can do nothing with a hydrogen bomb except sit on it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th February, 1964; Vol. 690, c. 483.]That is as true today as when he said it, and yet here we are talking glibly about giving away 73,000 volunteers, 73,000 people who could have bayonets. For what? I have not forgotten the election pledges on defence, but my right hon. Friend has decided that the stockpiles are now more useful than bayonets.
Perhaps I am laying the blame at the wrong door. Judging by the Questions which they have asked, it is obvious that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite have been intrigued about the precise responsibilities of my right hon. Friend the Paymaster-General. I think that I can solve the problem. I say this in all kindness. I am not sure that he has not been spending his time disorganising the Territorial Army. I wonder whether he is that nigger on the stockpile, because I could not quite understand how anybody could conceive this White Paper, until I found it in HANSARD. It was dated 5th March, 1964, believe it or not, when my right hon. Friend the Paymaster-General said:I am appalled by the standard of equipment of the Territorial Army. Has not the time come to consider the position of the Territorial Associations, strong, local bodies, which have done good work, but do they work well now? I suggest that, perhaps, in return for giving first-class equipment we might get a category of men—like the Army Emergency Reserve—who would accept liability for immediate service in an emergency either as individuals or in units. In return, I repeat, they should get up-to-date training and equipment. Indeed, I wonder whether the time has not come to have a smaller, more compact, highly trained and better equipped Territorial Army, with perhaps greater financial inducements and accepting a liability to recall without proclamation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th March, 1964; Vol. 690, c. 1586.]If that is not the White Paper, what is?
§ Mr. Crawshaw
—but I think he was absent when the right hon. and gallant Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth) read an extract from my right hon. Friend's speech during the debate on the Army Estimates on 9th March, 1964.
§ Mr. Crawshaw
I know that it is good. My right hon. Friend said that in his view it was infinitely more important to keep the T.A. than the Navy.I would get rid of the Navy tomorrow and spend the money on the Territorial Army.My right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) could not contain himself on that occasion because he said:Do I understand that my right hon. Friend is merely expressing a personal opinion? Will he take it from me that that is not the opinion of the Labour Party?My right hon. Friend the Paymaster-General replied:That means that the Labour Party has not caught up.I wonder whether the Labour Party has now caught up, or whether it has gone past? I think that the most important part of that speech was left out, because my right hon. Friend then went on to say:It is rather terrible to think what some people will say, bearing in mind the importance of the Territorial Army, if they have an unrealistic view of the situation and know little about it.… We must also look ahead three or four years when there will be no trained National Service men with a reserve liability … that is why I said that the Territorial Army and the 'Ever-readies' are more important than the Navy, for the Navy is concerned with a concept which it is unlikely we will have to face."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th March, 1964; Vol. 691, c. 58–61.]I would subscribe to those views, but I would not go as far as to throw away 73,000 volunteers from the Territorial Army. I agree that it is a terrible thing when people talk about these things, and may not have the full facts at hand.
On this side of the House I regret to say that there are many Members who genuinely do not like the T.A. It may sound strange to say that, but they have 1531 all sorts of queer conceptions about what it is, not least the one which one of my hon. Friend's seriously confided to me the other day, that it was kept in being by the Tories only to be used against the workers.
§ Mr. Harold Walker (Doncaster)
Will my hon. Friend reconcile what he has just said with what one of his officer colleagues in the Territorial Army, a Major Thompson, said in a letter:The Territorial soldier is prepared and willing to be called out at any time on a short-term basis to serve in aid of the civil power in the event of riots, general strikes, national catastrophies, subversion, or attack …That was said by one of his fellow officers who sees that as the rôle of his colleagues in the Territorial Army.
§ Mr. Crawshaw
I would subscribe to all that. Those are things which have to be dealt with, but we have to ask ourselves what is the prime purpose of the Territorial Army and not what is its subsidiary rôle. There are those who say that it is an excuse for beer-swilling week-ends. It is rather pathetic, but many people genuinely believe these things. If we were to ask some of them what experience they have had the Territorial Army we would find that they have had no association with it. As for beer-swilling week-ends, I know plenty of units where the men are only too glad to bed down after a hard day's work, never mind the beer-swilling.
§ Mr. Crawshaw
If my hon. Friend knew more about the Territorial Army he would know that an officer is lucky if he sees his bed.
§ Mr. Crawshaw
I can assure my hon. Friend that it is not the beer-swilling unit that it was when he was in it.
§ Mr. Crawshaw
There is a need for reorganisation. My hon. Friend has convinced me of that this evening.
1532 My complaint is that the T.A. Associations were not consulted as to what sort of reorganisation was required. They do not object to reorganisation. All that they were told, however, was the figure that they had to work on. There was no discussion as to whether or not that figure was relevant. It was a case of asking the Associations whether they preferred to be shot or hanged—and then people wonder why they have not given the full co-operation that one might have expected of them!
There are too many headquarters with permanent staffs which are not fully occupied. The standard of training needs to be raised, as is envisaged in the White Paper. Drill halls ought to be able to accommodate several units with basic weapons, instead of being scattered all over the place as they are at the moment. There should be command centres where men can have a concentrated weekend's training under Regular Army officers and men.
There should also be a two-tier system. It could be arranged so that in a certain unit liabilities would be imposed upon some of the men for call-up at a moment's notice while the others would form a framework for an enlarged Army. This would not only reduce the cost of equipment but the cost of many drill halls. Furthermore, with greater numbers we would be able to reduce the number of people who would have to be prepared to be called up at a moment's notice. If we have not managed to attain our target with 110,000 Territorials we shall not obtain that target when we cut the number down to about 37,000.
The present proposal is bad because it destroys the basis for expansion and for dealing with anything unexpected. It is wrong to give a bounty to a man just because he volunteers, if that man is a recruit. The White Paper envisages a situation in which a man can volunteer one week and receive a bounty of £150 for the year, whether or not he is trained. That is wrong. No allowance has been made for wastage or unavailability of personnel. This proposal will have an adverse effect on recruiting for the Regular Army.
I believe that this scheme will not work without the good will of the T.A. Associations. I believe that it is taking away something which has existed for many 1533 years and has formed an association between the public and the Regular Army which is almost unique. [An HON. MEMBER: "Rubbish."] My hon. Friend says "Rubbish." There are countries in which the Army is not looked upon as a friend. I believe that it is looked on as a friend by our people because of the very association of which I have spoken. We talk about cutting out £20 million, but even that is doubtful, because we have not been told who will pay for civil defence. Is it a case of the Army's saying, "If we can throw the cost of civil defence on the Home Office it will be its responsibility." But that does not affect the taxpayer; somebody will pay for it, one way or the other.
I believe that if we had the largest Navy or Air Force in the world the battles would still be won on the ground. If the theory which my right hon. Friend has put forward is wrong—if there is never to be any need for any mobilisation of large forces—we are on the road of no return. I know that some of my hon. Friends would say that we can do what is necessary by conscription, but we cannot put conscripts into units which do not exist. If, as is suggested, all our reserve forces are to plug the gaps in the Regular Army, once those gaps have been plugged there will be nothing upon which to build another Army.
I ask my right hon. Friend to remember that advisers may sometimes be wrong. President Kennedy discovered that to his cost after the Bay of Pigs incident. His words on that occasion are rather important. He said:How could I have been so far off base? All my life I have known better than to depend on experts. How could I be so stupid as to let them go ahead.Looking back a year later, one Kennedy man who was deeply involved in the decision concerning the Bay of Pigs said that the military and intelligent experts were forced by the change of Administration to be salesmen and wanted to push on for some kind of action. Finally, on the same theme, President Kennedy said,All the mysteries about the Bay of Pigs have been solved but one. How could everybody involved have thought such a plan would succeed. I don't know the answer and I don't know anybody else who does.That might sum up this White Paper.
Many of my hon. Friends, although perhaps not having the same sentiments as 1534 I have, are deeply disturbed about the contents of this White Paper. I believe that if there were a free vote tonight, this White Paper would not be passed. The responsibility for the inadequacy of our defences lies equally on both sides of the House. I would take a little more seriously some of the protestations from the other side of the House had they made the same protests when the Territorial Army was cut in half in 1956.
There is a tendency to try to beat the Government with a stick if one does not agree with them. Is it not about time that, on both sides of the House, we became a little more mature in these matters, instead of hurling abuse at each other. We should try to solve the country's problems on a non-party basis instead of trying to make political and party capital out of every suggestion which is put forward. If a suggestion is put forward from the other side, it is always wrong, because one had not thought of it oneself. I do not accept that in life: I have always believed that we should take what is best from whoever gives it.
I believe also that the party does not always come first. This will sound like heresay to some of my hon. Friends, but I believe that the safety of the country comes before party considerations. In the 1930s, we learned about the people described as the "guilty men". They were listed as Baldwin—who lied to the country because he said that he would not win the election if he told the truth about defence—and Chamberlain—who won us a year at Munich, in which we did nothing to prepare ourselves for what was to come. We heard about those men, but they are not the guilty men. The guilty men are the hon. Members on both sides of the House who have used their feet in the Lobbies in order to save their seats in the country.
This is an issue upon which there can be no compromise with one's conscience. Despite much thinking about the problem, and realising the consequences which this decision may have, I believe that there is something more important than party. For that reason, I find myself unable to support the Government in the Lobby tonight.
§ 6.53 p.m.
§ Sir Frank Pearson (Clitheroe)
I am grateful to have the opportunity of making a short speech in this important 1535 debate and even more grateful for the opportunity of following the deeply sincere speech of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Toxteth (Mr. Crawshaw). He has expressed many of the fears and doubts which we on this side have about the White Paper. He also posed many searching questions to his right hon. Friend and we shall listen with the closest interest to the answers. We can tell from his sincerity that there is a degree of dismay on this issue throughout the country, greater than on any issue for a long time.
This dismay stems partly from the fact that the Government's White Paper and the whole of their case give no real, genuine reasons why these steps should be taken. This disillusionment springs from the fact that a great service, with great traditions, has been abolished out of hand. I was interested to note that the Deputy-Secretary of State did not deny the charge made by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition that these measures represent the abolition of the Territorial Army. With that abolition must and will go all those feelings and loyalties which for so long have been concentrated on this great voluntary organisation.
I felt, when the right hon. Gentleman put his case, that he had totally failed to appreciate the spirit and feelings which make the Territorial Army work. As justification, all he could give us was the fact that the existing Territorial Army is short of equipment. He made no mention of the spirit of that force or of the fact that the Territorial Army and the Territorial Associations are the one network and organisation through which the Regular Forces of the Crown can expand in an emergency and from which they can draw their strength. The dismay and the disillusionment on this matter make the statement in the early paragraphs of the White Paper—that full consultations have taken place with the Territorial Associations and the Territorial Council—seem hollow.
I have no doubt that discussions took place, but only on a very narrow front. It is fair to say that the Territorial Associations were presented with a completely clear-cut decision: on the fact that the Territorial Army was to be abolished there could be no argument. When it is 1536 accepted on all sides that some streamlining and reorganisation of the Territorial forces are necessary, it is extremely shortsighted not to approach the problem with due consultation and in such a manner that the Associations could support the Government's view.
Of course, we all admit today that our overseas commitments may be curtailed and the responsibilities of N.A.T.O. altered. We all admit that the risk of large-scale war may recede and that modern weapons and strategy may demand an alteration in our reserve forces. All that could have been taken into account, but I do not believe that it is possible for the Government to put rational proposals before the House without giving us also some indication of their thoughts on these broader questions of strategy. In this respect, we are told that we are to have a wide-ranging Defence Review, but months have gone by and that review has receded further and further. We will now have to wait until the spring for that review.
It is totally irresponsible of a Government to lay before the House proposals for the total abolition of the Territorial Army without making a statement about how they view the broader questions of strategy and our responsibilities in the world today. On that issue we have no statement at all. It is not as if the world was a peaceful place today. I have rarely known it in a more dangerous condition. There are the Americans with 180,000 troops fighting in a relatively small area in Vietnam. We ourselves have our armies in Malaysia. We are fighting in Aden. There is the whole of the Indian sub-continent. There is a state of danger such as I have never known. There are possible troubles boiling up in Africa. Yet with all this trouble boiling up in this world the spokesman for Her Majesty's Government comes to the Box today and proposes that our forces should be cut by some 170,000 men and says not a word about the wider strategy of our overseas commitments. I believe that to be the most irresponsible action I can remember a Government ever having taken in recent years.
Quite apart from taking that decision in a complete vacuum and without any stated broad principles, there is the whole central question of home defence, and, as many people have mentioned, this is 1537 the very centre of the argument. The paragraphs involved are paragraphs 3 and 4 of the White Paper and my interpretation of them is that Her Majesty's Government just do not contemplate the need for any home security rôle to be carried out by uniformed military forces. Are they so absolutely certain that the day of industrial and civil unrest or racial unrest in this country is past? Are we never to have a situation arising where troops may have to be called in to hold together the framework of society?
I believe it would be a bold Minister who would come to the Box and assure the House that this can never happen. Yet it is implicit in this White Paper that if we abolish the Territorial Army there will be no force available to aid the civil power; and on this issue I should like specifically to ask the Minister whether before these proposals were put before the House the chief constables of the counties were consulted on them and whether they are satisfied that without the Territorial Army they can carry out their full responsibilities for the maintenance of law and order in any possible civil disturbance that arises. If the right hon. Gentleman cannot give that assurance I say that he comes to the House without having performed the responsibilities that the House and the country can reasonably ask him to perform.
§ Mr. Reynolds
I can tell the hon. Gentleman that all Departments of Government were consulted on this matter. It is a collective decision—and, of course, the Home Office is a rather more central body to consult than chief constables of the counties. From what the hon. Gentleman says one might as well consult the fairies.
§ Sir Frank Pearson
The hon. Gentleman appears to find the situation extremely satisfactory. I consider it is extremely unsatisfactory and I think the House can reasonably ask to be assured that those responsible in the counties for the maintenance of law and order can discharge those responsibilities if the Territorial Army goes.
§ Mr. Reynolds
Can the hon. Gentleman tell me whether the chief constables were consulted the last time his right hon. Friend cut the Territorial Army?
§ Sir Frank Pearson
But we did not abolish it. We still had 140,000 men. The hon. Gentleman's Government are abolishing them all.
§ Sir Frank Pearson
I think possibly in the rôle of home defence the question of the help that the Territorial Army can give to the civil defence services is even more important and I speak with some experience because before coining to this House I was for a number of years county chief warden in the Lancashire civil defence force. One hon. Member opposite said that the civil defence services as at present organised are not really a viable civil defence force. I would be perfectly prepared to accept that that is so; but that being so I consider it is even more important that we should recognise the vital rôle that the Territorial Army plays today in backing up the civil defence force.
I know from personal experience that without the support and backing given by the Territorial Army units the civil defence organisation in Lancashire would be worth nothing. Given that backing and that help, we have in the Territorial Army and in the civil defence units a first-class nucleus that in time of approaching emergency could be expanded into a viable and worthwhile force. I must say that I have never been more surprised in my life than when I read paragraph 4 of the White Paper. I am astonished that any responsible Minister should come to the House with the proposition that the only situation that this country has to contemplate is that it would be totally devastated by nuclear attack. There is no suggestion of a possible half-way house, no Question of a near-miss; no question of conventional weapons or of only one bomb falling on one Part of the country. No, the only set of circumstances on which the whole of the White Paper is based is that the whole country is to be smothered with nuclear bombs.
It is on that basis that the Government propose to abolish the Territorial Army. I have never heard a more irresponsible 1539 or irrational argument put by anyone, let alone a responsible Minister. There are a thousand and one possibilities which no one can possibly contemplate at this stage. Those have not been taken into account, but Her Majesty's Government turn round and use the amazing phrase:The damage in this case would be so great and widespread that the present Territorial Army would be unable to offer assistance commensurate with its cost. It would be a very high premium to go on paying for uncertain insurance against a contingency that is in any case unlikely to come about.Her Majesty's Government are actually saying that where the country is under attack, where human rights may be at stake and where the presence of a disciplined force may be absolutely vital to maintain the structure of society, the presence of that force is not justifiable because what it could do is not commensurate with the probable cost. I have never heard a more appallingly unconvincing argument from someone who is supposed to be responsible. What, anyhow, is the saving to be? [An HON. MEMBER: "Chicken feed."] An hon. Gentleman says "Chicken feed". I would not call it chicken feed, for £20 million is a very large sum of money—if I really believed it was ever to be saved. But this is pie in the sky. It is not to come till 1970 and, anyhow, we have not vet taken account of all the home security that has to be planned.
As this debate goes on I notice that more and more hon. Gentlemen opposite and on the Front Bench begin to take more account of our responsibility in the home security field. I hazard the opinion that by the time alternative proposals have been worked out and put into effect this £20 million of so-called saving may be very much less and, in fact, may be nothing at all.
This is one of the most important debates we have had for many years. In a magnificent contribution to it, the hon. Member for Toxteth said that he sufficiently believed the case which he put before the House that he would not support his Government in the Division Lobby tonight. I will vote against the Government and I will do so convinced, more convinced than ever before, that I am voting against a totally wrong and totally irresponsible proposal.
§ 7.10 p.m.
§ Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)
Unlike several hon. Members who have addressed the House, I am quite unable to predict when the next war will take place. Nor am I in a position to give an indication of the form it is likely to assume. There has been far too much idle speculation on this subject. Some have envisaged a nuclear war, with vast destruction and devastation. Others have considered that the war of the future will assume a convential form, with vast armed forces engaged in battle, supplemented by aircraft, some orthodox and some supersonic. I repeat, it is all idle speculation.
Although I support the main proposition in the White Paper, there is, perhaps, too much speculation in paragraphs 3 and 4. From where have the Government obtained their information about the nature of a future war? I do not know who their existing military advisers are, but having had some experience of military advice—going back to 1929, when I was at the War Office, apart from some residence there for nearly three years later, during the Labour Government of 1945–51 and at the Ministry of Defence—I venture to say to my hon. and right hon. Friends that they must exercise some caution and prudence in accepting advice as to the nature, form and character of a future war.
I dismiss speculation and I equally dismiss the remarks of the hon. Member for Clitheroe (Sir Frank Pearson). He apparently has not heard of the independent nuclear deterrent. He apparently never read that memorable White Paper on Defence published in 1957—a document which contained many predictions by the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys), the then Minister of Defence. He, we were given to understand at that time, had got it straight from the horse's mouth. Those predictions were accepted by hon. Gentlemen opposite and by many people in the country.
That White Paper gave a new direction, form and thrust to the character of our defence forces. Both sides of the House deserve some reproach for the speculations which have become characteristic in recent years. No hon. Member is in a position to say dogmatically what kind of war will take place in future, if indeed there is another war. All that we are entitled to do is 1541 to exercise normal and essential precautions. We must obviously seek, in conjunction with our allies, to promote, as far as practicable, disarmament or partial disarmement. I am not saying that that is as easy as it may seem. But the effort must be made. Equally, we must, in conjunction with our allies, promote the most effective means of defence against possible aggression, through N.A.T.O., S.E.A.T.O., CENTO and a variety of other devices, last but certainly not least being the device on which we rest our security in the future, the United Nations Organisation, for what that may be worth.
These are the ordinary devices available to us. These precautions are essential and I have ventured in the past to point out, and I still retain the conviction, that it is the duty of any British Government, irrespective of ideology, to find ways and means, within their economic resources, to provide a measure of security for the nation. There is no conflict here, although I know that some of my hon. Friends believe that defence is impossible and that measures for defence should not be resorted to.
What is the issue before the House today? It is not a question of whether we want to abolish, to destroy, the Territorial organisation or whether we wish to retain it. That is an over-simplification of the problem. The issue is the simple one of whether we require to supplement our Regular forces on the ground by adequate reserve forces. If it is agreed that we must have reserve forces—and I assume that there is agreement on both sides of the House on this issue—the question which then arises is this: are these reserve forces adequate in character, sufficiently trained and efficiently equipped with the most modern weapons available? We must also consider whether they are to be administered and controlled either by a voluntary organisation outside the Territorial and Auxiliary Forces Association or by the Ministry of Defence, with its advisers. That is the issue.
I have had some experience of the Territorial Army, although not actual operational experience. I can only claim to having been a member of the Westminster Home Guard for a period during the last war, in which capacity I occasionally patrolled the Terrace late at night 1542 and challenged friend or foe. I also used to visit the rifle range in the subterranean part of this building in an effort to make myself efficient as a rifle shot. Later I went to Bisley and was a complete failure. However, I have had some experience as a Minister at the War Office and occasionally I went to visit depots, drill halls and so on and saw the Territorial forces engaged in training. I digress for a moment.
The right hon. Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser) is unfortunately not in his place. He informed us that he was an honorary colonel of the Lovat Scouts. How grand. When he spoke I ventured to intervene to ask a question, but he refused to yield. It was up to him. Now I ask the question. What is the function of an honorary colonel of the Lovat Scouts? Has he engaged in training and, if so, when and where? What about the Lovat Scouts? Do they train and, if so, when, where and do they contribute to the strength of our defence organisation? It is a fair question and I suppose that it might be argued that, potentially, they could be utilised at some time in the future. However, this question remains to be answered: are our Territorial forces adequately trained and equipped and are they efficiently administered and controlled to make an effective force when the time comes?
I do not dispute the argument, of which we have heard so much, that out of the Territorial Army, the volunteer force, comes an element of Regular recruitment which will not be available if the Territorial Army is disposed of. I do not dispute that, but it is not sufficient for our purpose. The question is: do we want adequate reserve forces? What is the answer? The right hon. and gallant Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth) is an authority on this subject in a practical as well as a theoretical sense. I should like him to answer the question: what do we want from our reserve forces?
Do we want a number of people meeting at weekends at some training establishment, and pretending to train with obsolete weapons that are not relevant to a war of the future—if there is ever to be a war? I do not suggest that we should indulge in beer swilling, though even if we do I can understand it. How often have I gone to a drill 1543 hall and seen men training with antiaircraft guns that were completely out of date? One can understand their frustration. I do not indulge in beer swilling myself, but I can understand it, and I do not complain. But that is not the issue. The primary issue is: do we want reserve forces? Are they to be adequate, properly controlled and administered as an effective organisation, and are they to make an effective contribution to the reserves that may some day be required to supplement our Regular forces?
If we want it, how is it to be done? Is it to be only in the Victorian way—but I must withdraw that; the Territorial Army began under Lord Haldane, and he had plenty of trouble about it. I noticed that when my right hon. Friend ventured to refer to 1907 and Lord Haldane's activities in the promotion of the Territorial Army, his reference was sneered at by the other side. The Conservatives have no right to sneer. It was they who opposed the Liberal Government at the time, and opposed Lord Haldane, who was a member of that Government, when he sought to build up the Territorial Army. The Conservatives have nothing to boast of at all. Let them put that in their pipes and smoke it.
My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Toxteth (Mr. Crawshaw) made a very sincere speech—though I did not agree with a word of it, except when, in the latter part, he suggested that there should he some reorganisation of the Territorial forces. That reminds me of what the Leader of the Opposition said about the need for rationalisation——
§ Mr. Shinwell
Yes. He talked of the need for reform but not a positive suggestion emerged from his lips to implement this theory of his about rationalisation of the forces. That is the trouble. Not even the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth) said anything positive or constructive about that. I should be glad to hear from this new defence expert, the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) who wants to abolish our forces east of Suez. What we are to have instead, I do not know—perhaps we may send the Territorials there. I should like him to tell us how he and his 1544 colleagues will put some substance into this Territorial Army to make it effective.
If I might repeat myself, it is all very well for the right hon. Member for Stafford and Stone—I see that he has just entered the Chamber; I do not like to speak behind a person's back—who is honorary colonel of the Lovat Scouts; a grandiose title. There are other hon. Members on the other side who are honorary colonels of this, that and the other unit in the Territorial forces. It is all very nice, but it is not defence——
§ Mr. Hugh Fraser
I am greatly obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. I am honorary colonel of the Lovat Scouts in order to protect the Lovat Scouts, and others, from right hon. Gentlemen like him.
§ Mr. Shinwell
Imagine the right hon. Gentleman saying that to me! If I were a vindictive man, what would be my rejoinder to that. But the right hon. Gentleman is, if he will forgive my saying so, an extinct volcano, to use the expression used by someone opposite in the past about some of his Conservative friends.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said that he had gone to the Highlands. What happened when he went there? He got plenty of publicity—he saw to that—but not a word about unemployment in the Highlands, not a word about depopulation in the Highlands, not a word about agriculture, or the development of new industries. All he heard in the Highlands was the sorry story of the possible destruction of the Territorial Army.
I will bring this argument to a conclusion, though I could do what some hon. Members have done and what my hon. Friend did—indulge in reminiscences. I could speak about what happened when I was Financial Secretary to the War Office in 1929. What a story I could tell of what a wonderful organisation this force was then—how adequate, how efficient. Again, I could speak of what happened in 1947. A letter appeared in The Times the other day which has been quoted quite frequently by hon. Members. It was signed by six field marshals. Some of them are very good friends of mine, I was intimately 1545 acquainted with them—indeed, at one time, some of them were my employees. Nevertheless, they had not a constructive suggestion to make on how to reform the Territorial forces. But I saw that Field Marshal Montgomery would not join them in signing that letter—and I back Montgomery against the lot. I welcome him to the Labour Party—the Conservatives can keep the rest.
I venture to say that this matter is being regarded far too seriously by some hon. Members. The hon. Member for Clitheroe almost wept at times. This is just a question of whether we want to build up an adequate defence force, and those who at one time or another who have been engaged in that task know how difficult it is. I can understand how my right hon. Friends have been frustrated, disturbed and harassed, and have been subjected to all kinds of military advice in recent months before coming to a conclusion. They are doing their best in the circumstances on the advice they have, and we have to accept it.
I therefore suggest that we accept the White Paper—leaving out paragraphs 3 and 4; the speculation, the conjectures the assumptions, because we do not know what kind of a war it will be. My hope is that we shall not have another war. At the same time, I have to say to some of my hon. Friends—they do not always agree with me, but I cannot help that, because I do not always agree with them—that we must take precautions in the interest of the security of the people. Therefore, we must have a measure of defence. I know that it is costly, but we must put up with that until we can promote a measure of disarmament. That is the object of every hon. Member in the House. On that we are agreed.
I suggest that we agree to accept the White Paper and make the best of it. Some people say that it will not work. How do we know that it will not work? One thing I know is that the existing Territorial Army will not work; it is not adequate; it is not efficient; it is not effective, and it is never likely to be so. So we must accept something rational. We must accept a change. For a number of years the War Office and the Ministry of Defence have been demanding that there should be radical change. Now 1546 the time has come for it, and we ought to accept it.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Mr. George Younger (Ayr)
As one of the former employees of the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) at a time when he was Secretary of State for War, I am very glad to be following him in debate today. I am also glad to follow him in what I could make out of his line of reasoning. The Territorial Army fully accepts the idea that it wants to change. There is no one in the Territorial Army today—the hon. Member for Liverpool, Toxteth (Mr. Crawshaw) will agree with this, I am sure—who says that the T.A. must remain as it is today. All the sound and fury from the other side of the House directed at proving that we are against change is absolutely wide of the mark and totally without foundation. Of course we want change but, if we want change, we do not want to be destroyed. What sort of an argument is it that says that because this organisation is not perfect it must be destroyed?
The basic fault of the White Paper is that it is called "Reorganisation of the Army Reserves". If the White Paper is put into effect, there will be no reserve army at all, because what is left is not reserves by any stretch of the word but reinforcements. Those who study military history, which after all, goes back to the beginning of time, know that a reserve and a reinforcement are two totally different things.
This new force is to amount to about 50,000 men. It will have much better facilities for call-out. It will have much better equipment. It will have a real chance of being successful in that way. I accept all that. I welcome all that. Many of the improvements which the new force will have are things for which I and many of my hon. Friends have been pressing for years. We pressed them strongly when the Conservative Party was in power. I press them equally hard now. I am very glad that they are in the White Paper.
The trouble is that the baby has gone out with the bath water, because we are now having most of the reforms for which we have been pressing for a long time, but the organisation which we have been trying to get reformed has disappeared. Let no one be in any doubt but that the Territorial Army as such will not exist if the White Paper is put into effect.
1547 I want to make the strongest possible protest on behalf of Scotland. The Territorial Army is successful in many parts of the country, but I do not think anyone would disagree with me when I say that nowhere is it more successful than it is in Scotland. Not only has it all the benefits which it has in other parts of the country, but it is in a real sense a part of our national life. I say nothing against Territorials anywhere else, but I suggest that one could live in London within a few miles of here for a considerable time and not know that there was a Territorial Army, through no fault of anybody's here. I defy anyone to live for more than three months in any sizeable Scottish town and not be made forcibly aware of the fact that there is a Territorial Army. It is in a real sense a part of the life of the community. It is tied up with our history.
I know this applies in England, too, but it certainly applies in Scotland. The removal of the whole Territorial Army from places like Argyllshire, Ross and Cromarty, Caithness, the Highland counties generally and the Borders, will leave a real gap in the whole life of the community.
§ Mr. Hector Monro (Dumfries)
Perhaps my hon. Friend would care, in developing his argument, to draw attention to the fact that stretching from Berwick on the east coast to Stranraer on the west, nearly 200 miles, there is to be only one company in the whole of the South of Scotland.
§ Mr. Younger
I thank my hon. Friend for reminding me of that fact, which I know very well indeed. This is an excellent example of what we shall have to face in Scotland.
I should like to spend plenty of time talking about this, but I make no apology for the fact that I now leave entirely all what I would call the social disadvantages of the abolition of the Territorial Army. I do not leave them because I do not believe them. I believe them as much as, and more than, any other hon. Member here. I believe them every bit as much as the hon. Member for Toxteth, who made a most courageous speech, with which I entirely agree. Of all the services the hon. Gentleman has rendered the Territorial Army in his life, what he has done today is perhaps the greatest of all. He has had the courage 1548 to do what I very much hope many of us would do in similar circumstances. He has had the courage to speak from the heart and to say what he means and what he really thinks is important, although it was against the natural inclinations we all have to be loyal to our parties. I very much hope that the hon. Gentleman's efforts will bear fruit.
The social aspects of the Territorial Army are powerful arguments in favour of its retention. They are advantages of the Territorial Army, but they are not the reason for its existence. In the Territorial Army—the Associations and the serving members—we believe that we have a cast-iron, first-class case based purely on the necessity of having a Territorial Army. I start from where I began, that we need to have a reserve to fall back on.
What is a reserve? A reserve is an army which is not committed in the first instance. The right hon. Gentleman's new reserve will be committed before hostilities start, certainly from the moment hostilities start, because we all know that the Regular Army needs every one of those 50,000 men to bring it up to strength. I will not go into details. I do not think this is in dispute. The Regular Army requires, for its 180,000 men to be effective, if it gets them, the 50,000 that are to be in the new Reserve. Therefore, certainly from the moment hostilities start, and probably very considerably earlier, there will be nothing left in this country.
I should like to know whether this has really sunk home. Not long ago I asked the right hon. Gentleman what forces there were in this country for home defence. The right hon. Gentleman gave me a magnificent figure of over 200,000 men. I was supposed to believe that all those men would be ready and willing to stand up and defend us when we were left with our Regular forces gone elsewhere. This was the most totally inaccurate and, in a way, although I say this in the most respectful way, dishonest way of putting it, because all these hundreds of thousands of men were people who are committed to many other jobs.
For example, the job of the R.A.F. Regiment is to protect airfields. Is it suggested that they would not be necessary to protect those very airfields at a time of crisis when war was about to 1549 break out or had broken out? Could they be withdrawn at that moment? Of course not. What about the naval forces at home stations practising or training? Would they be spared at a time of crisis? The figures have no validity whatever. The forces in this country at the moment are virtually committed now, and, even if any are available now, they certainly would not be when hostilities started.
I make one more point about the forces in this country at the moment. We are led to believe that there is a certain number of battalions always available here and ready to help us in any little trouble which may blow up. This is true on paper. There are several battalions ready in this country now. But anyone who knows anything about the Army will agree that the battalions at home at any time are the ones which are shortest of strength. It is a well known practice in the Army that, in order to get battalions overseas up to strength, one has to transfer men from battalions left at home. This applies to all the best known battalions. Almost every one of them in this country, except the Strategic Reserve, is very much below strength.
Thus, we shall be left to face a possible future conflict with no reserve whatever left behind when the Regular Army has been committed. But, of course, this begs the whole question touched on by many speakers, including the right hon. Member for Easington. Can we be certain that any future conflict will be nuclear? This is fundamental. I am sorry that I must straightly charge the Secretary of State and his colleagues, for whom I have the highest regard, with having accepted bad advice. I say that not without having taken very careful thought. They have accepted bad advice because, in considering all alternatives open to an enemy, whoever he might be, and to our own forces, they have accepted the one most favourable to themselves.
I ask them to look back into the history of warfare. Is it ever safe to accept the alternative most favourable to oneself when making one's plans? The noble Lord, Lord Montgomery, said not long ago in another place—and how true it is—that, when one is planning operations of war, there are at least three alternatives in almost any situation, and the only thing one can be sure of is that the enemy will take the fourth. This is the main 1550 fallacy into which right hon. Gentlemen have fallen, thinking that they can absolutely rely upon any future conflict being a nuclear exchange.
Let us look the other side for a moment and think about what an enemy would do. Will he say, "We know that the N.A.T.O. Alliance is relying on a nuclear exchange, so we too must rely on a nuclear exchange"? Is this the way the enemy approaches a battle? If a general is up against another army which is strong in artillery, does he say, "We must have an artillery duel"? Of course not. He thinks of something else, of a way round the problem, finding the enemy's weak spot.
If the plan in the White Paper is adopted, we shall have an obvious weak spot. It will be open to any enemy who turns up at any time to say, "I shall gain my objective by small incursions into N.A.T.O. Alliance territory. I shall make incursions which are important but not important enough to make the N.A.T.O. allies feel that they can use their nuclear deterrent". Step by step, therefore, we shall be at the mercy of any enemy because we shall not have anything like sufficient ground forces.
The only argument going the other way that I can see arises if one accepts that the only possible alternative is a nuclear exchange, and I shall now say a word or two about that.
§ Mr. Mulley
I agree that it is important to have sufficient ground forces in N.A.T.O. to guard against possible nibbling away, but how would the Territorial Army as at present organised be able to help in that situation?
§ Mr. Younger
I should have thought that that was obvious. As soon as there is any commitment of our present N.A.T.O. forces, probably within hours, certainly within days or weeks of their being committed, what will happen? Somebody will be a casualty, and the first thing to do will be to find someone to replace him.
§ Mr. Younger
Exactly, we must have the reserve to pull in. But the reinforcements are already part of our N.A.T.O. forces. Of course they are. We cannot 1551 commit the Regular Army until it has its administrative tail and all the rest.
§ Mr. Mulley
I am sorry to interrupt again, but it is precisely to meet that reinforcement need that we have the new Army Volunteer Reserve which will be equipped and trained to fill the gaps.
§ Mr. Younger
It is my fault for not making the point clear to the right hon. Gentleman. He obviously has not appreciated what I said at the beginning of my speech, and I must now put the point again and make it clear.
The 50,000 Reserve under the White Paper is part of the N.A.T.O. forces, because the N.A.T.O. forces cannot operate without them. Otherwise, what does the Minister have them for at all? What is to be the administrative tail? We are told that we do not need teeth arms. Why? We do not need the teeth arms because the Minister needs the administrative tail for the teeth arms he already has, and that is the N.A.T.O. force. I hope that he has got the point crystal clear, or, if he has not, that he will interrupt again. This is the main basis of my argument. The 50,000 are already needed for our existing forces and the Minister has no men over and above that to put into battle.
After this White Paper we shall have no Territorial Army. I ask hon. and right hon. Members, in considering how to vote, to ignore the social consequences of removing the Territorial Army because, as I have said, although they are powerful arguments in which I believe most strongly, they are not conclusive in this context. The argument which ought to make so many hon. Members on both sides follow the courageous lead given by the hon. Member for Toxteth is this. No Government ought to accept bad advice and rely only on the alternative most favourable to them. I am not accusing the Government of doing a Socialist trick. It is not Socialism I am worried about here. My concern is that right hon. Gentlemen have accepted bad military advice, and, in saying that, I should be supported—I do not mind saying this quite candidly—by 90 per cent. of the professionals. I am sure that 90 per cent. of soldiers will agree. But the right hon. Gentleman, quite properly, 1552 defends his advisers and says that he is accepting the advice of—
§ Mr. Mulley
This is rather important. We have made absolutely clear that decisions by any Minister on this Government are that Minister's responsibility. The civil and military advisers are not here and are unable to answer back. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will attack me and my right hon. Friend and not try, by innuendo, to bring in military colleagues.
§ Mr. Younger
The right hon. Gentlement is perfectly correct and I respect him for saying that and taking the proper attitude. I shall say no more about it. I mentioned it only because I wanted to say that I am sure that there is an opinion—I will put it in this way, and the Minister will know what I am talking about—which would disagree with his advice. I think that that is a fair statement.
I hope that the House will rise to the level of the example given to it a short time ago by the hon. Member for Toxteth and realise that the Territorial Army expects the House as a whole to regard this as a serious issue. The Territorial Army expects all hon. Members who think that these proposals are bad and wrong for the country to have the courage to save the Territorial Army by using their vote tonight according to their hearts and not according to their Whip.
§ 7.49 p.m.
§ Mr. William Hamling (Woolwich, West)
I remind the hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) of a speech made by his right hon. Friend the Member for Harrogate (Mr. Ramsden) when he held office. He said that the first job of the Territorial Army was to reinforce the British Army of the Rhine, and to train men of all arms for the overseas reinforcement rôle. It would be interesting to find out whether the Conservative Party still accepts the policy and the rôle that the Conservative Government mapped out for the Territorial Army.
The right hon. Member for Harrogate went on to say that the Government were asking the Territorial Army to supply increased numbers of reinforcements for B.A.O.R. and that, here again, they would not want, at any rate from the teeth arms, whole units.
1553 In other words, the Conservative Government intended to reorganise the Territorial Army. But it is clear from the speeches today from right hon. and hon. Members opposite that they have no consistent view as to what the Conservative Party's policy is or should be in relation to the reserve forces. There has been a great deal of talk about the alleged destruction of the Territorial Army. But this is not a destruction in the sense that the T.A. is being abolished as a reserve force. All that is happening is that the character of our reserve forces is being changed.
I must here declare my own interest. I am not and never have been a member of the Territorial Army. I am a member of the Royal Naval Volunteer Supplementary Reserve, London Flotilla. Recently, the R.N.V.S.R. was subjected to a change in organisation. That change was not first proposed by this Government any more than discussion about Territorial Army reorganisation began with them. It started under the Conservative Government.
In the case of the R.N.V.S.R., reorganisation proposals came from the Conservative Government. I cannot quote Admiralty documents, as everyone will understand, but the proposals started with the party opposite. Those proposals led to a great deal of heartburning in the R.N.V.S.R., not only in London but in other parts of the country. There was talk about the R.N.V.S.R. disappearing, about the threat to recruitment. There were meetings and deputations. I myself was on a deputation to my hon. Friend the Minister of Defence for the Royal Navy.
What has happened to all that heart-burning now? The R.N.V.S.R. has accepted the changes and if hon. Members opposite talk to some of the young officers in the London Flotilla they will learn that they are perfectly content with the way the changes are being worked out.
§ Mr. David Steel (Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles)
It has been pointed out many times that neither the T.A. Associations nor those who have spoken against this reorganisation are against changes but the comparison the hon. Gentleman is making is not valid because, for instance, in the three counties I represent there will be no opportunity for anyone to offer themselves as volunteers. It is 1554 not a question of accepting changes but of the complete removal of the opportunity to volunteer.
§ Mr. Hamling
I am seized of the point. I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman did not raise it in July when the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) welcomed this change.
§ Mr. Emlyn Hooson (Montgomery)
I welcomed changes in organisation but I certainly dissent from this approach. I said in July that there was an overwhelming case for the reorganisation of the Reserve Army and I do not think that anyone doubts that.
§ Mr. Hamling
I know very well what the hon. and learned Gentleman said and he knows that I would not want to misrepresent him. But when stern decisions have to be made people should be honest and say where they stand. I would say to the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) that in the case of the R.N.V.S.R., certain flotillas were disbanded. I also remind him that the Government intend to make new proposals about home defence. No doubt those proposals will provide an opportunity for people to volunteer to serve in other capacities in other forms of public service.
§ Mr. David Steel indicated dissent.
§ Sir Richard Glyn
The hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) says that the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) has not seen the proposals. Is he suggesting that he himself has seen them? If so, what are they?
§ Mr. Hamling
Not at all. I merely point out that the Government have announced that they are… continuing their examination of how best to secure appropriate provision for home defence …What is wrong with that?
§ Mr. David Steel
Adequate provision for home defence is quite another matter from offering oneself for another form of public service.
§ Mr. Hamling
Not at all. Some hon. Members have spoken of the rôle of the 1555 T.A. in home defence. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has covered that issue in the sentence I quoted. We are now asked, "Why not wait until we have had the whole lot?" But that is not what the Opposition were saying earlier. On 27th October, at Question Time, hon. Members opposite complained about the delay in announcing the plans for the Territorial Army.
The Opposition cannot have it both ways. They cannot, first, complain about delay and then, when my right hon. Friend is courteous to the House and produces a White Paper, say, "We do not want it now; we should have it later." In 1960 the last Government published a White Paper on the Territorial Army. That White Paper did not review the whole of the defence forces. In fact, the then Government did just what my right hon. Friend has now done.
§ Mr. William Yates
They did nothing of the sort. They went to the Territorial Army Associations and discussed the matter with them. In this case, the matter was done differently.
§ Mr. Hamling
The hon. Gentleman does not follow my reasoning. I thought that he was being attentive for once. I am explaining that my right hon. Friend has brought out a White Paper on the reserve forces. He has not put it off until we have had a complete review of the Armed Forces. In that sense he is following the practice of the previous Government.
§ Colonel Sir Tufton Beamish (Lewes)
These plans to destroy the Territorial Army were announced in August. The White Paper is virtually no different.
§ Mr. Hamling
This proposal is not a destruction but a change in name and a change in style. The rôle will be exactly the same as that laid down in 1964—reinforcement of B.A.O.R. That is precisely what my right hon. Friend has been talking about.
§ Sir Richard Glyn
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for giving way again, for this is so important. Does not the hon. Gentleman know that the Territorial Army for over 10 years has been intensively trained to assist the civil power, in the event of a nuclear strike, in the intensely important duty of identifying 1556 contaminated people and segregating them for treatment so that they cannot contaminate others?
§ Mr. Hamling
I know all about that. That is the rôle of the home defence forces, however. It is not the rôle of fighting troops. The right hon. Member for Bexley (Mr. Heath) said that the rôle of the Territorial Army should be as fighting troops. Let hon. Members read the OFFICIAL REPORT tomorrow.
The Government are reorganising the country's defence forces, surely a most desirable project. It is something which ought to have been done years ago. It is remarkable how many things in the past 12 months have fallen to the present Government to do which should have been done years ago. The hon. Member for Ayr quoted in his support a certain noble Lord, but it is remarkable that that noble Lord supports the Government's and not the Opposition's attitude on this subject.
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) said, we have to judge this matter on the grounds of efficiency. Is the present cost of the Territorial Army justified, given the rôle that it is now fulfilling and given its present constitution? I am quite satisfied that my right hon. Friend is fully justified in presenting this policy in the White Paper. It has been said that it will affect recruiting, but I have already explained that a similar policy did not affect R.N.V.S.R. recruiting. Will not men prefer to join effective, well-equipped reserve forces rather than forces only a shadow of what they were?
Hon. Members opposite have talked about an emergency during which there might be a need for very large land-based forces. If that were so, their own Government singularly failed to carry out the necessary tasks. They starved the conventional forces. They ran down the Navy. We had a situation when the C.-in-C. Home Fleet was flying his flag in a minesweeper. I wonder what Churchill would have said of that if he had been in Opposition. He would have filled The Times with his protests every day.
§ Mr. Hamling
I do not want to quarrel with my hon. and pacifist Friend.
1557 What emergency do the hon. Member for Clitheroe (Sir Frank Pearson) and the right hon. and gallant Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth) envisage during which there would be a need to expand the Army as a basis for the T.A.? This conflicts quite obviously with the earlier speech of the Leader of the Opposition. Is it Tory policy to want to expand our conventional forces? If so, the Tories singularly failed to do so, because while in office they never even fulfilled our limited commitments to the Army of the Rhine. In the event of a sudden and large-scale attack by, say, the U.S.S.R., what contribution could the Territorial Army make? How long would it take to mobilise? How many units are up to strength, even on the basis of their limited establishments—and everyone knows that they were never up to establishment and never expected to be?
§ Mr. William Yates
Units of the Territorial Army, in particular the Shropshire Yeomanry, were over-established this year and were asked to reduce. When there was mobilisation in 1961, certain regiments were able to mobilise to about 85 per cent.
§ Mr. John Tilney (Liverpool, Wavertree)
The hon. Gentleman cannot apprecite the recruiting strength on Merseyside and other areas. Does he not appreciate on the sabotage issue, for instance, that there is no one to know what will happen in Europe in future? We are not part of Europe. What would happen supposing the Communists in Italy or France became stronger than they are today?
§ Mr. Hamling
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would never have dreamed of putting that hypothetical question to his own party when it was in power. In this country we cannot organise our defence forces on the basis of covering every hypothetical situation. His own party never did it and never tried to do it. Otherwise we would have had far larger conventional forces than we have. The Tories fought the last election not on expanding the T.A. and not on building up conventional forces, but on the nuclear deterrent and Polaris submarines. We 1558 were told that these were our only defence, not the T.A.
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles (Winchester)
Supposing that we had no defence arms in this country and were the only N.A.T.O. country not to have any home defence, can the hon. Gentleman explain whether he considers that we would not present a perfect target to any hostile Power?
§ Mr. Hamling
Suppose, suppose, suppose. That is another hypothetical situation. The hon. Gentleman's Government never covered every hypothetical situation and he cannot expect the present Government to do so, or our defence budget would be £6,000 million and my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) would be even more angry than he normally is.
§ Mr. Hamling
The hon. and gallant Gentleman says that it would be wonderful if our defence budget were about £6,000 million a year. How daft can one get? His Government never did it and never had any idea of doing it and he cannot expect the present Government to do what his own Government would never have done—to cover every hypothetical situation. For 13 years Tory defence policy was based on the nuclear deterrent. The Tories said that we could no longer rely on conventional forces. That was their whole policy at the last election and they cannot change their tune tonight and be honest.
One hon. Member spoke of the rôle of the Territorial Army yin the event of civil disorder. This was astonishing. Did he envisage British forces taking up arms in this country against members of the civil community, our own kith and kin? Someone should tell him about Rhodesia. Maintaining law and order? The miners in the Territorial Army taking up arms against miners? Hon Gentlemen should not be so daft.
§ Mr. Hamling
The supposition about civil disorder was made by hon. Gentlemen and not by me.
1559 What is the cost of the Territorial Army? I am not a very old Member in this place yet, but I am told that for years the Estimates Committee has been trying to examine the cost of administration of the Territorial Army. I wonder why it has never got round to it?
§ Mr. W. H. K. Baker (Banff)
If that is the case, how can anybody tell that the Government will save £20 million?
§ Mr. Hamling
I was talking about the Estimates Committee. One assumes that even in the days of the Tory Government the Defence Departments had some idea of the cost of the Territorial Army. Why has such an investigation not been conducted? The reason is that there are vested interests against us and have been for many years.
That brings me to the attitude of the Liberal Party. I am astonished to discover that the Liberal Party, which in its propaganda has always been insistent on the need closely to examine the amount of money spent on our defence and which has always pretended to be even more ruthless than we in the Labour Party about this matter, more radical, should not be very radical when it comes to resisting the pressure of the county associations.
§ Mr. Bessell
May I ask the hon. Gentleman how he is in a position to state the policy of the Liberal Party on this issue until such time as he has heard it propounded in this Chamber?
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
The policy of the Liberal Party on this issue is quite simple. Four Liberal Members have gone to the far north because they think that the Chinese are going to drop paratroops.
§ Mr. Hamling
I understood that the Liberal Party were opposed to the White Paper. I understood that from an earlier intervention, and I understood that it had changed its mind somewhat from the attitude it adopted in July. There were no reservations whatever in the remarks made then by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson). There was not one shadow of a reservation then and there has not been until this week.
§ Mr. Hooson
The hon. Member is not correct. In speech after speech I have called upon the Government to review the whole of our defence commitments, with a view to saving money on overseas bases, and also to ensuring that we are adequately defended at home.
§ Mr. Hamling
I am not aware that you have made any statement, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
What I am saying is that on this issue, on which the Liberals intend to vote tonight, they have never made a single speech either in this House or outside it.
§ Mr. Bessell
I really think that it is most unfair for the hon. Gentleman to make statements which are grossly inaccurate, because there are plenty of speeches on record, certainly by myself—and I will hand him the Press cuttings—showing that I have spoken against this White Paper, and the intentions of th Government. The hon. Gentleman should withdraw his statement.
§ Mr. Hamling
The White Paper was published only last week, so the hon. Gentleman cannot have made many speeches. I know that he is pretty good, but he has not made one speech. [Interruption.] I will make my speech if I am not interrupted so much by hon. Members opposite, from a sitting position.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Roderic Bowen)
What the House is interested in is that the hon. Gentleman should get on with it.
§ Mr. Hamling
Perhaps with that interruption I might be able to.
What is the function of the Territorial Army? Is it to be used to defend this country in the event of a major invasion? At no time in the history of the last Government was this aim put forward. We have had a run-down of conventional forces by the previous Government and it ill becomes them to start talking on this matter. For many years there has been 1561 a need for an examination of the Territorial Army. I understand that there are about 1,500 drill halls in this country. How many of them are occupied and how often? How many men man each of these drill halls, even those in Scotland?
When the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition talked about them being fighting units whom was he imagining they would fight? He went on later to say that the rôle of the T.A. was to supplement civil defence and to provide transport and communication units. Fighting troops? Evidently they do not know what fighting is in Bexley. If they come over to Woolwich we will show them. This is precisely the rôle envisaged for the new reserve forces by my right hon. Friend—the supply of support units and logistic units. When he comes to be specific, the Leader of the Opposition lines up behind the White Paper every time.
I must apologise for going on a little longer than I had intended, subject always to interruptions. It is quite clear that there was a need for this reorganisation: there was a need to introduce reserve forces of a much better nature, much better equipped and much more modern and much more in keeping with the modern elements in the Regular force. I congratulate my right hon. Friend and the Government for their courage in standing up to the vested interests, which have been expressed so volubly today and on other occasions.
§ 8.16 p.m.
§ Sir Henry d'Avigdor-Goldsmid (Walsall, South)
The hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) referred to a naval officer hoisting his flag on a minesweeper. I felt that he had rather hoisted his flag on a drifter, and that that drifter was very much at the mercy of the tide. I was relieved when, at the end of his speech, he came back to the subject of this debate and got away from the Royal Navy, a Service which I greatly admire and which we are not discussing now. I was also surprised that his remarks about the Estimates Committee went entirely uncorrected by the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence). The hon. Gentleman knows that the Chairman of the Estimates Committee is the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. William Hamilton), and I would have thought that the character of those two 1562 hon. Gentlemen, so well known to the hon. Member for Woolwich, would have ensured that if there was a Government Department seeking to hide a guilty secret of the sort suggested, it would have been prised out.
§ Mr. Cyril Bence (Dunbartonshire, East)
What my hon. Friend referred to was the fact that it is well known that for many years the Estimates Committee has received recommendations from the Treasury covering those Departments of State where it thought it desirable that an inquiry should be made. The Territorial Army and its Associations have been dealt with from time to time, but no sub-committee has ever decided to accept the task of investigating the Territorial Forces.
§ Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid
I am disappointed with the hon. Gentleman. I would not have given way if I had thought that he was going to be so disappointing. As a very prominent member of the Estimates Committee who knows its duties I think that he has failed to do it justice.
I want to talk about the White Paper, particularly as it affects two units, with which I am very closely associated, as I have the honour to be the honorary colonel of them. The right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), a former Minister of Defence, had a great joke about honorary colonels. I am glad to say that my right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser), pointed out that one of the duties of honorary colonels was to protect their units from attacks by ex-Ministers of Defence.
I have analysed the effect of this White Paper on two units. One is an infantry battalion, which will be cut down to one company. It may well be argued by those who count figures that it is under strength as a battalion and that as a company 30 per cent. over strength it will employ perhaps the same number of people. But it will employ a very much smaller number of officers.
The Minister of Defence for the Army knows that when it comes to fighting the enemy officers are in very short supply. In my military experience, and I expect in his, one went into action with a very great shortage of officers. Curiously enough, it seemed that the further one 1563 went from the sharp end of a war the more officers there were about. This battalion will lose and be unable to employ perhaps as many as 15 or 20 subalterns and officers. Where will they find a training and occupation which can replace for them what they have got out of being part of an infantry unit in the Territorial Army?
The other unit with which I have concerned myself is a signal regiment. Signal regiments were rather sneered at by the hon. Member for Woolwich, West. If he ever reaches dry land he will realise that the Royal Corps of Signals finds itself in just as many uncomfortable places as the signaller on board ship. He made un unworthy slur. I know that he went very wide in his speech, but he should correct the record because otherwise he will go down as having sneered at one of the most honourable branches of a Service.
§ Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid
I cannot follow that. The only hon. Member I heard mention signallers was the hon. Member for Woolwich, West.
This signal regiment has an ancient history. It goes back to the Cinque Ports Fencibles of the eighteenth century, which were formed in the days of William Pitt. It has had various transmutations. It has been an artillery regiment, a garrison artillery regiment and a signal regiment. It is stationed in East and West Kent. I see that its area is now to stretch from London to Brentwood, to Maidstone and to Norwich.
Of course, one can do individual training at scattered centres. Probably the individual training is just as good at scattered centres as it is if the regiment comes together. But how one gets a regiment to come together and for the officers and men to get to know each other when they are scattered between Norwich, Maidstone and London is something on which the White Paper does not enlighten me and which I very much doubt has been considered. The fact is that the White Paper is an attempt to substitute individuals for units. The fallacy is that the individual is a creature of habit. He does not behave in the 1564 same way with strangers as he does with people he knows. The substitution of individuals for units will not produce the same result.
There is a great deal of talk about the difference in training and the importance of extra training. My experience of military life is that training never comes to an end. I dare say that that is true of the Navy. Whether one is a Regular soldier, a Territorial soldier, or a Reservist, one is training—and if a person is not training he should be training.
A great deal of unnecessary emphasis has been placed on the difference in training between the Regular soldier and the Territorial soldier. Of course, the Territorial soldier has not had the basic training. The White Paper may result in improving his basic training. But the need for trained reinforcements will be met just as well by a Territorial unit as by individual reinforcements.
This scheme will stand or fall on the numbers which it attracts. The reason why I find it so extraordinary is this. It is absolutely definite in certain respects. For instance, our commitment to the United Nations is not 1,000 or 1,200 but exactly 1,100. I see from the appendix that we are to have not two, three, four or six but no fewer than five mobile laundries. I begin to wonder where this detail leads us.
My recollection of Army life concerns not so much the mobile laundry but the mobile bath unit. In my experience, the mobile bath unit had one special aim, and that was to house the divisional concert party. I do not suppose that the rôle of a mobile laundry is altogether different. Its object is to house people who are useful in other than strictly military respects. I am therefore interested that five mobile laundries are included in the order of battle.
I ask myself whether the White Paper has been drawn up very seriously as a plan or whether the detail is there to blind us with facts. I wonder whether the fact that it was issued at 10 o'clock yesterday morning and is being debated today has allowed anyone to digest it thoroughly. We all do our best, but no one has had the chance to refer to the sort of experts to whom we usually go on these matters. I am frankly unimpressed by the amount of fact contained in it.
1565 It reminds me of the military operations which one found oneself undertaking. One had instructions about getting up in the morning, having breakfast and crossing the starting line. When one had crossed the starting line everything lapsed into the fog of war. Although one might have breakfast at 5 a.m., it was unlikely that one had another meal for two days. The big question of home defence is left wide open in the White Paper; and it hangs over this debate like a great question mark.
As I have said, the scheme stands or falls by whether it will attract the men. Hon. Members on both sides of the House have indicated that it will be a discouragement to men. I was particularly impressed by the speech of the right hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger), who has considerable experience in these matters and who certainly gave little praise to his right hon. Friends who have produced the White Paper.
To sum up my views, I cannot do better than quote the views expressed by the Council of Territorial and Auxiliary Forces Associations in its Press release yesterday which stated—and I am sure that the Minister has marked this:The Council do not believe that the country will be well served if the Government continues to ignore the advice on major issues of those who know most about civilian volunteers and recruiting.That is the question, civilian volunteers and recruiting. The body which will be responsible for those civilian volunteers is despondent about the merits of the scheme which is before us.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric Ogden (Liverpool, West Derby)
The nearer the House comes to the witching hour of nine o'clock, the shorter the speeches become and the more hon. Members can get into the debate. I should like to hear a contribution from the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell). Therefore, as I said on the last occasion I rose to make a speech, mine will be a truncated version of what might have been a very fine speech.
The Leader of the Opposition made a fighting speech, one of the best he has made for some time. It went some way to meet the cry of the Lady from Don Valley at the Conservative Party conference, where she said, "Be ruthless, take off the kid gloves and lead us." 1566 Although I did not agree with much of what the right hon. Gentleman said, I enjoyed his speech.
To take up two points from the earlier part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, he claimed that the Government's proposals had aroused deep hostility. I should place on record that from my constituency of West Derby, Liverpool, I have received two letters and two telegrams. They came from people who were deeply sincere and they were obviously sent by somebody who had a close connection with the subject.
The right hon. Gentleman then spoke of a spontaneous outburst of hostility. I wonder whether this is the case. That it has been well organised, I agree; that it has been aided in my part of Lancashire by a reputable firm of public relations people, again I agree. That it is politically advantageous to at least one of the parties opposite, again I agree, but that it has been spontaneous, no, I do not agree.
§ Mr. Leslie Spriggs (St. Helens)
Is my hon. Friend aware that in St. Helens, only a lieutenant-colonel has bothered to write to me about the Government's White Paper?
§ Mr. Ogden
One of the publications that was circulated stated, "If you have never written to your M.P., perhaps now is the time." As I say, I received two letters. It also stated, "If you are worried, send this leaflet." I received one leaflet. That, I hope, is an answer to the suggestion that the outburst has been deep, widespread and spontaneous.
§ Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)
Does my hon. Friend realise that in Walton—despite the fact that the former Member for Parliament, who was defeated at the last election, wrote an interesting article against the Government's policy on the Territorial Army—as Member for Parliament for the constituency I have received no letters on this urgent and serious question?
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles rose—
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles
Could it be that the hon. Member's constituents thought that they would be knocking at a closed door?
§ Mr. Ogden
I have been knocked on many occasions. Whether I have ever been called a closed door, I do not know. I hope to take up the point later.
The right hon. and gallant Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth) claimed that the Territorial Army was the first defence against invasion. I have heard this said on many occasions. He said that at one time in the past, before the days of vast air armadas that was the rôle of the Royal Navy. I remind the right hon. and gallant Gentleman and other hon. Members that the last time when there was a threat of invasion, there were vast air armadas. With respect to the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy, it is a matter of record that the only thing which prevented invasion at that time was the Royal Navy. That should be made clear.
I agree with hon. Members opposite that there has not been a lot of time to consider the White Paper, but we have known since July that this subject would come forward probably in about October or November. There was time to learn and to listen.
In reply to the point made by the right hon. and gallant Member, I went to the Territorial unit—I did not wait to be invited—in West Derby, a fine unit of the Liverpool Scottish, and said that this matter was coming up. My only Army experience was a short one in the 5th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers before I moved to the Navy. I spent an interesting, alert and instructive evening with them. I have had correspondence with them. Whether they consider me a closed door is something that the hon. and gallant Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles) should ask them rather than me.
They have three main fears. The first is uncertainty about the future of their own units. The second is that the new proposals, with much more stringent conditions attached to them, will result in a loss of recruits, particularly the young men coming along as officer material, 1568 because their employers believe that they will be whisked away at the drop of a hat and they will discourage them from joining the Territorials. The third point is uncertainty about the dispersal or disposal of self-contained units which can act independently in any circumstances.
The order of battle in the White Paper sets out the proposed locations. For the City of Liverpool, the units of Western Command that it is proposed to place in the city are the Royal Signals, the Parachute Regiment, the Royal Artillery, the Lancastrian Battalion, the Liverpool Scottish, the Royal Corps of Transport, R.E.M.E., and my father's old regiment, the R.A.M.C. There is no fear on that score, therefore, as it affects my own constituency.
The second point was that my right hon. Friend did give the assurance that there was no need for employers to feel that their employees would be spirited away at the drop of a hat. He may wish to enlarge on that on a future occasion.
I agree to some extent with the criticism made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger). I happen to think that we have started in the middle of what should be a more comprehensive review. First, we have to decide the sort of economic situation that we are in. We will then be able to decide what our foreign policy is to be, and our defence policy flows from that. Finally, we decide on the rôle of our home forces.
Some play has been made on the rôle of the Territorial Army in home defence. It has been emphasised from almost every point that its first duty in practice has been to support civil defence. The second rôle seems to be that of anti-sabotage. The third rôle is the control of civil disturbances, and that is a point which has been made so many times by hon. Members opposite that I am very disturbed about it. Is there at the back of their minds another Peterloo? That is not a reason why people have volunteered to join the Territorial Army. Its fourth role is that of recruitment, fighting comes a long way down the list.
There has been much talk of initiative, the volunteer spirit, comradeship and community spirit. Is the present organisation the only way in which those qualities can be used? There has been talk of a home defence force or a national guard, 1569 and it would be easy to form that in a country like ours where fortunately we are spared national disasters. Could we not have a combined force to deal with civil defence, A.F.S., industrial disasters and natural disasters? Certainly there is no military rôle at home for the Territorial Army.
The Territorial Army has a long history whether it has been the Anglo-Saxon fyrd, the medieval bowmen, the militia or the Territorial Army. It has always faced times of change, just as it is now.
§ Mr. William Yates
Does the hon. Member envisage that the national guard should be drawn from the civil defence forces and the Territorial Army?
§ Mr. Ogden
Not necessarily in the way that the hon. Member for the Wrekin (Mr. William Yates) has put it. If there is a need for a combination force of that type for home duties, volunteers from one force who are no longer wanted can come back into the new force. Obviously it would not have the same appeal as the Territorial Army, which is primarily military, but certainly the individuals who are now in civil defence could be used in such a force.
Finally, I should like to address a personal note to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Liverpool, Toxteth (Mr. Crawshaw). My hon. Friend spoke with deep conviction and sincerity. No one would doubt that. It is not easy to disagree with one's friends. He and I have discussed this matter many times during the past months, and to a degree I share his concern, but I do not follow his arguments, or where they lead. My hon. Friend spoke of the pledges which he gave his constituents at the last General Election. We both made the same pledges. We fought side by side in the same city, for the same cause.
I would remind my hon. Friend, with respect, and with great admiration and affection, if I may use that word, that he is the Member of Parliament for Toxteth, not the Member for the Territorial Army. He made his opinions plain. He has done his duty. He has followed the path of honour and duty all his life, and I suggest that this evening, having done his duty as he saw it, the path of honour is not to be misled by some hon. Gentle- 1570 men opposite, but to go into the Lobby with his hon. Friends.
§ 8.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Bessell (Bodmin)
I thank the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Ogden) for, as he said, paraphrasing his speech. I realise that many hon. Members would like to take part in the debate and that it is therefore necessary to keep our speeches as short as possible.
I thought that the opening speech by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition was one of the best speeches that I have been privileged to hear him make. Indeed, he put forward a case which was forceful and effective, and which held a great deal of conviction. But I was sorry that he found it necessary to refer to the Highlands in the way that he did, and I am sorry, too, that he found it necessary to suggest that some of my right hon. and hon. Friends would be absent from the Division tonight. Perhaps the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) will tell me how many Members of the Conservative Opposition are paired.
§ Mr. Bessell
Is it 10, 11, 12, 13 or 14? This is important, because there is no doubt that the voting lists will be looked at very carefully tomorrow.
§ Miss Harvie Anderson (Renfrew, East)
Would the hon. Gentleman agree that the Highlands, which are represented by some of the hon. Members who are absent, are harder hit, relative to the population, and have a higher recruiting record than any other area in the United Kingdom?
§ Mr. Bessell
I accept the hon. Lady's point. The hon. Members in question are in the Highlands, but. I trust that if the planes are on time they will be here when the vote is taken.
I turn now to the matter under debate. There are two fundamental issues facing the House today. The first is to ask ourselves whether the Territorial Army is an effective weapon of defence in modern war. The second question is, can it serve the Western Alliance effectively, apart from purely national interests? I believe that the answer to both these questions is in the affirmative, and in the few 1571 moments at my disposal I shall try to explain why.
Paragraph 3 of the White Paper says:The risk of major war in Europe is now small but if it did come it would involve the use of nuclear weapons.I doubt whether there has ever been a statement which has rolled off the printing presses of Her Majesty's Stationery Office which is so arrogant, so completely without foundation, and indeed has behind it an assumption which cannot for one moment be supported by the evidence of the last 20 years.
Of course there is the danger of atomic warfare. This is one of the great fears under which we all live in these days, but the fact remains that in the years since the last war the limited warfare that has taken place in Korea, that is taking place in Vietnam now, and indeed the threat of a world war in Cuba, were all incidents in which atomic warfare did not play any part. The reason why the great Powers stepped back from the brink at the time of Cuba was that the threat of atomic war was so great. It is for this reason, perhaps more than any other, that the danger of atomic war is far less today than it was 10, 15 or 20 years ago. We know only too well that the kind of warfare that is always expected before the actual outbreak is the kind which does not take place.
Many of us remember only too well, in the months or in the year prior to World War II, what a great amount of time and money was spent on precautions against what we believed would be a devastating gas attack. We were convinced it would happen in the early days if not in the early hours of the war. As we know, gas was not used. The one weapon which is used in war is that which is least expected. In the same way, in the years preceding World War I there were many arguments in this House on the question of naval strategy. The major part of Britain's defence was governed by our naval defences and strength. Yet it was found that the moment war broke out the Army was in the front line, and continued to be so for the major part of the war and in the major sphere of the war.
For those reasons it is quite wrong and quite misleading—and even dishonest—that the White Paper should con- 1572 tain the statement that whatever kind of war is fought in Europe in the future it will be a nuclear war. There is no evidence whatever to support this. It makes nonsense of the avowed intention of Her Majsety's Government and of the previous Administration to do all in their power to obtain an agreement on nuclear disarmament.
The Prime Minister has publicly paid tribute to the work of Mr. Harold Macmillan, when he was Prime Minister, in obtaining a limited ban on nuclear tests, and the efforts of Her Majesty's Government have been directed towards the extension of that ban—and great credit to them for that. Yet, in spite of that, they say that the next war will be a nuclear war. How can they make such a statement? If they adopt one line they cannot possibly support a second argument.
I would like to believe that all forms of warfare are unlikely to occur again, but I know that that is unrealistic, and I know that however much we may wish to see an end to war and however much the efforts of Her Majesty's Government are bent in that direction the threat will live with us perhaps for many hundreds of years to come. In those circumstances, and in the absence of any certainty that the next war, whatever form it takes or whenever it takes place, will be a purely nuclear war, the Territorial Army has a vital part to play not only in the defence of the nation but in the defence of the N.A.T.O. Alliance.
The Territorial Army is an essential training ground for a vital nucleus of an effective conventional force in wartime. That has been proved abundantly in two world wars. Therefore, to accept the White Paper and the suggestions for the reorganisation of the Territorial Army contained in it would be wholly wrong.
§ Mr. Reynolds
We are all anxious to hear the hon. Member explain the change in the attitude of the Liberal Party since 29th July, when his hon. and learned Friend said:Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there was an overwhelming case for the reorganisation of the Reserve Army, that this has to take place, and that any responsible Government would not have to take this step unless the country were prepared to run … the risk of bankruptcy.
§ Mr. Bessell
I appreciate that there has been a great deal of effort on the part 1573 of hon. Members opposite to make use of that statement by my hon. and learned Friend. For the record, therefore, it must he repeated. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) said:Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there was an overwhelming case for the reorganisation of the Reserve Army, that this has to take place, and that any responsible Government would have to take this step unless the country were prepared to run at some time the risk of bankruptcy? This applies to all Government Departments. Bearing this in mind, would he say what he means, in this context, by saying that 'ultimately' there will be a saving of £20 million per annum? In how many years can we look forward to this saving?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th July, 1965; Vol. 717, c. 701.]This has been called in aid again and again. There is no change of attitude at all by my hon. and learned Friend or by the Liberal Party. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] If I may be allowed to complete my speech without further interruptions. I will try to show how that is so. [HON. MEMBERS "Chameleon."] I should be grateful if I could make my speech in my own time and in the way I choose.
I come next to the point which I was trying to make when I was interrupted. We have heard about areas like Scotland, where units of the Territorial Army are almost 100 per cent. up to strength. This is a great tribute to that area of the country and to the sense of public service which our Scottish friends have—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I hear cheers of "Hear, hear" from hon. Members on the other side. Yet this new plan would deprive, for example, the Western Isles, the Orkneys and Caithness of their present Territorial force. The practical defence of the whole of the Highlands would be based at Inverness—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where are your hon. Friends?"] Before we have more shouts about the whereabouts of my hon. Friends, I suggest that hon. Members would be wise to wait until the Division takes place and not discuss that now.
What is true of Scotland is also true of other remote areas of the United Kingdom, including Cornwall and parts of Wales. The suggestion that the Territorial Army serves no better purpose than a social club—which has been suggested, not, I am glad to say, in the debate, but outside the House—is despicable. It has 1574 rendered great service to the nation not only in the past: I believe that it has a worthwhile rôle to play in the future. I have to paraphrase my speech, but, in reply to the interruptions I have received about my hon. and learned Friend's comment, I would say, "Yes, we accept that there is a need for a certain amount of reorganisation". We accept that there should be cuts in expenditure without necessarily harming the efficiency of the force."
For example, we should like to see a greater co-ordination of the civil defence services. It is a great mistake on the part of the Government to bring forward these proposals at this time and by themselves, without a general policy on civil defence and the Territorial Army, which are tied together. There may be a substantial joint saving of the kind mentioned by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Montgomery. In the same way, we should like to see the Territorial Army used more effectively as an emergency task force in peacetime, in conditions of national disaster. There are many opportunities for service in this direction which would be an economy for the nation and give the T.A. a greater opportunity for service.
The 1965 and 1966 Estimates allow £11,100,000 for pay and allowances for 110,000 personnel in the T.A.—or £100 per head. On information which I believe to be correct, I would say that the cost is about £125 per man, including uniforms and other items. That is not sufficient. The bounty could well be increased and about £140 per man would be far more realistic. Even then, if there were a cut back in strength to, say, 70,000 better equipped and trained men, that would still mean a saving of about £4½ million.
We have heard a lot about drill halls and I agree that in many instances these facilities overlap; that they are sometimes only five or 10 miles apart. Undoubtedly there could be a cutback there and a considerable saving. If we reduced the number of drill halls from the present total of 1,244 or 1,289—there seems to be some conflict about the exact number—to about half the present figure, there would be a saving of about £1,750,000. That would indeed be a different proposal from that of the Government.
1575 There could indeed be savings, on the lines indicated by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Montgomery and others. Even with the reorganisation and the need to make savings, there is no need to enter into a policy of utter destruction because however much the Government may argue to the contrary, the fact remains that their proposals are policies for the destruction of the Territorial Army as we know it today. This is a matter of gravity not only for the House and for the nation but for the whole of the Western Alliance. I trust that the Government will not only look at the matter again but will discard their present proposals.
I cannot understand how it is possible for the Government to advocate this policy when it so obviously runs contrary to all their thinking and utterances at the time of the last General Election. We remember only too well that the main cry of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite who are Ministers today was that the independent nuclear deterrent was not a credible proposal. I have no particular quarrel with that argument, but if they are saying that the independent nuclear deterrent is not credible, how can they equate that with the suggestion that we should cut back to this extent on our conventional forces, remembering that the second part of their election argument was that we had to strengthen our conventional forces? I do not disagree with that latter statement and my hon. Friends and I support it.
However, if the Government believe that the proposals in the White Paper are matters of urgency and that they fulfil the defence demands of the nation, why do they not remove the Whips tonight? If they believe this policy to be in the national interest they should do that, and I know that I speak for my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) when I say that if that were done we would remove the Whips from this bench. I venture to think that the Leader of the Opposition would adopt a similar course.
If the Government seriously believe ill their proposals—that they are in the public interest, the future security of the nation and are in line with the will of the nation—why do they not demonstrate that by removing the Whips? The 1576 answer is that they know full well that they would be fortunate if they managed to find 100 of their supporters on the benches opposite who would vote in favour of these proposals. Their present policy is not only illogical but disastrous.
As we have been reminded tonight, it was the Liberal Party which first brought forward the legislation which enabled the Territorial Army to be formed. That is part of the proud history of the party to which I belong. I see nothing in the White Paper, and I have heard nothing in the speeches of hon. Gentlemen opposite today, to make me believe that that wise decision which was taken more than 50 years ago by the Liberal Party when we were the Government was wrong or that anything has happened to change the need for a Territorial Army which is effective, useful and a valuable force for the defence of the country.
My opinion, and the opinion of the vast majority of people in Britain, of the White Paper is best summed up like this—I tear the document to shreds.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Wolverhampton, South-West)
This has been a remarkable debate, and one conducted almost wholly in a tone of great seriousness. It has trenched, in fact, upon some of the deepest and most difficult questions of strategy and defence. Possibly it is characteristic of this House that we find it easiest to grapple with these difficult and philosophic questions when we have before us some specific, even detailed and limited proposal, to which we have to say "Yea" or "Nay".
The proposals in the White Paper do not really differ in any important respects—there are minor differences, but they differ in no important respects—from those that were announced in the House on 29th July, and it is worth a little time to study the strange history of the gestation—if that be not too laborious an expression—of the proposals in this White Paper.
If we go back to the Defence White Paper of last February we find a very clear statement of the way in which the Government then proposed to approach the reserve forces. They there said:When the review of rôles and commitments of the forces as a whole is completed it is 1577 intended to bring forward legislative proposals aimed at securing the maximum availability of reserves …This was the natural, logical and reasonable order—to arrive at a conclusion first as to the shape, nature and commitments of the forces as a whole and, from that, to work to conclusions on the reserves.
During the course of the defence debates of March last, this position was consistently maintained by right hon. Members opposite.When the review of rôles and commitments of the forces as a whole is completed"—said the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Defence for the Army—it is intended to bring forward proposals …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th March, 1965; Vol. 708, c. 53]for the reserves. His hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State was even more explicit and, if I may say so, even more logical. He put the whole process in full in its natural and proper order. He said:Once we have carried out the review of our commitments and Civil Defence and the home defence requirements, we can look at the size and disposition of the Regular Army and what is needed to improve it. Having done that, we can look at the Reserves needed to back up the Regular Army in maintaining the commitments, and the Reserves include the Territorial Army."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th March, 1965; Vol. 708, c. 190.]One could not have set out the logical order of thought or events more explicitly, more accurately, than that. Still in June, when questions were raised about the intentions of the party opposite regarding the Reserves and the Territorial Army, the Minister of Defence for the Army said:It would surely be nonsense to suggest that the Territorial Army is not part of the defence forces of the Crown which are the subject of the review. Quite clearly, decisions affecting the reserve forces must be inter-related with decisions affecting other aspects of commitments and forces."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd June, 1965; Vol. 713, c. 1690.]Then towards the end of July something suddenly happened. Something happened which made it possible not merely to abridge but to skip all these previous conditions and previous phases which had been so positively and logically insisted on by the Government. Suddenly it became possible to detach the future of the Reserves and of the Territorial Army from the context to which it had hitherto indissolubly belonged and to arrive at a decision about it in isola- 1578 tion. It was possible apparently on 29th July, long before anything had been said about the Regular Forces and their future shape, still less about commitments, still less about home defence as a whole, to take a definite and final decision about the Territorial Army and the Reserves.
It was a final decision in principle, because, although it is true that the Government have, since that announcement, consulted those who in practice know best about the Territorial Army, they conspicuously and deliberately refrained from ascertaining in advance whether what they were going to propose was practicable.
I think there may be some misunderstanding on this. I make no criticism—I do not think any hon. Member would—of a Government when they have arrived at a decision communicating that at an early stage to the House. What is absurd is to arrive at a decision at all without having ascertained from those best able to advise the Government whether that decision was practicable and would stand up at all.
What, then, was the sudden source of this enlightenment, this blinding flash of illumination, which some time towards the end of July enabled the Government to come to a conclusion about the Territorial Army and the Reserves without any reference to all the other relevant facts of which they were still ignorant or which they were still exploring? The Chancellor of the Exchequer is not in his place at the moment, but I have little hesitation in identifying him as the source of this blinding revelation. It will be recalled that only two days before this announcement the Chancellor of the Exchequer had found it necessary to introduce his third, or was it perhaps his fourth, Budget of this year and endeavour to reassure faltering opinion as to the future sustainability of sterling. He was desperately anxious, for the purposes of that Budget, to make some statements about the reductions in expenditure which he anticipated being able to make in future years. "I must be able to say something about expenditure", was his call to his colleagues.
§ Mr. Powell
I have no objection at all to the Chancellor of the Exchequer endeavouring to sustain the value of sterling by a proper control of Government expenditure, but in this case his action had the result of precipitating the disastrous decision which we are considering and are condemning tonight. It will not have escaped notice that in those same days the Secretary of State for Defence called a Press conference in which he produced a long list, which only subsequently he was induced to disclose to the House, of the economies which he proposed to make in the Defence Estimates between now and 1970.
This economy of £20 million which could be obtained, or which could be alleged, by producing these proposals for the Territorial Army, was part of his contribution to the statement which the Chancellor of the Exchequer found it necessary to make. That was the reason. It was a reason of financial panic. It was the urgent need of the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the end of July to be able to say something about economies in Government spending which solved all the problems for right hon. Members opposite and cut out all the reviews, the previous decisions, the previous studies, which should have preceded their proposals for the Territorial Army.
They tried to dress it up, of course. In their statement on the Territorial Army, they said that, in the course of their current review, they had discovered thatIt is no longer realistic to think in terms of the Territorial Army as a force for the defence of the United Kingdom itself or as providing a framework on which general preparations can be made for a major conventional war".That brought them finally to the rôle in aid of the civil power, and they had decided, they said,in the course of the current review of home defence, that this cannot of itself justify the retention of the Territorial Army in its present form."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th July, 1965; Vol. 17. c. 694.]So they pretended that they had been able to take a separate self-contained decision upon home defence and upon the rôle of the Territorial Army in this context.
1580 In the debate in another place, the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, went further and was more express in his explanation of this extraordinary departure, this extraordinary decision taken out of context according to all that they had previously said. The noble Lord said:The point really is that the key decision of policy that brought about this reorganisation of the Territorial Army was that the Territorial Army would no longer be needed for home defence … Once this decision was made, the way was then open to reorganise the Territorial Army".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 23rd November 1965; Vol. 270, c. 887.]Yet in the White Paper published yesterday, we learn that the Government—these are their words—are continuing their examination of how best to secure appropriate provision for home defence and what contribution military units might best make towards this. They will announce their conclusions in due course.They could not more ignominiously have kicked Lord Chalfont out of the window.
This was a hasty, shabby and bungled decision, unrelated to any defence review, unrelated to any review of home defence, a piece of pure financial window-dressing for a temporary purpose. And for the sake of that, we are asked to approve all the grave implications of the decisions in the White Paper.
In the assumptions which it makes, the White Paper limits the cases of future war to two and to two only. It limits them to either a brief pre-nuclear encounter in Europe or operations outside Europe which could be conducted by the Regular Army alone except for supplementation by some thousands of reservists. These are the two, the only two, forms of future war which the Government have been prepared to envisage as possible in drawing up their proposals for this country's reserve forces. All other possibilities they have ruled out.
They have ruled out, for instance, the possibility of a major or a lengthy war, not speedily terminated by the fatal nuclear duel, but one which would involve an expansion, perhaps a great expansion, of our forces. When he intervened at the beginning of the debate, the right hon. Gentleman seemed to suggest that it was some personal peculiarity of mine to think it possible that there might be some other form of major war than one which would be terminated in a few days by the 1581 nuclear Armageddon. But speaker after speaker in this debate has come back to that point and has reasserted that he regards such not as the least but as the most likely eventuality. It has been recalled that, in a leading article only two days ago, The Times—not the place where one goes for the most dangerous, risky and avant-garde speculation, perhaps—opined thatIt is possible to conceive of a long-drawn-out emergency in which the presence of general reserves in Britain was required, possibly as a basis for expansion.And in the most remarkable and moving speech from the hon. Member for Liverpool, Toxteth (Mr. Crawshaw) this possibility, even probability, was explored with great force of reasoning and logic. More and more military thinkers in this country and elsewhere are coming to regard this eventuality as one which has to be taken most seriously. But the Government can dismiss it.
Then, they have ruled out all possible circumstances of danger or emergency at home, of whatever kind, ranging from sabotage, landings, infiltration at the one extreme to the aftermath of nuclear attack at the other. Incidentally, we tend to refer to nuclear attack as though that were one specific eventuality of one kind; but again we have been reminded in this debate that there can be more or less limited nuclear attack. Even on the terrible diapason of nuclear power, certain variations can be played.
My right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth) reminded the House from his own experience of the range of possibilities that can arise in which forces would be required here at home, disciplined bodies of men capable of moving and remaining in communication in one or other part of this vast range of possible emergencies. The Government say, "This is all right because we shall have some Regular troops at home who can deal with it. Bless my soul, there are 230,000 of them in the United Kingdom".
Yesterday, however, in a Written Answer, there was an analysis of this figure of 230,000. The Army has 93,000, the Royal Navy 50,000 and the Royal Air Force 87,000. Bearing in mind that these include the Strategic Reserve, that they include forces which in any emergency would 1582 have to leave the country, that they include all possible individuals from base units, staff on airfields, staff at ports, mechanics—every kind and description of personnel—how absurd it is to imagine that what could be scraped together from the numbers in this country in circumstances of emergency could fulfil the tasks required of a mobile, disciplined force with its own communications.
But all these possibilities, the Government, in their superior wisdom, and in advance of their review either of general defence or of home defence, have been able to rule out. The Secretary of State's attention has been drawn in this debate to the letter written to The Times by six men whose names will be remembered as long as the military annals of this country are read. I want to quote only two or three sentences on this point from what they wrote:Nothing is more certain than that any future war will develop along unexpected lines.The destruction of the T.A. framework will deprive the Nation of a means of insuring against the unexpected and of a flexible organisation on which to build its defences."Destruction" is the correct word. For these proposals, if they go through, sound the death knell of a citizen volunteer army in this country.
Men join the Territorial Army because they wish to train as soldiers, so that they may be able and better ready to serve their country in a supreme emergency along with their comrades, however and, indeed, wherever that might be necessary. But essentially they volunteer to learn to be soldiers.
Under these proposals, the number of fighting men in our citizen volunteer reserve will be reduced to one-fifth of the present number, that is to say, from well over 100,000 at present to 50 per cent, of the 50,000 who are not logistic units or personnel, reduced by that 20 per cent. under establishment which, we gather—though the right hon. Gentleman would not admit it—is the Government's intention and which they take into account in arriving at the savings figure of £20 million. The Territorial Army Council observes as to this that such a plan would be "difficult to implement". The field marshals say that this concept of a Territorial Armyis too desiccated and lacking in humanity to attract the right numbers, or quality, of volunteers.1583 On top of this there is the problem of the liability, the undefined and perhaps undefinable but still very problematic liability, a liability unlimited in point of time—see paragraph 22 of the White Paper—and also undefined in regard to the nature of the emergency which would involve the making of the Queen's Order. So anyone who joined these forces could not have any clear idea of that emergency which might involve his being called away from his work and his family for an unlimited period. This is something quite different from the impulse to be ready to serve in the supreme emergency which for most Territorials, although not, indeed, for all, has always been in the past, and still is, the abiding and the driving force in recruitment.
Finally, this means the destruction of the territorial framework of the Army, with all the effects which that has, not just on recruitment of the Regular Army—which is a comparatively narrow aspect—and not just upon the manpower ready to come forward for service in many parts, including the rural parts, of our country, for some of which my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) spoke so eloquently. It means the tearing of the connection between the Army and the country which here at home has always been provided, both in the time of the Territorial Army and long before that, by the citizen volunteer forces.
Lord Harding said recently:The Territorial Army as a whole can play a crucial part in acting as a connecting file, a means of communication and education, for ensuring that the now all-regular Army never again slips back into isolation, an isolation from which it suffered partly of its own fault, until a comparatively few years ago.That is the subtle but vitally important link between the Army, the people and the country.
The hon. Member for Liverpool, Toxteth referred to the work of a French strategist and general who says something on this very topic which is particularly impressive and even moving as coming to us from the great military nation across the Channel. He is talking about the reasons for the organisation in France of a real militia and he says: 1584This would solve many problems simultaneously: in the first place it would form a more economical military cadre than that we at present possess and one more capable of providing for all the possible requirements to which the various hypotheses might give rise; secondly, it would make possible a considerable reduction in the length of military service … finally"—and this is the significant point here—it would renew the local links between the people and the armed forces which at present have vanished completely.What a warning from France. We have these links still. We glory in these links, they are our peculiar possession and yet what hon. Members opposite seek to do would deprive us of them. A few days ago the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Defence made a statement about the factors governing his decision what aircraft to purchase to replace the Canberra bomber. He said that he was delaying that decision until the completion of the defence review:I believe that it would he a mistake to take a decision on the Canberra replacement separately from other major decisions on the future structure of our forces."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th December 1965; Vol. 722, c. 913.]Of course. But if to decide on an aircraft replacement, on a bomber which will only remain in service for 10, 15, or 20 years, requires that we should wait until we know the future structure of our Armed Forces, how much more must we be sure of this before we dare utterly to alter the nature, to tear up the roots of the citizen volunteer forces in this country?
We shall have to divide the House on this matter, because we have to condemn these proposals which, in the course of this debate, have hardly found, in any part of the House, more than one or two friends, and those very grudging friends. Yet this is a matter of transcendent importance. Though we must divide and fight about it in the Division Lobbies, I beg the right hon. Gentleman and the Government, in the name of the nation—[Interruption.]—this is something which we all have to decide together—to stand by the logic of their previous, repeated assertions, and in the light of a wider and deeper view of our defence needs than any which they have yet taken or this House has yet seen, to rethink these proposals from top to bottom, before it is too late.
§ 9.28 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Denis Healey)
This is a debate which has aroused deep and genuine feelings on both sides of the House, and many who have spoken have done so with detailed personal knowledge of the Territorial Army. I would like to single out in particular my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Toxteth (Mr. Crawshaw), and the hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger). I agree with both of them and with the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), that this is an issue of direct concern to the security of our people. I hope that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen will do me the credit of believing that I am as concerned as they are with the nation's defence. I hope that they will listen to what I have to say with the same attention that we gave to the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West.
The right hon. Gentleman, as always, was logical and systematic, but much of what he said was very remote from reality. If I have one major criticism to make of his remarks it is that he gave no clue whatever to the kind of constructive proposals which he would make to implement the theories he put before us. He developed an ingenious theory which attempted to explain why the Government have taken the decisions which they have and which he based on a moment of financial panic. I have no doubt that that reflected the traumatic memories of the circumstances in which he resigned from the Treasury on an issue of defence expenditure. But he will know, as former intelligence officer, how dangerous it is to construct theories on ignorance of the facts.
I propose to put before the House the reasons why we have taken the decisions which we have and when we have. We did not need our Defence Review to help us on the most important fact governing our decisions. It is one of the most important facts of the modern age: the radius of destruction of a megaton bomb. I propose to explain why we have decided to give the new volunteer service the three major rôles listed in the White Paper, and why we have rejected the other rôles which have been suggested for the reserve by speakers on both sides of the House today, and how we were able to take these decisions when we did.
1586 The first decision which we took—and it was reflected in what we said in the speeches earlier this year to which the right hon. Gentleman referred—was that the major function for our reserve forces must be to provide a usable reserve for the conventional Regular Army in what we foresee as its major tasks in future. The progress which we had made in the Defence Review by midsummer enabled us to define those tasks, as I will now define them. First of all, to fulfil our commitment to N.A.T.O., from which we have no intention of attempting to withdraw. N.A.T.O. is the alliance on which our survival as a nation depends, but the size and nature of our contribution are decided, not by us alone but by us with all our allies.
The decision has already been taken by N.A.T.O. that the nature of the reserve which we need to contribute is mainly logistic units, and under the new proposals, for the first time since this country became a member of N.A.T.O., we shall be able to implement our obligation and to provide those reserve logistic units in case of need.
The second major rôle which we foresee for our Reserve Forces is to meet the needs of limited war, conventional war, outside Europe. It is our capability in this field on which our political influence will, in part, depend. I know that there is disagreement on both sides of the House as to the extent to which a military capability outside Europe is calculated to give us political influence. But, as I understand the glosses since passed on the Brighton speech of the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West by the Leader of the Opposition, the Opposition have no current intention of defaulting on the obligations on which we are now engaged. So far as I am aware, the Opposition do not contest our decision to provide a military force in Zambia at the request of the Zambian Government.
Outside Europe, this country is in a position to decide by itself the size and native of the contribution it makes. Outside Europe, we envisage more need for teeth units in the Reserve than inside Europe. This is one reason why, in the course of the discussions over the last four or five months since we first announced our intention in principle, we 1587 decided to put into the order of battle certain teeth units which we did not earlier envisage having there.
The third rôle which we see for our reserve forces is to provide a small pool of individual volunteers to top up Regular units which are short of men when they are engaged in active operations overseas. With the agreement of the House, we called up 200 men of the Territorial Army Emergency Reserve in this rôle earlier this year, and I am delighted to say that the Territorial Army Emergency Reserve recruitment has gone up, not down. The experiment was a great success and, as the House will know, we have decided slightly to extend this pool of "Ever-Ready" volunteers under the new Reserve proposals.
The number of people that we shall need in order to provide units and individuals for the reserves for the Regular Army in these three rôles comes out at an establishment of 50,800 men—all volunteers, incidentally—from many parts of the country. As has been pointed out by many right hon. and hon. Members in the debate, however, there will be some parts of the country where it is not necessary or possible effectively to draw volunteers for this Reserve.
To answer the point asked by the Leader of the Opposition about cost and savings, if we recruit to 80 per cent. of the establishment of the units—and this will mean doing very much better than the previous Government did in the existing Territorial Army, because they succeeded in recruiting only 105,000 men for an establishment of 190,000. If we do that—[Interruption.] The Leader of the Opposition should do his homework. He should know that the establishment of the units in the Territorial Army is 190,000. What he is talking about is the recruiting ceiling fixed by the Territorial Army under financial pressure from the previous Government. I am comparing the establishment of the units of the new Reserve with the establishment of the units of the existing Reserve. If we recruit up to 80 per cent., we shall make a saving of £20 million a year when the process is complete after paying the cost involved in reproviding certain facilities for the Army Cadet Force. That was another of the right hon. Gentleman's questions.
1588 As a result of these proposals the nation, for the very first time, will have a reserve which it can use in the contingencies which we all agree are most likely. It will substantially increase the conventional capability of our forces for action in those contingencies where the conventional capability is most likely to be required. Right hon. and hon. Members on both sides will, I think, admit that our decision to achieve this has been welcomed by everybody concerned with defence as long overdue. I do not think that this is seriously contested.
§ Sir Richard Glyn
Will the Secretary of State help the House about the source which he envisages providing reinforcements to replace casualties in the event of a long-drawn-out conventional war?
§ Mr. Healey
I shall deal later with the question raised by the hon. Member. I do not foresee a need for such reinforcements, for reasons which I will explain, and I hope that the House will have the patience to bear with me as I do so.
The great public difficulty about these proposals, as is obvious from the criticism which has been showered upon them in the newspapers and in the House, is that these proposals, calculated as they are to meet the real needs of the Regular Army for the contingencies which we think are probable, will not require many of those teeth or fighting units which are the backbone of the current Territorial Army which have ancient traditions and which, I fully confess, have real social value.
It is not surprising that everyone—and I include myself here—has been looking to see if some way can be found to justify their retention. I think we can only justify the retention of these teeth units which will otherwise be disbanded if we can find a genuine military need for the units. Otherwise, we shall simply be wasting money and, not only that, but abusing the public spirit of those who volunteer.
What possible rôles are there for these teeth units which are likely to fall by the wayside in the Government's proposals? There are several, all of which have been suggested during the debate from one side or the other. The most obvious possible requirement would be 1589 to provide units for keeping public order after a nuclear attack. In fact, 70 per cent. of the existing Territorial Army, contrary to the belief of many of its members, was earmarked by the previous Government in that rôle. I am afraid that it is a rôle very different from that envisaged by the right hon. Gentleman when he said that men volunteer in order to fight in the moment of ultimate national peril. We had to consider whether we were justified in spending the additional money required to keep these teeth units for that particular purpose. We decided against it, for two reasons.
The first reason is that the likelihood of nuclear attack on the country is very small so long as our alliance remains united and so long as the deterrent power of the alliance's weapons is available to discourage such attack.
I hope that hon. Members opposite will treat the problem with the seriousness that it deserves. [Interruption.] The second reason why we felt that it was not worthwhile spending this money on the teeth units of the Territorial Army is that, if the ultimate horror of nuclear attack on these islands occurs, it will be an unimaginable disaster, and it is very difficult to conceive of the survivors from a force of 70,000 Territorial volunteers—because then we would be talking about the survivors of such a force—providing a contribution commensurate with its cost, especially when very little of their training is directly related to that task.
Some provision for civil defence is required, but what we believe is necessary is a highly trained cadre of civilian specialists who are trained to organise such help as may be available in that unimaginable situation in which it is impossible to predict who will survive and what channels of command will remain, and also some disciplined force to maintain public order while the civilian specialists and those who are helping them are going about their tasks.
That will involve the use of military units as is said in the White Paper. It is very difficult to be certain what military units would be available in such a situation or what units would survive in such a situation, just as it is very difficult to be sure what civilians will survive or how much of the country will be capable 1590 of any sort of organised administrative effort whatever. But we can count on some units of the Regular Forces; we can count on some forces of the Army Volunteer Reserve that we are now setting up; and there may be a case for further volunteer military or paramilitary units which might be based on the present Territorial Army, but might be organised to train in conjuction with the future Army Volunteer Reserve. The Government are now considering this, and will announce their conclusions on it after the Recess, but I do not want to mislead the House. It is not conceivable that the proposals which will emerge from this consideration will lead to the reconstruction of the Territorial Army in its present form, or with its present equipment, or at its present size.
This is one possible rôle for the teeth units of the Territorial Army which Members on both sides of the House are anxious to preserve if they can find some rational ground for doing so. Beyond that the real argument which has been given by the critics of the Government's proposals is protection against the unforeseen, insurance against the unknown, which from my experience in my Ministry is the last refuge of those who have no rational ground on which to protect their interests.
Of course no Government can foresee in detail the threats they are likely to face, but Governments have the duty to try to make a rational judgment of the type of threat which they might have to face; and, if I may say so, for the last ten years our Chiefs of Staff have been extremely good at predicting the type of need we would have to meet abroad, even though they have been consistently wrong in identifying the particular areas where they would have to provide a capability for the purpose.
Unless one can make up one's mind on what type of threat one is preparing against, unless one is prepared to use one's brains on this, the choice of insurance against the unforeseen is absolutely infinite. One might say that one needs another 50 wings of strategic bombers, or another 40 regiments of Centurion tanks. One must try to make up one's mind on what type of problem one is going to face, as in the 'thirties, for example. It is not true that nobody in the 'thirties foresaw the nature of the 1591 Second World War. Mr. Liddell Hart did, and Field Marshal Montgomery did, at a time when the predecessors of the six field marshals who signed the letter to The Times were still pressing the claims of the horse against the tank.
§ Mrs. Anne Kerr (Rochester and Chatham) rose—
§ Mr. Healey
On this issue of what type of unforeseen contingency the Government should prepare against, the critics of the Government fluctuate between two possible rôles, both of which cannot be carried out at once. One is to defend the homeland against conventional invasion, the sort of rôle envisaged by the right hon. and gallant Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth) in his very interesting speech today. What I say on that, and I ask hon. Members to follow me here, is that, if N.A.T.O. has any meaning whatever, such a conventional invasion of this country could not happen except in one situation, and that would be after the Alliance as a whole had been defeated in a conventional war on the continent of Europe.
Therefore, if we are to take this contingency seriously, we have to consider the other potential rôle which has been pressed on us, in particular by the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West: that of providing a Territorial Army which will act as a framework for expansion in order to produce an expeditionary force for conventional war in Europe so as to prevent that defeat of the Alliance in a conventional war which might lead to an invasion of these islands.
We had some very interesting ideas on this from the right hon. Gentleman and from other speakers and we had quotations from a book written by the Director of the French Institute of Strategic Studies. But the Secretary of State for Defence of this country, whether Conservative, Labour or Liberal, cannot afford the luxury of abstract speculation. He must decide in the light of realities as we knew them. I tell hon. Members this: I have been discussing those realities for 1592 the last three days in Paris with our allies—both the political and military heads of the Atlantic Alliance. I must tell them some of the realities that we must face.
First, every Soviet spokesman dealing with the question of war in Europe has said that the Soviet Union will use nuclear weapons, and we know that the Soviet Union has 735 medium-range ballistic missiles targeted at this moment on targets in Britain and on the Continental members of the Alliance, as well as thousands of smaller-yield, shorter-range nuclear weapons. This is the first fact that we must face.
Secondly—and I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider this carefully and by all means discuss it when he visits N.A.T.O. in the near future—every single member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and all its collective military advisers in S.H.A.P.E. reject the conception of a long conventional war. The hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell) was wrong when he said what he did about this. There are 5,000 atomic weapons, as Mr. McNamara said the other day, already inside Western Europe.
It is perfectly open to the British Government to argue that this is the wrong strategy, but if they do so—as I understand the party opposite now wishes to do, contrary to the action it took when in office—they must face the implications of that for British and Allied defence policy. The implications are as follows—and these are facts, not theories: if both sides use tactical atomic weapons, we should need about 50 per cent. more men in N.A.T.O. in order to fight for more than a few days against the Soviet forces; but, if neither side use nuclear weapons, N.A.T.O. would have to go back to the Lisbon goals of 1951. That would mean at least twice as many men as N.A.T.O. has at present and, quite frankly, the British capability to contribute 70,000 half trained volunteers would be totally irrelevant. It would be impossible to provide such forces without conscription. Indeed, we found it impossible to provide such forces even with conscription when the last Government were in power and these were the N.A.T.O. force goals.
Moreover, we would have to recreate the Anti-Aircraft Command, which the previous Government abolished; we would have to recreate Fighter Command 1593 in its old form, for defence against conventional bombardment; and we would have to build up a completely new sort of Navy for another battle of the Atlantic. It would mean a defence budget at least twice as large as the present one, and, even then, it would be totally irrelevant unless all our Allies did the same, and even then it would be irrelevant unless the Russians agreed with us, because it would be open to the Russians to attack us with nuclear weapons.
§ Mr. Powell
Is not the right hon. Gentleman in great danger of arguing that an eventuality cannot arise, or is not probable, because it would be inconvenient, expensive, or burdensome to have to meet it?
§ Mr. Healey
Let me agree with the right hon. Gentleman. This is a temptation to which any Minister of Defence in a Government with scarce resources is always open, but I ask him to tell the House and the country now where he and his party take their stand. Are they prepared to double the defence Budget? Are they prepared to bring back conscription? Are they prepared to provide the forces without which the Territorial Army, in the rôle that he conceives, has no sense whatever?
§ Mr. Powell
But the right hon. Gentleman is still arguing that because one does not like conscription, therefore an eventuality which might involve it cannot occur.
§ Mr. Healey
The right hon. Gentleman is still dodging the question, but the country will want to know the answer to the question I put to him. My point is that paying another £20 million for 70,000 Territorial volunteers is not an insurance premium against that unforeseen. If we want that insurance premium, it will be £2,000 million on top of the £2,000 million we are already spending. That is why I must reject the arguments put so sincerely and with such great feeling by back benchers on both sides of the House.
I turn now to the Front Bench opposite. They put similar points, but many of them with experience in the Ministry of Defence know the facts which I have been stating, and they have a duty to say, if they disagree with me, what prac- 1594 tical proposals they will make for the Territorial Army. Of course, they have made none. That is not surprising, because they produced proposals for the reorganisation of the Territorial Army five years ago which were in force when we took office, and they have shown no sign of wishing to change those proposals. What did those proposals give us? Reserve forces too small for the tasks stated, too large for the real needs of national defence, under-trained, under-equipped, not available when needed and largely intended for a rôle which was deliberately played down in propaganda in order to attract volunteers.
The Conservative Government's proposals—policies, because they carried them out—like the statements of right hon. Gentlemen opposite today, are a tissue of contradictions, completely indifferent to cost and consistency, like all the defence policies of right hon. Gentlemen opposite when they were in power.
At one moment, they argued in their White Paper setting up this force that it was providing a framework for expansion to produce fighting reinforcements for a major war outside Britain, although they provided no mobilisation stocks and recruited only 320 of the 70.000 Territorial Army Reserve which was essential for this. Of course, if these forces had been sent abroad, they would not have been available for home defence after nuclear attack or for internal security in dealing with invasion.
But the next moment, they argued that this force was essential for home defence after nuclear attack. If they take this view, why do they complain about the disbanding of fighting units which are equipped with heavy armaments totally unnecessary for internal security? The reserve which we inherited could not do both anyway, except at many times the cost in men and money of the Territorial Army as it exists.
The fact is that the party opposite never had the guts to take a decision on this or any other defence issue, if the decision was likely to mean political difficulties. They did not even have the guts to call up the T.A.E.R., which they themselves set up, when it was needed; and they never told the volunteers in the Territorial Army exactly what they were for. They preferred to muddle along, 1595 spending money on a force which was incapable of fulfilling any of the different and incompatible rôles they had allotted to it.
The Government are not prepared to go on exploiting the public spirit of thousands of volunteers all over the country by calling on them to serve in rôles inconsistent with and irrelevant to the real needs of the nation. We believe that
§ we must take decisions, even when they are unpopular, and tell the nation the truth, even when it is unpalatable. I hope that the House will choose between us and them and I hope that the country will choose between us too.
§ Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 292, Noes 291.1597
|Division No. 14.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)|
|Albu, Austen||English, Michael||Johnson, James(K'ston-on-Hull, W.)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Ennals, David||Jones, Dan (Burnley)|
|Alldritt, Walter||Ensor, David||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Evans, Ioan (Birmingham, Yardley)||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)|
|Atkinson, Norman||Fernyhough, E.||Kelley, Richard|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Finch, Harold (Bedwellty)||Kenyon, Clifford|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)|
|Barnett, Joel||Fletcher, Sir Eric (Islington, E.)||Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)|
|Beaney, Alan||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Lawson, George|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J.||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Leadbitter, Ted|
|Bence, Cyril||Floud, Bernard||Ledger, Ron|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich)||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)|
|Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)|
|Binns, John||Ford, Ben||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton)||Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)|
|Blackburn, F.||Freeson, Reginald||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Galpern, Sir Myer||Lipton, Marcus|
|Boardman, H.||Garrett, W. E.||Lomas, Kenneth|
|Boston, Terence||Garrow, Alex||Loughlin, Charles|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics, S. w.)||Ginsburg, David||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson|
|Boyden, James||Gourlay, Harry||McBride, Neil|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony||McCann, J.|
|Bradley, Tom||Gregory, Arnold||MacColl, James|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Grey, Charles||MacDermot, Niall|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||McGuire, Michael|
|Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)||Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||McInnes, James|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Glasgow, Provan)||Griffiths, Will (M'chester, Exchange)||McKay, Mrs. Margaret|
|Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & Fbury)||Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)|
|Buchan, Norman (Renfrewshire, W.)||Hale, Leslie||Mackie, John (Enfield, E.)|
|Buchanan, Richard||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||McLeavy, Frank|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Hamilton, William (West Fife)||MacMillan, Malcolm|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Hamling, William (Woolwich, W.)||MacPherson, Malcolm|
|Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Hannan, William||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Harper, Joseph||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Hart, Mrs. Judith||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)|
|Chapman, Donald||Hattersley, Roy||Manuel, Archie|
|Coleman, Donald||Hazell, Bert||Mapp, Charles|
|Conlan, Bernard||Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Marsh, Richard|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Heffer, Eric S.||Mason, Roy|
|Cousins, Rt. Hn. Frank||Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Maxwell, Robert|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Mellish, Robert|
|Cronin, John||Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town)||Mendelson, J. J.|
|Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Holman, Percy||Mikardo, Ian|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. R. H. S.||Horner, John||Millan, Bruce|
|Dalyell, Tam||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Miller, Dr. M. S.|
|Darling, George||Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)||Milne, Edward (Blyth)|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Howie, W.||Molloy, William|
|Davies Harold (Leek)||Hoy, James||Monslow, Walter|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Morris, Charles (Openshaw)|
|de Freitas, Sir Geoffrey||Hunter, Adam (Dunfermline)||Morris, John (Aberavon)|
|Delargy, Hugh||Hunter, A. E. (Feltham)||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Sheffield Pk)|
|Dell, Edmund||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Murray, Albert|
|Dempsey, James||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Neal, Harold|
|Diamond, Rt. Hn. John||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Newens, Stan|
|Doig, Peter||Jackson, Colin||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)|
|Donnelly, Desmond||Janner, Sir Barnett||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)|
|Driberg, Tom||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Norwood, Christopher|
|Duffy, Dr. A. E. P.||Jeger, George (Goole)||Oakes, Gordon|
|Dunn, James A.||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n&St. P'cras, S.)||Ogden, Eric|
|Dunnett, Jack||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||O'Malley, Brian|
|Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly)||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Oram, Albert E. (E. Ham, S.)|
|Orbach, Maurice||Rose, Paul B.||Tuck, Raphael|
|Orme, Stanley||Ross, Rt. Hn. William||Urwin, T. W.|
|Oswald, Thomas||Rowland, Christopher||Varley, Eric G.|
|Owen, Will||Sheldon, Robert||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Padley, Walter||Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.||Walden, Brian (All Saints)|
|Page, Derek (King's Lynn)||Shore, Peter (Stepney)||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Paget, R. T.||Short, Rt. Hn. E. (N'c'tle-on-Tyne, C.)||Wallace, George|
|Palmer, Arthur||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)||Warbey, William|
|Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Silkin, John (Deptford)||Watkins, Tudor|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Silkin, S. C. (Camberwell, Dulwich)||Weitzman, David|
|Park, Trevor (Derbyshire, S.E.)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Wellbeloved, James|
|Parker, John||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Pavitt, Laurence||Skeffington, Arthur||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)||Whitlock, William|
|Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)||Wigg, Rt. Hn. George|
|Pentland, Norman||Small, William||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Perry, Ernest G.||Snow, Julian||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Popplewell, Ernest||Soskice, Rt. Hn. Sir Frank||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Prentice, R. E||Spriggs, Leslie||Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)|
|Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Stonehouse, John||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Probert, Arthur||Stones, William||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Pursey, Cmdr. Harry||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)||Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Randall, Harry||Stross, SirBarnett(Stoke-on-Trent, C.)||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Rankin, John||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Redhead, Edward||Swain, Thomas||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Rees, Merlyn||Swingler, Stephen||Woof, Robert|
|Reynolds, C. W.||Taverne, Dick||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Rhodes, Geoffrey||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Richard, Ivor||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)||Zilliacus, K.|
|Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Robertson, John (Paisley)||Thornton, Ernest||Mr. Sydney Irving and|
|Robinson, Rt. Hn. K. (St. Pancras, N.)||Tinn, James||Mr. George Rogers.|
|Rodgers, William (Stockton)||Tomney, Frank|
|Agnew, Commander Sir Peter||Channon, H. P. G.||Gardner, Edward|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Chataway, Christopher||Gibson-Watt, David|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Chichester-Clark, R.||Giles, Rear-Admiral Morgan|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, Central)|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Rt. Hn. Sir W.||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Glover, Sir Douglas|
|Astor, John||Cole, Norman||Glyn, Sir Richard|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Cooke, Robert||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.|
|Awdry, Daniel||Cooper, A. E.||Goodhart, Philip|
|Baker, W. H. K.||Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Goodhew, Victor|
|Balniel, Lord||Cordle, John||Gower, Raymond|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Corfield, F. V.||Grant, Anthony|
|Barlow, Sir John||Costain, A. P.||Grant-Ferris, R.|
|Batsford, Brian||Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Gresham Cooke, R.|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Grieve, Percy|
|Bell, Ronald||Crawley, Aidan||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm)||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||Griffiths, Peter (Smethwick)|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Crowder, F. P.||Gurden, Harold|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Cunningham, Sir Knox||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Bessell, Peter||Curran, Charles||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.|
|Biffen, John||Currie, G. B. H.||Hamilton, M. (Salisbury)|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Dalkeith, Earl of||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)|
|Bingham, R. M.||Dance, James||Harris, Reader (Heston)|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Davies, Dr. Wyndham (Perry Barr)||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)|
|Black, Sir Cyril||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)|
|Blaker, Peter||Dean, Paul||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Harvie Anderson, Miss|
|Box, Donald||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Hastings, Stephen|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. J.||Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Hawkins, Paul|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Doughty, Charles||Hay, John|
|Braine, Bernard||Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec||Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward|
|Brewis, John||Drayson, G. B.||Hendry, Forbes|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Higgins, Terence L.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Eden, Sir John||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)|
|Brooke, Rt. Hn. Henry||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Elliott, R.W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Emery, Peter||Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin|
|Bryan, Paul||Errington, Sir Eric||Hooson, H. E.|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick||Eyre, Reginald||Hopkins, Alan|
|Buck, Antony||Farr, John||Hordern, Peter|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Fell, Anthony||Hornby, Richard|
|Burden, F. A.||Fisher, Nigel||Hornsby-Smith, Ht. Hn. Dame P.|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles (Darwen)||Howard, Hn. G. R. (St. Ives)|
|Buxton, Ronald||Fletcher-Cooke, Sir John (S'pton)||Howe, Geoffrey (Bebington)|
|Campbell, Gordon||Foster, Sir John||Hunt, John (Bromley)|
|Carlisle, Mark||Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)||Hutchison, Michael Clark|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Iremonger, T. L.|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Gammans, Lady||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)|
|Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Morgan, W. G.||Speir, Sir Rupert|
|Jennings, J. C.||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Stainton, Keith|
|Johnson Smith, G. (East Grinstead)||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Stanley, Hn. Richard|
|Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Murton, Oscar||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Neave, Airey||Stodart, Anthony|
|Jopling, Michael||Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Kerby, Capt. Henry||Nugent, Rt. Hn. Sir Richard||Talbot, John E.|
|Kerr, Sir Hamilton (Cambridge)||Onslow, Cranley||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)|
|Kilfedder, James A.||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Kimball, Marcus||Osborn, John (Hallam)||Teeling, Sir William|
|Kirk, Peter||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Temple, John M.|
|Kitson, Timothy||Page, R. Graham (Crosby)||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Lagden, Godfrey||Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)||Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Lambton, Viscount||Peel John||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Conway)|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Percival, Ian||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Langford-Holt, Sir John||Peyton, John||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter|
|Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Pickthorn, Rt. Hn. Sir Kenneth||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Litchfield, Capt. John||Pitt, Dame Edith||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Lloyd, Rt.Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield)||Pounder, Rafton||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Longbottom, Charles||Price, David (Eastleigh)||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Longden, Gilbert||Prior, J. M. L.||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Loveys, W. H.||Quennell, Miss J. M.||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Lubbock, Eric||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James||Walder, David (High Peak)|
|Lucas, Sir Jocelyn||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|McAdden, Sir Stephen||Redmayne, Rt. Hn. Sir Martin||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|MacArthur, Ian||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Wall, Patrick|
|Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David||Walters, Dennis|
|Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas||Ward, Dame Ireen|
|McMaster, Stanley||Ridsdale, Julian||Weatherill, Bernard|
|McNair-Wilson, Patrick||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)||Webster, David|
|Maddan, W. F. M.||Robson, Brown, Sir William||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Maginnis, John E.||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)||Whitelaw, William|
|Maitland, Sir John||Roots, William||Williams, Sir Rolf Dudley (Exeter)|
|Marten, Neil||Royle, Anthony||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Maude, Angus||Russell, Sir Ronald||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||St. John-Stevas, Norman||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Mawby, Ray||Scott-Hopkins, James||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Sharpies, Richard||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr, S. L. C.||Shepherd, William||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Meyer, Sir Anthony||Sinclair, Sir George||Wylie, N. R.|
|Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Miscampbell, Norman||Smith, John||Younger, Hn. George|
|Mitchell, David||Smyth, Rt. Hn. Brig. Sir John|
|Monro, Hector||Soames, Rt. Hn. Christopher||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|More, Jasper||Spearman, Sir Alexander||Mr. McLaren and Mr. Pym.|
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees (Leeds, South) rose—
§ It being after Ten o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.
§ Committee Tomorrow.