§ 2.46 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a. (Earl Fortescue.)
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, we had arranged, through the usual channels, that on the occasion of this Bill we should have a debate of a rather wider character on the Army, but in view of the circumstances that have recently occurred in the other place, I propose, with your Lordships' permission, to say something about the Bill, unorthodox though that may be. In the first place, I consider that this House has; been placed in a curious and rather disturbing position. In the other House the Bill was said by more than one Member to be "not a good Bill" and "a very bad Bill." The Secretary of State for War said this (OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons; Vol. 498, Col. 2142):The Opposition have found an old cupboard full of bones, dust, and decaying matter.A little later on he said:If we had not agreed upon this"—that is, a Select Committee—there would have been only one finish to this debate: an immense loss of sleep, a certain loss of temper, and a mangled mess of a Bill instead of what I hope we shall have after this Committee has set to work.So that we in this House have presented to us something which the sponsor of the Bill introduced as:an old cupboard full of bones, dust, and decaying matter … and a mangled mess of a Bill. …I do not think that in the whole history of Parliament—at least, that portion of it that I have considered—has any Minister ever recommended a Bill in those terms to Parliament. I should seriously suggest asking your Lordships to reject this Bill to-day, were it not for the fact that it is an Annual Bill, and that if we did reject it we should soon have no Army or Air Force; and I cannot think that any laches or omissions on the part of the Secretary of State could possibly justify your Lordships leaving the country without either an Army or an Air Force. I do not suggest that we should examine 38 this Bill at any great length, but it does deserve some examination.
So far as I can see, the Bill proposes two changes of moment. The first is that it enables a soldier to enlist with the colours for twenty-two years, thus enabling him to qualify for pension, in lieu of the present maximum period of twelve years, which does not do so. There are certain rights of termination on his part during that period. This seems to be a move in the right direction. It enables a man to enter upon a career and carry that career through to at least middle age. The second provision of moment I believe to be much more important, and it is one which seems to have exercised Members in another place very considerably. I refer to the revised definition in the Bill of "active service." This is a very important matter, and your Lordships' House has had a very short time to consider it. We received the Bill only yesterday, and we really have not had time to go into the wide implications which are present in the alteration of the definition of "active service." It is a matter which affects men all over the world. Most, if not all your Lordships, have served in one or other of the Forces, and you will know that being "on active service" has very definite legal implications when it comes to a charge.
Clauses 3 and 4 of the Bill before us to-day widen the scope of "active service" both geographically and personally. The definition of "active service" is extended from service in an enemy country to cover service in any country in which the forces may be operating. Moreover, the persons against whom they are operating are very much widened in scope. Obviously this is meant to take account of the difficulties and complexities of modern times. It is to deal with the twilight period in which we so often find ourselves—neither at war nor at peace. While the intention is fairly clear, we must at a future date examine the implications closely. I am not sure that the Minister in another place did not again confuse the issue by his attempt at a clarification. Your Lordships will remember that Earl Balfour, when he was Mr. Balfour, said that he never minded being praised or criticised but that he did shudder and become most uneasy when anyone tried to explain him. I think the same situation may be said of 39 the Bill as described by the Minister and his friends in another place.
One of the conditions under which the Bill operates is when our forces are in military occupation of a foreign country. This is what the Secretary of State for War, Mr. Head, said in another place (OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons; Vol. 498, Col. 1611):I undertook to give … the areas as they stand at present, that is to say, under normal conditions—not under military occupation—are Cyprus, Gibraltar, Malta, Hong Kong, Aden, Jamaica and Bermuda. Under military occupation, therefore—under active service—are Austria, Germany, Malaya, Korea, Trieste and the Canal Zone.MR. DRIBERG: Those are under military occupation?MR. HEAD: Trieste is … and Germany and Austria are. … I should not like to commit myself on Malaya, but I think it is de facto; and the Canal Zone is the same.That is an extraordinary definition of "military occupation." I have yet to hear that any of Her Majesty's Possessions or Protectorates of Her Majesty can be described as being "in military occupation," and certainly this is quite a novel suggestion to me and to the House. Her Majesty's Government are not yet putting Malaya under military occupation. So far as I am aware, they are acting in aid of the civil power. Furthermore, I understood that we were not in military occupation of the Canal Zone; we are there under Treaty rights. That, as I understand it, is the whole basis of the Foreign Office view. For a Secretary of State for War to say in another place that we are in military occupation of a country which Her Majesty and Her Majesty's predecessors have had under their protection for a hundred years or more is to me a ludicrous statement, and one which the Government should withdraw at the earliest possible moment, because it will create very great difficulties in Malaya and certainly will give no satisfaction to our friends out there.
Having said that, I now make the last point I have to make upon the statement in another place, which is that the Parties have agreed between them to the appointment of a Select Committee. Is any member of your Lordships' House to sit on that Committee? If not, why not? We are a constituent House 40 of Parliament, and we should be represented on any Committee which is to modify or amend, or, as we are told by the Secretary of State, radically supersede, the present Army Act and put something entirely different in its place. I suggest to the Government that it is right and proper that this House should be represented on that Select Committee. I believe that my noble friend Lord Stansgate has on a previous occasion himself voiced the same opinion, and I have no doubt that if he intervenes to-day he will again do so.
Now to go on to the general debate. There has been published recently an interesting Memorandum by the Secretary of State on the Army Estimates for 1952–53. I have read this very carefully in order to take the pulse, as it were, of the Army all over the world, and this Memorandum shows how strained our forces are. It shows that they are engaged against the enemy in Korea; that they are acting in support of the civil power in Malaya; that they are acting in defence of the Middle East in Egypt; that they are acting as occupation troops in Germany, Austria and Trieste; that they are garrisoned in Hong Kong, Cyprus, Jamaica and other places; and that they are responsible for the defence of the United Kingdom, both as regards antiaircraft and ground troops. Furthermore, there are always a large number of troops in the pipeline—that is to say, either at sea or in the air moving between this country and foreign countries, a matter which must give great concern to those who are responsible for keeping our forces up to strength. Obviously a National Service man who has only two years to serve—perhaps he would not say "only"—cannot spend very long in a foreign country, after taking out of his two years the time he has spent in training and the time he takes in getting there and coming back again.
I suggest that this task is one which we have never before attempted on such a scale in peace time. Added to the requirements of the Royal Navy and the expanding Royal Air Force, to rearmament in industry and to the export drive, it will, in my view, completely absolve this country from any charge of not pulling its weight in the defence of the democratic way of life. I guarantee that no other country in the world is doing as much as we are. Unfortunately, this fact 41 is not recognised. In December, 1950, I had the opportunity of speaking in New York to the English Speaking Union, and I made a particular point of the contribution that this country is making and has made to world peace in Malaya and elsewhere. They were amazed. They had never heard of our contributions in Malaya and elsewhere. No one had ever told them anything about that effort. But if you weigh it up, you will see that we are making an immense contribution towards world peace.
I am of the opinion—and I am sure your Lordships will agree—that our strained position necessitates the utmost economy in men, materials and money. By that I do not mean merely routine checks by the Quartermaster or on imprest accounts. I mean an intelligent use of resources. I would ask the Service Ministers who are here to-day, headed by the noble and gallant Earl the Minister of Defence, to look into this point, to ascertain whether the War Office and all subordinate formations are really conscious of this need—the need for economy in our resources. I would suggest to him—because it is no good making these suggestions unless one goes into the matter in a little more detail—certain ways in which we can save either in men, materials or money.
The first is an increase in the size of the Regular Army. The noble Earl will no doubt tell me that he agrees with that, and that in fact it is what every Government have wanted for some time. National Service men used abroad are very expensive, and I am glad to see that the Memorandum by the Secretary of State for War recounts a modest increase in recruiting and a substantial increase in re-engagement. That, I think, will be welcomed by all of us and we hope it will continue. If the Government's policy and world trends are going to result in large-scale unemployment in this country, as is possible, then the Government's difficulties with regard to recruitment for Regular forces will probably be at an end. But we do not hope for that, and we ask them to look continually into the question of pay and conditions and other methods by which the Regular Army can be made as attractive as outside employment.
The second suggestion I have to make on this score concerns the use of Colonial 42 Forces. For years the War Office have fought a successful rearguard action against the use of Colonial Forces. They were defeated in a pitched battle but only after some years had elapsed; and now I see, again in the Memorandum, that East African troops, the Malay regiment and even a Fijian battalion are doing well in Malaya. We have still not heard about the West Indian regiment and whether it has been restored. We hope so, because that regiment has an excellent record. We are told also that it is proposed by General Templer to restore or rather to create the Chinese regiment in Malaya. We—and by that I mean those who are interested in Colonial forces—impressed upon the War Office that not only would the Colonial troops do a good and useful job but also that going into the Forces would provide an excellent educational opportunity for them, particularly in the technical sphere, as fitters, mechanics and so on. The argument turned on money—whether and how much the Colonies are going to pay, and how much this country is going to pay; but I think myself that we could expand the Colonial Forces very considerably with great benefit to them and to us. I believe that the Army training would be of considerable educational value in the Colonies, and I ask the Minister of Defence; to look into that question and see whether he can develop the Colonial Forces, including African divisions, and raise further battalions in Malaya. I know that the officer and non-commissioned officer position is difficult but I am sure the effort would be well repaid.
My third suggestion concerns the Territorial Army. The War Office, under any Government, seem to hold very much the same view of the Territorial Army—that it is a sort of third-class Regular Army. It is nothing of the kind. It is an economical force: it costs comparatively little; but it has its own spirit and its own proud tradition.
§ LORD OGMORE
To consider it a sort of third-class Regular Army is entirely wrong. About six years ago some members of your Lordships' House and of another place who were interested in the Territorial Army met the then Director-General of the Territorial Forces. We were surprised to find that he had never spent one single day serving 43 in the Territorial Army. He had spent the whole of his life in the Regular Army. He was no doubt an excellent man—but why should he have been given command of the Territorial Army? There must have been plenty of other jobs which he could have done quite well. We should go back to the pre-war system and have a Territorial officer as Director-General of the Territorial Army. He would see that our views were considered and our suggestions put forward. The War Office do not realise—nor do the Regular Army—that the Territorial Army is not a purely military organisation. It has, of course, a military side and a very important one; but to be successful it must also be a club.
At one time I was commanding a unit in a mining valley in Wales and all my people were tinplate workers or miners. They were good as soldiers, but they were not simply soldiers; and if we had treated them merely as such we should not have got anywhere. I had to belong to the local Rugby football club; I used to lend the local chapel my crockery for their "bunfights," and they lent me their chairs for our "bunfights"; and we fitted into the life of the community. You have to do that sort of thing; you cannot regard the Territorial Army as a unit of the Regular Army. There must be colour in the Territorial Army. In the old days we had bands and colours, and the officers wore swords. We had fairly bright uniforms, and so on. You have to attract men to come in, and if you have no such attractions and no colour you are at a great disadvantage. I attended our drumhead parade in Cardiff about three weeks ago, and I could not help comparing the scene with what it would have been before the War, when, as I say, we had bands, when the officers wore swords, and so on. On this occasion they all looked the same—they all looked like plumbers' mates. I make no aspersion, of course, on plumbers' mates—perhaps I am on dangerous ground there; I shall be having the plumbers' mates after me.
Of course, I understand the difficulties about getting uniforms. However, we must induce senior Territorial Army officers to go back into the Territorial Army. We should have men who are well-known, who have grown up with the Territorial Army. I have no doubt that the War Office will instruct the Secretary of State for Air to reply, "Ah, well, of 44 course, we tried to get these people, but they would not come." My answer is, "Nothing of the kind." The War Office shot us all out of the Army List about two or three years after the end of the war. We were never asked whether we wanted to serve. For my part, it was not until I turned up the Army List and found that I was not there and spoke to the Chief of the Imperial General Staff about it that we received a polite letter, thanking us and telling us we were now on the Reserve. That, my Lords, is not the way to get senior officers back into the Territorial Army.
I want to deal with one or two other points with reference to the Army. First, the position of the infantry. The War Office are always of the opinion that the infantry is finished. There is, in fact, more and more reason for the infantry—
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR AIR (LORD DE L'ISLE AND DUDLEY)
Did I understand the noble Lord to say that the War Office had said that the infantry were finished?
§ LORD OGMORE
I was speaking generally of a period of many years, and not of the War Office under this particular Government. The War Office thinks from time to time that the infantry is finished. I will give your Lordships a classic example. You can go back into history and find again and again this curious idea about the infantry. I hope your Lordships will forgive this personal note. It does not reflect any credit on me. It is merely that I think we learn by experience—the toad under the harrow is always supposed to have a certain knowledge of the harrow. In August, 1938, the South Wales infantry brigade was in camp, and we had with us, as usual, a number of very experienced Regular staff officers who were there to put us through our paces. I asked the senior of those officers how much we, as a brigade, were behind a Regular brigade in the Regular Army. He said: "Six weeks." Just over six weeks later our battalion ceased to exist: we had been turned into gunners. And throughout the country it was found that one infantry battalion of every Territorial brigade had been turned into gunners, anti-aircraft gunners. We did not care for that very much, but, we supposed that perhaps there was some reason for it.
45 Only a month or two later, however, a new infantry battalion was formed to take our place. If your Lordships can tell me that there is any policy in that, except the policy of Bedlam, I shall be interested to know what it was, because in my view, from my experience, it takes far longer to train an infantryman than it does to train anybody else. He has to be trained not only to work in a team and to be a technical man, but to be a fighting mar, to be a killer, to act with a bowie knife or with a bayonet, if need be—and in our urban society, with policemen on every corner, that is a difficult thing to do. Let me give your Lordships another example. What have the War Office done since the war? They have put into cold storage the second battalions of the various regiments. I asked a Question in another place about that matter at the time. The War Office liquidated the 2nd Battalion of the Welsh Guards and a number of other second battalions of infantry regiments, in my view quite unnecessarily and quite absurdly.
Now the trencher is turning again. The War Office are now coming back to infantry. That is what always happens. They decide that infantry are not wanted; they do away with many battalions; then, in a year or two, back the battalions come. Now the War Office are restoring battalions, and many regiments are having their second battalions restored. I should like to do a bit of special pleading on this point for the 2nd Battalion of the Welch Regiment, which was a famous Regiment, the 69th, the "Ups and downs." It is the only Regiment which wears a naval crown in memory of the part it played in the naval battle of St. Vincent. It is a national regiment and I think the basis upon which certain regiments have their second battalions restored, namely on recruitment, is an empirical and specious one. Our 1st Battalion is in Korea. What chance have we to recruit when our 1st Battalion is in Korea? We want our 2nd Battalion restored. At present the drums are silent and the dust settles on the Colours in the chapel where they lie. Our 2nd Battalion is not in existence. It is a very sad thing to all of us.
The next point I wish to deal with—and this particularly affects the Minister of Defence—is the Army lines of communication in Africa. I know that we 46 are all concerned at the position in Africa and the difficulties that are arising there. I should like to ask the noble Lord who is to reply: How many Governments have accepted the recommendations made as a result of the Nairobi Conference, when we did come to certain agreements with other countries relating to lines of communication from north to south? I would further ask whether we can do anything to expedite matters to obtain the agreement of those Governments who have not yet accepted the decisions or the recommendations arrived at at the Conference.
Finally, I should like to say a word as to the position of military government. Military government in the last war was required from 1942 onwards. A large number of highly specialised officers were trained. Some of them are in your Lordships' House—for example, the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, and others. They did a great service for many years in many parts of the world. But they are highly specialised officers and they take a great deal of training. It is an exacting task. It has come to my knowledge that some of these trained officers have been posted on the "Z" Reserve to other units, particularly to anti-aircraft units. Again, I would ask the Government to examine this question to ascertain whether plans have been drawn up for a military government policy in the event of war, and also whether officers who are professionally and technically qualified have been earmarked for this particular task. With those observations, I conclude what I have to say. I hope that we shall receive from the noble Lord who is to reply some answers which go to the root of the questions we have asked, of most of which I have given notice. I hope that we shall receive an answer because all who sit in this House have a great love for the Army. Nothing we say is intended otherwise than to benefit the Army, and if we spend a few hours this afternoon in discussing something that we love, and so benefit it, then indeed we shall have had a profitable afternoon.
§ 3.17 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT BRIDGEMAN
My Lords, it is always nice to find oneself in complete agreement with remarks of noble Lords opposite. On this occasion, I should like to associate myself with every word of the last sentence uttered by the 47 noble Lord, Lord Ogmore. We, too, on these Benches do not wish to say anything this afternoon be it not to the good of the Army. The welfare of the Army as a whole, and its efficiency as a force, is something rather different from the welfare of the individuals who are in it. Again, like the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, I had thought a few days ago that we were going to have a general debate on the Army. I had not realised that suddenly a number of noble Lords and their honourable friends would wake up and discover that the Army Act, after 200 years, wanted reforming.
Let us agree straightaway that there is a great deal in the present Army Act which needs reforming. No one can deny it and, no doubt, if the noble Lords opposite had remained in power for a little longer, we should have found the reforming of the Army Act in its place in the legislative queue which was being organised by the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt. But things worked out differently. On the other hand, I think that it is right to say that no great damage has been done to the Army by reason of the archaisms of the Army Act. The reason I say that is that, as some of your Lordships may know, I was a member of the Lewis Committee on Courts-Martial. There were a number of different witnesses, individuals and bodies, from the right hand to the left. There was plenty of opportunity for some people to get up and say that justice was denied the soldier because of the state of the Army Act but, so far as I recollect—and my recollection is pretty clear—no one did so. However, I agree that the right thing to do is to get down to the modernising of the Army Act. I hope that that can be done as an administrative task, and will not be used as an opportunity for people to voice political views, either on the one side or on the other. I think perhaps it is worth while saying that, since the Bill of Rights was passed in the seventeenth century. Parliament has now a perfectly good second check on the Army, because it is in Parliament's power to agree or to refuse, when the Army Estimates are presented each year, to pass Vote A and the Votes for money. So we are not in great danger of a constitutional difficulty, or of allowing the Army to get into a position where it can threaten the King and his Parliament.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
May I ask the noble Viscount a question? This is very important. Is he suggesting that the control of Supply by another place—with which, of course, we have nothing whatever to do—is in some way a substitute for the Bill of Rights?
§ VISCOUNT BRIDGEMAN
I was not suggesting anything. I was saying that there is an alternative method of control—namely, by passing or refusing to pass the Army Estimates. That is what I said, and I suggested nothing more or less.
Now, my Lords, to come from that topic to some of the points generally affecting the Army, may I refer first to this question of what is to be "active service." I am not going to say a great deal about that, because I feel that possibly the Committee stage will be the proper stage to deal with that rather technical point. All I would say in regard to the observations of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, is that surely active service depends not so much on the type of government of the country in which the soldiers are stationed as on the conditions under which they have to do their work. Surely that is the key to the need, or the absence of need, to order a state of active service.
§ LORD OGMORE
I think there is a good deal in what the noble Viscount says, and that I assume is the object of the amendment in this Bill in regard to the interpretation of the words "active service." What I pointed out was that one of the conditions under which active service will apply, under the Bill, is when the forces are in military occupation of a foreign country. The Secretary of State in another place defined what he thought was military occupation of a foreign country, but I think it was nothing of the kind.
§ VISCOUNT BRIDGEMAN
I realise that that was the noble Lord's point. I was saying that it depends on what is going on in the country which is being occupied. Let us come to one or two other points which affect the whole of the Army. To start with, I am told by my friends who are recruiting officers that the provisions in the Army Act regarding enlistment are such that the introduction of the three-year engagement is already having a very good effect. One recruiting 49 officer to whom I spoke, said: "This will give a number of commanding officers an opportunity to take real trouble to interest their men in re-engaging, and keep them in the Services." My Lords, so it will. The happier a place the regiment is, the more likely it is that these young men who are engaged on short service will continue their enlistment up to twenty-two years—and in the present state of the Army there is very much more room for long-service men in the rank and file up to that age than ever there was in the old days. They are badly needed, and I think that the three-year enlistment, and the other provisions now in the Army Bill are designed to get them.
We all know the handicaps from which the Regular Army has been suffering, especially in regard to lack of Regular recruits. There is this; business of keeping "in a state of suspended animation," as I think it was called, the second battalions of famous regiments. With great restraint I am not going to follow the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, into the catalogue of regiments which certainly ought to be revived. I see that my noble friend is smiling, and no doubt he will remember that one of the main reasons for their disbandment was the shortage of regular N.C.O.'s, partly due to the failure immediately after the war to announce the terms on which they could engage. I am quite sure that my noble friend in front of me will need no pressure at all to revive the 2nd battalion of the Welch Regiment, and other second battalions, as soon as properly trained Regular officers and N.C.O.'s are available for those regiments. I could not agree more that that is necessary.
I could not agree more with the noble Lord, also, in his statement that the foundation of the British Regular Army is the infantry. On the other hand, when we are talking about the infantry there is one thing that must be said—namely, that as compared with before 1914, or even before 1939, we have to keep both Regular and Territorial formations at a very much closer state of readiness. In the old days, we concentrated on a high proportion of infantry, cavalry and field artillery. Now, in order that we shall reach the state of readiness which is required of us to meet our obligations under N.A.T.O. and such like, we are obliged to keep what one might call a 50 fighting tail, such as the R.A.S.C., the R.A.O.C, and R.E.M.E. This fighting tail has to be there if the unit, whether Regular or Territorial, is to be available in the state of readiness which is required to meet our obligations. So when we are speaking in praise of the infantry, as we all ought to do on every possible occasion, do not let us fail to remember that so long as we are working towards a modern state of readiness, so long must we not neglect the other corps in the Regular Army and their units in the field formations.
Let me leave that for a moment and come to one or two other points. We have heard a good deal about what is going on in Korea. The 1st Battalion of ray own county regiment, the King's Shropshire Light Infantry is, like the noble Lord's regiment, fighting in Korea. I have been at some pains to make inquiries as to what the troops out there think of the welfare arrangements and conditions. I am glad to be able to say that the accounts I have received, which are front line accounts, have nothing but praise for what is going on—not only for what the War Office is sending them, but for the support they are getting from other organisations. When one can say something of that sort, when it is all to the good, I am sure that your Lordships' House is the right place in which to say it. I should like to ask this question of my noble friend who is to reply: Are we taking full advantage of the opportunities for operational research which active service conditions—none could call them hostilities—in Korea afford us? That takes my mind back to the days before 1939, when the Spanish war was going on, and we, of course most rightly, were not concerned in it. Other nations were then pursuing operational research up to the hilt, but we were not able to avail ourselves of such a thing. My Lords, for better or for worse we are living under conditions during which operational research is possible and ought to be carried out, and I very much hope that no opportunity to that end is being lost.
Next I come to the question of housing and buildings. This concerns both Regular Army and Territorial and Auxiliary Forces. In the time of the last Government the Housing (Loans) Act was a very good thing indeed, because it made sure that a quota of houses was built 51 every year, and that was just what was wanted to encourage married soldiers and airmen of the type we want to stay in the Forces. Now we are told that civilian housing is going to be stepped-up. In those days, when we were on the Benches opposite, we asked more than once for assurances that the number of houses which were being made available for the Service Departments was in proportion to the total housing effort. I should like to ask that question again. If housing is to be stepped-up, is there to be a corresponding step-up to complete the backlog of the programme of quarters for married members of the Regular Army and the Royal Air Force?
That brings me to the subject of the Territorial Army. I am not going to say much about that, because I think that at least one, if not more, of my noble friends will be speaking on it later in the debate. I come to the question of Territorial Army buildings—I am not talking now about married quarters, but about T.A. centres and drill halls. Everybody knows that under the present economic conditions it has been found necessary to curtail capital expenditure. A good many associations, I believe, are worried about this matter, and I think that any statement about the position which noble Lords who are concerned could give in the debate would certainly be most helpful from that point of view. I was going to curtail my remarks about the Territorial Army very much, had it not been for one or two things which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said and which seem to me to call for some comment. I agree with him about having fun and colour in all parts of Her Majesty's Forces; not only in the T.A. But I can remember—and so can he—a time between the wars when things were not always right, when all this business of fun and colour was used, consciously or unconsciously, to disguise the fact that the Territorial Army was getting less and less fit for war. It is no good having your fun and colour, your drumhead services and your parades, unless, at the same time, those in the T.A., or in any other force, for that matter, can feel that they are really being trained and are going the right way to learn to do the job which they joined to do. So if we encourage bands and drums, and red coats, if you like, let us bear in mind that they are only a means 52 to the real end, which is efficiency and the power of fighting a battle.
The next point with which I would deal—and I apologise for striking what may seem a slightly personal note—is this. For three years—admittedly in war time—I held the position of Director of the Territorial Army, in succession to Sir John Brown, as a complete and, may I add, unabashed Regular. I make no apology for that. I think, and I shall go on thinking, that although every Territorial Army Director must be on the best of terms with the Territorial friends he meets—and he must have many in all parts of the country—and must constantly seek the advice of the Council of Territorial Associations and of those who look after it, none the less, a Territorial as a Director in the War Office is in the wrong place. A full-time Territorial is a contradiction in terms. If I lost some of my power of doing that job properly by not being a Territorial I thought that I gained by being a person who had been brought up to know other Directors in the War Office from whom I had to get things for the Territorial Army, and from having spent enough time in the War Office to know my way about. My own view—which an experience extending over something like twenty-two years has never changed—is that the best Director for the Territorial Army in the War Office is a Regular soldier who knows the War Office, knows the senior staff officers with whom he has to work, and also knows who are the Territorial experts who can give him the right advice. That is one view. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has put another.
§ LORD OGMORE
I do not think I am very far from the noble Viscount. In fact, after hearing him, I think he is probably right. May I say, though, that I regard the noble Viscount as an exception? I say that the man for the position of which he has been speaking should have had Territorial experience. Probably the noble Viscount is right in saying that it would be better to have a Regular than a pure Territorial. I think the man selected should be a Regular, but normally he should have had Territorial experience.
§ VISCOUNT BRIDGEMAN
That may be so. I will add only this: that during my time in office no one could have given 53 me more help and sounder advice than the Territorial officers I knew, whether they were members of the County Territorial Associations or individuals.
One other word about the Auxiliary Forces. Whereas I believe we all agree that the Territorial Army is going along well, I think we cannot say quite the same with regard to some parts of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force. I am not speaking about the pilots but about the control and reporting units, of which, I believe, there are twenty-six. Those are very important units—even if not very exciting ones—in our set-up. An undertaking was given—I think in 1948—that those units would have high priority from the Air Ministry. I am not trying to impute blame to anyone, but I think there is something not quite right. However, I feel sure that my noble friend has the matter in hand, and if there are any measures in which he is in need of support, I am sure that my noble friends on these Benches will be only too glad to do anything he tells us we can do.
That is all I have to say; I have taken up too much time addressing your Lordships. In conclusion, I wish merely to come back to this point and say that, generally speaking, the picture of the Army is not at all an unsatisfactory one. Some of the steps which ought to have been taken were taken in the time of the last Government. We think they were taken a little late. None the less, many of those steps were taken—better late than never. They are now hearing fruit, and one can see that we are at last able to afford support to and to implement our foreign policy and our commitments to N.A.T.O. and other treaty obligations by the way in which we are building up both our Regular and our Auxiliary Forces, which, if need be, will be able to fight the battle.
§ 3.37 p.m.
§ LORD MANCROFT
My Lords, I have listened to every debate on the Second Reading of the Army and Air Force (Annual) Bill since the end of the war, and I think this is the only occasion on which I have heard the principal speakers on both sides actually refer to the Bill in the course of their remarks. I hope, therefore, that I shall be in order in continuing this excellent Practice. I did myself once refer to the Bill in a previous speech. Having regard to the 54 remarks made about the Army Act and in view of the very definite and military language used about it by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for War in another place, I should like to tell your Lordships what I said about the Act. I used almost exactly the same language myself and spoke about its antiquated provisions. The debate was being replied to by the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, who at the time I was speaking had left the Chamber for a moment. When he came back he courteously inquired whether I had said anything of importance. Rightly and naturally, he was informed that I had not. So what I had said, in a sense, went by default. I am sorry, because had I pursued my point I might have claimed, as certain people in another place only recently have been claiming, great Parliamentary foresight in having discovered something which we have all known for years—namely, that the Army Act is completely out of date. I should like to ask my noble friends opposite who have had the exact nature of this antiquated Act brought home to them why they never made the slightest attempt to do anything about it during the six and a half years that they were in office.
There is one part of this Bill to which I wish especially to refer, and that is the Second Schedule. The Second Schedule on page 21 of the Bill, relates toAmendments of the Army Act for purpose of removal of references to volunteers, &c.As a "volunteer, &c." of some long standing, I cannot help expressing some formal words of regret at the removal of the word "volunteer" from the Army and Air Force (Annual) Bill. But it is inevitable—none of us can argue about it. And we know the reasons why. The Territorial Army has got eventually to lose completely its amateur and volunteer status. I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore in everything lie said about the Territorial Army being not only a Force but a club as well. What we have to do is to make certain that as volunteers slowly drain out of the Territorial Army and it becomes more and more a National Service Reserve Army, the volunteer spirit which the Territorial Army had is engendered, fostered and encouraged within that Army. It is going to become an entirely different Army in size, status and rôle. There has been a certain amount of loose talk recently 55 about the "state of readiness" of this Force, but it is now really only just coming out of the cadre status. Only now are we starting to see National Service men come in in sufficient numbers to make regiments look like regiments and not mere skeletons, but I imagine it will be a couple of years more before our Forces can be anything like up to war establishment, even in individual units.
It is to the training of higher formations that I should like to address myself this afternoon. In France, in 1939, we found that although individual training in certain Territorial regiments was excellent, formation training was almost non-existent, and it was not until we had been there nine months that we got down to training on a divisional and corps basis. We shall not have nine months again, and although it will take us two years to get these formations up to individual strength I think we should begin training at the higher levels, of brigade, divisional and corps staffs, and of corps and divisional formations, which can be done on a skeleton basis, by means of signal exercises and tactical exercises without troops. Few of us before the war saw any formation higher than a brigade. I do not know whether any of your Lordships has seen a division on the ground. I believe that a division did once parade as a division before the war, for the King of Roumania; and it was also done once during the war, when the 9th Armoured Division held an exercise in order to give the staff officers of this country an idea of what a division looked like. It paraded complete as a division—and it was a phenomenal sight.
We have to get down to training a force of the size of six infantry divisions, two armoured divisions, one airborne division, and upwards of something like 80 A.A. regiments. We need completely new ideas. We must pay close attention to the training of staff officers and to the training of staff officers for line of communication and static formations. I have made this point in every speech I have made on Army matters and the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, has also made it. I made this point to the War Office when in the Territorial Army, from which I have just retired, and as a result the War Office have called me up this 56 year for training for a period which includes Ascot week. All I can say is that the War Office had better look out and see that the course is good, otherwise there will be certain crisply-worded starred Questions on your Lordships' Order Paper.
In regard to the training of formations, I have already mentioned the geographical problems of size. The trouble is that England is becoming too small for the size of Army we want. There is not the room in which to train this huge Army. We have the training of Territorial formations in the summer (the only time when the men get away) and we have competition from the Royal Air Force, which voraciously demands more and more land for its airfields, and also from the demands of agriculture, recreation and industry. Every way we look we find that the land is not big enough to carry out this training. Your Lordships may remember a big exercise which was held last summer in Wiltshire, the object of which, as explained to us by the directing staff, was the protection of the atomic pile at Broad Hinton, Wiltshire. That was not wholly the object of the exercise, as we found out when we came to do it. It was to see how we could move two men and a boy across Wiltshire without damaging the crops. Never in my life have I seen so many men worried about this question. I am not complaining, because it was very right that we should not do any damage. On the whole, I thing that agriculturally the Army came out of the exercise very well. But that experience did emphasise the great difficulty of moving large forces, helped by conditions in which we presupposed complete air superiority, which, clearly, we shall not have next time.
We have to tackle this problem of more land for training. The moment the Army wants any land, there is an uproar. A staff officer has only to look at the likely training area and that area immediately becomes a beauty spot. I see my noble friend Lord Carrington, the Under-Secretary of State for Agriculture, on the Front Bench. Of course, he will object very strongly to any encroachment on his agricultural land. It is up to the Government to try to reconcile all these claims. I think there are two things we can do. The first is 57 to make more economical use of existing training areas in this country, both in time and geographically. I presume that the War Office, in their wisdom (as my Party at the present moment is in power I must he careful to attribute wisdom to the War Office), are doing the best they can. Or, secondly, we can seek training areas abroad. This point used to be raised frequently in the old days, and the increased size of the force at our disposal now makes it even more urgent that the proposal should be reconsidered.
Two or three days ago we had an interesting debate about the Royal Air Force and the question of the air lift was raised. When troops were moved into the Suez area a few months ago, the extraordinary speed at which a determined air lift was able to move them there was remarkable. The time is corning when we must have a divisional training area somewhere outside this country, with all the necessary equipment and adequate space, so that troops can be quickly flown there and trained. I know that there are almost insuperable difficulties and that there will be an enormous bill to be met. But it amounts to this, that as a nation we have decided to have a far larger Army than we have ever had before. Our Regular Army is deployed to a degree seldom known in the past but is now backed up by a much larger reserve Army. We are still in a country of the same size. But, as we are a democracy, we shall not have, as in 1939, nine months in which to sort out this problem of higher training for larger formations the next time these formations are called upon. We are spending an enormous amount of money and taking an enormous number of men from tasks upon which they would much rather he engaged. Then let us see that neither the men nor the money are wasted.
§ 3.48 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, the debate in which we have listened shows the latitude that this House allows. Anyone who has read the terms of this Bill would be amazed to find that it includes such questions as the housing of the Army and the use of agricultural land for the R.A.F. I do not complain, because the Opposition always benefit by 58 any extension of the liberty of debate. I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft—and it is a perfectly fair point to make in debate—if this Bill is rotten, which it certainly is, why did we on this side not do more to improve it. That is, in fact, the first point I have in my notes. I suppose the reply would be that we were busy laying the foundations of the Welfare State and preparing the way for the recent county council elections.
I myself shall confine my remarks to the Army and Air Force (Annual) Bill, except for one point of wider moment at the end. I was greatly surprised at the remarks made by the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, about the Bill of Rights. Perhaps I misunderstood him, and of course I shall read the debate in the OFFICIAL REPORT with great care. I understood him to say that Vote 1 is in some way a substitute for the Bill of Rights. That is a dangerous doctrine to adopt, because this House has no control over Vote 1 at all. This House, which is the father of the Bill of Rights, could not possibly concede that the powers over finance, useful as they are, can form a substitute for the great constitutional principle enshrined in the Bill of Rights. If one took a gloomy view—which people do sometimes, although I do not—and said that some day we might have an attempted autocracy in this country, the first thing an autocrat would do would be to make a short amendment to the Army and Air Force (Annual) Act, taking out "fifteen months" and inserting "until otherwise decided." By that amendment he would have a permanent standing force at his disposal. That is what has happened in some countries in Eastern Europe. I do not think we can play "chuck farthing" with the Bill of Rights in the facile way in which the noble Viscount did.
I now come to the question of what this Bill is really about. Let us start on page 1. The short Title is given as the Army and Air Force (Annual) Bill—I will not read the long Title, because that might embarrass noble Lords who have already spoken, and those who intend to speak, on general questions. The first thing in the long Title is wrong. This is a Bill the main feature of which is to extend, in certain respects, the Army Act for fifteen months, in order that the Act 59 may be put in order. The Bill we have is described asAn Act to provide, during twelve months.…I was surprised at the action of my noble friend Lord Ogmore in quoting from the debates in another place. I thought that was entirely against the rules.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
The noble Lord thinks it is in order. I must not go into that, because I have been the subject of recent rebuke for not understanding the ways of this House. In any case, I should have thought, since the Title of the Bill says that the Act is "to provide, during twelve months," and when Clause 2 (1) (b) says that it is an Act to extend the Army Act for fifteen months, there was some slight fault on the part of the Parliamentary draftsman.
Now take the second point, about when a soldier is "in the face of the enemy." I mentioned this point before. It is now defined as being "in military occupation of another country" that he is on active service. Then someone, somewhere else, asked: "What do you mean by 'military occupation of another country?'" and was answered quite glibly—and this is in the minds of the whole Party opposite—"Egypt and the Canal Zone." But, unfortunately, the present Foreign Secretary made a Treaty with Egypt, and Article 8 of that Treaty says that, in view of the fact thatthe Suez Canal is a universal means of communication,and so on,the presence of these forces shall not constitute in any manner an occupation.Where are we? Is the soldier in these very difficult times in Egypt on active service, or is he not? The Treaty says that he is not, but the Secretary of State for War says that he is. That is a point that might be cleared up.
The last point I wish to make is in relation to the Schedule. I have taken some care to try to make sure that I am not misleading your Lordships on this. I propose to read from the Second Schedule of the Army Act which, all being well, will be continued before dinner time to-night by your Lordships giving a Second Reading in this House to 60 this Bill. This is what the Second Schedule says:… a keeper of a victualling house on whom any officer soldier or horse is billeted shall if required by the soldier furnish him every day of the march and for not more than two days withand so on accordingly. This is what the soldiers know as the "Woolton Schedule."
- (a) for breakfast, five ounces of bread, one ounce of butter, one pint of tea, with milk and sugar, four ounces of bacon and one ounce of marmalade and
- (b) for the hot dinner ten ounces of meat, three ounces of bread, ten ounces of potatoes, eight ounces of other vegetables, and for supper"
Has that provision just come in the last two years or was it made while the noble Viscount's Party were in power?
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
Yes. I only mentioned Lord Woolton humorously. If one could say that this was the good work of the noble Lord, Lord Woolton, we should all be only too pleased. But it is not; it is something that he found when he got there. It is just a joke. But is it really dignified that you should ask the judges, led by the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor to go into the Lobby or cry "content" in order that that may remain the law of England. It is obviously a farce and a mockery. Therefore we have said all along that, if we have not time to revise all this in the Committee of the House—and it is our duty to legislate to the best of our ability—then we should have a place on the Committee that will examine it. As I understand it, we are not to have one, but perhaps the noble Lord will tell us that we are.
§ LORD DE L'ISLE AND DUDLEY
Does the word "we" refer to the noble Lords of the Opposition? Who is the collective "we"?
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
The House of Lords. Of course it would be a second best to pass this now, though anyone who has a taste for precise legislation would be revolted at that sort of thing; but it would at any rate shorten the proceedings if we were told that a member of this House—and there are many members 61 well qualified—was to sit on the Committee. Moreover, it would save time, because if this is to be simply a House of Commons Committee and that Committee makes a report, when it comes to us we shall not find it so easy to accept as if we had been represented on the Committee. That is all I wish to say on that. I apologise for narrowing the scope of the debate by referring only to the Bill.
There is one further point I wish to raise in an interrogatory way. Quite recently a retired officer in the Navy—and the Army Act covers the Navy to a certain extent; it covers the Royal Marines—whose conduct, for some reason of extreme political opinions or activities, the First Lord found embarrassing, had his name struck off the Retired List. That, I should imagine, would be under the Naval Discipline Act. What I wanted to ask the noble Lord is this. The Army Act covers the Army, the Air Force and the Royal Marines. Do any powers exist under this Act to permit a man to be struck off the Retired List because of his political opinions? It says in the preamble, which I suppose is an echo of the Bill of Rights:… whereas no man can be forejudged of life or limb, or be subjected in time of peace to any kind of punishment within this realm, by martial law, or in any other manner than by the judgment of his peers and according to the known and established laws of the realm.… "—and so on. Is it an offence, or can it be under this Bill, for an officer to hold or express certain political opinions? That is the first question. If it is an offence, would the striking off—and I have given notice of these questions—
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
It is quite impossible to work in this House. I spent my whole morning spending a fortune on the telephone to get through to Ministers, but none of them had come up from the country.
§ LORD DE L'ISLE AND DUDLEY
was in my office the whole morning, and I received no intimation through any channel that the noble Viscount would ask this question. I cannot let pass an innuendo that Ministers spend their time in the country, neglecting their work. I feel certain that the noble Viscount, on reflection, will wish to withdraw that 62 innuendo. I am here at the service of the House to answer any questions, of however complicated a nature, if I have notice. I cannot suffer without protest an innuendo of that character. I think it is unworthy of this House.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
It is so easy, when one is interested in something, to get a little short-tempered. Of course, I make no such innuendo against the noble Lord's industry, or against the industry of any Minister. But I can assure him that I speak of the fact. I spent an hour this morning attempting to communicate and dictate the points I intended to raise. This is the third time I have mentioned that this matter was to come up. I mentioned it on the First Reading I said that if would raise a certain matter on the Motion for suspending Standing Orders.
§ EARL FORTESCUE
I do not think the noble Viscount is quite right in saying that he raised this on First Reading.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
One could not raise a point of substance on the procedural stages, but what I said was that I should have a special point to raise, and that is why I asked that the Minister of Defence should be present. I would say in my own defence that I make the most earnest endeavours to supply the Government with the information on which to found an answer. I am not blaming the noble Lord or anyone, but he will at least do me this justice: that I do not put questions in a hurry. The question I am putting new is a question of the greatest importance which ought to receive proper attention. If I cannot get an answer at this moment, then let an answer be given on the Committee stage. At any rate, it is important that we should have an answer, because I believe a fundamental issue is raised.
Now let me return to the matter. Is there, in the Army and Air Force (Annual) Act or in the Army Act or in the Air Force Act—even now I cannot get into communication with the Government—any power which permits a Minister to strike a man's name off the Retired List? Is it a penalty? If it is, it must he covered by the Regulations. Or is it just a personal decision of the Minister? I do not care what the man's opinions are—I am not interested. Has a man who 63 is pursuing a political life to think all the time, "If I say this or that I may find that the Secretary of State of my Service has struck my name off the Retired List"? We are all very proud to have our names on the Retired List. This is a very serious question. It does not cover only the Retired List; it covers also honorary commissions. Suppose you have some extremist Government, and they say, "We will show the late Prime Minister what we think of him. We will take away his honorary commission." The Secretary of State can do it. This is a very serious issue. I apologise to the noble Lord and hope he will not take amiss what I have said, but I have done my earnest best for three days to bring this matter—
§ VISCOUNT BRIDGEMAN
I do not wish to interrupt the noble Viscount unduly, but surely he knows that any question of taking away commissions, even honorary commissions, has to be submitted to Her Majesty?
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
I have never heard such an amazing intervention in my life—that a noble Lord should come here and introduce the name of the Crown for the purpose of influencing debates.
§ VISCOUNT BRIDGEMAN
I did no such thing. The noble Viscount opposite was talking about the possibility of an officer having his commission removed by the Secretary of State.
§ VISCOUNT BRIDGEMAN
I was using some of the knowledge I have to say that this was not so. As I said, it has to go to Her Majesty. That was a statement.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
I must insist on my point. It is a most improper thing to drag in the Crown in an attempt to influence debate in any such manner. My second point was that I referred to the removal of a man's name from a Retired List.
§ VISCOUNT BRIDGEMAN
I want to interrupt the noble Viscount only once more. Is he suggesting that a statement which I or any other noble Lord think is incorrect should go unanswered in this House?
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
If there were a little more question and answer in this House it would be a more interesting place. I return now to the matter which I raised at the start. Does there exist in the Air Force Act or the Army Act the power to remove a man's name from the Retired List or to take away an honorary commission from a man on the Retired List? Does that power exist? Can a man be removed for an offence, and can he be removed on the personal decision of the Minister? I beg the noble Lord to forgive me if I spoke with some heat, but I have laboured earnestly on this topic. I would point out that if it is possible for a Secretary of State to deal in this way with an individual, without cause given or without reference to some Regulation broken, then it is a dangerous innovation, and it might be more dangerous in the future when circumstances change than it is at the present moment. I would beg the noble Lord to answer that question, and I would assure him, once again, that I have tried to bring it in the clearest form to the notice of the Government. I should be grateful to him if he would indicate to me how on earth I am to communicate with the Government. If he does so, then, within the limits of my financial resources, I will endeavour to conform to any suggestion.
§ 4.5 p.m.
§ THE DUKE OF BUCCLEUCH AND QUEENSBERRY
My Lords, I am diffident to take up your Lordships' time, but perhaps many years' service with the Territorial Army and its Council may justify reference to one or two points, particularly in connection with the "Z" reservist scheme. That scheme made its first appearance last year. I am sure it will be considered appropriate that a warm tribute should be paid in Parliament to all those who gave of their best and who worked very hard to make the scheme a success—and, I feel, succeeded in making it so. The noble Earl, Lord Limerick, who is the Chairman of the Territorial Army Council, had intended to pay a tribute to-day, and he regrets very much that he is prevented from attending your Lordships' House. In his place and on his behalf I should like to do so. The Director-General of the Territorial Army should 65 be included in that tribute. Unfortunately, he has retired from that post, but he did a tremendous amount during his time. Tribute should also be paid to all the chairmen and members of associations, and also to the commanding officers of units and all ranks in those units. Above all, the noble Earl, Lord Limerick, probably did more than anyone to see that this scheme worked successfully throughout all Territorial Army formations.
Last year was the first year of the "Z" reservist scheme, and though immense trouble was taken to make it work successfully it is possible that many men called up were not able to go to the unit to which they would have preferred to go. We learn that immense preparations have been made this year by the Director of the Territorial Army, and it is anticipated that the scheme will work successfully. There is one other point which might be mentioned. The reception of the "Z" reservists and the way in which the scheme was carried out last year resulted in a very large number of voluntary enlistments to the Territorial Army, and we hope that this year everything will be done to repeat that encouragement and to secure further reinforcements in that way. For this we should thank the officers and other ranks in the Territorial units.
May I refer for a moment to the financial side? We hear it said sometimes that the country expects a high-class and very efficient Territorial Army without having to spend very much money. It was said earlier in the debate that the Territorial Army does not cost the nation a great deal. The Territorial Army Council repeatedly, have to bring before the Secretary of State for War requests for additional financial assistance. One year there may be the necessity for better accommodation in barracks, another year for furnishings, another year for pay, or it may even be, as at the present time, a question of clothing the Territorials, which we are finding more difficult than it used to be in many of our associations. In conclusion, may I make one more point? As noble Lords are aware, many Regular regiments have been fortunate in getting back their second battalions. There was an earlier reference to that, concerning a regiment in Wales. In Scotland there are the Black Watch, who have recovered their second battalion— 66 and everyone would, I am sure, agree that they have highly deserved it. I feel that one might now suggest that it is the turn next of the South of Scotland, and one of the Lowland regiments should now recover their second battalion.
§ 4.11 p.m.
§ LORD LLEWELLIN
My Lords, I shall not detain the House for long. When I came to the House this afternoon, I did not intend to speak at ail. I should first like to follow what the noble Duke who has just spoken has said, and to say that it is very satisfactory to observe the way in which National Service men have been welcomed in almost every Territorial unit, and the manner in which a large number of them have, in consequence, decided to continue service in the Territorial Army. This will be a great reinforcement to that body—in which, like the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, I am proud to have served. I agree with a great deal in Lord Ogmore's speech. The only portion I could not understand was that in which he expressed his dislike of having been transformed from an infantryman to a gunner—but that, perhaps, is only a personal outlook upon the matter.
What really brought me to my feet was the spectacle of the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, taking such a strong line about the Second Schedule of the Act. The Bill which we are being asked to pass is to extend the provisions of the Act for a further period. I have always looked upon the noble Viscount as a very vigilant man, and it is, therefore, extraordinary to me to recollect that from August, 1945, to October, 1946, when the meat and bacon supplies were just as small, the noble Viscount was actually Secretary of State for Air and was one of the two Secretaries of State responsible for putting this very Schedule before your Lordships' House and before another place. I think, therefore, that he has, perhaps, slightly overstated the case. I gather that the noble Viscount has almost ruined himself by the telephone calls which he makes to destinations which he did not disclose to us. If the noble Viscount is not at present aware of it, let me tell him that he can make a London call from the precincts of this House without incurring any expense at all. So that if at any time the noble Viscount is not in his place—and he frequently 67 complains that Ministers are not in theirs—we shall suspect that he may be making such a telephone call and we shall be glad to feel that he is doing so without his purse being thereby ruined.
I agree with one point the noble Viscount made which concerns the Army (Annual) Act. I think the procedure he suggested was clearly right. I believe it has been decided in another place, by mutual agreement, that the Act should come before a Select Committee, and the hope is that something more modern will be produced by the time it comes before Parliament next year. But, like the noble Viscount, I am of the opinion that this Select Committee ought to be a Joint Select Committee of both Houses of Parliament. Given that, each House would have a part in framing whatever legislation is required. I think that more than one noble Lord should represent this House on such a Joint Select Committee of both Houses. It would then be possible to see that this Act, which has become obsolescent, is brought more into conformity with the times in which we live. We ought to pass this Bill through Parliament this year, on condition, now that attention has been drawn to it, that a more modern Statute will be produced during the current year.
I must say that I think the noble Viscount got into slightly deeper water at another point, when I thought he had in mind the proceedings of the Naval Discipline Act, rather than the subject of the Army (Annual) Act. I am not quite sure about that, but that is what I felt. I have always understood that a person in either Service was given his or her commission by His Majesty the King or, as is now the case, by Her Majesty the Queen, and that it was a matter of grace and favour. I believe that in the days of Queen Victoria every commission was signed by Her Majesty in person. I am not attempting to introduce the Crown into this debate; the Monarch is, of course, advised by the appropriate Minister.
§ 4.18 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
My Lords, I must resist the temptation to follow and explore all the enticing avenues that previous speakers have indicated, but there are one or two points I wish to raise. The noble Duke and other noble Lords 68 spoke about the Territorial Army. No doubt it has been said before in this debate and elsewhere, but it cannot be said too often, what a debt the country has owed to the Territorial Army over many years past. One remembers how, during all those years between the wars, the Territorial Army officers, non-commissioned officers and men, gave up their holidays and their leisure, and were often considerably out of pocket, in order to do a good job and make their unit as efficient as possible. The result of all that is that greater responsibilities have now been thrust upon the Territorials. We may be quite sure that the Territorials are going to justify being entrusted with those responsibilities.
I may have been wrong, but I thought I detected in the debate a faint note of the old inter-corps jealousy. We have heard a little about the infantry and about the gunners, but the wisest words on the subject were uttered by the noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, who said that whether or no the infantry were the foundation of the Regular Army does not matter; we cannot afford to neglect any of the arms or services of the Army. A Service controversy has raged for many many years as to whether the infantry was the queen of the battlefield, or whether this formula or that correctly described the importance of the different arms. The point is that no one arm of the Service can win a battle; and the sooner we recognise that fact and cease the bickering between regiments, which starts in a friendly way, but may go beyond that, the better.
I should like to refer to man-power matters, because your Lordships will have seen from the Secretary of State's Memorandum that the supply and allocation of man-power for the Army continues to present one of our most difficult problems. To some extent, the Secretary of State has solved the National Service problem by what one can only describe as overdrawing on his reserves of man-power—by calling up an extra intake this year. I wonder how far ahead he is going to overdraw and what will happen when he has to cease, when the Minister of Labour and National Service says he has to stop. Of the manpower problems, the most important, obviously, is that of the Regular soldier and officer, because there must be a 69 proper balance between the Regulars and the National Service men in our Army. Although we are delighted to see that recruiting has turned the corner and has been improving for a year or so, and particularly that there has been a great increase in the number of Regular soldiers re-engaging to complete twelve years with the colours, nevertheless the situation is clearly not at all good and there is a need for, not an immediate increase in the Regulars but a steady increase over the years, so as to redress the balance.
What are the factors that deter young men from coming forward in large numbers to join the Regular Army? Many people have asked that question and tried to find the answer. Various suggestions have been made. There was the old question of the full-dress uniform being a great draw, but that, I think we all agree, is past and out of date. The type of man who was attracted by putting on a red coat and walking out is, I will not say extinct, but at any rate he is rare. Anyhow, I am not sure that he would be the type that we particularly want in the Army. Pay is obviously the biggest short-term influence in helping men to make up their minds whether or not to join. It is long since that the Queen's Shilling or the King's Shilling was the alternative to starvation or unemployment. The Army now has to compete with full employment, we hope—at least we have the assurance of the Government that full employment is their policy. The Army has to offer terms good enough to compete with civil life, with the average wages in civil life. In that connection, it seems to me that in recruiting publicity not enough is made of all those things that I think are lumped together under the term "emoluments"—all those benefits in kind such as regular lodging, clothing and other things which the soldier gets. I may be wrong, but I do not remember ever having seen it calculated exactly what is the worth of all these emoluments in kind, received in addition to the soldier's pay. I think it is a subject in which publicity might be improved, possibly with benefit to recruiting.
The next important matter in a rising scale of importance is that of the prospects of promotion and a career. The prospects of a career are much 70 improved, and we all welcome the clause in this Bill which, as I read it, offers every soldier the chance of enlisting and serving for twenty-two years. That is a great improvement on the old days, when only a very few selected, mostly senior, N.C.O.'s were allowed to re-engage beyond twelve years to complete twenty-one years. Now anybody can enlist, but I wonder whether the full effect of this measure has been thought out—I am really asking for information. What will be the effect of keeping on large numbers of men for twenty-two years? Will there be more jobs, more posts on the establishment carrying sergeant or higher rank in order to absorb these people who have reached high rank and still have another ten years to serve, or will there be other jobs created, or will it cause a block in promotion to the lower non-commissioned ranks?
The promotion side of the prospects of an Army career seems to me still to leave some cause for uneasiness. There are two aspects of the question of promotion to commissioned rank. There is the effect on the individual of improving his prospects, but there is also the effect on the Army as a whole of making the best use of the talent available. I think there is a suspicion—in fact I am sure there is—that commissioning in the Army is still a class matter. There is still an idea that, if you are not born in a certain family, or if you are not educated at a certain school, your chances of getting a commission are worse. I am sure that the noble Lord who is to reply will say that that is nonsense, that it is not the case and that selection is purely by merit. But, whether or not it is so, the fact remains that there is this suspicion. The Government could help to dispel that suspicion by doing two things—perhaps the noble Lord will give me his attention for the moment. There are two things which I think the Government could do to remove that suspicion about commissioning. First, they should ensure that in any regiment or corps of the Army it is the normal thing for an officer to live on his pay. Secondly, I hope the Secretary of State will be able to ensure that, quite apart from the upbringing and education of the candidate, the methods of selection of potential officers are designed really to bring out the qualities of leadership. That is a matter of economy in man-power. Out of the man- 71 power section allotted to the Army we cannot afford to lose any men who are capable of, and suitable for, commissioned rank.
There is this other factor in regard to commissioning—namely, the question of the age at which selection should be carried out. I believe that selection for training as an officer is carried out too early in one's Service career—in the first few months, perhaps even in the first week or two, after enlistment. This means that a young man of eighteen or nineteen who joins the Army and who is not at that time considered suitable for a commission will have next to no chance of ever reaching commissioned rank unless there is a war. The noble Lord will correct me if I am wrong, but it seems to me that that is the system now, and that it is open to all sorts of objections. It disappoints the ambitions of young men who would like a second chance of selection for a commission; and it wastes all the talents that one finds in younger non-commissioned officers with a few years' service. Most noble Lords will remember that war brings to the forefront numerous non-commissioned officers—sergeants and others, who show outstanding leadership and qualities; yet under peace-time conditions they have not been selected for commission. Surely, that is a flaw in the system, and in our use of man-power.
The noble Lord will remember that before the war there was introduced a system of warrant officer, Class III—men who were supposed to be selected for their powers of leadership. I know that differing opinions were held in various parts of the Army about that scheme, but the fact remains that, certainly in one regiment of which I know, something like 50 per cent. of those warrant officers, Class III, were promoted to commissioned rank early in the late war. Those are the types of young men who are required. The orthodox Army view is, or was, that once a man had served as a non-commissioned officer or had been in the sergeants' mess, he was no longer suited to be an officer. I do not believe that that is true of young non-commissioned officers of something like five or seven years' service, and I certainly think that the War Office should try to make better use of the available man-power in order to increase the supply of officers.
72 My Lords, there is one last factor, which I believe influences very strongly the potential recruit for Regular service, and that is the type of life and conditions he will find in the Army. I think that only a negligible number of boys would be deterred from joining the Army by the prospects of hardship or danger. That is not the difficulty. But if they hear from all their friends that life in the Army means hours and hours of boredom and useless work, they will be put off. That, I am sure, is what has made service in the Army unpopular for so many years. I am afraid that that is the story that one hears again and again, even now, from parents whose boys have performed their National Service in either the Army or the Royal Air Force. This is not an easy problem. I realise very well the difficulty that it presents to commanding officers. A commanding officer has a great many duties and responsibilities—possibly too wide a range of responsibilities. As long as the machine runs smoothly on the surface, with his officers and non-commissioned officers doing their jobs, the unit seems to be efficient. But if there are young men who spend long hours either doing unnecessary or useless, or apparently useless, work, or who have too much leisure and not enough means of filling it, that unit is doing immense harm, not only to itself but to the young men in it, and to the reputation of the Service as a whole. I believe that this applies just as much to the Royal Air Force as to the Army.
Nowadays, the young soldier or airman is not of the same type as his father or grandfather, to whom the beer in the canteen was virtually all that was needed to keep him happy. The young man needs occupation and interests sufficient to keep his mind and body active and at full stretch. He needs to be fully occupied. I have a strong feeling that in many units in the Army this need is not realised. It means very hard work and imagination, on the part not only of the commanding officer but of his other officers too. It is an additional burden, but one that I am quite sure has got to be taken up. I should like the noble Lord who is to reply to reassure me that the War Office, or the Minister, has that problem in mind, because I am quite convinced that it is one of the factors tending to make National Service unpopular at the present time.
73 My Lords, I have kept your Lordships too long, but I should like to ask one or two more questions, one of which deals with training. The rather hoary-headed problem of the right balance between unit and centralised training has exercised the Army for a good many years. In the old days, it was the orthodox doctrine that the commanding officer must train in peace the officers and men he was going to lead in war. The result was that for a long time there were practically no centralised Army schools at all. Individual training of his officers and men was carried out by the commanding officer, and whether that training was good or bad depended on whether the commanding officer was good or bad as a trainer. Not everybody is a born teacher or lecturer; not everybody is a born commander; and to find the two qualities in one man is, by the nature of things, very unlikely. Too much insistence on training within the unit does lead to unevenness in training and lack of use of modern methods, because commanding officers cannot be expected to keep up to date in teaching methods. And this leads to some of the officers and N.C.O.'s getting insufficient training. The last war did a great deal to break down that doctrine, because the School of Infantry, amongst other schools, was formed. I am glad to say that it has survived and it does magnificent work. But to the soldier of a past generation it would have been unthinkable that he should send his young officers away to be taught how to be infantry soldiers. I hope that there will be extension of the system of training under centralised Army or command arrangements so that full advantage can be taken of the best of the teaching of the Royal Army Education Corps and also of instruction by officers of other corps who have a gift for teaching. I trust that such officers will be used so that they can spread their knowledge throughout the whole Army, instead of, as so often happened before, one born teacher being confined to teaching a handful of officers and N.C.O.'s. I mention this matter because I hope that the War Office have this problem in mind.
One last question, and that is on a matter of material. We have all heard that the Centurion tank is acknowledged to be the finest tank in the world at the present time. We are delighted to hear that. But time will pass and other tanks 74 in other countries will be developed, and the Centurion will become obsolete or obsolescent. We heard from the noble Lord during the debate on the Air Force not long ago that that happens to aircraft. It happens to tanks also. It takes a good many years to develop a new tank from the specification to the production stage, and I should like an assurance from Her Majesty's Government that steps are actively being taken in the development of the successor of the Centurion tank. We have dealt on a fairly wide front with the Army this afternoon, but I think perhaps it has not been said emphatically enough that we are all intensely proud of the Army. In its 300 years of existence it has adapted itself, painfully, perhaps, somewhat slowly, it may be, with rather delayed action, to changed conditions. We hope that under the present régime it will be no less susceptible to change, and it is our job to see that it is given the means whereby it can retain the position which it has always had—that of being the finest Army in the world.
§ 4.44 p.m.
§ LORD DE L'ISLE AND DUDLEY
My Lords, we have been conducting at least two debates this afternoon, one upon the subject which I thought it had been agreed we should conduct it upon—that is the state of the Army and its training—and another upon the Bill which the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, thought we might to be talking about. I do not in the least object, although I think it is generally for the convenience of the House if we make up our minds to stick to what we say we are going to do. The noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, was quite right in saying that it is very profitable for the Opposition that we do not stick too closely to rules of order. For my own part, I do not object to that form of profit. But I think it can truly be said that, while we do not like too large a body of rules and orders (we have no Erskine May and no Speaker in this House to keep us in order) I think most of us find it convenient for the conduct of business if we do, through the normal channels, settle roughly the field over which we are going to gallop.
I am glad to see that the noble Earl the Postmaster-General has returned to the Chamber, because I was going to ask him if he would get in touch with Lord Stansgate and, perhaps, explain to him 75 how to use the telephone service. I should like to tell Lord Stansgate that my Ministry has now moved from King Charles Street, where he telephoned, and it is now housed in that large white edifice in Whitehall. The telephone number is Trafalgar 8811 and my extension is 6329. I will also give the noble Viscount my private telephone number in the country in case he should like to telephone me there. We (that is my colleagues and myself) are at the service of the House, but I hope that we shall not be regarded as cushions to be kicked about the floor, because noble Lords who attempt that will find that we have a very hard centre which will affect their toes. I should have been delighted to enter into a debate on the Army and Air Force (Annual) Bill, but since that Bill contains a good lot of heterogeneous clauses I think it would be preferable to consider the details of the measure during the Committee stage.
I have listened with great interest to the remarks and observations made today, and I thought particularly interesting the felicitous remarks made by my noble friend Lord Llewellin, who quite fairly pointed out that this Act, which has been in force for a number of years, was certainly in force during the last six or seven; and we feel no contrition at all that at this time we did not burden the Parliamentary timetable by trying to institute a major reform. As the matter has arisen, we agree that it is right and proper that this opportunity should be taken, and I was exceedingly glad to note the solicitude expressed by noble Lords on the Benches opposite for the rights of this House. That is a solicitude which I entirely share. I will not pursue the consequences of the interesting arguments advanced, as I understood them, by Lord Stansgate, but if by some means the Bill of Rights were infringed by the act of another place, this Chamber would be very efficacious in stopping that infringement. I only wonder why he played so prominent a part in reducing the powers of this House.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, I can tell the noble Lord. The powers of this House have been reduced, and I hope they will never be restored. What I wish the House to do is to exercise its present functions for the benefit of the State.
§ LORD DE L'ISLE AND DUDLEY
I said that I was not going to pursue this argument. When we read in the OFFICIAL REPORT what the noble Viscount has said, I think it will be seen that I have not put an unfair construction on what the noble Viscount said. If we are to play a part in the preservation of the constitutional rights of the State, I contend that the argument we put forward in the past is right, and the powers we now possess are not adequate for that purpose—but this is a third debate on the matter and I do not want to enlarge upon it.
In a helpful speech, the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, raised a number of points. May I first of all say that I am in a somewhat difficult position, as I have a number of conflicting interests? Apart from my present office, I held a commission in a Regular infantry unit, although it was not a Regular commission, and I hold an honorary generalcy of an artillery unit. So my loyalties are well spread and I must speak with great caution. For myself, though not for my right honourable friend the Secretary of State, I accept the position which the noble Lord gave for the infantry, but, following the advice of the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, I am not going to enter into this matter.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, I am surprised that there has been any bickering. I did not mean to bicker between one arm and another. At present I am in the artillery, but I spent most of my time in the infantry. What I said was that the War Office had to make up their minds between the infantry and non-infantry, and so far they have not done so.
§ LORD DE L'ISLE AND DUDLEY
I certainly do not quarrel with the noble Lord. I entirely agree with his point about the second battalions of regiments, and I hope he will accord credit to my noble friend for putting forward this point. My noble friend Lord Bridgeman pointed out the reason for the difficulty—namely, shortage of non-commissioned and commissioned officers. But I know that the subject is very much in the mind of my right honourable friend. With regard to the suggested conference, my right honourable friend has had this proposal very much in mind. He is grateful for the comprehensive and excellent report by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, which he thinks requires his careful attention, and he hopes to get on with it.
77 The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, raised a number of points about the organisation of the Territorial Army. As he and I agree, we are studying the Territorial Army with great attention because it is in the middle of a vital transitional stage. We receive National Service men in large numbers into the Territorial Army and the main idea behind the scheme is to graft the new National Service army on to the old volunteer organisation. I join with the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, in praise of the volunteer spirit in all those gentleman who have given so much service in all capacities to the Territorial Army. The distances they travel and the time they give are amazing. The question is, if I may use a horticultural analogy: will this grafting take? Although it is too early to be certain, I think we can say that there is every sign of its taking. This is an important formative period in our military organisation and we want to see the old volunteer spirit, which has been the moving force behind the Territorial movement, sustained, in order that the National Service men should be received into the Army not as conscripts—as in the case in so many other countries—but as volunteers, willingly performing their National Service and reserve liability.
Let us not forget that the concept of the Territorial Army was a bold one in the first place, and I think nobody then would have prophesied with absolute confidence that it would have the success it has had. One word of encouragement, in case we are apt to be too gloomy about The volunteer spirit: during 1951 the Territorial Army lost at the end of their three or four-years' engagement 17,000 men, but they recruited 13,000. In the circumstances I think that is extremely encouraging. We must continue to rely upon volunteer officers and non-commissioned officers for training, if we are to get the scheme to work smoothly. I should like to say something about the Territorial and Auxiliary Forces Associations, because they are an integral part of the whole Territorial organisation. They make great efforts and many gentlemen spend an immense amount of time in their largely successful efforts to make it representative of all sections of the community. On the matter of economy, I acknowledge the need for it in the same spirit as the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore. 78 I will not traverse what was said by my right honourable friend in another place, but I think it will be generally admitted that he has been seized of the problem and has already done a good deal to economise in man-power and resources. I am sure he would agree with me that we have not exhausted the economies which can properly be made, and his examination continues.
I turn next to the remarks of the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman. He asked whether the Army was absorbing and putting into effect all the lessons to be learned from the Korean campaign. I think it is true to say that there have been no startling discoveries. But the conclusions to be drawn from the fact that attacks in that theatre have been delivered by masses of lightly armed and only fairly well trained men—who, incidentally, are extremely courageous—is that we need, if we can get them, a great deal of wire and a great deal of fire. There is in the field in Korea an operational research unit, which represents the War Office and with which the Commonwealth countries are co-operating, and visiting this country there is a field team from the United States, which is conferring with the British Army on the tactical lessons which can be drawn from Korea. I think this represents another striking example of Allied co-operation.
The noble Viscount also asked about the Territorial Army building programme. The drastic reductions which have had to be made in the number of works for the Services this year have undoubtedly had their severe effects on the Territorial Army building programme and, of course, what is available must be devoted to the most important objects first. I do not think the noble Viscount would dissent when we put in the forefront the storage of new vehicles and equipment and the requirements of antiaircraft defence. As a consequence, what is left over is not very large, but my right honourable friend realises the needs of the Territorial Army and will do his utmost to relieve the shoe where it pinches. I ought to add that the severe cuts have also had their effect on the Regular forces in this respect.
The noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, drew attention to the importance, which I readily acknowledge, of the fighter control units of the Royal Auxiliary Air 79 Force. We look upon these units as an essential part of the first line defence of this country, and we aim not only at strengthening these units in numbers, but at the achievement of such a standard of training that they can take their place, literally within a matter of hours, in the radar chain. It is true—I agree with what the noble Viscount said—that recruiting has not gone as well as we had hoped. But the strength of these units is increasing, not least because we are now getting fully trained National Service men. I should like to take this opportunity of emphasising that there is no auxiliary unit where young men and women could undertake a more vital or necessary task in the interest of their country. The T.A.F.As. are doing most laudable work in maintaining and seeking to strengthen these vital units. They merit the closest co-operation of my Department, which I can assure them they will receive. I might mention here that the call up of the "G" reservists—which is the corresponding reserve to the "Z" reservists in the Army—for refresher training, and the similar call up this year, has given us a further batch of men versed in the intricacies of the radar system, and together with the National Service men they form a most valuable reserve.
I should now like to say a few words about what was said by the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, as to commissioning from the ranks. May I first explain what the present system is? In doing so, I want to assure the noble Earl that the Army are short of commissioned officers; that efforts are concentrated on finding the right type of officer to fill these vacancies and that there is no question of turning down suitable people. I am sure the noble Earl, from his experience, will agree that one thing we must try to do is to preserve the standard of officers; we should be wrong to lower the standard, even if that meant filling the vacancies. There are two methods whereby the Army seek to make use of suitable officers for training purposes. I am talking here of officers who have not been selected at the outset of their training, because I am sure the noble Earl is right in saying that some lads develop qualities of leadership and knowledge which are not at first apparent, and sometimes they are not very good at appearing before selection boards. First, there is the "E" 80 cadet scheme, whereby men are selected by their commanding officers and, if passed by a Regular commission board, proceed to the normal officer cadet course at the Royal Military Academy. This scheme is necessarily restricted to men of the age of twenty-one or under, because of the age of entry to the Academy. The scheme is the counterpart of the old "Y" cadet scheme, which the noble Earl no doubt remembers.
The second thing is that there are short-service commissions obtainable by soldiers who develop at a later age those qualities to which the noble Earl referred. Such soldiers apply for their commissions, and then go before a War Office selection board. The board can either pass the applicant for short-service commission immediately, or can recommend him for cadet training purposes. The age limit is about forty, the exact age varying according to the arm of the Service. A short-service commissioned officer can revert to a Regular commission. In that case, he goes before the Regular commission board, and if he passes he is given a Regular commission. The age limit under this scheme is thirty, and I think that that is a reasonable limit. I would repeat that this seems to me to show that the Army do cater for the type of young man who cannot obtain a commission at the outset of his career, but who can later, by showing officer qualities.
Before I come to the question of training, I should like to answer the question about the Centurion tank raised by the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, and of which he was good enough to give me notice. I need hardly tell the noble Earl that I am extremely limited in what I am allowed to say, but I can assure him that the Army are engaged on research and development of a successor to the Centurion tank. I am sure that those authorities in the Army who are charged with research and development are no whit behind similar authorities in my Ministry in seeking to move forward with events and take advantage of new techniques and new developments. I think it is convenient at this stage, also, to reply to the question of the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, about the twenty-two years' service and promotion. I understand that there is now such a shortage of suitable long-service men—and 81 although one cannot prophesy, this is likely to remain so for some time—that there is little likelihood that these long engagements will prejudice advancement in the Services. If it began to occur, it would mean that the number of applicants for long service in the Army had reached the stage that we want it to reach. I may say that this applies, also, to the Royal Air Force.
I pass now to matters of training. The noble Earl, Lord Lucan, raised matters of individual training and the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, matters of collective training. Lord Lucan particularly discussed the subject of boredom in training, and making training more attractive to recruits. I think it is within our general experience that some people take more kindly to military life than others, and therefore, while we ought to listen with attention to complaints, we ought not necessarily to believe that everything we hear is exactly as it is represented. Having said that, let me say that the Army fully realise that, in order to have good National Service men who get the maximum benefit out of their service, they must interest them in their job. The last war undoubtedly led to a great advance—I think the noble Earl acknowledged this—in the methods of instruction. Really intense studies were instituted on the psychological and other effects of different methods of training on the individual. There is no single solution; it is really an aggregation of different solutions which can provide the improvement. I think it is true to say that a much higher degree of interest and concentration can be achieved if recruits and trainees are allowed to do, rather than listen. That is the basis of modern methods of instruction. The test of the success of that method is that the Army now train a recruit to a reasonable standard of efficiency in about a third of the time that was needed before the war. An important factor in that success, as we see it, is the employment of small squads, each with its own instructor—and, incidentally, it gives the instructor a most valuable lesson in the leadership and management of his men. Moreover, a very wide latitude is allowed in the methods employed by the commanding officer of a training unit. I hope that I may allay the fears of the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, about centralised training. 82 I made inquiries when he raised that point, and I think there are no fewer than twenty schools of Army training. Not only are the young officers sent to training schools, but commanding officers also are sent there, so that they can be trained to train their own men in up-to-date modern methods. I do not think there is a great danger of valuable teaching power being lost or wasted by concentration on small units. Great attention has been paid to staleness and the avoidance of it, whether physical or mental. Bearing this in mind the Army Operational Research Group has given particular study to the question of diet and environment. The usefulness of films as a vehicle of instruction has also been proved. I need hardly tell the noble Earl that, as in the past, so to-day perhaps more than ever, sport plays a great part in the physical and mental training of recruits.
May I turn to the larger field which the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, raised—the question of higher formation training? No doubt he knows that this year, for the first time since the war, the Territorial Army is to undergo higher formation training. Two Territorial divisions, the 42nd East Lancashire Division, and the 43rd Wessex Division, are to be called up by brigade groups for collective training. It has not been possible, for administrative reasons—partly because of the shortage of Regular officers—to call up three brigade groups from each division at the same time, but there will in fact be two brigade groups, one from each division, in camp simultaneously. Thus it will be possible to set divisional exercises to practise divisional staffs in communications and other staff duties. There will be not only divisional staffs but corps staffs as well. I entirely agree with the noble Lord about the need for training higher formations in their staff duties in peace. I believe it to be true that this is the first occasion on which the higher staff training up to corps level has been possible for the Territorial Army. Most of us are all too familiar with the disadvantages of the Salisbury Plain training area. Most of those well known features are engraved upon our hearts—the well-known river line, the well-known clumps and so on. I will not weary your Lordships now by a recital which would sound like a poem from Housman.
83 We must remember that we have only fifteen days to play with. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, took a flight of imagination and was really addressing himself to me, not in my capacity of stand-in for my right honourable friend but in my capacity as Secretary of State for Air, in asking me to provide the aircraft to take him and his territorial colleagues to some agreeable place where they could practise their military art without infringing the prerogatives of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and his agricultural interests. I quite understand that. Perhaps he will have more influence with the War Office than I have, and perhaps he will persuade them to let me have a large slice of their Votes so that I can provide them with the aircraft they need. If he has that influence I hope he will use it. Although I should like to agree with him, I am afraid that at the moment, under the R.A.F. expansion programme, it is not possible and he will have to make do with Salisbury Plain.
I hope that I have exhausted the questions, if not the House, in my efforts to inform them—I beg Lord Stansgate's pardon. I did not wish to retraverse the ground, but I am not in a position to give him an answer about his question. I am not going over the ground again as to whether it is in order, but if I may suggest it to the noble Viscount, as I cannot give him an answer on a very important legal question it would be advisable, if he requires an informed answer, either to raise it on the Committee stage or to put a Question on the Order Paper.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
This is really a most astonishing statement to be made in a House of Parliament. We have in this House the head of the Law and also the head of the Defence Ministry. I submitted a question in writing this morning, but unfortunately it failed to reach the noble Lord. I repeated it in debate and it is to be reported in the OFFICIAL REPORT. Am I now to proceed in some other way? The noble Lord says that he cannot answer the question. It is right that it is a question of the highest moment in principle, and I agree that he will have to take time to answer. But I would beg him to give me an assurance in Parliament that those who are concerned with the question will read the OFFICIAL REPORT and will prepare 84 an answer on the proper lines. I think it is trying a private member too high to ask that he should run round and send letters and telephone messages, to whom I do not quite know. I will beg him, therefore, to say a categorical "Yes" to the question: Will the appropriate authorities read what I have said as reported in the OFFICIAL REPORT—and I will read it over to see that it is correct—and will they give me an answer in due season?
§ LORD DE L'ISLE AND DUDLEY
Of course we shall read what the noble Viscount said, and make proper allowances for some of the innuendoes he made against Ministers. He will certainly receive a reply—I can assure him of that—on the proper occasion.
§ LORD DE L'ISLE AND DUDLEY
There is no question of evading the question which the noble Lord has raised. As he has raised it again, may I again suggest that if he wishes to raise questions of the highest importance on a very important question of law, which ought to be answered very carefully, he should make quite certain that his questions have reached the Minister before they are raised in the House.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
I am very interested in this, and I am asking for information. Should I write or telephone, for example, to the Lord Chancellor's office, or should I write or telephone to the Ministry of Defence, or should I send it to the Leader of the House? If the noble Lord will tell me that, I shall be very grateful, because it is a humble inquiry for information.
§ LORD DE L'ISLE AND DUDLEY
I understood that the noble Lord had attempted that. I imagined that when he spoke about Ministers not being here—
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
May I help the noble Viscount? Just before I came into the House I learned that there had been a communication from the noble Viscount to my office. In the very limited time in which I had to consider the question, I am bound to say that I came to the conclusion that the noble Viscount was asking me a question which I could not answer simply, unless, indeed, 85 I was called upon in another capacity to advise your Lordships what were the rights of the matter. I will consider the matter again.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
I am deeply grateful to the Lord Chancellor, and I should like to thank him most sincerely for what he has said.
§ LORD DE L'ISLE AND DUDLEY
I hope that that may be said, at any rate for the time being, to dispose of that question. I come back, if I may, to the Army. We have had, I trust, a valuable debate upon this matter. I have endeavoured to satisfy at least most noble Lords who were kind enough to inform me of the points into which they wished to inquire. I thank them for their courtesy, and I trust that the answers which they have received, if not satisfying, will at any rate have given them the information they desire.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.