§ Mr. Speaker
Before the House enters on to the business of Supply, I wish to inform the House that I have not selected the Amendment standing on the Order Paper in the name of the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) to the Motion relating to the Territorial Army. Non-selection will not cramp the debate at all.
With regard to the Amendment on Vote A, also in the name of the hon. Member for South Ayrshire, I cannot forecast whether the hon. Member will be successful in catching the eye of the Chair during the debate on Vote A, but, if he is successful, he will have an opportunity of moving that Amendment.
§ Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I seek clarification. Would you tell the House whether the debate on Supply takes place first and the debate on Vote A takes place afterwards, because this will determine whether I seek to speak in the first debate or following that?
§ Mr. Speaker
This is a new procedure. We are now debating in Supply until 10 o'clock a Motion tabled by the Opposition. When we have disposed of that Motion, the Motion relating to Vote A will be moved and we shall discuss Vote A. I hope that that is clear.
§ 4.44 p.m.
§ Mr. Ramsden
I beg to move,That this House calls upon Her Majesty's Government to restore the Territorial Army as a genuine citizen volunteer reserve on which the expansion of our army in war or emergency could be based and which will provide the opportunity of a military training to all who are willing to volunteer.The House may be surprised to find the proceedings on the traditional Army Estimates day being begun by a speech from this side of the House. As the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heifer) pointed out, we are taking advantage of the opportunity provided by 467 the new Supply procedure to give the House a chance to probe a little more deeply and in detail on the three successive Service days into specific aspects of Service administration. We hope that this will be for the convenience of the House and will make for a more useful debate. We shall at any rate try. We hope to conclude these proceedings by 10 o'clock and then to take advantage of the remaining time for the debate to range more widely and for hon. Members to have a chance to raise any wider matter that may be of concern to them.
We move the Motion for two reasons—first, to reassert a point of view about the structure of our reserves and the Territorial Army which we on this side have consistently held since the Labour Government made changes in this regard and, secondly, because it is three years since a review of the reserves and changes in the reserves were made by the Government. We think that it is time that the country had an up-to-date statement of how the Government regard the present structure and the purpose of our reserves. After all, their own strategy has been subject to considerable changes as a result of a succession of Defence Reviews. The brush fire concept of strategy is less in evidence than it used to be.
§ Mr. Ramsden
As the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) said yesterday in reply to an interruption, the hon. Gentleman might let me get warmed up. After that, I shall be perfectly prepared to give way to him.
I was saying that there have been changes in the Government's stance. We are no longer to have a presence east of Suez. We are to have a smaller Army and, therefore, presumably in the future a smaller number of regular Reservists. That Army is to be devoted in the main to being able to deal with contingencies arising from conditions on the mainland of Europe—in the European theatre. These contingencies, we learned on Monday from the Secretary of State, may be expected to have a longer conventional duration.
In the face of these circumstances, as I read the figures from the Institute of Strategic Studies, we shall have fewer 468 citizen reserves in point of numbers than any comparable N.A.T.O. country. We shall be the only N.A.T.O. country, except Canada, that does not have a conscription system with which to replenish the numbers of our reservists. As far as I can see, we shall be the only N.A.T.O. country unable to use its reserves, if need should arise, to put additional formations manned by these reserves into the field.
That, as I see it, is the present position. On the face of it, we would expect that the Government would be coming forward with some new ideas on what the future structure of the reserves should be; or, if not that, that they would be in a more receptive frame of mind than they were three years ago to ideas and suggestions from this side of the House on the constitution of the reserves.
§ Mr. Robert Howarth
I apologise for having tried to interrupt so early in the debate, but my intervention was relevant to the right hon. Gentleman's opening statement. I do not understand how it is to the advantage of the House to have a debate on a specific aspect of the Army Estimates which goes on for over five hours and then to cram the more general debate into two hours at the end of the day.
§ Mr. Ramsden
There are two points. First, the question of the reserves is of very wide and deep public concern. It is certainly of very great concern to my right hon. and hon. Friends and myself. Secondly, those who have had experience of Service debates in the past have tended to make the criticism that a wide-ranging debate has frequently devalued the actual character of the debate. Anyway, we are trying something different this time, and we shall see how we get on.
What is it that right hon. Gentlemen opposite have done about the Reserves during their term of office? The most striking change is that the volunteer citizen army which we once had has gone. The Territorial Army is no more. We sometimes tend to take the name Territorial Army for granted, without thinking enough of what it really implied. It was territorial in the sense that it had a presence in every county and town in the land and represented there the link 469 between the civilian population and the Regular Army.
It was an army, though not in the sense—here, criticism of the Territorial Army was often misapplied—that it ever expected to have to go to war as an army but in the sense that it consisted of units in being, with a command structure and a system of communications, on which the foundation for those larger armies on the continental scale which we have needed twice in this century, but which we have never thought it worth while to keep as standing armies, could be built. The House will recall that in 1939 it was the Territorial Army which was doubled when we needed to increase the size of our Forces, not the Regular Army.
The question which we raise today is whether it will be possible in the future for any Government to run a credible reserve system without some such organisation as the Territorial Army to support and sustain the Regular Army within it. I shall have more to say about that later.
As for the rest of our Reserves, though there have been changes these are not all that sensational. The Regular Reserves remain much as they were, with much the same rôle, to go as individual reinforcements to the Regular Army. The trouble with the Regular Reserves is that there are never enough of them. They are the best trained men, the most needed, but the numbers are never enough. To make up the numbers we still have the Ever-readies, now under the new name of Special Army Volunteer Reserve. I understand that their recruitment is not going well, which the House will find disappointing. I hope that the Minister will tell us whether the deficiencies are mainly in the teeth arms or in the new logistic units which the Government have called into play as support for a possible United Nations force. I hope that he will reassure us also that these new logistic units have an additional or supplementary rôle in support of teeth arm formations of our own, if need be, and are not confined to a rôle in support of the United Nations force.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)
The right hon. Gentleman has used the term "credible reserve". Will he in the rest of his speech, at his convenience, define 470 precisely what he means by "credible reserve"?—credible for what, for what eventuality?
§ Mr. Ramsden
The two occasions on which I have given way suggest that I have not been wise to do so. I shall cover that point in full as my speech proceeds.
I was talking about the structure of the Reserves, apart from the Territorial Army, as we now have them. I come next to what used to be known as the Army Emergency Reserve, mainly specialists, the kind of people whom it is not worth keeping permanently in the Regular Army because their civilian skills equip them readily to do the military jobs for which they are called upon; all they need is periodic training to keep them in military trim. They have turned into the sponsored units of the Army Volunteer Reserve, but their rôle is the same, to provide specialist backing for the limited war force. I understand that they are double-ear-marked for the reinforcement of British Army of the Rhine as well. Again, I hope that we shall be told whether this means that we have the capability, with these reservists, to balance a part of the Rhine Army or the limited war force, but not both; in other words, if we had to mobilise Rhine Army, we should not have a force available to detach elsewhere for limited war. The House ought to be told that.
Then there is what remains of the former Territorial Army, that is, units which are locally raised, locally quartered and locally trained. This is where the main change has been made. On 29th July, 1965, the Secretary of State announced his decision to halve the numbers of the Territorial Army, to abolish scores of units, to get rid of 900 or so drill halls, the headquarters and homes of units in the Territorial Army, and to retain in a new and reorganised force only those elements of the Territorial Army whose function was to balance Rhine Army in time of war, to reinforce Rhine Army on mobilisation.
That was the original decision. At that stage, the T & AVR III did not come into it at all. There was no rôle for it. I shall have more to say about the T & AVR III later. The original decision, which made possible all the rest of the reorganisation, was that we should no 471 longer need a civilian volunteer force for the defence of the United Kingdom itself, that we should never need the framework on which to construct forces larger than the standing Regular Army which we should be maintaining, that in so far as we had reserves designed to such ends—in the words of the Secretary of State—they were a waste of money, and that all that we should need for the future was what my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) described asa particular contingent for a particular order of battle in a N.A.T.O. strategy which the Secretary of State is now engaged in trying to renegotiate".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th February, 1967; Vol. 742, c. 130.]That was a prescient observation. A significantly different view of N.A.T.O. strategy came out of those negotiations from that which prevailed at the time when right hon. Gentlemen opposite made their original decision about the Territorial Army.
§ Mr. Ramsden
I should prefer to finish this argument, but I know that the right hon. Gentleman has to go at 5 o'clock.
§ Mr. Healey
I apologise, but as I explained to the right hon. Gentleman I have, unfortunately, an appointment at 5 o'clock which I must keep. At the cost of spoiling part of his speech, perhaps, may I make clear that the N.A.T.O. strategy which I had in mind and towards which we were revising the then strategy was the one for which we devised the reserves in 1965 and 1966. It must be taken as a whole.
§ Mr. Ramsden
That touches the crux of my argument. I shall show, quoting what the Government have said in support of my argument, that what the right hon. Gentleman says cannot be sustained. We had from him as recently as last Monday a new announcement—it is a pity that the right hon. Gentleman has to go—which represents a significant departure from anything we have been told hitherto about N.A.T.O.'s view of a future European conflict and the contingencies in which it might arise.
I ask the House to recall the original grounds which the Government gave for 472 their decision to reorganise the Territorial Army and to reappraise them in the light of what has happened since, bearing in mind that the decision was taken only three years ago, reappraising them especially in the light of what we were told by the Secretary of State last Monday. In paragraph 3, the 1965 White Paper spelt out the original grounds for the decision:…it is no longer realistic to maintain ground forces designed to fight another major conventional war of large armies in Europe. The risk of major war in Europe is now small but if it did come it would involve the use of nuclear weapons. This is the basis of the Western Alliance's strategy.In many speeches since then the Secretary of State has amplified those reasons. I shall not weary the House with too many quotations, but on 27th February last year the right hon. Gentleman said:As I have often told the House, N.A.T.O. would be compelled to resort to nuclear weapons within days of an attack; and within days of starting to use nuclear weapons organised warfare would become impossible."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th February, 1967; Vol. 742, c. 111.]
§ Mr. Ramsden
The right hon. Gentleman can make his speech later. I have read the quotation which is relevant to my argument.
§ Mr. Ramsden
The House will recall that the initial reaction to the Secretary of State's announcement of his reason for deciding to disband the Territorial Army was one of incredulity. What caused the sense of disbelief was not so much anything he said but the feeling that anybody who was prepared to be as dogmatic as he was about the nature of a future war would almost certainly turn out before long to be talking nonsense. The reaction was, "If he is right there may be something in it, but can he possibly be right? How can anybody in that position be as dogmatic as he is prepared to be about the course any future conflict may follow?"
If he were wrong, it would be a pity to have done away with the Territorial Army, to have destroyed it, to have dispensed with our only capability for home 473 defence and for the expansion of our forces. 'That was the original reaction of hon. Members on this side of the House and a large body of the public. It is already beginning to look more and more as though that reaction was sound. What is the Secretary of State telling us now? On Monday he described, as he has done before, the decisions which have emanated from the N.A.T.O. Council and its discussions on future N.A.T.O. strategy. On Monday he gave us a new one which has not been mentioned before in the House. He said:Finally—and I believe that this will prove to be the most important decision taken—N.A.T.O. has agreed that the forces which Governments are prepared to make available should be used so as to maximise the Alliance's capability for conventional resistance against a possible attack.I want to say a word about that decision and probe a little the thinking of the Opposition about it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th March, 1968; Vol. 760, c. 60.]The right hon. Gentleman did that on Monday and yesterday, and he had his answer yesterday from my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition.
I want today to probe a little of the Government's thinking on this important new announcement about what came out of the recent discussions on N.A.T.O. strategy, the announcement that N.A.T.O. hasagreed that the forces which Governments are prepared to make available should be used so as to maximise the Alliance's capability for conventional resistance…That looks to me like a contradiction between the line the Secretary of State took three years ago and the present thinking of N.A.T.O. If it is not a contradiction, I think that it is at least a very significant development in Government thinking which is very relevant to the whole question of the kind of reserves we need. If it is no longer a question of resorting to nuclear weapons within days of an attack, if we are now thinking of maximising the possibilities of conventional resistance, do we not certainly need a home defence force, if only for normal purposes of what I think is called crisis management in the kind of contingency the Secretary of State outlined in his speech? Do we not probably need the capability to man and put in the field larger formations? Where are those capabilities now? We have not got them they have gone. They do not exist.
474 I think that if the Secretary of State were here he would seek, as he did on Monday, to belittle the significance of the contradiction between his earlier position and his present one. But we do not need to found the argument solely on what he has said. The right hon. Gentleman referred last night to Mr. McNamara's so-called posture statement, his statement to Congress on the 1969–73 defence programme and the 1969 defence budget. It is very interesting to see what he said in it about the present N.A.T.O. thinking on the kind of contingency which could arise in Europe. He said:The United States has been firmly of the view that the threat of an incredible action is not an effective deterrent. The political leaders of the West are all well aware of the dangers involved in the use of tactical nuclear weapons—and so are the leaders of the Warsaw Pact nations…Our NATO partners have now acknowledged "—
note the "now"—the need to plan for a much larger range of contingencies than a massive NATO—wide attack launched with very little warning…The main task for the future, it seems to me, involves not only the setting of realistic force goals for the Alliance, but also the creation of a force structure which can be rapidly adjusted to preserve a balance of military capabilities…It is in the non-nuclear realm that NATO faces the most challenging military problems,…The greatest deficiency in the European NATO forces, however, is the lack of an adequate mobilisation base. We, in the United States, have made great progress in raising the combat readiness of our own reserve forces and in providing the means for their movement, and I believe it is most urgent that our European Allies do likewise.
§ Mr. Ramsden
Where are we to produce the resources from? I shall deal with that point.
I am not relating to the House only what I have read. We have had the benefit of a visit from Mr. Alan Enthoven, head of systems analysis in Mr. McNamara's office, who gave a talk at the Defence Ministry and here at the House. I clearly remember what he said and made a note of some of it, because it emphasises what I have said and was striking and noteworthy. He said that in the American belief the disparity of conventional forces between both sides of the Iron Curtain has been very much over-rated in the past. The 475 American view is that there is now a much closer balance in the availability of conventional forces, across the Iron Curtain than was originally thought. He added that what N.A.T.O. needs is a greater capability for flexible conventional response, and that one of the best ways to ensure that we have such a capability is for the member countries of N.A.T.O. to maintain available readily mobilisable reserve forces. His conclusion is that such a position could be reached—and that is true of this country—without too great an adjustment to the budgets of the members of N.A.T.O.
When the Government took the decision which stripped the country of its only means of home defence and of the ability to mobilise additional formations and put them in the field, we thought that the right hon. Gentleman might turn out to have been wrong. What is a matter for surprise is how soon events have moved in such a way as to begin to prove him to have been wrong. I do not believe one can escape the conclusion that the use of conventional forces on a much larger scale for a much longer period bulks far larger in N.A.T.O. thinking than it did when the original decision was taken. If that is so, it puts the Government's decision to reorganise the reserves along the lines they have determined in a very different light.
I now turn to the question of the T & AVR III, that part of the Territorial Army which, on the decision of the Government, was eventually left, comprising 87 units in about 150 drill halls. The T & AVR III formed no part of the Government's original plans for the reorganisation of the reserves. The decision to retain it was forced on them by a combination of the pressure of public opinion and the outcome of a debate, which we all very well remember, when the Government escaped defeat by a majority of one.
The decision was that the T & AVR III should be paid for in the main by the Home Office, and in spite of its having got going very successfully—to which Ministers have paid tribute—it is now proposed that it should be disbanded. The whole story of the T & AVR III is not a very edifying one from the point of view of Ministers. 476 But I understand that talks are in progress between Ministers and the Territorial Army Council. I do not want to say anything to raise political temperatures or make the progress of these talks more difficult. I hope that the outcome will be what the Council wants to see.
However, some things must be said. The Government's decisions in January have created very large and perhaps insuperable difficulties to the continuance of the T & AVR III in its present form. I do not believe that any force is credible whose existence hangs precariously on the judgment of a civil Department of what it can afford to put in its estimates from year to year. It is not a tenable position. No force has a credible future as a military force which is not wholly the responsibility of the Ministry of Defence. Nor do I believe that any force can last for long on a cadre basis in a state of suspended animation. Without the revivifying influence of recruits passing through it would wither and die. Any solution which may be achieved on these lines can only be an interim one.
However, I also believe that what does remain of T & AVR III, or what may remain as a result of discussions in progress, will be vital to the reconstruction of a genuine citizen volunteer reserve such as we wish to see. There will be the basis of some 87 units and this is an essential prerequisite. We have to have units in order to create a force. One can quickly train junior N.C.O.s and soldiers, but one cannot quickly train the middle grade officers and N.C.O.s and one cannot quickly replace the goodwill which attaches to an existing unit. The units and, above all, the drill halls must be maintained because a unit must have a base. The drill halls are there and they must be kept.
If hon. Members opposite doubt what I am saying, let them visit a Territorial Army unit, if not in their constituencies then at Buckingham Gate—the London Scottish or the Green Jackets. They will be welcome there as long as they go with open minds. They will be able to learn, by talking not only to Territorials but to Regular officers attached to these units, the value which the Regular Army attaches to their existence and to their continued existence.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
What is an hon. Member to do when his Territorial drill hall is taken over by a firm which is training workers for an advance factory? The Territorials do not exist in my town.
§ Mr. Ramsden
I will leave the hon. Gentleman to be answered by any one of my hon. Friends from Scotland who may have the good fortune to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, and who will be able to tell him what I suspect he already knows—the feeling in Scotland about the Governments attitude to the Territorial Army.
We have never accepted that there is no home defence rôle for the volunteers—by this I mean a genuine home defence rôle outside the narrow nuclear context. In a European emergency such as the Defence Secretary sketched out earlier this week, regular forces would be already preempted and would not be available for those duties traditionally called, "in aid of the civil power". These include the guarding of key points and the protection of key installations from sabotage, and would require the kind of force such as we no longer have and which the Territorial Army could once have provided.
Such a force, by its presence in uniform during a crisis, developing under the shadow of the potential use in Europe of nuclear weapons, would clearly be calming. The atmosphere at the time of Cuba would be nothing to it. The presence of such a force would have an invaluable steadying influence on the morale of the population. At the very least, it would be something for people to join—something which the Government would be able to tell people they could do in a crisis.
I do not believe that any Government can be confident of its ability to handle a crisis situation in an atmosphere involving a considerable degree of public alarm without the services of such a force to rely on. It was the last House of Commons which insisted on the Government establishing the T & AVR III. This is a different House, but, whatever the Government have in mind now, we are entitled to ask that no further irreversible harm stall be done on the authority of their majority in the present House. This 478 is for the very simple reason that the Government know that this present House of Commons is no longer representative of the strength of opinion in the country. I say seriously to hon. Gentlemen opposite that there is very real concern in all circles, quite independent of politics, about the prospects for the future of T & AVR III.
Finally there is the question of the cost of the Reserves. It is right that the House should face this question. It is also important that we should see it in the correct perspective. If one looks at the cost of Reserve forces in isolation, whether it be the £40 million that we were spending on the Reserves as we had them, or the £20 million that the present Government are spending, and if one considers how relatively few are the occasions on which the Reserve forces are called upon—and when our Army has a European stance these occasions will be even fewer—it certainly seems a lot of money to be spending.
But to look at the cost of the Reserves as a single item of cost in isolation from the cost of the Army as a whole is no basis for a sound judgment of the real value of the Reserve forces or the real value of a citizen reserve to a standing army. One has to see these figures, £20 million or so, in terms of the £600 million or £700 million which the nation spends in maintaining a standing army.
The question is can we keep a regular standing Army and make it work, and get value for the money spent, unless we give it a link with the civilian population and so secure for it the backing of a substantial element in the civilian population? Do we dare deny to the standing Regular Army, on which we spend so much money, the added flexibility, the added capacity for response to meet the needs of a given situation which the extra small proportion spent on an adequate Reserve can provide? The Regular Army is no use, and whatever we spend on it will be wasted, unless the nation as a whole has the will to support its use in time of need.
Unless that will is there and unless the Government knows that it is there in the civilian population they will never put the Army in the field. If they do so it will be an empty gesture and the bluff will be called. It is the function of a citizen reserve—and this was the value of the 479 Territorial Army—to reinforce the Regular Army certainly; to be there to serve as a foundation for its expansion, certainly; but more than that, to give to civilian volunteers the chance to identify themselves with the spirit and purpose of the Regular Army, and to embody the nation's will to resist and to fight if need be for the survival of themselves and their country.
It was sometimes difficult, particularly in the context of what I called the "brush-fire strategy" to see the relevance of a civilian reserve for the kind of war which preoccupied everyone's attention in those days. Wars were then thought of as far-off affairs, fought in a sophisticated way by professional soldiers. It is much less difficult to think of it in this way in the European context. On the Government's own view of the future rôle of the Army they ought to give the concept of a genuine citizen reserve further consideration.
On their own argument it has assumed a greater relevance than when they took their original decision. The country recognises this if hon. Gentlemen opposite do not. The volunteers certainly recognise it. They are there and many of them wish to continue being there, even if the Government are not prepared to pay them. They are ready to play their part, and all that they ask is that the Government should give them the chance. We believe that they should give them the chance, and in that belief we commend this Motion to the House.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Army (Mr. James Boyden)
The military are sometimes accused of fighting the next war on the basis and plans of the last. I do not find any trace of that in the Ministry of Defence and I did not really expect the right hon. Member for Harrogate (Mr. Ramsden) to put so much emphasis on the 1939 volunteer citizen army. When I first read the Motion I thought that it was reactionary; after hearing the right hon. Gentleman I find it even more reactionary than I expected.
In any case the right hon. Gentleman's Government of 1961 took a very large slice out of the Territorial Army and reduced the establishment from 300,000 480 to 190,000, with the limit of 123,000 on volunteer recruitment. Many major units, including 13 infantry battalions, disappeared.
The rôle of the T.A. was revised at the same time to give it three tasks. First, it was to reinforce the Regular Army overseas, particularly in B.A.O.R. Second, it was to aid the civil power and reinforce the Regular Army in the United Kingdom. Lastly, the T.A. was to provide a framework on which, in a period of rising tension, general preparations for war could be built up.
On 22nd January, 1964, the right hon. Member announced further changes in the rôle of the T.A. The effect of these alterations was, on the one hand to involve the T.A. more widely in the reinforcement and support of B.A.O.R., and on the other to give the T.A. a firefighting rôle in this country, which identified it more closely with the Civil Defence forces. In making these changes right hon. Gentlemen opposite were acknowledging the obvious truth that the rôle and organisation of the T.A. could not stand still, but had to take account of developments in the wider military scene.
Although they made some changes, our predecessors, as always, did too little too late. They did not follow their logic through, and when the present Government took office in 1964 we found that the Reserves that we had inherited were too large for the needs of national defence, and yet provided too few reinforcements for the Regular Army. The T.A. then was under-trained, under-equipped, not available when required, and organised for the wrong tasks. Otherwise it was all right.
With its three rôles the T.A. had become a hybrid force which could not adequately sustain any of them. It could not meet the high priority requirement of support for the Regular Army overseas because it had not the necessary logistic units—for these the Army Emergency Reserve was relied on. It was not getting sufficient training in its civil defence rôle and it could not act as a framework for expansion for war, because the necessary modern equipment was not there. The uncertainty of purpose which this caused was seriously damaging its morale.
§ Mr. Richard Crawshaw (Liverpool, Toxteth)
Is my right hon. Friend suggesting that at the time he is speaking about, when it did not have the equipment, it was in any worse position than it was in 1939 when it did not have the equipment and yet raised a volunteer army?
§ Mr. Boyden
I will deal with that point in a moment. [Laughter.] Yes, indeed.
It quickly became clear to us that the third rôle, the provision of a framework for expansion, had ceased to be anything more than a fiction which the party opposite had maintained because it had not had the courage to discard it. We decided to abandon this rôle as an irrelevance. Its credibility and value had been eroded over more than a decade since the advent of nuclear weapons. Its maintenance had long ceased to be cost-effective and had become extravagantly wasteful.
A radical reshaping of the Reserves was called for. Our predecessors had shied away from tackling the issue and it was left to this Government to carry through the much needed reorganisation. The effect of that reorganisation was to abolish any rôle for the Territorial Army as a framework on which general preparations for war could be built up. The Motion we are debating today is in practical terms a reversion to that situation. That is why I accuse right hon. Gentlemen opposite of wanting to put the clock back. They often stopped social progress. It is rather rarer that they are disposed towards military obscurantism.
The Government based the 1966 reorganisation on sound, realistic and consistent thinking about the purpose of the Reserves. Our aim was to establish an Army Volunteer Reserve organisation with units better trained and equipped to meet the commitments that might face them. We have achieved our aims.
The reorganisation removed the remaining element of hybridity from the organisation by separating the reinforcement of the Regular Army overseas from the provision of aid to the civil power. These rôles are so widely different in the type of units, in the call-out liability, and in the training they require that we found the only efficient and economical course was to design two separate forces for them. For the first rôle we designed 482 T & AVR I and II—the Volunteers—and for the second T & AVR III—the Territorials.
The support needed by the Regular Army lies mainly on the technical and logistic side. The Volunteers have a total establishment of 51,000, about three-quarters being logistic and technical. The component units were drawn partly from the Territorial Army and partly through the absorption of the Army Emergency Reserve. The A.E.R., as hon. Members know, was the small separate reserve which had been specially designed for the reinforcement of the Regular Army.
The order of battle for the Volunteers was tailored to current operational needs which fall into two categories. First, for the United Nations. The Goverment have offered to provide logistic support for a United Nations peacekeeping force of about six battalions; the reserves must therefore contain appropriate units which can, if necessary, relieve the Regular Army of this commitment. This is the purpose of T & AVR I. Secondly, the same support was to be provided for N.A.T.O. and conceivably also for a possible major operation outside Europe. The Regular Army is not entirely self-contained on the technical and logistic side so that such units and individual reinforcements needed to balance the order of battle in war must be found from the reserves. Some units of fighting arms are needed also. All these reinforcements are provided in T & AVR II.
In this way, in the recent reorganisation we not only cut out the superfluous elements from the volunteer reserves but we streamlined and tailored the organisation of the remainder to the real needs of the present time. Our reforms went far beyond these matters of organisation, however. The liabilities for call-out were brought up to date. For example, the Volunteers are liable to be called out for service "when warlike operations are in preparation or in progress". This liability is appropriate to Regular Army reinforcements but had previously been confined to part of the Army Emergency Reserve and to part of the Regular Army Reserve. It had been one of the many anomalies of the Territorial Army that it did not have the appropriate liability for the most important of its rôles, Regular Army reinforcement.
483 The reforms also involved great improvement in equipment. The party opposite had starved the Territorial Army of equipment. By contrast, the Volunteers are being provided with current types of equipment.
The Volunteers have made good progress since they came into existence last year. Their strength is about 38,000 against an establishment of 51,000. We expected to reach a strength of 80 per cent. of establishment or 41,000 and the short fall is not much more than that. Equipment is in good supply. The Volunteers took over sufficient equipment, including armoured cars and artillery, to enable them to train for their operational rôles. There are a few shortages, mainly tractors for Engineer units which should be made good next year, and specialised items for Signals units which should be made good within two or three years. In infantry battalions there is a small deficiency of support weapons which will largely be made good by the end of this year. Provision of combat dress was completed last year and that of service dress to warrant officers, N.C.O.s and soldiers will start in April.
Training in each unit is now closely tailored to its precise operational rôle. Moreover, the improvement in equipment means that training is now more realistic. As a result, the Volunteers are reaching a very high standard of operational readiness.
I turn to T & AVR III. At the time of the reorganisation of the Reserves, we decided there was a case for the creation of a force whose primary rôle would be to assist the police to maintain law and order and to act in support of the civilian authorities in general war. A recruiting limit of 23,000 was set, though in the event numbers have reached only 15,000.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Would my hon. Friend remove one of my apprehensions? These units are not supposed to restore law and order except in general war. They are not likely to be used against the civil population.
§ Mr. Boyden
They are not likely to be used against the civil population. One of the strengths of the Territorial Army is that it is identified with the civil population. Hon. Members have made a great point of that. One of the rôles which it 484 has been carrying out in the last year or so is to assist the civil population in demolitions and bridge building and various other tasks in aid of the civil community. I hope that that reassures my hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Hughes
Unfortunately, I have experience of soldiers being used in civil disputes. I wanted my hon. Friend to remove my apprehensions, and I think that he has done so.
§ Mr. Boyden
I should have thought that the time to which my hon. Friend refers was a long while ago.
§ Mr. Boyden
Government expenditure on this force has been limited to £3 million a year. This is one of the figures which we are discussing in connection with the economies. The force is organised into 87 units, with an average of three units for each civil defence subregion. It is provided with essential equipment for its rôle: this is mainly small arms, wireless sets and vehicles. Training is limited to twelve days a year, including an 8-day camp.
Thus from the outset the T & AVR III was very different in its rôle, organisation, equipment and training from the Territorial Army. It is essentially a home defence force.
As the House knows, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced on 16th January that as part of the cuts in public expenditure home defence was to be reduced to a care and maintenance basis, producing a saving of about £14 million in 1968–69 and £20 million in 1969–70 and subsequent years. This involved T & AVR III, as well as the Civil Defence Corps and the Auxiliary Fire Service.
My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, who has responsibility for home defence, explained very fully and clearly in the debate on civil defence on 29th February why the Government decided to reduce the level of home defence. As he said, it is a question of what should be the proper level of preparation in our present circumstances. In the view of the Government, the likelihood of nuclear attack on this country has diminished over the years. It has not, of course, disappeared. In the present state of the world, it would be foolish to suppose 485 that it would. But the risk is now small enough for the Government to be able to cut expenditure on home defence substantially as part of the broad comprehensive measures aimed at national economic recovery.
As hon. Members will know, my hon. Friend the Minister of Defence for Administration announced on 24th January that we were discussing the disbandment of T & AVR III with the Council of Territorial and Auxiliary Forces Associations. The object of the discussions has been to assess fully the concept of T & AVR III on a care and maintenance basis and, in particular, to see how much in the way of special skills and physical assets could be preserved al minimum cost. I am sorry that it is too early for me to give a full report of our talks.
I should like to take this opportunity of paying tribute to the enthusiasm, keenness and spirit of service to the nation which one meets everywhere in T & AVR III. It is a force embodying a volunteer spirit which has so often stood this country in good stead in times of crisis. I should like to emphasise that there is still plenty of opportunity for voluntary military and similar service in Britain today. In the T & AVR II for example, there is still room for recruits. I realise that some people are deterred from joining the Volunteers because of the call-out liability involved, but I can say that although this liability is real it is not onerous. I should like to repeat what has frequently been said before, that this liability is quite different from the Ever-Ready liability, and I hope that hon. Members who have influence in these matters will persuade young men to join the Volunteers. There is also, of course, in the cadets, and youth movement, plenty of scope for service for people who have the talents for that.
Neither the rundown of the home or civil defence services, nor the lack of a vast citizen army on the lines of the old Territorial Army, is going to leave this country naked and defenceless as the right hon. Gentleman opposite seemed to imply. It remains an essential part of the Government's defence policy that there should be both Regular and Volunteer Reserves available to reinforce the Regular Army when required. It is not necessary or practicable to maintain in 486 peace time the full war establishment which our forces in Germany would require to carry out their N.A.T.O. commitments. This means that we must have both Regular and Volunteer reservists within a suitable framework and organisation who can provide the individuals and the units that would be needed to make our contribution to N.A.T.O. fully effective.
As the House knows—we have had discussions about this earlier today—it is now accepted that N.A.T.O. strategy should be based on those forces which member countries are prepared to provide. We must be absolutely clear that that there is no prospect of member countries providing sufficient conventional forces to enable N.A.T.O. to fight a non-nuclear war lasting a matter of several weeks let alone months against a major Soviet aggression. If we should be faced with the tragedy of a war in Europe the rôle of N.A.T.O.'s conventional forces would be to hold the position for as long as they could in order to give as much time as possible for any decision on the use of nuclear weapons to be taken—and for talk.
It is obvious that in this situation strong and well equipped conventional forces would be required from us as a contribution to N.A.T.O., and we should expect to be able in time of political tension to call up trained volunteer reservists and move them to Germany as reinforcements but it is also obvious that we should not, as we did in the two World Wars, have again a period of months during which we could, using a nucleus of volunteer reservists as a basis for expansion—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"]—raise a mass army organised to fight in its own military formations of the kind envisaged by Lord Haldane.
Hon. Members opposite who argue this is what we should do have some serious charges to answer. The first charge is that by hedging their bets and making some contingency plan for a long drawn out conventional war in Europe they would be undermining the basis on which the strategy of N.A.T.O. itself is constructed. We may all pray that we shall never be faced with the terrible prospect of a nuclear holocaust, but the fact is that deterrence by the use of nuclear weapons, with appropriate levels of escalation in the conflict, is at 487 the heart of the Western alliance's strategy, and the use of nuclear weapons is an integral part of the Soviet Government's professed philosophy, too. A deterrent is credible only so long as the people one wishes to deter believe that one is fully resolved to use it. If we make a contingency plan and take the appropriate measures of organisation against the possibility that the resolution to use the deterrent will not be strong enough when the time comes, then the deterrent will cease to be credible.
§ Mr. Ramsden
It seems to me that the hon. Gentleman's argument is out of date. He is seeking to blame us. It was his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State who told the House on Monday that it must be N.A.T.O.'s object to seek a maximised period of use of conventional forces. I, personally, heard that statement with relief. I believe the House and the country heard it with relief, as the acceptance of our moving on to a more realistic, safer, view of N.A.T.O. strategy. The hon. Gentleman should not blame us for accepting that and wishing to model our forces consequently.
§ Mr. Boyden
That is exactly the result of what I have been describing. That is exactly what our policy does do. As the right hon. Gentleman was talking I actually put down that that was maximising the conventional forces.
The second charge against hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite is that when they were in office, during their 13 years, they did very little to provide the equipment for the citizen army they are talking about now to do its job. The policy which they followed of retaining a large Territorial Army establishment greatly above the recruited strength carried with it a heavy price in manpower and money. It had top heavy, unnecessary headquarters, and meant providing heavy equipment, tanks and guns for units of the Royal Armoured Corps and the Royal Artillery, which could not in any conceivable circumstances have been required, and it meant maintaining a large number of other teeth arm units when the main need was for supporting logistic units.
§ Mr. Ramsden
Are there any reservists for the armoured regiments, other than Regular soldiers, being trained anywhere 488 in this country at the moment, and, if so, could the hon. Gentleman tell us where?
§ Mr. Boyden
In any case, when hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite talk about their citizen army, they did not provide either the equipment or the money to make it credible, or the money to make it work. It was even more dangerous that, by continuing for many years to organise the Territorial Army as a separate entity in its own right and treating it as a framework on which general preparations for war might have been made, they were diverting resources, some of which could have been used for training and equipping units needed for reinforcing the Regular Army.
Training and equipment are highly desirable, but what hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are doing in raising all these questions is they are taking out an insurance premium for something they cannot cover. They not only want a householder's insurance policy to cover burglary, fire, and weather, but they want to cover divorce and remarriage as well.
For our part, we are fully resolved not to fall into the same trap of trying to do too much with inadequate re sources. Just as our future defence policy is to be concentrated on Europe, so we shall ensure that the Army reserves available to support the Regular Army are properly organised, trained and equipped for their European rôle.
If extra money were to be provided for reserve forces on the lines which hon. and right hon. Members opposite suggest they should tell us at whose expense it is to be. Is it to come from the Regular Army? Are there to be cuts in the Regular Army? Is it to come out of the social services? I can remember the days when Civil Service salaries were cut as a contribution to dealing with that sort of situation and so were the unemployed. I can remember not so very long ago when one of my hon. Friends—now a right hon. Friend—introduced a redundancy payments scheme for unemployed workers, and that was rejected 489 by the party opposite and never considered. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, when he was talking about cuts, dealing with the economic situation, criticised military cuts for being too distant. Here is a cut which will make an immediate saving of £2½ million or so, and a continuing saving.
The Government's policy on the Army Reserves is sensible and coherent. It is consistent with the realities of today. It does not go back to the 1940s and 1950s, when circumstances were utterly different from now. Confidently, I ask the House to reject the Motion.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ Sir Richard Glyn (Dorset, North)
I begin by repudiating entirely one rather important statement by the Government spokesman which, in my view, is wholly inaccurate. He said that the Territorial Army, as it was a few years ago, could not act as the framework for expansion for war because it did not have the equipment. I heard that statement with astonishment, and I speak with a little experience, because I served in the Territorial Army both before and after the last war, until about eight years ago. When it expanded before the war, my regiment was cut in half and made into two. The half in which I was left had to produce a cadre and, for my sins, I was appointed to command it. Our equipment was negligible.
We were gunners, and we had flags to represent anti-tank guns. The guns with which we were at first supplied had mysterious little screw-holes in them, and it took me some weeks to discover what they were. The guns had been taken out of a military museum and, shortly before, they had borne plates with the letters "D.P." on them, meaning that they were for drill purposes only. The plates having been removed, the guns were then issued to my cadre. This was after the war started. That was the situation in 1939, and I hope that no hon. Gentleman opposite will try to make political capital out of it, because I remember the pre-war Government being faced with a censure Motion alleging that they were rearming too quickly. That was what hon. Gentlemen opposite thought before the war.
We had no combat clothes, and no boots. The quickly doubled Territorial 490 units were without a vestige of camping equipment. We were moved out into camps with rotten old tents, no floorboards and no palliasses. I think that the hon. Gentleman should withdraw his statement that the Territorial Army could not have been expanded in 1964 because it had not the equipment. It managed to expand in shocking circumstances in 1938 and 1939, not only doubling in size but increasing yet again.
§ Mr. Boyden
The hon. Gentleman refers to the Territorial Army's capability of expansion. In 1941, I was in charge of 250 pikes to defend an R.A.F. station against the possibility of an enemy landing on the East Coast.
§ Sir Richard Glyn
In fairness, the Regular Army was given pikes in 1939 and 1940, too. Some of us went down to try to defend Kent and took over pikes when we arrived there. However, the Territorial Army was not armed with pikes in 1964 when, according to the hon. Gentleman, it could not be expanded because it did not have proper equipment. It had very much more modern and suitable weapons, some of which could be valid in warfare today. The 25-pounder is still a very fine gun. In certain conditions, many people like it much better than any projected replacement.
The Government's plan for the next war is sure to be wrong, because every Government plan for every war has always been wrong. Whatever the experts say will happen never does happen. In 1938–39, all the experts were sure that gas would be the crucial weapon. If anyone had wanted to bet against gas being used in a future war, he would have obtained very long odds. However, no side ever used gas, and every expert's opinion was vitiated as a result.
How can we know what form the next war will take? We have no notion. All that we have are estimates and opinions. What sort of war and what sort of Reserves have the Government in mind? Are they thinking of a short conventional war? Are they planning for a long conventional war, in which case conventional Reserves will be relevant? Or are they planning for a nuclear war, in which case the third-echelon work for which the Territorial Army was fully trained will be of the utmost importance?
491 The Government can hardly be planning for a short conventional war. No one in N.A.T.O. and no one in the Government can believe that N.A.T.O. would quickly defeat Russia by conventional means. If they are planning for a short conventional war, they are planning for a conventional defeat of N.A.T.O., because that is the only form of short conventional war that it is possible to envisage. If they are not planning for such a defeat, they must be planning for a long conventional war, in which case conventional Reserves will be extremely relevant. Alternatively, they are planning for a nuclear war, which we all hope we shall be spared, though it has been said that tactical nuclear weapons would be required at an early date if N.A.T.O. had a general engagement on the Continent.
If there were to be one or more nuclear strikes on these islands, according to a statement two years ago by the Secretary of State for Defence, the relevant fact would be the radius of total destruction of a megaton bomb. I accept that. A little pamphlet which was issued to those of us doing third echelon work refers expressly to this point. It says that, outside the radius of total destruction, there would be a further radius the width of which would depend on the size of the bomb but which would be a mile or two in depth, in which the fatal casualties would be much smaller. They might be as low as 5 per cent. However, there would be a further 10 per cent. badly injured, and there might be as many as 35 per cent. of the population who would be trapped by falling masonry or in some other way. It was that 35 per cent. of the local population whom the Territorial Army was fully equipped to rescue by virtue of its training in third echelon work.
If the Territorial Army is not there to rescue 35 per cent. of the population of a proportion of a big city, who is to do it? I do not say that the Regular Army cannot be trained in this work, but not many of its units have been. In any event, if the Regular Army is to be used for this work, what units are we to depend on to carry out our N.A.T.O. rôle abroad? As I understand it, the reductions planned in our Regular Army will leave only a very limited number of brigades. We used to have fourteen, or fifteen with the Gurkhas. Perhaps it 492 is outside the ambit of this debate to speculate on how much smaller it will become, but, assuming that we have no Home Guard, no Civil Defence and no Territorial Army, we have to consider these islands in the context of a European war in which they may be the target for an attack by nuclear strike, by raid, seaborne or otherwise, by saboteurs, or even by battalion groups or larger formations.
With Russia having rather more than 300 submarines in commission, it will not be easy for the Royal Navy to prevent small seaborne landings. Who is to defend our country from small seaborne landings of that type? Who is to defend the vulnerable points? It must be remembered that several thousand of them were guarded day and night in the last war, some by the Home Guard, which no longer exists, and some by the Territorial Army, which will no longer exist if the hon. Gentleman has his way.
I remember a senior officer, who had been in charge of some of these, saying in a previous defence debate that three brigades were required to guard vulnerable points in the London area alone. In the whole of this island it could not be less than five or six brigades. Would they be Regular soldiers? If the Territorial Army is no longer available, who else could do it? How many brigades are to be available for third echelon work in case of a nuclear strike and to repel any possible landing either by sea or by air of saboteurs or larger armed bodies?
It is no use hon. Gentlemen saying that we have thousands and thousands of troops in this country. Of course we have. They fall into two classes. The majority are administrative troops at various installations who are not in units, let alone formations. We cannot send 300 cooks to attack a company of paratroopers. Most cooks have not used their rifles very often and they have had little or no tactical training. Who is to take charge of this task force and what organisation and formation will we improvise to command it?
At present we have a number of units stationed in this country. These units for the most part are enjoying a spell of home service, alternating with service overseas. I suppose that we will still keep a brigade 493 group plus in Hong Kong, and they will have to alternate. It may be that some of our forces in Germany will alternate. These alternating units may be here today, but if we have a crisis and pressures building up to the possibility of a European conventional war they will be needed overseas.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Will the hon. Gentleman explain in some detail how the Territorial Army can help in Hong Kong?
§ Sir Richard Glyn
The hon. Gentleman, who knows so much about Scotland, is not following me. I said that there would be Regular units in this country alternating with other Regular units in Hong Kong. The Territorial Army, as it used to be, could well have served in Hong Kong and, for all I know, did. However, there is no question of it doing so now, especially if the Government's plan goes through and there are no Territorial units left. I am talking about the Regular units in Hong Kong which will alternate. Although there may be a number of Regular units in this country now, if pressures built up towards the possibility of a conventional European war, almost all these units would be required on the Continent. We would be under tremendous pressure to provide increasing numbers of brigade groups for N.A.T.O.
How many brigades do the Government see us keeping in this country for the defence of Britain, for the rescue of our citizens who may be trapped on the edge of a nuclear holocaust, for the defence of our vulnerable points, of which so many hundreds had to be defended by day and by night in the last war and would still be vulnerable in another prolonged conventional war, and how many would we have for counter attack rôles in case of landings by sea or by air by saboteurs or larger bodies? How many brigades of regular units would be reserved for this purpose? We had the equivalent of six brigades to defend vulnerable points alone in the last war. Unless the Government can see at least ten Regular brigade groups mobilised in this country, these tasks cannot be carried out, because administrative troops are no good for these purposes, and the population of Britain will be exposed to these dangers, the worst perhaps being trapped 494 in fallen masonry with no trained rescuers available.
These are the facts of war. We pray that there will not be a war, but the whole of the defence of any nation is based on the fear or risk that there might be one. If a war was to start these horrors might overtake us. What are the Government's plans for meeting them?
We need a citizen army like the old Territorial Army, though perhaps not so big—size is a matter of argument—the equivalent of ten brigade groups would be a good basis. This army could carry out the third echelon rôle, for which they would be fully trained, and other home defence rôles for which they are eminently suitable with the weapons that they had. This force, if brought back into being, as it was a few years ago, would release the equivalent of ten brigade groups of Regular units for service overseas. The cost of ten brigade groups is many times the cost of their equivalent in a Territorial Army.
The question was asked whether they were a credible alternative. Our Territorial Army was recognised throughout N.A.T.O. as the best and least expensive Reserve army in N.A.T.O. On at least one occasion a territorial battery managed to take part in training in Germany and in N.A.T.O. exercises. I am told that the Territorial battery which took part in a N.A.T.O. exercise was of such high standard that many of the N.A.T.O. observers found it difficult to believe that they were not Regulars. That was the position in 1964.
I plead with the Government to seriously reconsider this matter, particularly the plight of the T & AVR III, whose rôle now depends on the annual vote of a Civil Department. This cannot be right.
The hon. Gentleman praised their spirit. I can endorse what he said on this point. My own regiment, the Queen's Own Dorset Yeomanry, was formed nearly 200 years ago. The fourth most senior Yeomanry Regiment, it was set up on the basis that the Government should be put to no expense. They served for nothing to defend their country.
I have a letter from Lieutenant-Colonel Lindsay Kerr, formerly Second in Command of the Queen's Own Dorset Yeomanry, now the Commanding Officer of 495 The Dorset Territorials, T & AVR III, in which he says:I must confirm our willingness and preparedness to serve under a completely voluntary basis.They will continue to serve for nothing on condition that they may continue to have the use of their present equipment and T.A. centres which they regard as most important. They regard the latter as crucial if it ever became necessary to reform the regiment with a view to expanding the Army for a conventional war.
If we ever have to expand our army again it could only properly be done through the Territorials. If we had no Territorials, the Regular Army would have to undergo what we Territorials underwent in 1938–39. Regiments would have to be split, which would mean them being incapable of fighting for a long time. Each half would have to take a number of untrained men or else draw up a cadre which again would have to be topped up with a great number of untrained men. This would weaken the regiment and the cadre would be unable to fight for some long time. Warfare is more difficult and the tactics more complicated than in 1939, so it would be more difficult to bring about this increase now than it was in 1939, and it was difficult enough then. I urge the Government to reconsider this matter now, and particularly to bear in mind the offer from the Dorset Territorials, which I am sure is typical of the spirit of all Territorials, to serve without remuneration provided they can use their equipment and drill halls. I ask the Government not to throw away such a magnificent civic spirit and such loyalty. I ask them, in the interests of the country as a whole, to think again.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)
While listening to the hon. Member for Dorset, North (Sir Richard Glyn), I came to the conclusion that apparently the Government were abolishing the Territorial Army altogether. This is not entirely true. The issue under discussion is the future of T & AVR III. The other two parts of the Territorial Army will remain in existence. T & AVR I and II have a strength of about 50,000.
§ Mr. Heffer
I am taking the figures from this document. This is a considerable number of troops, and I think we ought to get the matter into perspective.
I agree with the hon. Member for Dorset, North. If the Government were abolishing the Territorial Army completely and no alternative was being put forward, with the result that we were depleting the defence of this country, I would be the first to speak out against the proposal. I am not a pacifist. I believe that the defence of our shores is essential. I do not believe that we should eliminate our army altogether, and then hope for the best. This is a disastrous policy for anyone to pursue. I believe that we must have an army, that we must defend our shores, and I further believe that in modern circumstances the Government's proposals are adequate for our defence.
If no alternatives were being presented, I could not support such a policy, but I think that hon. Gentlemen opposite are living in the past. They have not caught up with the realities of the situation. They have not understood precisely why we are getting rid of our overseas bases, renegotiating our commitments, and bringing our troops back from overseas, particularly from east of Suez. Many of these troops will be stationed here. Despite the cuts which will become applicable in two and a half years' time, our estimates this year are increasing precisely because a considerable sum of money will be needed to rehouse these troops here.
Is it suggested that we should have these extra troops here in addition to the Territorial Army? Such a proposal is absolutely unnecessary. I do not believe that we are in a position to afford the continuation of T & AVR III, and at the same time get rid of our overseas commitments and bring our troops back. I do not believe that we can afford unnecessarily to increase our expenditure at the moment. We know that the present set-up has caused immense economic problems for us.
§ Sir T. Beamish
In the event of it being necessary, because of an emergency in Europe, to bring B.A.O.R. up to full establishment, what military manpower does the hon. Gentleman envisage being available here for home defence and duties in aid of the civil power?
§ Mr. Heffer
I shall come to that in a moment. I shall answer the hon. and gallant Gentleman's question when dealing with the kind of war that is likely to occur in the future.
§ Mr. Heffer
I understood it was a very distinguished one, but I leave it there. I am sure he will agree that the nature of any future war is mere conjecture on our part. It may take one of two forms. It may be a nuclear war, or it may be a conventional one. I believe that a large-scale conventional war involving the major countries of the world is out. I think we can say that such an eventuality does not stand up to the realities of the situation. Certainly there could be a conventional war of the type that we have seen in Vietnam, where people are fighting for national independence and using guerrilla tactics to defeat an occupying power. But when it comes to a war between major powers, or even between large blocks, I think we can safely assume that it will be a nuclear war, because one side will want a quick strike to destroy the other at the earliest possible moment, without getting involved in any long-term struggle.
If one accepts that premise, it is clear that it is unnecessary to have the type of home-based Territorial Army units which have been envisaged in the past. The hon. and gallant Gentleman may not accept that proposition, but I think that the Government are right in arguing that we do not need to continue with this branch of the Territorial Army.
Yesterday my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) made one of his usual witty and powerful speeches. He made a number of points with which I did not agree, but I agreed with his opinion that we ought to consider bringing home our 50,000 troops now stationed in Germany. This is essential for our economy. It will do no harm to the defence of this country, and as long as we are part of the N.A.T.O. set-up it will do no harm to that organisation 498 either, because we can quickly transport these troops to the Continent if they are required there. If these troops are stationed here, there will be no need to continue the Territorial Army as we have understood it in the past.
There is, however, something much more important which needs to be done. When we are discussing the future of the Territorial Army, and the question of any future war, we must do so in the context of the situation in Europe at the moment. The N.A.T.O. countries have been discussed, and so have the Warsaw Pact countries. The reality of the situation is that there is a great deal of discontent, not only in N.A.T.O. about the future structure of the organisation, but in the Warsaw Pact countries as well. Already, Rumania is not prepared to renew its Warsaw Pact agreement with the Russians without a new clause, which means that they will not be automatically involved in any conflict in which the Russians take part. On our side, the French have their view of N.A.T.O. One important way to ensure that we never need the Territorial Army again is to take positive initiatives for disengagement in Europe, and to try to arrange a conference leading to a European security pact.
It is sad that we should be talking about a future war. We must do so, because we have to protect the interests of the country, but discussion about securing peace for all time would be more constructive. If that could be guaranteed, we should not need the Territorial Army or any other army—
§ Sir Richard Glyn
I have here the figures of the Institute of Strategic Studies. Perhaps it would put the hon. Gentleman's argument in perspective if I told him that, although Rumania might drop out of the Warsaw Pact, she has only 9 divisions and Russia has 140.
§ Mr. Heffer
I am not suggesting that Rumania makes a large contribution, but there is discontent, which is not confined to Rumania. In today's Guardian, Victor Zorza describes the start of the same kind of argument in Czechoslovakia. All Eastern Europe is beginning to reassess its poition, which is important for our attitudes and future military rôle.
I should like to go a little wider than this debate, but I should have to be here 499 until about two o'clock in the morning to raise all the issues—
§ Mr. Heffer
Hon. Gentlemen opposite are rightly concerned about the defence of our country. Anyone who is not concerned has no right in the House. Pacificists have a right, because they think that the best defence is to have no army at all, so we are all concerned with our country's defence. We must defend our country and we need an army to do it. But we do not need to continue the Territorial Army, a concept which was very much a product of the First World War and played its part in the Second, but has no part in the modern context.
If anyone says that I know nothing about the T.A., I would point out that my father was a sergeant in the Terri-trial Army, having served in the First World War in the Regular Army. I was brought up in a T.A. tradition. My mother was sometimes annoyed about this, because my father spent some time in the T.A. bar, which she did not like. She thought that he would have been better occupied digging the garden. I wonder how accurately hon. Members opposite reflect the views of those who regard the T.A. as an escape from home duties urged upon them by their wives. There is some element of this in any march down Whitehall by T.A. units.
If I thought that we could put the country at risk I would oppose the Government, but I do not think that we would. The Government's arguments are sound, that bringing troops home from abroad—particularly, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington said yesterday, from Germany—means that there would be no need of the past concept of a Territorial Army, especially since any future war is much more likely to be a nuclear war, with wholesale destruction, which would make a territorial army unnecessary and irrelevant.
§ 6.27 p.m.
§ Sir Fitzroy Maclean (Bute and North Ayrshire)
I hope that the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heller) will forgive me if I do not follow his interesting speculations on the possible course of a future war. If history has shown us anything, it is that soldiers and politicians suffer from a strange inability to foresee the future. My kindly-meant advice to the Government, therefore, is to think twice before discarding or neglecting any possible insurance or guarantee against the unforeseen. And if ever there were a cheap and effective insurance against the unforeseen it is, at £3 million a year, the T & AVR III. Moreover, present trends suggest that things are likely to become more and more unforeseen as time goes on.
But, in any case, after floods or gales, as recently seen in Scotland, or in the aftermath of a nuclear war or in numerous other situations, there is always likely to be a considerable rôle for a body of trained and disciplined men with local knowledge and local connections. And nowadays the T & AVR III has become all the more necessary because of the virtual liquidation of Civil Defence and the effects of Regular Army cuts on the strength of the Regular reserves. Therefore, instead of disbanding it, the Government should be strengthening and expanding it, and improving its armament and equipment.
As Under-Secretary of State for War, I saw a lot of the Territorial Army and was immensely impressed with the devotion, keenness and enthusiasm which prevailed in it, something which it had taken a great many years to build up. Now in the units which compose the T & AVR III all this is to be destroyed, not on military or even on convincing financial grounds, because £3 million is not nowadays an enormous sum—but in the main for political reasons and in particular as a sop to what one might call the lunatic fringe of the Government's supporters, the supporters of a panic-stricken and incompetent Administration.
I myself have been much struck by the fierce and genuine indignation which the Government proposal to disband the T & AVR III has aroused in my constituency. I do not know whether the 501 hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) has had the same experience.
§ Sir F. Maclean
In North Ayrshire and Bute I have had a great volume of angry letters, and I can assure hon. Gentlemen opposite that these have not been simply identical circulars, which people have been put up to write. They have clearly been individually composed and are full of feeling.
And no wonder. The Ayrshire Yeomanry, to which most of these constituents belong, is the senior Yeomanry Regiment in Scotland. Its history dates back nearly two centuries. It has had an extremely distinguished record in peace and war and it now leads all other Scottish T & AVR III units in strength. It actually stands at 90 per cent. of establishment, which is a remarkable record for a Territorial Army unit. What is more, this has been achieved in spite of the fact that under last year's so-called reorganisation, it had nearly all its vehicles, weapons and equipment as a reconnaissance regiment taken away and it has been reduced to one 30-year-old .303 rifle per man, five Land Rovers and one W.T. set for the entire unit.
§ Mr. Dalyell
The hon. Gentleman has referred to the volume of correspondence which he has received. The impression is being put about that the Scots are complaining in a big way against these measures. I have received only one letter of complaint. Although the hon. Gentleman says that he has received a large volume of letters, would he say how many letters he has received?
§ Sir F. Maclean
Dozens. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman's constituents, like those of the hon. Member for South Ayrshire, do not think that it is worth writing to him.
By private enterprise and initiative, for which they are famous, the members of the Ayrshire Yeomanry have managed to supplement their equipment and are not now as badly equipped as they would have been had they depended entirely on the Government as their source of supply.
Let me give another example of their keenness—and I believe that this applies to other units—in spite of the treatment 502 they have had, they are prepared to a man to continue to serve without pay. This is the spirit which the Government are deliberately seeking to destroy; and let them remember that once destroyed it will not be so easy to build it up again.
By a happy coincidence the Prime Minister is shortly to visit Ayr where this regiment has its headquarters. I am sure that he will get from the men of the Ayrshire Yeomanry the welcome he deserves.
§ 6.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)
If my constituents do not think it worth writing to me on this issue, when they know that I disagree, they nevertheless think it worth writing to me on a great many other subjects about which they wish to complain and about which they are likely to get even less change. I simply deny that there is any volume of feeling, certainly in the east of Scotland, on this subject, and I challenge the hon. Member for Bute and North Ayrshire (Sir F. Maclean), and others who have been vocal in the Press, about the volume of support that they have received.
§ Mr. James Davidson (Aberdeenshire, West)
The hon. Gentleman referred to the east of Scotland. I trust that he will agree that he speaks for only the part he knows.
§ Mr. Dalyell
I certainly do. I must be equally frank in replying to the remark of the hon. Member for Bute and North Ayrshire about the lunatic fringe of the Labour Party because I suppose that I qualify for membership of it on this issue.
§ Sir F. Maclean
I would define the lunatic fringe of the Labour Party by suggesting that it is comprised of those hon. Members who, for reasons which no doubt seem perfectly valid to them, are pressing the Government very hard indeed—even to the point of voting against them—to accept that the present cuts are inadequate; and those are the hon. Members to whom the Goverment presumably occasionally throw a sop.
§ Mr. Dalyell
People like me say that we must have a rational defence policy and, in my remarks, I speak frankly on the basis of being a "Fortress Britain" man who does not want his country to meddle in anything defence-wise overseas 503 other than in a United Nations capacity, in which I believe that the British part should be a reasonably small one.
I assure the hon. Member for Dorset, North (Sir Richard Glyn) that my hon. Friends who hold this view do not want to be glib about what happened in the 1930s. In the situation of the rise of Hitler, many of us would have shared the view of the hon. Gentleman. However, and with real respect to those who fought in the Second World War, analogies of this kind are misleading in the current position. We part company with the hon. Gentleman and those who express similar views when they talk in terms of releasing 10 brigades of troops for service overseas. I cannot imagine a situation in which I could support any action which would involve 10 British brigades being sent overseas. Perhaps in this debate we must come back to the basic assumptions from which we speak, for those assumptions must be related to an overall defence strategy, in the way in which my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) argued yesterday.
The hon. Member for Dorset, North has the notion that the Territorial Army could be the organisation to rescue 35 per cent. of the population who, he said, would be in a trapped condition in any sort of nuclear holocaust. But is the Territorial Army the right organisation to prepare for this eventuality? I would have thought that this was a job more appropriate for those with fire-service and police training.
§ Sir Richard Glyn
I did not say that they were the only people who could do the job. I said that they were trained to do it. The figure of 35 per cent. related to the area around the bombs, outside the zone of total destruction. Presumably everyone within that area would be killed. I pointed out that the Territorial Army was fully trained in rescue work for this purpose and that there would now be no organisation in Britain trained to do this job. One or two Regular regiments have been trained, but I believe not many. The police have worked regularly with members of the Territorial Army in, for example, joint exercises. Neither the police nor fire brigades are capable of handling these matters without the assistance of a num 504 ber of trained units, particularly with the assistance of wireless signallers, which the Territorial Army could provide.
§ Mr. Dalyell
It was an absolutely serious point of the hon. Member's. It could be argued that the fire service should be extended for this sort of work, and particularly the auxiliary fire service, but this is a serious matter of judgment.
As I understood the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Harrogate (Mr. Ramsden), he argued that we had to continue reserve forces of this sort in order to act as the foundation for larger armies, and to act as a link. In what circumstances are these larger armies to be used, given that a time scale now operates in 1968 which certainly did not operate in 1948, let alone 1938? It is on the question of the time scale for preparation that there seems to be a fairly deep division between the parties.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Easington yesterday spoke in terms of relating all this to one's conception of a future war; how we envisage it, and in what context. If the House of Commons was criticised in a leader in The Times this morning it was, perhaps, with some justice, because we should be paying more detailed attention to possible eventualities rather than letting ourselves roam on the generalities to which we are far too accustomed.
I intervened in the speech of the right hon. Member for Harrogate to ask what he meant by a "credible" force. I am not trying to score a debating point here. I listened very carefully to what he said, but with the best will in the world I am still not clear for what eventuality the Opposition Front Bench thinks this force should be used. Perhaps one should not be too dogmatic about a future war, and its possible nature, but I should have thought that one of our best deterrents is the difficulty that any Power that attacked us would have in occupying the country. There is a danger of ribaldry in likening that potential situation too much to the situation in Vietnam, which is different, but I seriously argue that, if there are to be forces of a reserve nature, they should be trained not as the basis of Regular units, but in the techniques of insurgency.
That argument arises from the perfectly serious belief that in the modern world the real deterrent is the threat of 505 insurgency that any aggressor would have to face when meeting a determined people—and the British are a determined people in such circumstances. It may be thought when I say that that here is a man who thinks a situation in which we would be conquered. Again, I know that by arguing on these lines I am open to a certain amount of laughter and ribaldry, but I should have thought that, if we are to train reserve forces, as good a deterrent as any would be that they should be trained in the techniques of insurgency and sabotage. Any Member of Parliament—
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Does not my hon. Friend know that he is following the example of the hon. Member for Bute and North Ayrshire (Sir F. Maclean), who led the guerrillas to establish Communism in Yugoslavia? Surely, my hon. Friend does not want to bring in anything to establish Communism in this country.
§ Mr. Dalyell
No. I am just proposing that what one must concede is a realistic kind of reserve force about which we should be thinking—
§ Mr. George Younger (Ayr)
The hon. Gentleman is making a very thoughtful speech, and perhaps he will allow me to try to help him. Does he realise that the members of the old Territorial Army prior to 1966 were, and the members of the present T & AVR III to some extent are, trained in exactly the capability of insurgency of which he speaks? Does he not think that a reason for keeping them on?
§ Mr. Dalyell
I do not think that I could have said that the men of the T.A. are trained in the techniques of sabotage as such. Even if they were, I would think it very dangerous, because people who argue as I do have to be very careful about one thing, and that is whom one trains in these techniques. One has to be highly selective—
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
My hon. Friend is proving my point. The hon. Member for Bute and North Ayrshire trained the wrong people and, as a result, established Communism.
§ Mr. Dalyell
I am in danger of being misled into the arguments of particular political persuasions for infiltrating tech 506 niques, which might lead me into a false position. The serious proposition I make is that insurgency techniques act as a deterrent.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Harrogate talked of the problems arising in an alarm situation. There, again, I do not see that the Territorial Army would give the kind of confidence that has been mentioned. There is no evidence at all that the Territorial Army would produce confidence in the civilian population faced with that kind of problem. The right hon. Gentleman's notion that, somehow, the Regular Army has added flexibility and would be distressed if it were denied seems to be a wholly unrealistic and untenable proposition, given at the time scale on which we are now operating.
Another argument from the Opposition Front Bench was that we had to have a Territorial Army in case of brush fire wars. The House may call me a member of the lunatic Left, or what it will, but I maintain that it would be extremely unwise in anything other than a United Nations context for this country ever again to get involved in brush fire wars.
Again, it was argued that the Volunteers should be left because they wished to continue in being. When the Chairman of the Dorset Yeomanry Association, the hon. Member for Dorset, North, reads a letter saying that people are prepared to give their services free, I find it a little hard to refute, but I must ask: how many people will give their services free? I can quite understand that the members of the Dorset Yeomanry would, but I rather doubt whether very many of those in the Territorial Army—
§ Sir F. Maclean
All the men of the Ayrshire Yeomanry, which is about 90 per cent. up to strength, have so volunteered.
§ Mr. James Allason (Hemel Hempstead)
I have only one unit in my constituency, but every man in it has so volunteered.
§ Mr. Dalyell
Perhaps I can forestall my hon. Friend my saying that the virtue must all be in North Ayrshire, not in South Ayrshire—
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
There is a similar organisation in my constituency which is very strong and which gives its services voluntarily. It is the Boys Brigade.
§ Mr. Dalyell
That brings me to my next question, which is a question to the Minister. He referred to cadet forces. Are we quite certain that the expense that goes on cadet forces is, in fact, worth while? Is it the view of the Ministry of Defence that the cadet forces in our schools should be continued, and if so, why? I am jumping to no conclusions about this, but I think it is at least legitimate to raise the question. Perhaps in the winding up, since the Government themselves raised this subject, there could be a reference to possible costs and also whether in their judgment this is worth while.
I come to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden). I should like to know more about the Government's notions of support for the technical and logistics side and how this is to be geared into the reserves. As the Government rightly say, Regulars are not self-contained. I think the House of Commons ought to know a little more about the plans for technical and logistic support.
So far, I have been perhaps a little destructive. Unless we are pacifists—and, like my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) I am not a pacifist—there is a certain obligation on all of us who take these minority views to be clear about the career interests of Servicemen, which would remain if we had our way, in the very much smaller forces which this country would have. I quite appreciate the argument of senior officers that ever since 1945 until now the British Army, Navy and Air Force have had certain tasks to perform, be it in Cyprus, Guyana, Aden or Malaysia. I also understand that there are many who think that perhaps never again will a Labour Government embark unilaterally on that kind of adventure—I would say from my point of view, catastrophic adventure. Not only do they think a Labour Government would not embark on that kind 508 of adventure, but I think a great many are pretty sure that a Conservative Government would be reluctant so to do.
I think this is the truth of the situation. Suppose the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) became Minister of Defence. It is not for me to say whether he will or not. In this kind of situation there is a general view that he as Minister of Defence and his Cabinet colleagues, having had experience of Aden, Borneo, Guyana and other places, would not indulge in this kind of activity. Therefore, we are faced with an exertmely difficult problem. It is how to fulfil the legitimate career expectations of those in the Services.
I stand here genuinely concerned—and I am not going to give way on this—about the morale and recruitment and similar problems of the Services in the future along the lines I would wish to see. One has to think very carefully about how one can foster recruitment and legitimate career expectations. I welcome the attention that the Government have given to the problem of the characteristic lengths of service. I think it quite right to encourage the Government and I encourage my right hon. Friend in the ideas he has been putting forward to gear those leaving the Services at 30, 35 or 40 to positions in industrial life. From the so-called "lunatic fringe" it may be a rather odd remark, but I think there are certain qualities in the Services which are useful to industry especially in the technical arms.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I am not sure how the hon. Member is relating his remarks to the Motion on the Order Paper. I wonder if he would help me.
§ Mr. Dalyell
Yes, Mr. Deputy Speaker The Motion in the name of the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West ends with the words:which will provide the opportunity of a military training to all who are willing to volunteer.In the light of this, I think that we in this House of Commons are under an obligation—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
The hon. Member is under a misapprehension. This is concerned with the Territorial Army.
§ Mr. Dalyell
I will relate it in this way. If we are to have a viable force, we have to put forward constructive ideas as to how this viable force is to be kept going. I spent the first part of my speech being in a sense destructive of the ideas of of other people—to a certain extent of the Opposition and to a lesser extent of the Government Front Bench. People who are destructive and, as I say, not pacifist—and I am not a pacifist—have a certain obligation, politicians especially, to be clear as to what they themselves would do. I think that the ideas that have been put forward by the present General Officer Commanding Scottish Command, Sir Derek Lang, and others, for the civilian use of the forces are extremely relevant to the discussion today because, once Regulars have served in the sort of Army I and some of my hon. Friends would like 'o see, they can form a corps of reserve forces.
The discussion today is on the issue of reserve forces in general rather than any particular formation of the Territorial Army as we have known it. I draw the attention of the House to precisely what is happening in Scotland at present because I think it has considerable relevance to the future nature of the reserve forces. The first difficulty is that those who want to use the forces for civilian occupations, either at home or abroad, have to recognise that men do not join the Army simply to build roads or to help with the hay in the Scottish Highlands. That has to be recognised.
However, there are many situations in this country where a positive response is required and where the Services would not have the feeling that they are making work to keep them occupied. Perhaps the contrast should not be drawn between soldiering in Aden and Borneo and doing a civilian task in Britain but between doing a constructive civilian task in Britain and "square bashing" in Aldershot, Catterick or Fort George.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. Member is not relating his remarks to the need or the lack of need for a Territorial Army, which is the Motion.
§ Mr. Dalyell
Mr. Deputy Speaker, you are obviously unhappy about my pursuing this line of thought for the civilian use 510 of the forces. Of course, I accept your ruling and I shall not seek to pursue that line.
I return to matters which definitely concern the Territorial Army. There is the issue of drill halls. I would not be for taking away a drill hall from the existing T.A. for no reason at all, but I should have thought that many of these facilities are extremely useful to the development of civilian organisations. If people who have formerly taken part in T.A. activities like to give their services to youth groups in these drill halls, I and some of my hon. Friends would be the better pleased. A number of Parliamentary Questions have been put to the Secretary of State for Defence on this issue. Sporting organisations—I am President of the Scottish Amateur Basketball Association—have concrete plans for the use of T.A. facilities. Let us expand these facilities and exploit the energies and enthusiasm of those who have formerly given their work to the Territorial Army. For those who like the camaraderie of the Territorial Army—and I do not sneer at them—there is a perfectly practical transfer to useful civil activity.
Second, I am a supporter of my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) on his question of linking the Services and those who have been Regulars, whether attached to the T.A. or not, with the police. That is a practical suggestion which should be energetically pursued by the Ministry.
I shall not go into ramifications too far, but I should like to raise the question of the future of the regimental system. Do the Government think, given our new defence needs, that the regimental system is ideal for the conditions of the late 1960s? That question requires fairly careful thought. Of course, we want to take advantage of traditional loyalties, but it is by no means self-evident that the regimental system is the way in which that should be done.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The future of the regimental system does not come within the scope of the Motion. The hon. Gentleman is out of order.
§ Mr. Dalyell
Other hon. Members can talk about the Vicar of Bray and so on, and the Leader of the Opposition can take us to Vietnam and wander all round 511 during the defence debates. But I notice that the Chair is regarding me with an eagle eye, perhaps justifiably, and therefore I shall not seek to dispute your Ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
§ 7.2 p.m.
§ Mr. James Allason (Hemel Hempstead)
I hope that the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) will forgive me if I do not deal with any of his points, because many other hon. Members wish to speak and he spoke for longer than his Front Bench spokesman in a debate in which there is little time.
We still have an Army with a worldwide rôle, which it has been used to having, but after five Defence Reviews in two years it faces a reorganisation involving tremendous change. There is to be one main rôle for the Army in the future—to prepare to fight a war which is never likely to take place and which, if by some mischance it happened, we should undoubtedly lose because all sides would lose it. The Government seem to have forgotten the Army's world-wide rôle completely. There is a little talk about retaining a general capability, but a general capability is what the Army has customarily had all the time. What is happening in B.A.O.R., with its 57,000 troops is only a fraction of what is the forces rôle.
The Government seem to have a firm determination to pay no attention to what has happened in the past. They wish to learn nothing because they have their own airy-fairy ideas about the future, the main feature of which is, "Let us get out of east of Suez as soon as possible." Against that background we must consider the reserves required to support the Army. They consist of the Regular Army Reserve, the S.A.V.R. and the Territorial Army. Some of them are tailor-made for particular contingencies, but a large proportion is just a general availability. Some men can be called up at short notice and fit easily into the Regular Army, with some others moving forward to take their place. There are ultimately some with a lesser capability, but still of very great use.
We must examine the Regular Army commitments before we can consider what reserves we need. The Secretary of State for Defence once again repeated 512 yesterday that the services in 1964 were seriously over-stretched. I do not accept that. They were stretched, but not seriously over-stretched. His statement implies that they are not over-stretched now. That is a silly boast by a man who does not have a bush fire on his hands at present. He would look pretty foolish if suddenly he had to deal with some of the commitments which we had in 1964 or 1962–63. All those liabilities are still with us, except for Aden.
In 1964 we were fighting a war in Borneo and in Aden, and we had a number of other commitments, including Cyprus. All the services, particularly the Army, were tackling and meeting those commitments in full. We were not short of troops on the ground. Yet that is what is now termed being dangerously over-stretched. The reserves were not called out, with the exception of a small number of "Ever-Readies" who were called to go to Aden rather as an experiment. There was no absolute necessity for them but, it was very interesting to see if the system worked.
Happily, the confrontation is over and therefore the very heavy commitment of the war in Borneo is finished. The other main commitment which is over is Aden, which we have shamefully surrendered to terrorists, the thing which the Prime Minister said he would not do and then did. The remaining commitments are ours to 1971. From the way people have talked it sounded as if all the commitments east of Suez had already been surrendered, and that therefore it was perfectly legitimate to reduce the size of our Forces now. The Government are taking a very great risk—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman has not yet mentioned the Territorial Army, which is the subject of the Motion.
§ Mr. Allason
With respect, I have mentioned the reserves, and I think that we must discuss the commitments. I am moving rapidly to the question of the Territorial Army. We have all the commitments for the Army now with the exception of Aden, but despite that the regular Forces are being brought back to this country and the intention is that they shall be substantially disbanded before 1971. The Territorial Army has already been cut in half, and now we 513 have the intention to cut it by a further one-third.
The Army's reserves will amount to rather less than 100,000 men. There are three countries with rather similar populations to ours not very far away. France has reserves of 500,000, more than five time the size of ours. Germany has 800,000 and Italy has 700,000. I am not saying that we should try to match the size of our reserves to those of those countries, but we should hesitate before we throw away the 15,000 men now in the T & AVR III or its 28,000 establishment. The T & AVR III was never wanted by the Government. It was forced on them, and they accepted it reluctantly. But by their acceptance they admitted that there was a genuine need, for without that they never would have accepted it.
I turn now to discuss the requirement for the T & AVR III. First, there is a need for cross-fertilisation within the Territorial Army. A man cannot join and say that he will always want to be in the "Ever-Readies", the T & AVR I. There will be some occasions when he can accept the greatest liability to call-up. At other times, he will want to revert to the T & AVR II. If, one the other hand, he is in the T & AVR III, there may be times when he will want to increase his liability. He will have a greater interest and want to move up. There is, therefore, the greatest use for the Territorial Army in giving the widest possible base and opportunities for movement.
There are two rôles accepted for the T & AVR III. The first, home defence, has already been well discussed by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Dorset, North (Sir Richard Glyn). The second is in civil defence. These men are fully trained in first aid and fire fighting. The police reckon that they are of the greatest assistance to them. In any future emergency, the police will face grave difficulty. They are under strength now and fully stretched in times of peace. Crime will not stop in the event of an emergency, so the duties of the police will increase enormously. One of their duties is to provide mobile columns, which means automatically that 30 per cent. of their strength disappears in that event. The Territorial Army could, therefore, be of the greatest help to the police.
514 I have already told the House that every man in the unit in Hemel Hempstead has volunteered to serve on without pay and without allowances. I am sure that this is in no way unusual but represents no more than the feeling and voluntary spirit which one would expect from the Territorial Army. But the Secretary of State for Defence is deliberately destroying a vital part of our defence forces. He is doing so purely in order to make some cuts in the cost of the forces, certainly not because the forces are not necessary. If they were necessary last year, they are just as necessary this year. He is doing it solely to try to save money. He is taking risks with our country's defence. On these grounds alone, the right hon. Gentleman should resign.
§ 7.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
In this debate and in the Division which is to follow I shall be 150 per cent. behind the Government. The Government are trying to save money here, and I cannot agree with the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Allason) that the wish to save money at a time of national emergency of this kind is to be disregarded. In a few weeks, we shall have the Budget. We shall have to pay for all these things. Throughout my years in the House, I have kept a vigilant eye on these Estimates in order to safeguard the position of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is not here tonight, so I am deputising for him. I regard this saving of money as an essential part of our measures of national economy. Hon. and gallant Members opposite are being absolutely irresponsible and not thinking of the nation's affairs when they object so violently to the Government's reappraisal of the Territorial Army.
It has been an interesting discussion, and I shall not try to follow hon. and gallant Members opposite in going out of order. Like many others, I have wondered what rôle the Territorial Army could play in a future national emergency. It is like rehearsing for something which might never come on, and, if it does, will not be like the rehearsal. I understand the point of view of hon. and gallant Members quite well. For many years, I was a member of the Ayr County Council, a county council on which sat all the local retired colonels of the last war, or all 515 who managed to get in. They were members of the Territorials, and I frequently discussed the affairs of the Territorials with them.
During my rather long career in the House, I have never said a word against the spirit of hon. and gallant Gentlemen who think that it is their duty to join the Territorials. I support the Government because I want them to save money, but I have not the slightest objection to hon. and gallant Gentlemen opposite taking part in what exercises they like, provided that they do not ask for money. I like the voluntary spirit. I like the voluntary spirit of the Boy Scouts and the Boys Brigade. If hon. and gallant Members opposite want to enrol in a sort of elderly Boys Brigade or Boy Scouts, if they want to take part in exercises and to retain the old names of Territorial regiments, I do not object in the slightest. I welcome their spirit.
But when they ask me for money, it is a different matter. I am a Member for a Scottish constituency. I object very much to the way in which my colleague from Ayrshire, the hon. Member for Bute and North Ayrshire (Sir F. Maclean), spoke of "only £2½million". It is a lot of money. It could provide six advance factories in Ayrshire to give work to the unemployed. So I want every penny I can have so that the Government may make better provision for our economic recovery.
I am sorry that the hon. Member for Bute and North Ayrshire is not here at the moment, though I have no doubt that it will be difficult for him to resist the opportunity to come back when he sees my name on the annunciator. I agree with him in many respects. Although we take opposite views in this debate, we often present a united front. We had a united front on the question of the Ayrshire police last Thursday, and I am sorry that that united front has been broken so soon.
The hon. Gentleman said that no one can foresee the character of a future war. He is 100 per cent. right. I support him in that. He had a distinguished career in Yugoslavia, and he wrote a very readable book about it. His name is regarded almost with reverence in Communist Yugoslavia.
516 The hon. Gentleman is right when he says that we can never foresee the future. When he was operating with his old friend Tito, he never imagined that what he was doing was establishing Communism in Yugoslavia. When hon. Members say that we must organise for some future war, they had better be careful. They may be training future guerrillas. If the Tories ever return to power, they may be regarded as a vicious Government and hon. Members who are training these Territorials may be training guerrillas for an insurgency force which may try to seize power, as the Communists did in Yugoslavia.
It is therefore essential that, if we are to reorganise the forces, there should be some idea of what they are being organised for and exactly the sort of training they should undergo. I am a tolerant person. If the hon. Member for Bute wants to organise Territorials in the Island of Arran to do guerrilla warfare exercises on Goat Fell or in the mountains there, he has my utmost support and I am prepared to go there as an obsever.
What is likely to be the rôle of the Territorial Army in the next war, if there is one? I recall the speech made by the hon. Member for Bute in the debate on the question of what would be likely to happen in the West of Scotland if a bomb were dropped as a result of the establishment in Scotland of a Polaris submarine base. The hon. Gentleman then argued that one megaton bomb dropped over the centre of Glasgow would destroy everything within a radius of 100 miles. That would eliminate the greater part of industrial Scotland. What rôle could the Ayrshire Yeomanry play in such a situation?
It has been said that there is strong feeling in Scotland about the Government's action. I grant that there is a certain amount of indignation, and quite honest and sincere indignation, among hon. Members opposite, many of whom played a distinguished part in two world wars and who still think in the terms of those wars. When I am told by the hon. Member for Bute that there is any very big volume of public opinion against the Government on this point, I simply remind myself of the facts. It is true that I do not receive many letters from these retired officers, although I know them personally and get on very well with them. 517 Naturally it is the optimists who write to me, as a few of them do. I believe that they are honestly trying to do something for their country.
The Ayrshire Yeomanry is not quite the flourishing organisation that the hon. Member for Bute and North Ayrshire says that it is. It may be in certain residential areas in Bute and in the West of Ayrshire, because that is where the retired officers go to. They do not come to my constituency, because we are largely miners. They naturally drift to the north of Ayrshire. If the hon. Gentleman has received 100 letters that vein, I should be very surprised. I should be very surprised, too, if he received more letters about the Government's action in reducing expenditure on the Territorials than he received about the Abortion Bill. People in my part of the world were far more interested in the Abortion Bill than they were in the abolition of the Territorials.
§ Sir F. Maclean
The hon. Gentleman says that the Ayrshire Yeomanry is not in a very flourishing state. Surely he will agree that 90 per cent. up to strength is very flourishing indeed for any Territorial unit. I certainly received far more letters on the subject of the proposed disbandment of the T & AVR III than I received about the Abortion Bill.
§ Mr. Hughes
Hon. Members will no doubt conclude that the hon. Gentleman's is a very curious constituency. A Gallup Poll should be conducted there. The hon. Gentleman speaks in terms of percentages. What does that 90 per cent. represent?
§ Sir F. Maclean
The hon. Gentleman cannot expect any unit to be more than 100 per cent. up to establishment. He must know what the "establishment" of a unit is. This is a volunteer organisation. If it gets 90 per cent. of what it is allowed to get, it is not doing badly. A ceiling is put on it. If the hon. Gentleman got 90 per cent. of the votes in his constituency, he would be quite pleased.
§ Mr. Hughes
The hon. Gentleman has not answered my question. I want to know exactly how many are in the Ayrshire Yeomanry at present and what that 90 per cent. represents.
§ Mr. Younger
May I put the hon. Gentleman out of his agony. The Ayr 518 shire Yeomanry, after all, to a large extent covers his constituency. I thought that he would have known this. The present strength is approximately 320 all ranks.
§ Mr. Hughes
There are 320 all ranks to protect Ayrshire against Communism! This enormous Ayrshire Yeomanry, on the direct evidence of someone who is presumably in it, has only 320 all ranks. Presumably all 320 of them wrote letters to the hon. Member for Bute. I therefore submit that there is a certain amount of quite natural and patriotic exaggeration about the strength of the agitation on behalf of the Territorial Army.
If the 320 all ranks want to exercise voluntarily, I do not see any objection to it. But the hon. Member for Bute wants £2½ million throughout the country and says that that is nothing. I say that it is the cost of six advance factories which are needed in his constituency and in mine.
I could go further. The hon. Member for Bute and North Ayrshire spoke about Ayr. What has happened there? How many of the 320 are in Ayr? The Churchill Barracks in Ayr have disappeared. I think it is a very good thing that they have. The drill halls in my constituency which used to be used by the Territorials are in very great demand now. I am glad to say that they are in great demand, not by the Territorial Association, but by people who want to establish knitwear factories there and build up industries for ladies underwear. I think it is more useful for the drill halls to be producing goods at present than to be operated on by well-meaning but misguided hon. Members who want to exercise simply for the sake of exercising.
I am very strongly behind the Government and I hope they will not give the Ayrshire Yeomanry one single brass farthing for conducting this activity. If they want to do it voluntarily, let them do so. Many of them have good old military material and they should have a whip round if they want to buy a tank or some other equipment. I shall place no obstacle in the way of that patriotic activity.
I agree that the Territorial Army could do useful work in floods and gales, but 519 there is nothing to prevent these men making themselves available to be called out for such work.
§ Mr. Hughes
I am surprised that all this voluntary effort is going to commit suicide because the Government are refusing money. The Government have no objection to their operating as an amateur association like the Boy Scouts or the Boys Brigade.
The other argument is that they are needed as reserves. We even had an amazing argument from an hon. and gallant Member opposite that they might be reserves for the garrison of Hong Kong.
§ Mr. Hughes
Somebody mentioned Hong Kong. I believe that it was the hon. Member for Dorset, North (Sir Richard Glyn). I would not have tried to introduce the subject of Hong Kong if the possibility had not been mentioned. Hong Kong is a long way from the Ayrshire Yeomanry and even the hon. and gallant Member for Bute and North Ayrshire does not think that the Territorials could help to act as a reserve for Hong Kong. If such a fantastic possibility is brought up, one can justify anything on the ground that one may need reserves in distant parts of the world. I do not know what will happen in Hong Kong, but the Chinese could make our forces there useless by turning off a couple of water taps. So the argument about reserves is as ineffective as that about what the Army can do on the home front.
The Government are entitled to look at expenditure on the Services and go over it with a small tooth comb in order to save the country money in a national emergency, and if hon. Members say that they do not want to save money at the present time they are traitors to their country, because what the country needs at present is economy. Our great need is to be solvent, and when I hear about the £ being in danger I wonder how the Territorials can defend the £. When the Defence Estimates were published, there was a report in the financial columns of the Glasgow Herald which said: 520As a result of publication of yesterday's estimates the £ weakened on the Stock Exchange.So the more money we spend on the Territorials, the more we spend on military strength, the more we weaken the £. As the most essential thing is to defend the and the national economy in this grave hour of financial crisis, I support the Government 150 per cent. in reducing this expenditure and saving us the £2½, million so badly needed.
§ 7.35 p.m.
§ Colonel Sir Tufton Beamish (Lewes)
The hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) says that what animates him is the desire to save money and to see the national economy stronger. The Territorial Army last year cost £2.4 million and on the same day that we were told that it was to be abolished we were asked to vote £72 million to nationalise private bus companies. The very same week, we had the White Paper asking us to vote £150 million for the Industrial Expansion Bill. The week before, we were told that the extra 52,000 civil servants brought in under this Government cost an extra £115 million a year.
If the hon. Gentleman wants to make economies, he should stop talking so much humbug. I am rather tired of this sort of humbug and of the kind of pacifist that he is, who is longing to send two divisions to have 'a bash at Mr. Smith. [Interruption.] I can say this. It is still a free country.
Today's battleground was well fought over in 1965 and 1966, and there was an uneasy truce between the two sides of the House. The Government earlier were persuaded to have second thoughts. I wondered at the time whether the victory won was hollow or not, and it is too early to say how today's debate will turn out because we do not know the outcome of the discussions between the Ministry and the Territorial Army Council.
At any rate, on both sides of the House, certainly on this side, the decision to create the T & AVR III was widely welcomed and that is really what we are talking about today. During the Second Reading of the Reserve Forces Act, speaking from the Front Bench, I implored the Defence Secretary not to take a skinflint attitude towards the Territorial 521 Army, and I warned the Government that they would be squandering one of the country's great assets and that the Territorials would fail if they were treated as no more than a grudging concession to public pressure. In my view, it has only been due to the tenacity, keenness and loyalty of the Territorials that, although starved of modern equipment, they have survived as an efficient and valuable military force. They have not failed the country. It is this weak-kneed Government who may very well fail the Territorials, and they will fail them if they abolish the Territorial Army.
The arguments for keeping the Territorial Army in being as a home defence force were very strong two years ago and we deployed them fully. They are stronger today. Recent panic changes in defence policy increase and underline the vital need for such a body of men, trained and disciplined, with local knowledge, adaptable and versatile, mobile, as they should be but are not, and armed at least with basic equipment.
Such a force is needed to help the under-strength and over-stretched police forces in emergencies such as flood or fire, the Torrey Canyon disaster, foot-and-mouth disease or a serious rail disaster. That is surely common ground between us. It is needed in the event of a serious breakdown in normal orderly behaviour which might spring, for example, from serious racial strife which, happily and wonderfully, we have been free from so far. Such a force would be needed in the awful event of war.
The Under-Secretary of State was less than candid today when he only told the House of the primary rôle given to the Territorials when this force was created. He conveniently forgot the speech of the Minister of Defence for Administration in a debate on 2nd February, 1966. The Minister said:Its primary rôle …would be in helping the civil powers in the maintenance of law and order if called for after a nuclear attack, but it will also be used to engage enemy forces if they were in this country."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd February, 1966; Vol. 723, c. 1101.]I am sorry that that was not mentioned today. It was less than candid of the hon. Gentleman rather conveniently to forget that subject.
§ The Minister of Defence for Administration (Mr. G. W. Reynolds)
If the hon. 522 and gallant Gentleman will allow me. I made that statement in reply, either to a Question or an interjection made during the debate. It would apply to any military forces that we had in this country if there was a physical attack upon us by enemy forces. All of them would be used. The primary rôle of T & AVR III was and is that which I stated. It is equipped and trained for it.
§ Sir T. Beamish
What the hon. Gentleman is saying is that he did not mean what he said. The need for such a force is greater because of the savage reductions made in our Regular forces—and we still do not know how far these reductions are to go—and because of the serious inadequacy of our Regular Reserves, to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Harrogate (Mr. Rams-den) drew attention.
Coupled with these cuts in the Regular forces and the lack of an adequate trained Regular Reserve is the reckless proposal by the Government virtually to abolish civil defence, in spite of a statement by a Home Office spokesman in another place that in the event of a nuclear war—…only Civil Defence could ensure the survival of the nation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 22nd March 1967; Vol. 281, c. 784.]I am sorry to see the Minister of Defence laughing.
§ Sir T. Beamish
I am glad to hear it. In 1966 we were told in the Defence White Paper that the Government were urging on our allies that they…should abandon those military preparations which rest on the assumption that a general war in Europe might last for several months.This was in spite of the view of Sir Solly Zuckerman, which I quoted on 10th May, 1966 that:…the Russian High Command now believes that there could be operations in Western Europe in which…the fight would be waged in a non-nuclear or conventional fashion.I read that statement out on the last occasion and the Minister of Defence scoffed at the time and chose to stand up and interrupt me, to say in effect that it was a lot of rubbish. This year my right hon. Friend has already deployed the point and I reinforce what he said. 523 We read in the Defence White Paper this year that it is N.A.T.O. policy to extend…the conventional phase of hostilities, should war break out…For how long a war could be kept conventional is anybody's guess, but it will, at any rate, be common ground between both sides of the House that the longer the war could be kept conventional the better.
The weaker the N.A.T.O. shield the greater the risk of having to use the sword. The nation's trained reserves, volunteer and regular, are part of the shield. Of this there can be no doubt. The new assumption that a conventional clash or confrontation would not automatically go nuclear in a few hours or days heavily emphasises the positive military value of the Territorials, whether in their home defence rôle, or as a framework for expansion in an emergency.
This is the view now held by the Army Board. This is almost certainly the case. There is a lot of support for this view on the other side of the House. I am sorry that we have not yet had a speech from hon. Gentlemen opposite criticising the Government's decision to abolish the Territorials, although I very much hope that we shall be having one quite soon. It was only yesterday that the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), despite his other very strange remarks, said:We could even respond to the demands for the rehabilitation of the Territorial Army."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th March, 1968; Vol. 760, c. 282.]I am taking it for granted that he will be in the Lobby for us this evening after saying that. The Secretary of State admitted that the fourth slashing cut in defence during his unhappy and shameful term of office involved an element of risk which he…would be reluctant to take in normal circumstances."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th November, 1967; Vol. 742, c. 67.]That element of risk has been seriously increased by the fifth cut announced recently, of which this proposal to abolish the Territorial Army is part. Apparently the right hon. Gentleman is ready, however reluctantly, to inflict this still greater element of risk on Servicemen, regular and volunteer and on the nation as a whole.
524 He is ready to sacrifice one small but important safeguard in the shape of this volunteer force. Category III of the Territorials. It was the right hon. Gentleman who told a television audience on 22nd November, 1967, not to worry becauseFortunately, these cuts are having to be imposed when there is no risk of general war in Europe and very little risk of major operations overseas.I would like to think that that is correct.
Now we have had the Home Secretary making a convenient discovery and telling us recently during the last debate on civil defence:Cuba blew up very quickly. It is possible to form a judgment that future crises are likely to be longer developing than that was."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th February, 1968; Vol. 759, c. 1800.]What a wonderful assumption to make—without any explanation whatsoever. It has been abundantly demonstrated, time and time again that the present Government are capable of forming any judgment that they like regardless of the facts.
For the nation's defence policy to be based on the kind of judgment that is no more than wishful thinking is shameful, dangerous and irresponsible. Speaking of the danger of making false assumptions, to which the Secretary of State is all too horribly prone, I am reminded of Lord Milner, visiting Russia as a member of the Inner War Cabinet in 1917, who wrote that:There is a great deal of exaggeration in the talk about revolution.The revolution began the next day! How right Benjamin Franklin was when he said:In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.That is something upon which we can all agree.
I sincerely believe that there is a real need to keep the Territorial Army in being. The case for it is self-evident. Keeping it in being would encourage regular recruiting; it would help to nourish the next tier, T & AVR II; it is needed as a framework for expansion if major war should break out or any serious emergency threatened the nation's safety. It is needed as a gesture on the Government's part to repair some of the 525 damage done to the morale of all Servicemen in the last three years and to the morale of the whole nation.
Perhaps I shall be regarded as "square", or as just a retired Indian Army colonel, or may be even a "superannuated member of the Hitler Youth" if I quote Kipling, but I am going to all the same. We have every reason to say with Kipling:It's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' 'Chuck him out, the brute!'But it's ' Saviour of 'is country' when The guns begin to shoot.I really do believe that is every bit as true today as it was in Kipling's time. The Territorial Army is needed very badly to encourage and harness that spirit of dedication and service that is a precious British asset. It is important too as a link between civilians and soldiers.
The Territorial Army, when it so narrowly escaped destruction two years ago, was fostered on the Home Office. No doubt, it is now a matter of "last in, first out" for the Home Secretary. He is thankful to throw the unwanted child out, together with the Civil Defence Corps, the Auxiliary Fire Service and the other services, as well as the bath water. The Territorial Army's natural parent is the Minister of Defence. Let us hope that he will take it back into his family where it belongs. It is a child of which he can be proud, even if it cannot be proud of him. Please do not tell us that the cost of the Territorial Army is beyond the nation's means. I have touched briefly on this in replying rather brusquely to the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), who I see has beaten a hasty retreat.
I mentioned one or two examples of the kind of waste going on in the national economy, and I will give one further example. I spoke of the cost of nationalising the private bus companies, which will make them less efficient without any doubt and incidentally more expensive. The cost of nationalising the private bus companies which we were asked to vote on Second Reading one hour after the Prime Minister's statement in which he said that he would abolish the Territorial Army will be £72 million this year which would pay for the Territorial Army for more than a quarter of a century. If the Government are looking for some money, 526 they should drop the ridiculous Transport Holding Company Bill and keep the Territorial Army in being.
During the Second Reading of the Reserve Forces Bill, the Minister of Defence for Administration—I am glad to see him in his place—then Minister of Defence for the Army, was proud to wear a tie—I am looking to see whether he is wearing it now—which he described as:Sanguine over the letters T.A., a hatchet and carver in saltire."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th May, 1966; Vol. 728, c. 346.]I see that he is not wearing the tie today. But I regard the hon. Gentleman as a genuine friend of the Territorial Army. I have every reason to say that. I watched him when we had our long-drawn-out debates during the Committee stage of the Reserve Forces Bill. He was then a genuine friend of the Territorial Army. I believe that he is today, and that he is doing his best to ensure that something worth while remains. If any of his colleagues in the Ministry of Defence is sporting that tie today, it can be only because the Government have again had the sense and courage to have second thoughts. I hope and pray that that is the case.
I am an optimist, and I hope that I am pressing on an open door. Britain has never been in greater need of men like these. We simply cannot afford to discard the Territorials and all that they represent.
§ 7.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Crawshaw (Liverpool, Toxteth)
I believe that the ability of this country to raise credible reserve forces was done away with two years ago when the Territorials were axed. There is, however, grave cause for concern today, because we are getting rid of the T & AVR III.
May I take issue with my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Army. He said that one of the reasons for disbanding the reserve rôle of the Territorial Army was that it did not provide a proper framework on which we could raise a reserve force. That just was not so, as anyone with any association with the Territorial Army will know. If that were so two years ago, it was much more so in 1939, but yet we were capable of raising a very substantial force for 527 this country. The standard of training was very much higher. Between Friday night and Sunday night my unit took part on more than one occasion in N.A.T.O. exercises in Germany. To say that these forces were not fit to have a reserve force built upon them is being unfair to them.
It is often said that we cannot tell what sort of conflict we are preparing for. I have never subscribed to the view that all-out nuclear war was the only thing for which we should prepare. I have always maintained that that was one of the things least likely to happen. The recent announcement about maximising conventional forces reinforces the arguments put forward in the past. I remember saying just over two years ago in the debate on the Territorial Army that the ability not to be able to raise reserve forces made us solely dependent on the nuclear weapon and that unless we definitely intended to use it from the word "go" nobody would believe us.
Let us consider one or two aspects of reserve forces. My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) talked about suddenly bringing back our N.A.T.O. troops in an emergency. Anyone who has had anything to do with troop movements knows just what a problem it would be if the N.A.T.O. troops were brought back to this country. I disagreed with my right hon. Friend the other day when he said that we would have more time in future to prepare against any eventuality. We do not know just how long we have to prepare for eventualities. Therefore, one can conceive the possibility of our main forces being in N.A.T.O. and other forces being required possibly in the Mediterranean. Only in the past year have we escaped the conflict between Turkey and Greece by the merest margin. There was the Israeli-Arab war. Any of these could have involved us in sending troops to those areas. N.A.T.O. forces were engaged in the Turkey and Greece conflict. If that were to happen, what troops would be left in this country?
Two years ago, we decided that the only fighting teeth units would be used to reinforce the Regular Army. There were to be no teeth units left in this country, and that is the position today. By disbanding the T & AVR III we are getting rid of a nucleus with any sort of 528 military foundation. I should not hold out any great hope of mobilising a reserve force on it in its present state of training, but at least it is something on which we could build a force in case of emergency.
We are talking about saving £2½ million. We have had a package deal. Because one is not able to pick and choose in a deal like this, one has to accept many unpleasant things. It is no less unpleasant for me to see the T & AVR III folding up than it was to see what happened two and a half years ago. It is less vital at present than it was 2½ years ago. We did the damage then to our reserve forces, but we shall still damage them to some extent by what we propose to do now.
We talk about saving £2½ million, but I hear that it will cost £3 or £4 million to produce the cards which are to be given to people to enable them to get free prescriptions. Is this the right priority? I do not believe that it is. As I said the other day, we criticise the young people of this country and say that they want everything but are not prepared to give anything. Here are people who are prepared to give their services to the country. I know that many Territorial Army units are prepared to do that. I spoke at an auxiliary fire unit meeting only a week or two ago, and 100 per cent. of those present were prepared to give their services to the country.
What is the problem? Apparently it is that the pay which these people receive is probably only about one-tenth of the cost of running these forces. So we shall still be involved in expense by having to provide drill halls for them. I was alarmed the other day to learn that consideration has not even been given to integrating the fire services with existing Regular units with which they could do their training. What is wrong with integrating T & AVR III with existing T & AVR II forces? Unfortunately, many drill halls are under-used. There are nights when they are not being used. These people could be integrated and they could use the same drill hall without additional expense. I should like my hon. Friend to give an assurance that this point will be considered, because it is important.
On these occasions, we hear platitudes about loyalty and how people have served 529 the country. These things can be taken too far. I have always believed that the reason why we have had good recruitment in our Regular forces was that there has been a joining together between the Regular forces and the Territorials which has led the Territorials to wish to serve in the Regular forces. We hear that the Regular forces are not getting recruits. I am not surprised. If we do away with Reserve forces, fewer people will be prepared to go into the Regular forces.
I appreciate that the Government have difficulties, but I do not believe that the difficulties of this situation are insurmountable. Given good will by the Government—and we have the good will of the men—a scheme could be devised by which these forces could be saved. I do ask my right hon. Friend to consider this, because these people are a great asset to the country. They are the foundation upon which we could build reserve forces in emergency. I ask my right hon. Friend to use his best endeavours to try to do something in this respect.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Miss Harvie Anderson (Renfrew, East)
I am very glad to follow the hon. Gentleman the Member for Liverpool, Toxteth. (Mr. Crawshaw). I should like to pay tribute not only to the way in which he expresses his views and makes clear to the House his experience but to the courage which he exhibits in maintaining those views in what must be much more difficult circumstances than we have on this side of the House.
I should like to be as brief as possible because I know that there are others waiting to speak. The first point is that we are debating the future of the Territorial Army today against a different emphasis on requirement. I hope that the Minister will recognise that this is not an aspect of the problem newly thought up by the Opposition but that this is a collective view now on the part of our allies, and one to which we must pay very grave attention. There must be many hon. Members who have reflected very seriously after hearing the Secretary of State for Defence speak last night. We must feel—I certainly do—very perturbed about his attitude. Of course, behind all our defence thinking in this generation there lies the awful knowledge of the possibility of nuclear war, and this has undoubtedly dominated 530 the thinking of the ordinary people in this country for a decade or more. The potential nuclear war cannot be forgotten, but it is, I think, true to say that we as a generation are unlikely to be blessed with peace in our time from now on.
I have always thought it a quite unreasonable point of view to assume that because we have been fortunate enough to have had peace for some time we are going to be granted peace from now on. There is nothing in the nature of mankind, nothing in history, in experience, or in the practice of the world today, which can persuade me that peace is necessarily our likely future. So while we have in all our thinking this possibility of nuclear war, and we must strive to avoid that eventuality above all else, we must today regard the increasing possibility of a conventional requirement which was not being seriously considered even as recently as our last debate on the future of the Territorial Army.
This is a case where the Government have just cause for new thought, and for the reasons which my right hon. Friend the Member for Harrogate (Mr. Ramsden) has already expressed. It does not seem from any of the spoken words of our allies that our N.A.T.O. partners are likely to be content with our reserves.
It has also been made clear, as my right hon. Friend said, by Mr. McNamara, that by adopting the approach of increasing readiness and training of our reserves we are making more flexible the N.A.T.O. forces' structure, and this seems to be a very positive contribution which reserves can offer. But the reserves in this country are committed to the Regular Army as such, leaving in this country itself the Territorial Army or nothing. So, as I see it, we provide our reinforcements for N.A.T.O., as my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish) has just said, in the rôle which the Minister stated on 29th July, 1965, of providingsuch reinforcements for N.A.T.O. as our commitments require."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th July, 1965; Vol. 717, c. 694.]This seems to me a requirement which no one has said is no longer needed. No one has even suggested today that such a requirement is no longer needed.
Therefore, I cannot believe myself alone in thinking that the necessity for the 531 Territorial Army is as great as ever. And yet today's debate is about the destruction of the structure—the whole structure, nothing less—of that Army. I wonder if the Government really understand that the fundamental point of importance is the structure, and it is that which we discuss today and which this Government propose shall be abolished. The important thing about a reserve is that it should be provided with a structure on which to build. I cannot share the view of the Minister when he suggests today that the structure is not a structure on which to build. That is precisely what the Territorial Army has provided, and what has been used, not only in this generation but long before.
I could not help being reminded today that the old Volunteers originated because the Government of the day failed to make any provision for reserve forces at the time when Napoleon III was threatening this very City, and so the history of the Volunteers is that their origin was due to the failure of the Government of that day. Of course, the Volunteers developed into a very substantial force, over 250,000 strong, and in 1908 into the Territorial Army.
So hon. Members opposite should not be surprised that the same volunteer spirit which served this country and inspired the Volunteers is still with us today, as evinced, as hon. Members have been describing, in the offer to continue in service, of many in the T & AVR III which it is proposed to abolish. So, while the rôle of the Territorial Army changes to meet the needs of the times, its structure is still needed, and it is for that structure that I for one, and many other hon. Members, are pleading today.
There is one aspect of it which I should like particularly to emphasise, and that is that the Territorial Army provides a unique volunteer, civilian force which extends an influence for good in this country far beyond the drill hall and offers opportunity of service and a community pride which nothing else can match. This is something of such value to our nation that it should not be lightly cast aside. Even if cynicism suggested that there are old-fashioned appeals, I think the Government should recognise, even if some of those on their own benches do not, that this is a volunteer 532 spirit and force which can be harnessed at a modest cost—equivalent to two miles of the motorway which I for one would like but would prefer to do without, if the choice were direct between that and the saving of this force.
So I would make again the point which has been made by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Toxteth on this question of the cost of drill halls. If, as I understand, a drill hall costs approximately £2,000 a year to maintain, surely the drill halls existing for T & AVR II could be used by the T & AVR III, so that double use could be made of them. I know this does not cover the whole point, but it does offer some facility for training which is essential to the structure and which could easily be maintained on that basis.
In Scotland we have an outstanding record of service in the T.A. I wonder how many people remembered that in the Highlands alone there were 11 infantry battalions until 1965. The fact that so sparse a population can raise 11 infantry battalions itself alone illustrates clearly the desire of that community to serve, and illustrates the importance of this form of service to the community.
There has been no drop in numbers since the axe fell last time. Recently, when I was in Lerwick in Shetland, I was very impressed to see that the competing nationalities there were a Russian trawler drawing fresh drinking water, the Norwegian lifeboat which is stationed permanently in the harbour, and the Lovat Scouts proceeding unimpeded to the local drill hall, in spite of having been disbanded.
The discipline and training in this service must be of incalculable value at a time when self-discipline appears to be badly required in students and in Ministers of the Crown. We should keep a force which has great value to the nation and to our allies.
Winding up last night, the Minister of Defence said that we have no A.B.M. system proposed for the future. He said that it would be too expensive. Let us recognise in terms of cost what this much-criticised £2 million for the T.A. means. We must not get the balance wrong.
If we fail to absorb the good will and the spirit of service which is still available to us, we shall do a disservice not only to the present generation but to those 533 for an indefinite time to come. The present situation has come about because we have a Government concerned only to save their own position. Ultimately, they will be condemned in the country and regarded with the contempt which they deserve if they treat a matter upon which the whole population feels so strongly as they propose.
§ 8.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Cyril Bence (Dunbartonshire, East)
Naturally, one agrees with a great deal of the more moderate sentiments expressed by the hon. Member for Renfrew, East (Miss Harvie Anderson), and certainly I have thought a lot about the curtailment of this form of voluntary service. But I must object to such a strong expression as that in which she said that a form of Territorial service is one which no other voluntary service can match. I have an mind countless lady friends of mine who are actively engaged in the Women's Voluntary Service. There is no other service in the country which is superior to the voluntary work which they do.
The hon. Lady's statement is a serious denigration not only of the Women's Voluntary Service but of many others. For example, thousands give invaluable service to the community in the Y.M.C.A. and the Y.W.C.A. I resent anyone suggesting that they are in any way inferior, when the volunteers contribute from their own pockets and do not ask for money from the Church or the State. The Y.M.C.A. and the Y.W.C.A. are voluntary services which no military service in peacetime can match in value to the community.
If I may mention another voluntary service, I happen to be a member of the Temperance Alliance. Some of us have worked against great opposition to stop the consumption of alcoholic drink—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Eric Fletcher)
Order. The hon. Gentleman has made his point. This debate is about the Territorial Army.
§ Mr. Bence
There axe Territorials in the area, but they do not join there. They go to Glasgow. Certainly there is no drill hall in Kirkintilloch.
I support the Government because of the experience of the past. In 1938, 1939 and 1940, the Government offered £60 a year under the National Defence Contribution for the purpose of recruiting voluntary forces to support the Regular Army. The requirement was for skilled men. The War Department had taken size of the situation. It saw that the German military machine was highly mechanised, employing a great deal of engineering, scientific and managerial skill. Some hon. Members will remember the situation then. Posters were displayed in factories, and men were recruited into this Reserve. When war broke out in September, 1939, many of them were called up. Within two years, they were sent back, because they were wanted in the factories. All of that effort resulted in about 60 per cent. of us having to stay in our factories to keep industry going.
This is the problem which an island like ours must face. The hon. Member for Dorset, North (Sir Richard Glyn) referred to Germany, France and Italy having reserve forces of 700,000, 800,000 and 500,000 respectively. European countries are liable to be overrun quite quickly, whatever their territorial forces. There is no European force that does not take up a war position. One hon. Gentleman opposite kept referring to the Government preparing for war. However, we are not debating defence proposals on a Supply Day in conditions in which we are preparing for war. This is not 1938 or 1939. We are debating the reorganisation of our Reserve Forces for many reasons other than economic ones.
Looking back on the years between 1938 and 1941, it would be a grave mistake to depend unilaterally on a defence force which could hold a conventional situation while relying on its own industrial base. Anyone who was in industry in those days knows what I mean by that. Our engineering forces and resources were so depleted that we had to have Lend-Lease. We just could not get the necessary men back from the Armed Forces.
535 Any Government would have to give careful consideration to how far they could support the Regular Army unilaterally with reserves and maintain the necessary industrial base to support it.
§ Mr. Younger
I cannot let the hon. Gentleman continue without correcting him. The Territorial Army is not allowed to recruit anyone who is in an important occupation of the sort that he has in mind.
§ Mr. Bence
That is the lesson of 1938, 1939 and 1940, and the previous Government decided on that limitation. Even in a conventional war, the major support must come from men who are well-trained and qualified technically to service and handle modern sophisticated equipment. That is what we must have. We cannot afford to recruit them into the Armed Forces. We tried that in 1938 and 1939, and we depleted the industrial base.
The hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) said that at the present moment the force is inhibited from recruiting certain professional and highly technical staff. The reason is that we have to keep them in the industrial base. To the extent that we keep them in the industrial base we are not providing the highly technical skilled force necessary to support a modern army. Therefore, one has to strike a balance. This is as I see it. I also remember 1914–18 when miners from South Wales rushed to join the Army, but they were sent back because we would have had no coal.
§ Mr. Bence
And in 1939. The spirit of our people to jump into voluntary service in any emergency is terrific. It still is, and it should be harnessed. Many people in 1939–40 were disappointed when they were sent back. I know many who said "Never again", because their service did not seem to be wanted. One has to balance this, and the Government are in the difficult situation of having to balance a decision around these two features.
I believe that it is quite out of date for any sovereign State in Europe—even the United States—outside Russia and China to think in terms of the defence of its own independence and way of life 536 out of its own resources, whether by a professional army or a volunteer army. That sort of thinking, or providing for that sort of exigency is out for ever. We have to think in terms of working and co-ordinating all our resources, whether voluntary or professional, with the resources of other nations so that, in a united way, we can defend the integrity and the independence of nations such as our own.
I am not a pacifist. I would make a lot of sacrifices to defend my country as a free democratic society. I would never see it go under some autocratic or even bureaucratic tyrant. I would be among the first in coming forward to defend my country. I believe in voluntary services, but, for goodness' sake, do not let it go out from this House that we believe, as the hon. Member for Renfrew, East suggested, in what I thought was a gross statement to make, that the Territorial Army is a voluntary service which no other voluntary service can match. There are other voluntary services—
§ Miss Harvie Anderson
Perhaps the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire. East (Mr. Bence) will do me the courtesy of reading tomorrow what I have said. I ask him to desist from misquoting me.
§ Mr. Enoch Powell (Wolverhampton, South-West)
Will the hon. Gentleman withdraw his suggestion that my hon. Friend will go upstairs and endeavour to alter HANSARD?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Eric Fletcher)
May I take it that the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence) was not making any suggestion that the hon. Lady was likely to go up and correct anything in HANSARD?
§ Mr. Bence
No. If there is a grammatical misconstruction one can have it corrected. We have all done it. My impression is quite strong that that was what the hon. Lady said, and this is what drew me to my feet.
I hope it is understood that the House of Commons, in a free democratic society, gives equal appreciation to all forms of voluntary service in which people are enabled to play a part. I do not regret this step. I hope that the Front Bench will endorse what has been so strongly said on the Floor of the House: that we will always rely on and encourage people to give voluntary service.
Recently I was in the company of some ladies. One had retired from professional service and she was looking for something to occupy her time. She said, "They offered me something in Brussels. When I asked what the salary was, they said it was voluntary service. I could not possibly do that without a salary."
§ 8.25 p.m.
§ Mr. James Davidson (Aberdeenshire, West)
I will speak briefly, because there are at least two other hon. Members wishing to speak.
In the general debate on defence earlier this week I said that while my party supported the statement in general, we had certain reservations. One was about the decision to cancel this part of the Territorial Army which we are now debating.
This is a very unwise step. I am not talking of trying to resuscitate the type of Territorial Army that we had in the 1930s, useful as it may have been in the context of that decade. I am thinking of the possibility of adapting and changing the Territorial Army to deal with the varied problems which are likely to face this country in the event of a civil or war emergency.
I will deal, first, with the potential size of the Regular Army. We understand that there is to be a force ceiling of approximately 180,000. With the return of forces from east of Suez, our commitments will be considerably reduced. It appears that the Government's present policy for Army deployment will be something as follows, and I hope that the Minister will correct me if my calculations are wildly inaccurate. B.A.O.R. will have approximately 50,000, there will be 538 10,000 in Hong Kong, in the Mediterranean, including Gibraltar, Malta and Libya, there will be about 5,000, in Cyprus possibly about 1,000, and in other odd areas about 1,000, making a total of 67,000, with the remainder presumably based in the United Kingdom. Given that the depot and training strength of the Army will be in the region of about 50,000 and the desirable active Regular reserves in the United Kingdom about 30,000, this gives a grand total of approximately 150,000 men who could be usefully employed.
Liberals have always argued against a worldwide rôle for strategic reasons, not for reasons of economy. Nevertheless, if the Government really wish to save money they could do so by cutting this ceiling strength. In the 1968–69 Estimates the net estimate of the Regular Army was about £187 million. A reduction of 30,000 men over a period of several years might bring with it an eventual saving of approximately £30 million. If we are to cut our professional forces, it is all the more necessary to preserve the capital asset of the Territorial Army. When I spoke earlier this week, I said that I would be happy to see the Regular Army reduced to about 150,000, provided that we had behind it much larger reserve forces, whether in the form of the Territorial Army, or in the form of some other reserve.
One understands that T & AVR I and II, and the Special Army Volunteer Reserve, will remain as immediate reinforcing bodies for the Regular Army. The White Paper puts the strength of these categories at 5,600 officers, and 50,000 men and women. I understand it is likely that this number will fall proportionately with the fall in Regular forces, but T & AVR III, which is really the Territorial Army, is to be disbanded, along with the Civil Defence Corps, a few associations still being retained on a care and maintenance basis.
It seems to me that there are extremely cogent reasons for retaining T & AVR III, the former Territorial Army. It has been reckoned that the cost of keeping these reserves is between £2 million and £3 million. This is about one-eighth of 1 per cent. of the total cost of our defence forces, and this seems a very short-sighted economy indeed. I understand that 539 T & AVR III contains many of the instructors who are also fit soldiers, and would be invaluable in an emergency when mobilisation becomes necessary. These men should not be confused with those in category 4, who are also instructors, but of a slightly older generation.
Men and women in these categories have been particularly useful when disasters have occurred in peacetime. They have been used to help in the Torrey Canyon disaster, Aberfan to some extent, and the gale damage in the Glasgow area and the Clyde Valley, and one can think of numerous other situations in which they could be usefully employed. There were also the examples of Exercise "Keep Clear", One, and Two, which were put on at short notice by the 4th Border Territorial Regiment, in which 15,000 vehicles were checked, and 250 walkers contacted during the foot-and-mouth epidemic in Cumberland in November and December last year.
The Territorial Army on a regional basis still provides a local recruiting centre for help in emergencies. There is a great deal of enthusiasm for service in such a body, and it seems regrettable that this should be wasted or dissipated.
With the scrapping of the Civil Defence, it is difficult to see what forces will be available to help preserve law and order if a crisis occurs. As has been stressed by many hon. Members during the debate, nobody can look into the future and see what crises will occur.
§ Mr. J. G. Concannon (Mansfield)
As the hon. Gentleman mentioned during the defence debate, we are to have a substantial corps of Regular forces. Surely this will meet some of the problems to which he is referring?
§ Mr. Davidson
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman was not listening when I said that I would be prepared to see the Regular Army reduced from about 180,000 to 150,000 if we had a substantial reserve behind it.
I was. interested to hear the views of the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) about the need for training for insurgency operations. This is important, and I am glad to understand from the hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) that this is done within the T.A. This 540 capacity will be lost if T & AVR III is abandoned.
I am not saying that the existing setup is by any means adequate. I think that insufficient use has been made of our Civil Defence manpower. It would be useful to do some research—if this has not already been done—into the feasibility of creating some sort of national voluntary disaster force out of the various auxiliary and Territorial Army categories. It could deal with the type of civil crisis to which I have referred. It could also incorporate the Auxiliary Fire Service, the Royal Observer Corps, and the Civil Defence, and have a professional corps to provide training and continuity, with a proper career and promotion structure, to which the various voluntary bodies could attach themselves. The variety of skills which would be required by such a professional corps would be no greater or more varied than those required of modern naval or army officers in the tremendously varied activities which they are expected to undertake.
I am delighted to have the opportunity of supporting the many cogent arguments which have been put forward for retaining this force. I hope that the Minister will think about this point, which has been made so forcibly by others. I am certain that the majority of people would, if they thought about it, favour maintaining this force. The cost is very small, compared with the total cost of defence.
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ Mr. George Younger (Ayr)
I am sorry that we are once again debating the future—or, unfortunately, lack of future—of the Territorial Army, since we last did so only almost exactly two years ago. I took part in those debates, when many of the arguments put with such force today were deployed. I echo the compliment paid by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish) to the Minister of Defence for Administration, who has done much for the T.A. and has taken great trouble to get to know its problems. I hope that his undoubted concern will not desert him now. His help and understanding are needed now as never before.
I would ask those who have doubts about the use of the T.A. to inquire more closely into what it has been used for 541 and what it has been intended for, when they will realise its great importance. We had a revealing example of how these cuts arose in last week's Civil Defence debate, when the Home Secretary, whose predecessor, we know, reluctantly took over ownership of the T & AVR III two years ago, described how the process of cuts came to the Cabinet and faced him. It was crystal clear that the last responsibility which he had assumed was the one which had to go, because he had to make a contribution to the general cuts.
This is the most terribly casual and unfortunate way of ending such an institution. The Home Office and the Ministry of Defence may not appreciate that their duty is not only to do their best by their Cabinet colleagues and contribute to the burdens which they all have to beat at a difficult time, but also, at some point, to stand up and be counted and say, "Enough is enough". The T.A. comes within their sphere of activity, even if it is not on their Vote. They should have stood up to be counted and said that they would not stand for it being closed down.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bute and North Ayrshire (Sir F. Maclean) made a most important point when he said that in future military planning for all types of force at all times top priority must always be given to planning for the unforeseen. However difficult it is to forecast any future conflict, the one certain thing is that the enemy, whoever he is, will be trying to confront one with the unforeseen—
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Would the hon. Gentleman care to conclude this metaphysical argument by explaining how one plans for the unforeseen?
§ Mr. Younger
If the possibility is unforeseen, one obviously cannot say in detail how one could deal with it. However, the only way to cope with it is to have adequate reserves. Everything we are discussing today rests on the fact that, in any future military conflict, we may not be able to forecast what might happen, but that if we have adequate reserves we will at least have a chance, however small, of being able to meet the unforeseen.
§ Mr. Heffer
If the unforeseen turns out to be a vast nuclear weapon being 542 plonked in the middle of this country, what then?
§ Mr. Younger
I assure the hon. Gentleman that I will be dealing with that point. It would be hopeless to speak in a debate of this sort without covering it.
As I was saying, we must have adequate reserves. Some hon. Members have mentioned the forms of reserve that we will still have after these cuts have been implemented; namely, the T & AVR I, T & AVR II and so on. I accept the usefulness of these bodies, particularly the T & AVR II, and I appreciate that they have made a good start and that training is well ahead. The T & AVR II's rôle will be to bring the present Regular Army up to strength. It is, therefore, in military parlance, not a reserve but a reinforcement. If its only rôle is to bring the Regular Army up to strength, it will be needed immediately in any crisis to produce extra forces to make the Regular Army effective.
In the debate on Civil Defence the other day the Home Secretary made the remarkable forecast—I can only call it a forecast; I cannot think of a better adjective—that from now on we are likely to get at least six months' warning of a major conflict. The right hon. Gentleman produced no evidence to support that remarkable theory. Apparently a kind and helpful enemy will let us know, six months in advance, that we will have a war on our hands. The proposition is so ridiculous that I am surprised that the Home Secretary made it.
Suppose that we have a period of increasing tension, leading six months later to a conflict. Suppose that the Government are so well equipped with knowledge that they see the conflict coming and have their six months' warning. What will the effect be on the international situation if, at the beginning of that six months' period, the Government suddenly announce that they are recreating the Territorial Reserve or are calling up a large number of extra forces? This is the classic situation that leads to a build-up on both sides and which inevitably makes the resulting conflict more likely. It is, therefore, unrealistic to suggest that by disbanding our reserves we will be able to recall them during the warning period, even if such a period should exist.
543 Will a future conflict be entirely nuclear, entirely conventional or conventional for a time and then nuclear? It has been submitted that, in one or other of those alternatives, we will not need reserves. I cannot accept that because, whatever happens, the one common factor is the need for reserves. A prolonged conventional war will obviously mean reserves to replace initial losses and the operation of doubling one's reserves quickly to build up forces for such a long conventional war. In a short conventional war, too, the first thing that would happen would be the disappearance from this country of practically all the Regular forces at present stationed here. How conceivably could any conventional war of any size at all in Europe go on without a major part of our Regular forces here being transferred to Europe very rapidly, and leaving behind in this country absolutely nothing at all? That seems to be the second alternative.
The third alternative is the horrifying and quite dreadful one of a major nuclear war. In the dreadful event of any nuclear attack on this country, there would still be a great requirement for our Regular forces, and it would be then that the present T & AVR III reserves would be so desperately needed to help save lives amongst the civilian population—
§ Mr. Dalyell
The hon. Gentleman is a serious student of these matters. Would he reflect on the question whether a war in Europe would not within 48 hours involve the use of tactical nuclear weapons, something that makes the T & AVR III irrelevant. If he is turning his mind to the possibility of a long conventional war outside Europe, does he recognise that there are some people who would not in any circumstances lend support to his proposition?
§ Mr. Younger
I would agree with the hon. Gentleman's last point, but I cannot possibly state that a conventional war in Europe would lead in 48 hours to an exchange of nuclear tactical weapons. How can I make such a forecast? I suggest to the hon. Gentleman, who is also a serious student of these matters, that if he can make such an exact forecast of the way a future conflict would go, he is a very much greater clairvoyant than almost anyone in history has been, 544 and is ignoring the very point I made earlier, that almost always it is for the unforseen that one has to allow. I put that as a serious point.
If I may say so, a lot of nonsense has been talked about the T & AVR III and its rôle. It has been agreed by every serious observer, including the Ministry's advisers, and in our debates on the Civil Defence Corps that the presence of an organised force after a nuclear attack would save thousands and possibly hundreds of thousands of lives. If we abolish this force, we will leave the civilian population with nothing and no one to help them.
It is quite unrealistic to suggest that the police, or the fire services, or any other local authority service could do the work. Their establishments are already under strength. They would be in a total state of over-commitment as soon as such an emergency took place. If anyone disbelieves me, they can ask any chief constable. The fire sevices would quite automatically have an appalling task—indeed, a completely impossible task—in such a disaster. There is no possible chance of their having spare manpower or equipment to help the civilian population.
The Government, although I am sure they do not mean it, will be leaving the civilian population with no form of protection or help whatever by abolishing the T & AVR III. The protection is little enough now, in all conscience, but in future it is to be nothing whatever. That is a desperately dangerous risk for any Government to take.
I therefore say that this is an irresponsible action, and one that should not have been taken by the Government. The money they will save could easily have been saved in other ways, and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish) made some very concrete suggestions about how it could be done. The Government should think again most seriously about the whole business.
And what about the men themselves? I can assure the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) that the men are extremely angry at the suggestion that their forces are to be totally abolished. If the hon. Member does not believe me, I can show him some of the letters I have had about it. This is genuine anger and it matters a lot.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
I have had one of those letters. The heading is "Yeomanry House, Ayr". It ends with a paragraph about some gentlemen wanting 50 rounds of ammunition to welcome the Prime Minister when he comes to Ayr. Does the hon. Member approve of that?
§ Mr. Younger
I do not think I shall ever see the day when the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) loses his sense of humour. I think he will see that for what it is. He will see that it is emphasised that the ammunition has not been issued.
The feeling about this matter is genuine. People are very angry at the prospect of the force being disbanded. Quite a number of the hon. Member's constituents are involved. They are members of the Ayrshire Yeomanry and they have offered to serve without any pay. I think he will agree that this is a voluntary spirit which is highly commendable. It ought to receive support from everyone in this House.
§ Mr. Younger
I have been very good to the hon. Member and I always like to give way to him, but I must get on now because other hon. Members want to speak.
The Government would do a service to the country and to the volunteers who have worked so well if they even left them the present drill halls and uniforms. The rest of the service would be given for practically nothing. This is a spirit which the Government should recognise and respect. I hope that they will reprieve the Territorial Army and let it continue to do the job that it has done so well.
§ 8.52 p.m.
§ Mr. J. D. Concannon (Mansfield)
I apologise to both Front Benches for not having been present during the whole debate. I apologise sincerely, but I am on the Transport Bill Committee. I think that excuses me. If I am not back in that Committee by 9 o'clock I may be "absent without leave". Therefore, if I make my points quickly and scuttle through the door, I hope I shall be forgiven.
I made my maiden speech nearly two years ago on the Territorial Army Bill. I was on the Standing Committee for that 546 Bill. If the Bill had gone through as it was intended, the argument we are having today would not have taken place. I think it was due to a certain amount of pressure from certain quarters that we put in the T & AVR III. I thought it a mistake then, and I still do.
The hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) completely disregarded the last Defence Review when he said that the present proposal will leave the civilian population absolutely defenceless. If he was present during the defence debate, he would realise that a brigade is to come back from the British Army on the Rhine to be stationed in this country, we also will have thousands of troops coming from the Far East and the Middle East to be stationed in this country. All the strategic reserve will be in this country and we shall not be short of reserves. The spokesman for the Liberal Party said that he would rather see the Regular Army cut down and the Territorial Army kept up to strength.
I view this matter, not through nostalgic memories of the Territorial Army, although I was a member of it until I came to this House, but in terms of necessity. I view it from the aspect, is it unnecessary? I do not think the T & AVR III is or was necessary. We are all having to swallow a few sacred cows nowadays. I do not think the Territorial Army or the Reserves should be sacred cows. Industry is having to be skimmed down and to take a little fat off the carcass, as an hon. Member said yesterday. This is one of the things to which that can happen. In my maiden speech I made scathing remarks about the equipment used in the Territorial Army. We had to use radio sets and signal equipment with Russian insignias on them. We had lent these to the Russian Army in the first part of the war and had had to borrow them back and pass them on to the T.A. I give great credit to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the one thing that the T.A. now has, which is first-class equipment. The T.A. is a first-class and well-trained body. I have always argued that I would sooner have a small but well-trained, well-armed and well-equipped body than a large, ill-trained and ill-equipped body.
We have heard about the pressure being brought to bear on hon. Members. 547 I have received one letter about this T.A. business. That was written by a lieutenant-colonel who was more bothered about his job than he was about the T.A. If public indignation about the fate of the Territorial Army or the T & AVR III is to be judged by letters of protest, I must freely admit that I have not received one letter. I do not understand where the pressure is coming from.
I think that this body is one thing that we could well do without. As a result of the new arrangements, the T & AVR III is superfluous. With all the regular forces that are to return to Britain, and for which we can find neither barracks for the men nor homes for their families, I believe that there is no need for the T & AVR III, whose only rôle was, in the case of nuclear attack, to look after the civilian population. It looks as if most barracks will be full of regular soldiers, who are now better equipped, better armed and better trained than they ever were, thanks to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.
It is getting close to 9 o'clock and I must get up two flights of stairs. I apologise to the House. I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends will forgive me if I move on quickly. We must be quite honest about this. This is one of the sacred cows which we have been nursing for some years. This issue must be regarded in the same way as industry has been regarded. If Britain has to be dragged screaming into the 1970s, the Territorial Army must be part of the operation. Some hon. Members and some members of the public will find it distasteful to disconnect themselves from the T.A. A man who has to be redeployed finds it distasteful, too. I think the men in the T.A. will be able to take this in their stride and will recognise the need for it.
§ 8.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Tom Boardman (Leicester, South-West)
I shall not follow the speech of the hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Concannon), but I am disappointed that he, a former member of the Territorial Army, is so out of touch with the feeling in the community. I am a former commanding officer of a Yeomanry regiment and a member of a Territorial Association. Whether that qualifies me by ex 548 perience or damns me by prejudice I know not, but what I do know is that there is a great feeling in the country, in the Midlands particularly, against the cutting out of the T & AVR III.
I shall summarise the three reasons why I condemn the Government's decision. First, we are to disband a body of disciplined trained men, a vital aid to the civil power, men who, by the nature of their recruitment, know their local area. They are men who, given the bare minimum of equipment, could supply good communications. Does the Government's decision to cut out the T & AVR III have the support of chief constables throughout the country? Those who have spoken to me condemn it as I condemn it. They feel that they are losing a vital aid to the civil power.
§ Mr. Heffer
I am sorry for my outburst, but I cannot understand the hon. Gentleman. He said that the T & AVR III would aid the civil power. Is he suggesting that the Territorial Army would be used to suppress someone in this country?
§ Mr. Boardman
The rôle of the T & AVR III has been clearly spelt out, to help in various ways as an aid to the civil power in case of emergencies, disturbances, civil unrest and the like. There are many occasions when they could be of invaluable help to the police force.
The second ground on which I condemn the Government's decision is that, by cutting out the T & AVR III, they are cutting out the base for recruiting for the T & AVR I and II and for the Regular Army. The influence of people in the T & AVR III spreads through the villages in the country, and through its members an impact is made which brings in recruits to the T & AVR I and T & AVR II and the Regular Army. We are cutting out an indispensable source of manpower to supplement the Regular forces, and we are cutting out the only framework which we have upon which we could build a national army.
Despite the facts of the nuclear age, or because of them, we cannot be sure 549 that we shall not want a greater conventional force than we have required in the past. As has been said with far more eloquence from both sides of the House, the very existence of the nuclear deterrent has given rise to greater demands and possible tasks for conventional forces.
Third, the Government's decision is killing the volunteer spirit, a spirit which should be fostered. There have been comments made about volunteers by hon. Members opposite. I do not suggest that the volunteer spirit in the Territorial Army is any better or worse than in other voluntary organisations. The volunteer spirit in the Boys' Brigade, the Women's Voluntary Service and many other bodies is excellent and ought to be fostered, but the Territorial Army is a particular cause for voluntary service which appeals to many. That spirit should be fostered and encouraged. It enables people to respond to the spirit and proud traditions of regiments and to give voluntarily of their time to what they believe to be in the interests of national security. It is good for them, and it is good for the country. If that spirit is killed now, as the cutting out of the T & AVR III can kill it, it will be dead for ever and future generations will condemn this Government for their folly.
We shall become the only nation of any size which has no kind of home defence force. And for what?—a saving of £.2½ million. We are told that we must be governed by priorities. What priorities?—the Government have put ahead of the Territorial Army a Transport Bill the cost of which in one year would keep the Territorial Army for 25 years. These are the Government's priorities. They put nationalisation before national security, bureaucracy before voluntary service. The country may in time forget many of the acts of folly of this Government, but this decision people will not easily forget. Nor should they.
§ 9.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Goodhart (Beckenham)
In replying to the powerful speech with which n-y right hon. Friend the Member for Harrogate (Mr. Ramsden) opened the debate, the Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Army took an astonishingly dogmatic view of the nature of any future war in which this country might 550 be involved. Other hon. Members, such as my hon. Friends the Members for Leicester, South-West (Mr. Tom Boardman), Ayr (Mr. Younger) and Bute and North Ayrshire (Sir F. Maclean) have been more modest. In their view, it is difficult to foretell with precision what sort of conflict this country is likely to be involved in.
They have the support of some of the most notable names in British military history because, in December, 1965, six Field-Marshals—Alexander, Auchinleck, Festing, Harding, Slim and Templer—wrote a letter to The Times. They were alarmed by the Government's proposals then to mutilate the Territorial Army. Those plans for mutilation were modified but the Field Marshals' words remain as true today as they were then. Perhaps they are even more true, because there have been at least three changes in Government policy since then. They said:Nothing is more certain than that any future war will develop along unexpected lines.In the past 12 months four wars have occupied the headlines in our newspapers from time to time. There is the Nigerian civil war. Not very many of us in the House are experts on the military balance in Nigeria. But I never saw any expert who believed that the forces of Biafra would sweep forward and occupy Benin, albeit temporarily. There are a great many experts about the military balance in the Middle East, but not one of them forecast at the beginning of June that in two weeks' time the forces of Israel would stand on the east bank of the Suez Canal and the west bank of the Jordan. There are many military experts who know something about the Far East, and many of them believed that the Viet Cong might well be able to create severe trouble in the cities of South Vietnam. But I do not think that any military expert foresaw that the Viet Cong would be able to occupy and hold part of the city of Hue as they did.
Lest we be too smug about some of the miscalculations of others, I should acid that I do not believe that many people in this country, or many military experts, foresaw that we should lose control of part of Crater during the Aden operation. So, in those four conflicts that have captured our attention during the past 12 months, the unexpected has happened.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the French prophesied that the Americans would not win in Vietnam?
§ Mr. Goodhart
No military experts foresaw what happened. As the Field Marshals noted in December, 1965:The destruction of the T.A. framework will deprive the Nation of a means of insuring against the unexpected…Once again we have returned, as my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, East (Miss Harvie Anderson) pointed out, to a basic debate about the framework of the Territorial Army.
As a result of the pressure exerted in the House from this side, from the country as a whole, from the Field Marshals and from the honourable and now politically gallant Member for Liverpool, Toxteth (Mr. Crawshaw), a change was made in the plan. The T & AVR III was formed despite the wishes of Ministers. Recruiting for both the T & AVR III and the T & AVR II as a whole has gone at least as well as could be expected at the time, although there are some reservations as to the way in which the recruiting for the Ever-readies has gone.
The net total expenditure on the Army reserves has been astonishing value for money. This year, the net total expenditure for the whole of the Army reserves, including the Army Cadet Force, to which we look for so many future members of the armed forces, is the equivalent in cost of one of the cancelled F111Ks. Even last year and before the new cuts had come into effect, the net cost of the Army reserves amounted to no more than the cost of one of the giant new Galaxy military transport aircraft coming into the American arsenal.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish) pointed out that, for the cost of the Transport Holding Bill, we could have the T & AVR III for the next 25 years. Indeed, the cancellation charges alone for the F111 would keep the T & AVR III going for another 20 years. We have had remarkable value for money from these forces. Now, many members of these forces, who receive minimal reimbursement for their efforts, have volunteered to serve without any allowances, provided only that they 552 are allowed to use some of their equipment and some of their drill halls.
We have had the remarkable testimony of my hon. Friend the Member for Bute and North Ayrshire, of my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Allason), of my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr and of my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, North (Sir Richard Glyn). Yet this magnificent spirit is about to be thrown away. It almost seems as though the Government are prepared to denationalise our home defence system.
But is there still a genuine rôle for the T & AVR III? As the Minister of Defence for Administration said on 10th May, 1966:…their primary rôle is to support the police in the maintenance of law and order after a nuclear onslaught, and they will be available, if required, to give aid to the civil power.He was nice enough to add:If there were landings in this country, we should not tell them to go home to bed. We should tell them to do something to assist in repelling the landing."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th May, 1966; Vol. 728, c. 350]I cannot believe that the principal rôle of T & AVR III has entirely disappeared in the last 18 months. It is true that there is no area in which the thinking of the Government has been both more dogmatic and more changeable in assessing the nuclear risk to this country. When it comes to nuclear attack on the country, the Government are quite certain it would be an all-out strategic assault, leaving total devastation. There would hardly be anyone or anything left worth saving, and therefore there is not very much point in being prepared, they say.
But 25 miles across the Channel the Government there contemplate a very different form of warfare, the prolonged form of conventional war. Will no bombs drop on this country during a period of such conventional war? Certainly in past conventional wars on the Continent, bombs have dropped on this country, and I see no reason to believe that it would not happen again. The Government across the Channel look forward to a period of exchange of tactical nuclear weapons, not leading quickly or inevitably to the ultimate in strategic devastation. Is there no possibility that during that period of tactical nuclear 553 exchange none of those weapons will fall on this country?
Here again the Government are taking far too certain and dogmatic a view of the possibilities lying ahead. We all hope and pray that the Government will get away with this gamble on civil defence and that no bombs will drop. With disasters, as well as with war, the unexpected happens all too often. This country has not escaped its share of disasters in the last year. Last Easter the "Torrey Canyon" ran aground and oil threatened the beaches of the South Coast. The Army reserves, particularly T & AVR III, played a notable part in combating that menace. In the autumn, foot-and-mouth ravaged an important part of the country and it was necessary to restrict the movement of the public. Once again T & AVR III was called upon.
Even more recently the hurricanes which inflicted so much damage on Glasgow and the West of Scotland made fresh calls upon the equipment and men of T & AVR III. I am afraid that in future there may be many disasters of a civil nature for which one would be anxious to have a trained body of men available to help the civil authorities. The nature of the threat can well change.
We are getting considerably more violent in political life. Last week the Chancellor of the Exchequer was nearly thrown into a goldfish pond by the enraged undergraduates of Oxford. [HON. MEMBERS: "The Home Secretary."] Sorry, the Home Secretary. I am one behind.
§ Mr. Goodhart
Then the Secretary of State for Education was howled down by students at Manchester. On Friday the Secretary of State for Defence is to go to Cambridge and has been promised a lively reception there. The University Labour Party, the Radical Students' Alliance and the University United Nations Association are all supposed to be staging wrecking demonstrations. All these groups want to see the military power of Britain slashed. Therefore, the decision to try to wreck the Secretary of State's meeting is mistaken, to put it mildly.
554 The heroes of the protest movement in the universities, the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), who wishes to make a reduction tonight in the number of men we are entitled to have in the Army, and the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer), who have for years protested about the size of the defence forces, have not been able to reduce the military strength of this country at all. But the Secretary of State for Defence has slashed the defence forces of this country in review after review. Therefore, instead of demonstrating and trying to break up the right hon. Gentleman's meeting, they should drag his car in triumph through the streets of Cambridge and throw posies of forget-me-nots under the tyres.
What would happen if all 21 Cabinet Ministers, through some mischance, were to speak at universities on the same night? The police forces of this country could hardly be expected to deal with this unprecedently dangerous situation. The strategic reserve would have to be deployed. Its priority task would be to protect the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary. What would be left for the others? If the Minister of State were to talk to a polytechnic, he might—
§ Mr. Healey
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the combined strength of all the British universities is incapable, in the ordinary course of events, of causing anything like the disruption caused by the post-prandial excitement of the Opposition just before a vote, as we saw last night?
§ Mr. Goodhart
The Secretary of State for Defence described me as a superannuated member of the Hitler Youth. All that I can say is that he has done more damage to our defence forces than even Field Marshal Rommel did during the last war.
During the months which have passed since the reorganisation of the Army reserves in 1966, there has been a growing appreciation of the military value of reserves. In his farewell testament to the defence world, Mr. McNamara, in a passage quoted by my right hon. Friend the Member for Harrogate at the beginning of this debate, said:The greatest deficiency in the European N.A.T.O. forces is the lack of an adequate mobilisation base.555 In the United States, they have been practising what they preach. There, the Army reserve forces amount to 660,000—more than 10 times our own reserve figure. Of course, their standing army is nine times larger than our own, but the proportion of reserves to the standing army is even higher there than it is here. I have here a list of our N.A.T.O. allies and their army reserves related not only to their populations but also to the size of their standing armies. Needless to say, we are at the bottom of both leagues.
Meanwhile, it is true that the value of reserves has been underlined by the events of the six-day war in the Middle East. It was, after all, not a wholly professional army which scored such spectacular victories. It was an army composed of more than 75 per cent. of reservists, and even the commander of the armoured division which won the vital tank battle in front of E1 Arish was a reservist. In the circumstances, it is hardly surprising that military opinion in this country and in other countries is now attaching increased importance to the military capacity of reserves. This new military respect for reserves has certainly been extended to T & AVR III which was regarded, let us admit, when it was first set up, with a certain amount of scepticism by certain officers in the Ministry of Defence, but certainly their view of the importance of T & AVR III has changed sharply.
As Member after Member has said during the debate this afternoon, the Reserve Forces, as they will be constituted if T & AVR III is regrettably allowed to die, will be centred entirely in our towns and cities, and this means that the Army will be separated from areas with which it has had some of the closest relationships in past decades, and which have provided some of the finest recruits which the Regular forces have had in their ranks. If T & AVR III does finally fall under the axe, then the residual ability to extend our Army will have been squandered for ever.
On one side, the Secretary of State for Defence seems to suggest that his policy is changing, that there should be an extended period of conventional fighting in Europe if war should break out. On the other side, he proposes that there should be drastic cuts in the conventional 556 forces. If any logic has survived the financial panic into which the Government have fallen, then surely one should be concentrating on increasing the Reserves rather than on cutting them, and surely one should not be abolishing the one structure to which one can look for expansion in the future. The Under-Secretary of State, in replying to my right hon. Friend, drew the narrowest possible view of the rôle and function of the Army Reserves as a whole.
We on this side of the House have never accepted that it is the sole purpose of the Territorial Army to supply certain units and formations in Germany to carry out a precise rôle. We believe that our safety and the future of the British Army as a whole requires that the Army Reserve should be a genuine citizen volunteer reserve. Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite have done their best to destroy that volunteer spirit among the reserves which exist. We shall do our best to put it back.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ The Minister of Defence for Administration (Mr. G. W. Reynolds)
This has been a quiet debate compared with many, particularly when one remembers the debate on the Reserve forces some two to two and a half years ago. It has also been a not very well-attended debate on either side of the House. One normally expects the people putting forward a Motion to provide a better attendance than we have had from right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. There were 25 present during the speech from their own Front Bench, and that seems a small number on an occasion of this kind.
At the outset, I want to apologise to the hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow) in case he loses track of my remarks tonight and feels obliged to interrupt me. I would point out to him that though he could not assimilate what I said yesterday, the HANSARD reporters managed not only to hear it but to take it down and transcribe it.
§ Mr. Cranley Onslow (Woking)
At the moment, the right hon. Gentleman is proceeding at a fairly sedate pace, but he may have observed that the Daily Telegraph calculated that he spoke at 600 words a minute.
§ Mr. Reynolds
That is double the rate of delivery.
557 The hon. Member for Beckenham said that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Army took a dogmatic view of the type of war likely to occur in Europe. I will not enter into that argument now. Suffice it to say that we do not take as dogmatic a view of the likely type of war in Europe as that taken by the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) in the 1957 Defence White Paper, which has formed the main basis of the deterrent force that we have had since then to stop a war happening in Europe.
He also said that the number of reservists in the United Kingdom made us bottom of the league table, and he hinted that it had something to do with the present occupants of the Treasury Bench. However, the reason is that we do not have conscription, whereas the majority of European countries have large reserves because they have conscription, with large numbers of men serving for eighteen months to two years and then being allocated to the reserve. Without that large turnover of conscripts, we do not have a very large reserve to depend on. In other words, the main reason why we have not a large reserve is because of the decision, with which I do not quarrel, to abolish conscription some years ago.
§ Mr. Ramsden
It is not true to say that, because we still have considerable numbers of reservists residuary to conscription. What we have not any longer is the formations in which to put them.
§ Mr. Reynolds
Only this morning, I was reading a speech of the right hon. Gentleman where he referred to the Army General Reserve and the legislation for which he was responsible, which will come to an end in 1969. During the course of his speech, he reserved the right to extend the liability, if necessary. I hope that it will not be necessary when the time comes.
Before coming to the Motion and trying to answer some of the points raised, perhaps might say a word about the T & AVR III, which is really the matter under discussion. I cannot understand the attitude taken up by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, because that body is not mentioned in the Motion. What has prompted it is the Government's announcement on 16th January 558 of their intention to put home defence on to a care and maintenance basis leading to the disbanding of the Civil Defence Corps, the Auxiliary Fire Service and the T & AVR III.
The T & AVR III and its proposed disbandment is not mentioned in the Motion. I looked back this morning and discovered I first sent a minute in connection with reserve forces in the Territorial Army on 4th November, 1964, just a few days after having been appointed Under-Secretary for the Army. I can safely say that since that date I have spent more time dealing with Territorial Army matters than any other single subject for which I have been responsible within the Ministry of Defence.
During 1965 and 1966 I visited more Territorial Army units in their drill halls, at camp, and on training days than any of my predecessors. In that time, although I knew it before, I saw the great spirit displayed by those Territorial Army units.
During 1966 we had the Reserve Forces Act. I visited further units in 1967 and found a great difference. There were many differences. One battery of a regiment that I visited in 1967 had a strength almost equal to that of a complete regiment which I visited in 1965 and 1966.
There have been many changes in the Territorial Army since 1947 when it was reformed. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Harrogate (Mr. Rams-den) was responsible for one of them. No matter what changes there have been in the order of battle, the name of the unit, the rôle or the strength of the unit, the spirit has remained the same throughout—exceedingly high—and that spirit is still present in all branches of the T & AVR I, II, III and IV.
I do not wish anything that I say tonight to be interpreted as any criticism of the spirit of the Territorial Army or of the individuals who voluntarily provide the manpower on which the units depend.
The history of the formation of the T & AVR III has been given two or three slightly different versions during the debate. Her Majesty's Government have now decided to make a reduction in the strength of Civil Defence. As the T & AVR III is concerned in that rôle, 559 I regret to say that it will suffer this reduction, together with the Civil Defence Corps and the Auxiliary Fire Service.
As my right hon. Friend stated on 29th February, we have decided to reduce Civil Defence, not to abandon it. He went on to state, concerning the Civil Defence Corps, that it is intended, first, to preserve the operational and physical assets; secondly, to provide such training as is necessary to preserve the core of knowledge and experience; thirdly, to store the necessary equipment; and, fourthly, that the local authorities will continue planning at the minimum level necessary to enable more active preparations to be resumed.
The T & AVR III has to be put on a similar basis. We are having discussions about various ways and means of doing that with representatives of the Territorial Army Council who, as on many occasions in the past, have accepted the fact that Her Majesty's Government decides the policy to be followed. Whether they agree or disagree with it, they accept the responsibility for carrying out the day-to-day administration of the force and we are grateful to them for doing that.
Concerning the T & AVR III, as well as Home Defence facilities, it has to be looked at in the same way as the Civil Defence Corps and the A.F.S. I remind right hon. and hon. Members that it was intended to be financed 90 per cent. from the Home Office and 10 per cent. from the Ministry of Defence Vote. That 10 per cent. was deliberately provided for from the Ministry of Defence Vote because, in addition to the Home Defence rôle of the force, the Army in the United Kingdom got certain benefits from its existence. The Army got benefits by having an Army presence in parts of the country which would not otherwise have an Army presence. Definite advantages were obtained.
Concerning recruiting for the T & AVR I and II and for the Regular Army: in the first nine months of existence of the T & AVR, at a time when it had only just got going and one could not say it was typical, there was evidence that the T & AVR III was providing volunteers and acting as a recruiting agent for T & AVR I and II and the Regular 560 Army. It helps recruiting throughout the country by providing facilities which the recruiting machine is able to use. Equally important—I am not dealing with the point about cadets, because that can be dealt with in the later debate—in many drill halls, which are used solely for T & AVR III units, there is a cadet unit in occupation, too. Therefore, we got the advantage of these premises for the cadets. We arranged for 10 per cent. of the cost of T & AVR III to be met from the Army Vote, because there was a benefit to the Army, in addition to the actual primary rôle of the force in home defence.
We have to find methods to retain these benefits for the Army and at the same time evolve a method whereby, if necessary, the Home Defence Force can be expanded in line with the expansion of other Civil Defence services. We are discussing with representatives of the Territorial Army Council what this framework will be. It will be a framework only, and will cost only a fraction of the present cost of T & AVR III. It will take time to work this out, but, meanwhile, we will not be able to have any camps for the Territorials this year. We shall begin to start posting procedures which will affect the permanent staffs of the T & AVR drill halls, and begin making plans for the rundown and redundancy of civilian staffs involved.
Until we come to final decisions on the type of machinery that we shall require to meet both the home defence rôle, and to replace those facilities which we would otherwise lose supporting the Army, we shall be leaving training centres open. We hope to announce this machinery as quickly as possible. I realise the necessity for making an announcement as soon as we can, because many people are living in a state of suspense and suspended animation. We shall make an announcement about the details of the type of machinery that we are intending to keep in being, in line with the procedures being followed for the A.F.S. and the Civil Defence force.
I was glad to hear my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) announce, I think for the first time ever, that he proposed to support the Government 150 per cent. I make no comment on that, except to say that I hope his support will continue at that 561 level during the rest of the night, tomorrow, and on Monday. If it does, we shall part good friends at the end, but I am not sure that that will happen.
The right hon. Gentleman asked me many questions, and a number of points were raised by hon. Members, and I would like to answer as many as I can.
The right hon. Member for Harrogate asked about T & AVR I. I understand that at the moment there are about 1,100 men in T & AVR I units; but as there is an establishment of about 1,600, there are 500 vacancies at the moment for anyone who wishes to join a T & AVR I unit. The right hon. Gentleman also asked about the number of Special Army Volunteer Reserves that we have at the moment. He will remember that as from 1st April this year we took all Special Army Volunteer Reserves both from the Regular Army Reserves and from various categories of T & AVR. From Section A of the R.A.R. we have 215, from Section E we have 168, from Section D we have 207, from T & AVR I we have 671, front T & AVR II we have 1,163, making a grand total of about 2,424. This is considerably below the ceiling which we hoped to reach in that category of reserves, whether from the Regular Army or from T & AVR. The establishment of the Special Army Volunteer Reserve is 8,600, of which we hoped to have 1,600 from T & AVR I, 3,500 from the Regular Army Reserve, and 3,500 from other categories of T & AVR.
The right hon. Gentleman also asked what facilities there were for armoured car training in the Reserves. We have only one regiment of yeomanry fully equipped with armoured cars in T & AVR II. But most of the provision for bringing units in B.A.O.R. up to strength will be met from Regular Army Reserves who will he posted as individuals to that part of the world if it is necessary to bring B.A.O.R. up to strength.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to AER I and II having, under previous arrangements, formed logistic units to support limited war operations in parts of the world outside Europe. He said that some of the old AER I and II now in T & AVR I and II had a commitment to meet requirements in B.A.O.R. He asked whether we were in a position to meet the requirements in B.A.O.R. if there was a limited war somewhere else. 562 I assure him that the facilities available to us in the Reserve forces as a whole, as well as in the Regular Army, make it possible to provide the forces required for the type of limited war that has always been planned for over the last 10 years and to carry out B.A.O.R. reinforcement plans at the same time.
Many hon. Members said that they had received reports from their T.A. units—and the same sort of suggestions have come from the Civil Defence Corps and the A.F.S.—that individual members, in large numbers, are prepared to carry on training without pay of any kind. This is indicative, as I would expect, of the spirit in these units. The actual cost of T & AVR III in the current year is about £2.8 million. It was announced by the Government when the force was set up that we would expect it to cost about £3 million. It is only £2.8 million because it is considerably under the maximum establishment. Of that £2.8 million, about £600,000 is pay and the various allowances for travelling and refreshment and so on, which are paid in cash to the volunteers. Therefore, even giving up pay and allowances would save only £600,000 out of a total £2.8 million, and it would not be possible for the volunteers to continue training without the drill halls being kept open and rifles, ammunition, ranges and other facilities being provided. I cannot see that it would be possible to continue with any worthwhile savings in this way, much though I appreciate the offer.
I must comment on the statement by the hon. Member for Dorset, North (Sir Richard Glyn) that, just before the war, when he was out with his T.A. Unit, someone had to carry a flag to represent an anti-tank gun or other equipment which the unit did not have. May I also refer to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Mr. Concannon), before he went back upstairs to the Committee on the Transport Bill, in which he drew attention to the equipment which the T & AVR I and II units now have, under the reorganisation.
There is no need, in any of those units, for anyone to carry anything to represent something which they do not have, because they have pretty well all the equipment required, except for the few pieces of equipment which my hon. Friend 563 the Under-Secretary of State mentioned, so they can do proper and realistic training. One of the purposes of the reorganisation was to ensure that men prepared to give up their time were in units which had a task to perform and were equipped and trained to perform it. In T & AVR I and II, we have succeeded in doing that over the last 12 months: it was one of our main purposes.
My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heifer) suggested that it might be a good idea to bring the B.A.O.R. home and said that it could be sent back quickly if required. But it is a massive operation to get over to Germany, in the event of a N.A.T.O. simple alert, the considerable number of individuals, regular reservists in the main, who would be required to bring the existing units in B.A.O.R. up to wartime strength, since they are only at peacetime strength at present, and the very large number of T & AVR II units which must provide the logistic support needed in wartime but not in peacetime and which are therefore not there at present. As the right hon. Member for Harrogate said, the brigade which is at present moving into Catterick would have to go over as well.
Also, a large number of other units and individuals must go over. It is already a formidable task to get that number of men and equipment over there. And it would be virtually impossible, in the length of warning which we expect, to get everything from this country to Germany if we brought it all home now—
§ Mr. Victory Goodhew (St. Albans)
The hon. Gentleman is explaining what a formidable task it would be to get these reserves to Germany in an emergency. How, therefore, does he propose to get regular units from this country to the Far East after 1971 in an emergency?
§ Mr. Reynolds
We had the defence debates yesterday and the day before, and they will continue after 10 o'clock tonight, so I suggest that we stick to the reserves now, of which the hon. Gentleman could have heard more had he been here a little longer.
I listened with interest to the Liberal Party spokesman, the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Mr. James Davidson), but I could not help remembering that, when the Government made 564 the first announcement in December, 1965, of the intended changes in the Reserve Forces, they were warmly welcomed by the hon. Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) It was not until he got outside and was set upon by the hon. Members of the Celtic fringe, that their party did a complete somersault. We assume that they will enter the Lobby against us tonight. If a party with so few Members can be swayed by a bit of pressure in the constituencies, I cannot consider that they are taking a serious interest in these matters.
But the main argument tonight came from the hon. Member for Dorset, North, and others—
§ Mr. James Davidson
If there has been a marginal change in the Liberal Party's attitude towards the Army Reserve since 1965, the fact remains that the whole system of organisation and the composition of Reserve has been changed since 1965, although the hon. Gentleman will agree that there has been nothing like the size of change that has taken place in the Government's attitude.
§ Mr. Reynolds
If that was a marginal change, I hope that I never see a convulsion in the Liberal Party, a major change of attitude.
The main argument today in favour of the Motion came from the hon. Member for Dorset, North, supported by virtually all other speakers from the Opposition benches. Frankly, I got the impression that they had not caught up with the policy that has been followed in defence matters in this country since the publication of the White Paper in 1957, and even before that. We have relied in Europe on an immediate and massive nuclear response to any assault. [Interruption.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite can grumble at this if they like, but I am stating the policy as put before the House in 1957 by the right hon. Member for Streatham.
It was put forward then and it has been carried on since. First because it is effective and, secondly, because it is cheaper than providing the type of forces that hon. Gentlemen opposite are now trying to persuade us to provide. It was in support of that policy that hon. Gentlemen opposite got rid of National Service and made massive cuts in the Territorial Army—as I say, simply because it 565 was cheaper to rely entirely on the nuclear deterrent and because they said that we were not going to be fighting a major conventional war in Europe. They accepted, therefore, that we did not need a huge land army and a Territorial Army as such.
The right hon. Member for Harrogate referred to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State as saying that the policy has changed. The answer is that it has. My right hon. Friend has managed to persuade N.A.T.O. to accept the argument which he has been putting forward for some time. But consider the extent of the change. It is said that we will now have a longer conventional war. But hon. Gentlemen opposite must realise that we are talking now, not in terms of an immediate nuclear response, but of a conventional war that might last from one to five days—and not a war that might last for weeks or months.
Many months would be required to take a citizen army, as hon. Gentlemen opposite call it, fully equipped to, for example, France. It is a change, but the change must be measured in days and not weeks or months. Consider the time that it would take to draw together a citizen army, give it the additional training that would be required, and get it across the water to take part in a conventional type of land battle in Europe.
§ Mr. Goodhart
Was the American Secretary of State for Defence, Mr. McNamara, according to his right hon. Friend, talking absolutely through his hat when he said that the number one priority in Europe was an increased mobilisation base?
§ Mr. Reynolds
That was in respect of quicker mobilisation. But one can put into action immediately only those troops one has available on the spot, and who are trained and equipped at the time. I am saying that one would not have time to do otherwise. By bringing the T & AVR I and T & AVR II up to date, we are achieving what Mr. McNamara tried to do. Whereas we have not been thwarted in doing this by the Opposition, he was thwarted in doing it by the State Governors when he tried to reorganise his volunteer and reserve forces along these lines. Thus, one can use only what one has available, fully trained and equipped, at the moment when they are required. 566 But that is not the concept of the citizen army which hon. Gentlemen opposite have propounded.
The most amazing point made by the right hon. Member for Harrogate tonight was his statement about the remarks of an official of the U.S. Defence Department who was here recently. I assure the right hon. Gentleman that I, too, heard those remarks. The right hon. Gentleman pointed out that he had said that the Russian forces were smaller now than had been previously estimated, so that we were now in better balance with them than was previously thought to be the case. I heard that official make that statement, but I cannot understand how it was possible for the right hon. Gentleman to conclude from it that, because the forces on the other side of the Iron Curtain are smaller than we had estimated. so that we are better balanced, we must have many more reserves than we thought were necessary a few years ago. [Interruption.] That is what we are being asked to do.
The Motion does not criticise us for disbanding the T & AVR III—the sort of thing that the Motion on the disbandment of the Civil Defence Corps and the Auxiliary Fire Service did—but suggests that we should set up a completely new type of reserve.
§ Mr. Powell
Surely it follows, if the forces on the other side are that much smaller, that the probable duration of a conventional phase is that much longer, and might be very much longer.
§ Mr. Reynolds
The forces are the same size as they always were: it is the estimates that have changed. I accept the right hon. Gentleman's contention to a limited extent, but I still measure it only in days, and not in the weeks or the months, the many months that will be necessary to bring into operation the type of forces we are discussing when debating this Motion.
It was on 4th July, 1964, that the right hon. Gentleman who was then Secretary of State for War said, "Generally speaking, our present organisation of the reserves gives us what we want." I do not know who the "we" were, because it did not give the Army what it wanted in the form of reserves, as we very quickly found out.
567 AER I and AER II provide logistic backup for limited war, but the Territorial Army, although its spirit was good, was not an army, because its divisional headquarters had been abolished. There were 40 Gunner units firing off twelve thousand pounds worth of 25-pounder ammunition per regiment every year. There was an establishment of 190,000 yet, in office, the right hon. Gentleman refused to allow the territorial units to recruit more than 123,000 for, as was publicly announced, financial reasons. When right hon. Members opposite were in office they said that for purely financial reasons they would not allow the Territorial Army to recruit more than 123,000 personnel, though the establishment was 190,000.
The units were badly equipped, despite anything that hon. Members opposite may say. And the right hon. Gentleman will know from his meetings with the Territorial Army Advisory Council, of which he was chairman, that most of the time was taken up discussing ways and means of getting better equipment for the forces for which he was responsible. He knows that the Territorial Army Reserve, with an establishment of 70,000 men, had fewer than 1,000 men. That establishment of 70,000 was specifically set up when the right hon. Gentleman was in office. Membership of the Territorial Army was declining, the Territorial Army had no properly defined rôle, because the equipment was not there, and because the men did not know what they were to do.
We are now told that we should restore the Territorial Army. When we ask: "What for?", the only answer we
§ get is that it should be restored as a basis for expansion. In order to expand one needs equipment for the forces employed. The Territorial Army had 115 officers of the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and above. To provide that personnel position again would cost more money, and the equipment would cost a considerable amount of money. Yet we are told to do this by a party which only a few years ago put a financial limit on Territorial Army recruiting.
§ We are now asked to set up an organisation which will provide military training; and to set up something that everyone who wants to, can join but, as I say, when in office the Opposition put on a limit of 123,000 men. They now promise millions of pounds for a citizen force for which they do not know the rôle, and which would fight on a concept of war, which no one who has studied the matter recently, can accept as viable.
§ They are prepared to spend millions of pounds of the taxpayers' money because they think it will bring political benefit rather than military strength—[HON. MEMBERS: "Come off it."] They are now prepared to pledge themselves to spend millions of pounds of the taxpayers' money, yet when they were in office they refused to provide even combat suits for members of the Territorial Army at a cost of £8 per suit. In Opposition, they want millions to be spent in this way yet, when they were in Government, they would not find the money for combat suits to allow the Territorial Army to do its job properly.
§ Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 177, Noes 200.569
|Division No. 85.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Bryan, Paul||Digby, Simon Wingfield|
|Astor, John||Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N & M)||Dodds-Parker, Douglas|
|Awdry, Daniel||Burden, F. A.||Doughty, Charles|
|Baker, W. H. K.||Campbell, Cordon||Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec|
|Balniel, Lord||Channon, H. P. G.||du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Chichester-Clark, R.||Eden, Sir John|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Clegg, Walter||Elliott, R.W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)|
|Bessell, Peter||Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Emery, Peter|
|Biffen, John||Cordie, John||Errington, Sir Eric|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Corfield, F. V.||Eyre, Reginald|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Costain, A. P.||Farr, John|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Fisher, Nigel|
|Blaker, Peter||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Sir Oliver||Fortescue, Tim|
|Boardman, Tom||Cunningham, Sir Knox||Foster, Sir John|
|Body, Richard||Currie, G. B. H.||Galbraith, Hon. T. G.|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Dalkeith, Earl of||Giles, Rear-Adm. Morgan|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Dance, James||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire, W.)||Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.)||Glyn, Sir Richard|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)||Godber, Rt. Hn. J, B.|
|Goodhart, Philip||Longden, Gilbert||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Goodhew, Victor||Loveys, W. H.||Royle, Anthony|
|Gower, Raymond||Lubbock, Eric||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Grant, Anthony||McAdden, Sir Stephen||Scott, Nicholas|
|Grant-Ferris, R.||Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross & Crom'ty)||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Gurden, Harold||Maddan, Martin||Smith, John|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Mawby, Ray||Stainton, Keith|
|Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh)||Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Stodart, Anthony|
|Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Monro, Hector||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)|
|Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Montgomery, Fergus||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Taylor, Edward M.(G'gow, Cathcart)|
|Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere||Mott-Radclyfte, Sir Charles||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Harvie Anderson, Miss||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Teeling, Sir William|
|Hastings, Stephen||Murton, Oscar||Temple, John M.|
|Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Nabarro, Sir Gerald||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward||Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Tilney, John|
|Heseltine, Michael||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Higgins, Terence L.||Onslow, Cranley||van Straubenzce, W. R.|
|Hill, J. E. B.||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Osborn, John (Hallam)||Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)|
|Holland, Philip||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|Hooson, Emlyn||Page, Graham (Crosby)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Hordern, Peter||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Wall, Patrick|
|Howell, David (Guildford)||Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)||Walters, Dennis|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Percival, Ian||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Peyton, John||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Jopling, Michael||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Webster, David|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Pink, R. Bonner||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Pounder, Rafton||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Kimball, Marcus||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Kirk, Peter||Prior, J. M. L.||Worsley, Marcus|
|Kitson, Timothy||Pym, Francis||Wright, Esmond|
|Lambton, Viscount||Quennell, Miss J. M.||Wylie, N. R.|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James||Younger, Hn. George|
|Lane, David||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Langford-Holt, Sir John||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Ridsdale, Julian||Mr. Jasper More and|
|Mr. Humphrey Atkins.|
|Abse, Leo||Delargy, Hugh||Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Dempsey, James||Heffer, Eric S.|
|Alldritt, Walter||Dickens, James||Henig, Stanley|
|Allen, Scholefield||Dobson, Ray||Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret|
|Anderson, Donald||Doig, Peter||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas|
|Archer, Peter||Dunnett, Jack||Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)||Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)|
|Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)||Eadie, Alex||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)|
|Beaney, Alan||Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly)||Hoy, James|
|Bence, Cyril||Ellis, John||Huckfield, Leslie|
|Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton)||English, Michael||Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Ensor, David||Hunter, Adam|
|Blackburn, F.||Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)||Hynd, John|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Faulds, Andrew||Jackson, Colin (B'house & Spenb'gh)|
|Booth, Albert||Finch, Harold||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)|
|Boyden, James||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Jones, Dan (Burnley)|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)|
|Brooks, Edwin||Foley, Maurice||Judd, Frank|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Kerr, Russell (Feltham)|
|Brown, Bob (Nc'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)||Ford, Ben||Lawson, George|
|Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Forrester, John||Leadbitter, Ted|
|Cant, R. B.||Freeson, Reginald||Lee, John (Reading)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Galpern, Sir Myer||Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Gardner, Tony||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Ginsburg, David||Lipton, Marcus|
|Coleman, Donald||Gourlay, Harry||Lomas, Kenneth|
|Concannon, J. D.||Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)||Loughlin, Charles|
|Conlan, Bernard||Gregory, Arnold||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Grey, Charles (Durham)||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)|
|Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||McCann, John|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||MacColl, James|
|Dalyell, Tam||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Macdonald, A. H.|
|Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)||Hamling, William||McGuire, Michael|
|Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)||Hannan, William||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Harper, Joseph||Mackintosh, John P.|
|Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway)||Harrison, Valter (Wakefield)||Maclennan, Robert|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Haseldine, Norman||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Hattersley, Roy||McNamara, J. Kevin|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Hazell, Bert||MacPherson, Malcolm|
|Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Park, Trevor||Swain, Thomas|
|Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Parker, John (Dagenham)||Swingler, Stephen|
|Manuel, Archie||Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)||Thornton, Ernest|
|Mapp, Charles||Pavitt, Laurence||Tinn, James|
|Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy||Pentland, Norman||Tomney, Frank|
|Mendelson, J. J.||Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)||Urwin, T. W.|
|Miller, Dr. M. S.||Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)||Varley, Eric G.|
|Milne, Edward (Blyth)||Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)|
|Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)||Price, William (Rugby)||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Randall, Harry||Watkins, David (Consett)|
|Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Rankin, John||Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)|
|Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Reynolds, G. W.||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Morris, John (Aberavon)||Rhodes, Geoffrey||Whitaker, Ben|
|Moyle, Roland||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Murray, Albert||Robertson, John (Paisley)||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Neal, Harold||Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Newens, Stan||Rodgers, William (Stockton)||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|Norwood, Christopher||Rose, Paul||Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)|
|Ogden, Eric||Sheldon, Robert||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|O'Malley, Brian||Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Orbach, Maurice||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)||Winnick, David|
|Orme, Stanley||Silkin, Rt, Hn. John (Deptford)||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Oswald, Thomas||Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Woof, Robert|
|Owen, Will (Morpeth)||Slater, Joseph||Yates, Victor|
|Padley, Walter||Small, William|
|Page, Derek (King's Lynn)||Snow, Julian||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Paget, R. T.||Spriggs, Leslie||Mr. Ernest Armstrong and|
|Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)||Mr. Neil McBride.|