§ 4.24 p.m.
§ Debate on Second Reading resumed.
My Lords, it is rather an anticlimax, coming back to this debate after that grave Statement. We may be a little wiser, and we are all going to be poorer men for it. But I am glad at least that the subject of our debate, the Reserve Forces, has not vanished suddenly since Lord Shackleton's opening speech.
We have debated several times in this House the subject of our needs in this day and age, and this Bill enables the Government to put into operation the plans that they have announced. I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, for his explanation of what, on the face of it, is a most difficult Bill. I should like to take the opportunity warmly to congratulate him on his appointment to Her Majesty's Privy Council since we last discussed with each other military problems. It gave me personally the greatest pleasure. I also thank him for the most useful background details. He has deluged me with paper. But for that, it would have been difficult to have got all the background.
The birth pangs of this Bill have been most painful, and I think in the opinion of the country the pain was not necessary. If proper consultation had been held at an early stage much heartburning would have been avoided. But I do not wish to dwell any more on the unhappy events of the past, beyond saying how relieved we on this side of the House, and I believe millions of people throughout the country, were when the Government wisely realised that they had made a bad mistake and did not hesitate to accept in part our advice.
The regulations before us to-day alter the laws and lay down the conditions of service for the types of reserves, in particular regulations regarding call-up and the periods for which the new reserves will commit themselves. The Bill does not lay down details of organisation, equipment and training, which is left to the discretion of the Minister. This we welcome, because I believe that some things will work well and some things will not work well, and it will be up to 475 the Minister, by trial and error, to get it right; and this he can do without further legislation.
So in this debate, in the light of the information we now have of the detailed plans of the Government and the reactions of those most concerned (which we did not have before), I shall comment on the plans and offer advice and criticism which I hope is constructive about those parts of the scheme behind this Bill which do not, in our opinion, meet the requirements of the nation or produce the right climate conducive to the success of the scheme. For we must never forget that we are dealing with volunteers. Nobody need join the "Ever-readies", the Volunteers or the Territorials if they do not want to.
I should like to congratulate the two Ministers of the Army for their hard work recently. They, at least, appear to be enthusiasts in developing an efficient and workable scheme; and the gentlemen from the other place who have served on Committee B have done a tremendous amount of work in that Committee stage, which makes our job much easier. I would join with the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, in paying a warm tribute to the noble Duke, the Duke of Norfolk, the Chairman of T.A.F.A., and to my noble friend Lord Clydesmuir and his Working Party who were told to work out a new Territorial Army with £3 million as against the £20 million that it cost before. I believe they have produced as good a scheme as anyone could with the money available to them. The feeling of everybody concerned is, I think, that they have produced the best possible scheme for the money. But that does not mean that they were able to produce a scheme that we can approve wholeheartedly, and I do not think they approve of it wholeheartedly either.
As the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, said, when the Government came into office they accepted the first two roles of the Territorial Army, the one concerning the provision of units and individual reinforcements for the Regular Army, and headquarters and units on the outbreak of war for the civil power. But they regard the third role, to provide a framework on which, in a period of rising tension, general preparations for 476 war can be made, as, in the words of the Under-Secretary of State in another place, an "irrelevance to-day" as we no longer think in terms of large-scale conventional war. The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, said very much the same thing.
We do not think that a large-scale conventional war is likely, certainly not to-morrow or the day after, but we do not agree that we can throw away the experience of years and totally deprive the country of the structure of a reserve army for home defence which could be capable of expansion or of changing its role, because, once thrown away, how can it be rebuilt? Who can forecast the state of the world in ten or twenty years' time? Who can forecast what our requirements for defence will be? We have very few criticisms about the new organisation for the reserves for the Regular Army. "Ever-readies" and the Volunteers. But we think it is quite wrong to produce a force tailor-made for only one role, and a very limited one, and equipped so inadequately that any change in the role will be difficult to introduce. This is our major objection and I cannot emphasise it enough.
The Second World War began twenty years and ten months after the first, and in the Territorial Army there were senior officers and N.C.O.s who had the experience of war. The equivalent period is just about up now. We have many senior Territorial officers and N.C.O.s with war experience, and in addition members of the present Territorial Army too young to fight in the war have the great advantage of having done National Service, many in active operations. We do not want to waste any of this knowledge and experience, and this would be the case if many officers and N.C.O.s were found redundant. We want to pass on to a newer generation of volunteer soldiers all the know-how from the elders who have the experience. So in examining this Bill and the proposals behind it, we want to investigate whether the reserves in the Regular Army are adequate in numbers, capable of being well trained and well equipped with modern weapons, and ascertain that what is left of the old Territorial Army is a suitable force for home defence. In our opinion it should provide the structure of a reserve army and for the unknown in the future. 477 Let us not forget that the Territorial Army in the past has been a most useful source of recruits for the Regular Army. It is most important that the new forces that we are discussing to-day should have the same capability.
We do not dispute the need for the reorganisation of the Territorial Army, but our first complaint is that this reorganisation involves cutting down our volunteer force by almost half. As my right honourable friend the Member for Wolver Hampton, South-West said in another place, the change represents a reduction of numbers from 110,000 to 63,000. The 110,000 is the actual strength; the 63,000 is the target ceiling. So a large number of experienced men will disappear. There will be no place for them in any of the three categories we are considering, because there will be huge tracts of land with no Territorial units there for them to join.
The second complaint to which I referred in a previous debate in your Lordships' House is the division of the new forces into two unlinked and unconnected forces. We have been told that they are in great difficulties over this, and I appreciate them, but we still feel that what the noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Montgomery of Alamein, called two tiers, the lower tier to reinforce, nourish and keep up the strength of the higher tier, is what we need. I am told it cannot be done because of geography, among other reasons, but I am not convinced, because I believe it is a fundamental requirement. But here time will show, and, as I said before, under this Bill the Secretary of State is able to vary the various conditions that we think should be made. This is particularly important in the "teeth" arms, the first-line units, particularly the infantry, because even in limited war they might get heavy casualties. Under this scheme I am not happy that there is enough infantry.
As regards the reserves, the Government have properly appreciated that the strategic reserve of the Regular Army is not big enough at present to meet our commitments, even to-day, when comparatively small-scale operations are in progress. So we welcome the proposals to increase the number of "Ever-Readies" in the S.A.V.R. and the individual who may be called up at short 478 notice. They have already shown their value. Whether the extra 900 "Ever-Readies" which the Bill allows the Government to raise will be enough remains to be seen. We shall watch with eagle eyes the success of the recruiting to the target of 8,600, as we shall watch the other establishment targets of the classes of A.V.R.
The Territorial Army has been running down by about 1,000 a month in the past year, but now that uncertainty has ended, and conditions of service are being put to the members of the Territorial Army in their camps, we hope that the targets will be reached. My information is that the outlook regarding the volunteer element of T.A.V.R. I and II is quite promising, and I am glad to hear from several quarters that men are signing on for T.A.V.R. III as well. In my view, the mixing of the Regular reservists and Territorial Army volunteers from S.A.V.R. and T.A.V.R. II is not only a good thing but essential. My main fears are that the difficulties of training part-time volunteers will prevent the achievement of the high standards required by men who may be required in operations at very short notice, and the presence of highly trained reservists will help a great deal to raise efficiency. This is all the more important with the "Ever-Readies". It is slightly muddling that the conditions of service between the "Ever-Readies" and volunteers, as regards the period for which they can be called up, are not the same. In one case the period is six months, and in the other twelve months. We may look further at this point during Committee stage.
When an inexperienced recruit joins either the "Ever-Readies" or T.A.V.R. II there must presumably be a period during which he is learning his job and is not trained to a high enough standard for an operational theatre. Are there any rules about this? Because it must surely mean that a large proportion of the 8,600 "Ever-Readies"—if we get them—will not be available because they are still training. So even if the target is reached, we shall not have that number fit for operations. I should like to know the Government's calculation of the actual number of properly trained, less those who are allowed to be deferred at any time, who will be available for instant call-up. This, of course, applies equally to T.A.V.R. II.
479 In these three categories that we are discussing, one of the most important and, to our minds, essential conditions is not only the link between volunteers and Territorials but the link between them all and the Regular Army and the Regular corps and regiments. I stressed this point in our last debate. I believe that much of the success or failure of the new organisation will depend on this very important factor. If the Government appreciate this it will help a great deal, but we need assurance and a positive demonstration of it. I can see the difficulties, particularly in T.A.V.R. III gunner and cavalry regiments—yeomanry regiments—which will now be armed only with obsolete rifles. They will have little in common with their Regular regiments. But I believe that the Government and the Ministry of Defence can do quite a lot at very little cost, if any at all, by such things as encouraging short attachments to the Regular Army, as they quite rightly encourage the T.A.V.R. II. This might be one way of brightening the rather dreary prospects of these new Territorials, to which I shall refer later.
I am not happy about the Government's approach to employers. They have sent out this little pamphlet to the employers, and I am not impressed with it. For one thing, if I were an employer I should want to know what the commitments are, and for how long and this pamphlet does not mention the six months and twelve months, which we shall possibly be discussing at the next stage of the Bill. I do not know why this is not covered—perhaps it had not been decided at the time this pamphlet was sent out. But I should certainly want to know that, more than anything else, and perhaps the Minister could tell me about this.
The old Territorial Army rendered considerable assistance, as we all know, to the Civil Defence organisation and I myself, when a Territorial Divisional Commander, took part in a large number of joint exercises with the Civil Defence, the fire services and the police. One lesson we learned was that these exercises would not have succeeded had it not been for the assistance of the Territorial Army formation and unit staffs their wirelesses and their transports. 480 I am a little doubtful whether the new force will be able to render anything like the same assistance. My noble friend Lord Bridge man, who I am glad to see is in his place to-day, has great experience of the Territorial Army and Civil Defence and will talk on this aspect, so I will say no more about it.
I am also concerned about the effect on the cadet forces. Here, again, the Territorial Army has done a very great deal in the past to help. The "Ever-Readies" and the volunteers may be able to do even more, but I am worried that the Territorials will not be able to do much. I do not want to see the cadet forces confined only to the cities and the towns where the "Ever-Readies" and the volunteers are training. That would be one of the great disadvantages of the scheme. It is also a great disadvantage that the "Ever-Readies" and volunteer units are to be at the centres of population, and given no scope to enable people living in non-industrial areas to join without travelling a great distance
My noble friend Lord Ailsa cannot be here to-day, for the laudable reason that he is in camp with the Royal Scots Fusiliers Territorial Battalion, of which he is the Commanding Officer. He is very concerned about the treatment of the civilian staffs. To date, nothing has been done regarding Territorial and Auxiliary Forces Association employees. He thinks that the success or failure of the reorganisation will depend to a great extent on the support and experience of the T.A.F.A. employees. The Territorial Army is their livelihood, but they seem to have suffered because they are not civil servants.
I want now to turn to the T.A.V.R. II and the T.A.V.R. III in detail. T.A.V.R. II—the volunteers—has captured the imagination of all serving Territorials, because it has been thrown forward as a challenge to all young men, and because, apart from the bounty, the present serving Territorials feel that they will be treated on a par with the Regular forces. That is excellent. It is obvious that all young men serving in the Territorial Army will be delighted to be treated as reservists of the Regular Army and to he paid the substantial bounty of £60. I have only one short point to make about the volunteers. I believe it may be found that the commitments and 481 liabilities will require toning down a bit, as they are very high for a civilian volunteer with his own job and family commitments. However, I hope that this will not be necessary. This remark is, perhaps applicable to the large number of man-training days, and some of these could well be passed over to the T.A.V.R. III, who are very short of them. I was particularly glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, say that the units of the T.A.V.R. III—the volunteers—will train abroad every three years. This has been going very well with the old Territorial Army. It has produced enormous enthusiasm and is first-class.
I now want to talk about the T.A.V.R. III—Territorials. Not only do we feel it wrong and dangerous to confine them in their organisation and training to one very limited role, but we fear that the force is going to be run so much on the cheap, and will be so dull and lifeless, that it will not get the recruits in the future. We are told that their primary role is to give aid to the civil power and home defence. What is their secondary role? Is there one?—because I know what they want to be; that is, soldiers. If the Government can put that across to the T.A.V.R. III rather more than has been done so far, they may have some success with the scheme. T.A.V.R. II get a bounty, Regular Army dress and equipment, as your Lordships heard from the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, as well as overseas training. T.A.V.R. III get none of these, and it is not easy to sell the idea of a home security force with obsolete arms, a dull dress, no bounty and a role which is not over-attractive. I am very glad to hear that at the moment these Territorials are signing on, but they have yet to see what life in the new force is like.
Why do people join the Territorial Army? There are a number of noble Lords here who have been members of it, and still are. I do not think it is because of the bounty, though there is a certain amount of feeling in the Territorials that we are being rather stingy in not granting a bounty. I believe that officers and men join the Territorial Army partly with a desire to do something for their country; partly for the feeling of comradeship and of belonging to a big happy family; partly to be a member of a proud regiment with wonderful traditions; partly 482 to learn to use weapons—guns, machine guns and rifles—efficiently; partly for weekends and camps in new places, and very often to learn a trade, such as driving a vehicle, or engineering. That is my opinion after three years as a Territorial Divisional Commander, and if these are the reasons why these chaps join, then the new force, if it is to succeed, must provide the same or similar inducements. But at present it does not look as if it will.
The man in the new Territorial unit will find that he has to hand back his self-loading rifle—and how well I remember how thrilled he was to get it—and he will never see one again. He will be back to the old No. 4 rifle which was buried with pomp at Bisley a few days ago.
I understand that in some cases the rifles were issued 100 per cent. tosome of the units. There were certainly 50 per battalion, when they first came out, which went quite a long way; and I understand (I think the noble Lord will find this is so, because I heard this on very good authority) that a great many more were issued later. However, the men will not have them now, though I hope, from what I have heard in our private discussions, that the self-loading rifle will be issued, or held at depots and made available for rifle shooting and competitions. But the man will not have it all the time.
The gunner will never have another gun, and the yeomanry trooper will never see another scout car—I am talking about the Territorials. His wireless sets are probably obsolescent, and they cannot be used in a vehicle because he has not enough vehicles, so every time a set is used, if he is in requisitioned transport, the operator will have to get out and walk some distance away and work it. His camp is eight days, of which the first is spent getting in and the last packing up. 483 He has only four days' out-of-camp training every year. I think he should have a minimum of ten; and I consider that it would he a very good thing if he was issued with a self-loading rifle while he was in camp. I can see that a lot of the present conditions are inevitable in this financial climate, particularly after what we have heard to-day, but I believe we could give these men a little more hardware to make their training more interesting.
I am very sorry to see that, in the Territorials, there are to be no padres or doctors. The chaps are feeling rather sore about that, and certainly the padres and the doctors are—that is, those who have no place to go to. They have done a great job in camps in the past. The Sunday service was always a very great thing, I remember, at all the Territorial camps I visited. All the chaps took part in them, and their families, if they were not too far away, also came down. It was just a nice, friendly touch: and those padres, perhaps, were able to help a few of those young men who did not get such help in their own towns. It seems a little stingy to do away with them. And to do away with doctors in a force the primary role of which is civil defence in a nuclear attack is really a folly. I should have thought you would want a platoon of nothing but doctors. But there it is.
I have in the past few days been in touch with several members, chairmen and secretaries of associations, to get their reactions and the reactions of the Territorials in their camps. One chairman of an association of a county with a very fine record—a large number of Territorial units all up to very good strength—says:I hardly know what to say about the T.A. because I feel so dubious and depressed about its future. A.V.R.II may go all right, because at any rate it is not going to be starved of money and equipment. Certainly the infantry and gunner units should thrive, but whether the Royal Corps of Transport. Royal Engineers and other service units will have enough glamour and interest remains to be seen.But A.V.R.III, the Home Defence force, he says, is quite a different story. He says:Though numbers joining the Volunteers have been satisfactory, the question is whether 484 they will serve on when faced with the reality of no equipment worth speaking of. This is a different matter altogether".My Lords, I think it is vital that they be given reasonable equipment and facilities when they go to their annual camps. Why cannot they, on arrival at camp, take over equipment and then hand it in when they go? That would not cost very much, and it would go some way towards meeting our criticisms. If the first camp is a flop—and that, presumably, will be the camp next year—then A.V.R.III, the Territorials, will perish, and with it will perish all vestiges of the Territorial Army spirit and traditions which have served the country so well.
My friend goes on to say that in his county people are all increasingly taking the view that A.V.R.III was forced on the Government by public and political pressure, and that the Government's policy is to starve it of cash to such an extent that it will have no appeal and will fail, when they will be able to turn round and say, "We told you so". This point is also mentioned in a letter from a Territorial association secretary in Scotland, who writes:One is sometimes driven to the uncharitable conclusion that, having been pushed into establishing this force against its will, the Government would not be sorry to see it fail from starvation".My noble friend Lord Ailsa says:I am still waiting for some indication that the Government really wishes the organisation to work. It is true that our military commanders are determined that it should, and so are the Territorials, such as myself, who are to serve on".My Lords, I am sure that these letters reflect the views of many, if not all, of the persons connected with or interested in the Territorials, the A.V.R. III, and I ask the Government to take these points to heart. I am sure that the Minister of State for War has found this feeling in the country. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, will be able to tell us of his reactions when he winds up.
What is needed, I believe, is, first, a better-defined role—and it must be a military one; and secondly, reasonable equipment with which to train for that role. For instance, as I said, the establishment of transport is one Land Rover for a company. How on earth can you train drivers with this? And, even if you succeed, what sort of drivers of requisitioned heavy vehicles will they 485 be on call-out? Thirdly, there should be a reasonable provision of amenities to ensure the preservation of regimental loyalty and individuality. The present emphasis is on "shared accommodation", and the men feel that A.V.R.III will therefore be the poor relation of A.V.R.II. Then, lastly, there should be a few more days of out-of-camp training.
As to recruiting, the rule is to be that recruitment is up to only 80 per cent. This is real folly. To get this scheme away to a good start, we do not want to begin by turning any volunteers away. The Government should allow 100 per cent. recruitment everywhere for, say, the first two years, coming down, perhaps, to 80 per cent., if they feel they must, after that.
Lastly, there are the Territorial associations. The plan, I think, is for one association instead of five or six to serve five or six counties, with a staff of about the same as that for a present single county association. I am worried whether the right people will have the enthusiasm to serve on such far-flung committees. I am sure that the old system has been good and has worked well, and it is going to be hard to get the same good voluntary effort in the future. One Territorial association in each military district is going to make it very difficult to keep alive the local interest and contact at ground level which is so important to a voluntary force. Anything that can be done to avoid over-centralisation would be a good thing.
The picture has to be looked at from the bottom upwards, and not only from the administratively-tidy view of Whitehall. It will be a pity if, in the future, the associations become remote advisory bodies only. So I ask the Government to look again at the organisation and the equipment of the A.V.R.III, the Territorials, and most of all to give us to-day a firm and definite assurance that the Government want the Territorials, as well as the "Ever-Readies" and the Volunteers, to be a really worthwhile show. Much can be done by imaginative improvisation, just as much has been done in the past, but they need encouragement, help and sympathy in their teething troubles. It is clear that at present they are by no means certain that they are going to get it.
486 I welcome the coming maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Frey berg. He is Commanding Officer of the Infantry Battalion of the Honourable Artillery Company, and he is just back from taking his battalion, at their own expense, to camp in Malta this year. That is a splendid example, my Lords, of what can be done by a really keen unit. I also welcome the first speech of my noble friend Lord Ullswater, who is a second lieutenant in the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry. We shall be very interested to hear the views of a serving junior officer at the beginning of his career in the Territorial Forces.
My Lords, this is no time to ask for money, though I feel that very little might make a tremendous difference. I am fairly confident that the "Ever-Readies" and the Volunteers will succeed; although it is sad that many who would like to volunteer, particularly from the country districts, will be precluded from doing so by distance. I have not asked much for the Territorials: some self-loading rifles in each unit, a few more vehicles, perhaps a small bounty (when we can afford it) and some more days for training. Most of all, we want the Government's assurance that they want the Territorials, as well as the Volunteers and the "Ever-Readies", to succeed. We shall watch all their recruiting figures next year with the greatest interest. I believe that if the Government adopt the measures we suggest this plan will succeed.
§ 5.1 p.m.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, I have listened with interest to the long speech of the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, who explained with great clarity this, at times, rather confusing Bill. I thought he did a first-class job of work, if I may say so. I have also listened with great interest to the speech of the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Thurlow, and I agree with most, if not all, of what he said. I think he touched on many of the major points that he thought were in doubt in this Bill; therefore I do not propose to go into any detail at all to-day, but will wait for the Committee stage. I take it he will be putting down a number of Amendments to carry out the objects he had in mind.
There are, however, one or two issues of a wider nature which I think ought to be mentioned. But before going on 487 to them I, too, should like to welcome two noble Lords who will make their maiden speeches to-day, and to say how glad I am that serving Territorial officers are in this position and are able to give us the benefit of their views. I myself ceased to be a serving Territorial officer on reaching retirement age, when I received a Roneoed piece of paper from the Army Council giving me an expression of their thanks and signed in an illegible way by some civil servant.
§ LORD OGMORE
So, my Lords, one can see where influence counts. I had a Roneoed piece of paper.
The first intimation—on July 29, 1965, by the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton—that the Territorial Army was, as we felt, sentenced to death was, I admit, a body blow to many of us. That is how we felt. I remember the noble Duke, the Duke of Norfolk, and the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Thurlow, coming to me in the Prince's Chamber and expressing great concern that the Statement was about to be made. They felt, as I did, that this was virtually the end of the Territorial Army. The Statement was made on the eve of the Recess, and on the eve of many units' annual training in camp. I cannot imagine how the commanding officers managed to get through that camp in view of the Statement made at that time. They had my sympathy.
It was the more remarkable because, on June 25, 1958, on the Jubilee of the Territorial Army, I myself moved a Resolution in this House expressing the appreciation by the House of the work of the Territorial Army and intimating our full confidence in the Army and in its work in the future. Without any intimation to your Lordships that that Resolution—which I may say was carried nemine dissentiente—had been misplaced or was outdated, we were suddenly faced with this alarming Statement by the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, on the eve of the Recess. At the earliest available time I put down a Resolution condemning this action, as, in rather milder terms, did the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Thurlow.
488 Eventually there was a big movement in the Press, in which I and many others took part, pointing out to the public how wrong we felt it to be if the Territorial Army were to die and what a dangerous situation this could be for the country—especially in view of what Sir Gerald Templer, when Chief of the General Staff, said about the T.A. I always remember it: I think it is the best summing-up of the value of the Territorial Army that has ever been made. Field Marshal Sir Gerald Templer said that the T.A. is the country's insurance against the unknown and that no other country in history has been able to take out such a comprehensive policy for such a low premium. I could not understand why the policy, at this dangerous time, was no longer needed.
I discussed the matter with my friends and we came to the conclusion that there were two certain minimum essentials to he considered in regard to the Territorial Army. The first was that it must be retained as a military force under the Ministry of Defence. Your Lordships will no doubt remember that there was a rumour at that time that it was to come under the Home Office. I wondered then: why not the Ministry of Agriculture! But, as I have said, it was essential that it should be retained under the Ministry of Defence. Secondly, it was essential that the Territorial Army Associations should, so far as possible, be kept in being so that there could be expansion in case of need. I am glad to see now that at least these minimum qualifications have been accepted by the Government. The Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve is retained under the Ministry of Defence, and the Territorial Army Associations are also to he kept in being, although in far fewer numbers than at present. Here one has, at any rate, under a military Department of the country, a force which is capable of rapid expansion—or, at least, capable of expansion; I will say something about "rapid" in a moment. One also has in the Territorial Army Associations the framework upon which that expansion can be made.
We all know that in the First World War Lord Kitchener made a great mistake when he did not build up on the Territorial Army Associations and formed Kitchener's Army, or divisions of it, with the utmost confusion and waste, cutting 489 right across the Regular and Territorial machinery. We do not want that to happen in the future. We also know when there was a sudden doubling of the infantry of the Territorial Army in the early part of 1939, I believe, when Lord Gort was C.I.G.S. and was in France walking round the Magin´t Line—though he did not seem to walk far enough or he would have found that it came to an abrupt end. While in France he read in a newspaper that the Secretary of State had doubled the Territorial Army overnight, through a stroke of the pen. What a fantastic incident! It had never happened before in history—I hope there will never be reason for it to happen again. The only reason why Mr. Hore-Belisha was able to carry out this fantastic decision was that the Territorial Army Associations were in being; and the prestige of the Territorial Army and the machinery of the Territorial Army Associations were such that the Territorial Army could be doubled in a very short period of time.
The only doubt I have about the T. & A.V.R. II is a point made by the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Thurlow—namely, are the commitments that the Government propose to impose on these Volunteers going to be able to be carried out by them? Let us remember they are civilians with their own commitments, jobs and families, and I do not know whether they will be able to carry out those commitments. There is, I think, a danger of putting too heavy a load on the Volunteers, and the Government are going very near it with regard to T.A.V.R. II.
As regards the home service force T.A.V.R. III, will it be sufficient? Will the force, when it is so lightly armed and equipped, be able to carry out even the very limited duties which the Government propose for it? I have the same doubts about this as the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Thurlow, has; I really have. I think that a force armed with obsolete rifles and with hired transport is no sort of realistic force at all.
My Lords, before the war I was a sort of "toad beneath the harrow" in these things. I was a company commander in the infantry, and when the battalion was turned over to artillery I was a battery commander. These are the people who will have the main burden of this problem. Up to 1939 we had 490 horse transport. In 1939 we changed over to the artillery and had our own motor transport. Prior to 1939we had a little motor transport, but not a great deal. Prior to 1939, what motor transport there was was hired, and I could wish no worse fate to anybody than that they should have to try to mobilize a unit quickly and use hired transport. First of all, the transport you have earmarked does not turn up, or most of it does not turn up; and, secondly, if it turns up, you find that it will not go. No one ever hires to the Army transport which is in really first-class condition, you can be sure of that. That was my experience, and I really could not wish a worse fate on my bitterest enemy than to have to operate with hired transport at the beginning of a serious situation. I had to do this at the time of Munich. We were called up at that time—we were mobilized; it was called "embodied"—and also, of course, on August 12, 1939. So when we talk about operating with hired transport, it really is not realistic.
Secondly, I should like to ask whether this force is to be linked with the county regiments, the infantry. I think this most important. In my own regiment, the Welch Regiment, we have the Regular Battalion and there is a tremendously close link between it and three Territorial battalions. I do not think that anyone who has not served in the infantry in a county Regiment can appreciate their tremendous esprit de corps. It does not exist merely in the Regular battalion; it runs right through the Territorial battalions. They are all part of the same family. It does not matter whether you are Territorial or Regular, you are all part of the family and wear the tie and go to all the functions, and your sayings and doings—if respectable—are all stated in the regimental magazine, and so on. Therefore, this link is of vital importance.
Lastly, there is the question of the Territorial Army drill halls. A large number of these drill halls will be redundant and I ask the Government to look very carefully at what is going to happen, first because of the possibility of expansion, and, secondly, because in many cases the drill halls were the centres not only of military but of social life in the district. When I commanded "B" Company of the 6th Battalion the 491 Welch Regiment at Clydach—the noble Lord, Lord Champion, who is sitting on the Bench opposite, knows it very well—there were three "powers", if you like to call them that, or three centres in that mining village: the works, the Rugby football club, and "B" Company of the 6th Welch at the drill hall. The chapel used to borrow my crockery for their "bun fights", and I used to borrow their chairs for my "smokers"—which came with an urgent request from the minister: Could he, please, have his chairs back on Saturday night, otherwise the congregation would not be able to sit down on Sunday morning. I also was vice-president of the Rugby club.
That is the sort of situation that happened. That is how the Territorial Army has been built up in these rural and industrial areas. And I think that when it is looked at from the top, from Whitehall, there is a tendency to forget that you are dealing with men, volunteers, and with communities, very often in industrial areas, which are closely integrated communities, and that vast, global plans evolved in Whitehall will never take effect at all, unless the people on the ground agree and put them into operation.
§ 5.15 p.m.
LORD FREY BERG
My Lords, this is the first time that I have had the temerity to address your Lordships, and my excuse for choosing this moment is that in the course of my present appointment I come across quite a number of the problems which your Lordships have been considering this afternoon. I should at this stage, I feel, declare my interest, which is that I am a Regular soldier and, as the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Thurlow, has just said, I have the honour to command the Infantry Battalion of the Honourable Artillery Company. It is therefore doubly important that I should not say anything controversial this afternoon, and I know that the House will understand if I talk only in general terms. Already, at this stage of my maiden speech, I have become aware of what it feels like to hear a number of points, which I had been hoping to make, made by previous speakers. I will endeavour not to repeat what has already been said, and will rearrange my speech accordingly.
492 My Lords, I have been with the Honourable Artillery Company for nearly a year, and I have found it a most interesting and stimulating experience. Indeed, I only wish that more Regular officers were able to do a tour of duty with the Territorials, because I feel that they, like myself, would derive much benefit from it and learn a great deal. This is the first time I have served with the Territorial Army and I have no axe to grind, either way, about it. If I felt that no constructive purpose would be served by continuing its existence I should not be addressing your Lordships this afternoon. However, having had nearly a year in the Territorial Army, I am bound to say that I have a genuine admiration for what it stands for, and what it tries to do, and for the keenness, the team spirit and the hard work which I have found among all ranks during my time with them.
There are three special reasons why I believe in the necessity for the continuation of the Territorial Army. First, the opportunity that it gives to young men for voluntary service. Having read your debates, I know that your Lordships feel very strongly—and I entirely agree, having interviewed and seen large numbers of young men presenting themselves for service—what a very important thing it is to have this outlet. My second point, which the noble Lord, Lord Thurlow, has already mentioned, concerns the recruiting which the Territorial Army does for the Regulars. Only last week I had a young man, a member of my battalion, come to me and tell me that, having seen what life in the Services was like, and having experienced the atmosphere, he preferred it to his civilian job and was going to apply to become a Regular soldier. He was by no means the first, or the only, person to say that to me since I have been with the T.A. I am sure that this goes on right through the length and breadth of the country. I feel that many people, who would not otherwise come, are brought into the Regular Army as a result of the training and comradeship which they have found in the Territorials.
On the question of a Reserve, it is, in my view, vital that there should be a Reserve Force for the Regular Army, ready for the unexpected emergencies which, all too often, as your Lordships 493 have frequently said in previous debates, arise in this uncertain world. As the noble Lord, Lord Thurlow, has said, I think that everybody in the Territorial Army recognises that some form of reorganisation is necessary and, indeed, desirable. For my part, I am glad that the Government have decided that a Reserve Force is necessary, and that they are going to base recruitment on the tradition of voluntary service.
I have three points that I want to make, and I will do so as shortly as possible. The thing that has impressed me most as a commanding officer since I came to the H.A.C. is how much there is to do and so little time in which to do it. This presents one with a challenge, as well as with a problem. But I feel it is important that we should recognise that there are limitations to the amount of time that one can expect volunteers to do, in the way of putting in of time.
So far as the H.A.C. is concerned, there is a recognised pattern. A young man, when he first joins, usually in his late teens or early twenties, is occupying a junior position in his business, firm or whatever it may be; he is usually unmarried, and has a certain amount of spare time which he wishes to occupy usefully. It is therefore not at all difficult to arrange for his recruit training and the continuation training that is necessary after he has done his initial year. After two or three years, however, he begins to assume more responsibilities in his civilian job, and sooner, rather than later, these days, he gets married. When that happens the competition for his spare time becomes intense. Unfortunately, it is just at this time, when he is more mature and ready to take responsibilities, that one most needs him to train as a noncommissioned officer and as an officer. The problem is how to get suitable candidates to come forward when all their own domestic and personal affairs are in balance.
I feel that a great debt of gratitude is due to those members of the Territorials who are of the older generation, and many of whom served in the last war. They kept the machine going. But anybody who served in the last war is now over 40; and even the men who had two years in National Service are getting fewer and fewer. We are therefore getting to the stage—and I think this is true of almost 494 any unit—when we shall have to become dependent on other sources for instructors, and possibly even for leaders. That is why I welcome the increase in the number of Regular personnel which the new A.V.R. is to have, because I can see that it will be most necessary to have a leavening of experience of the Regular Army to keep the Territorials up to the standards that will be required.
The second point I wish to make is this. I am delighted to hear that the A.V.R. is going to be clothed and equipped, if not right up to Regular standards, at any rate very near them. When I first went training with my unit last October I was impressed by their smart bearing, their combat clothing and the satisfactory way they behaved. It was only afterwards that I found out that they had all had to purchase their clothing out of their own pockets. I understand that this has been the common practice in the Territorial Army for a long time. Then again, last month I inspected a guard of honour of men in No. 2 dress and found that it was all borrowed from a central depot. We were not allowed to alter or tailor it in any way, and it had to be returned immediately after the ceremony. I am sure your Lordships will all agree that it is wrong in principle that soldiers of the Queen should have to buy or borrow their own personal clothing, and I am glad to hear that this will no longer continue. I am also pleased to hear that they will be given at any rate a training issue of the new type of weapons because, here again, it is difficult to maintain morale if you are training with what men regard as the cast-offs of the Regular Army.
The final point I wish to make is the suggestion that the A.V.R. battalions might be given the opportunity once every three or four years to train as battalions overseas. I appreciate that under the present arrangements units are likely to go abroad to their Regular battalions in company groups; and I take it that this mainly means going to Germany. But I suggest that if it were possible to set up atraining centre further a field, this would have a tremendous drawing power from the point of view of recruiting. There is no doubt that in this day and age the young men of this country like to go abroad, and if it were possible to organise a training centre in a place such as Malta, 495 I think that we should get a favourable increase in the response for the A.V.R.
I should like to quote the case of my own battalion. This year we were going to a camp at Devizes, on Civil Defence, and when this was cancelled last summer we had to try to find an alternative place. I was very taken by the fact that almost all the men, when they were consulted by their company commanders as to what they thought would be a good alternative, asked: "Would it be possible for us to go overseas?" We had long negotiations with the Ministry of Defence and, to cut a long story short, they allowed us to go to Malta, on condition that we paid the air fare, there and back. I put that to the members of the battalion, and I was astonished to find that nearly the whole unit—or those who could get away at the time in question—were prepared to find the money somehow. Many of them found it very difficult, but they did raise the money, and we had an extremely valuable camp.
May I, for a moment, touch on the advantages of Malta? In the first place, there is an excellent camp at Gyahn Taffieha, which is empty. It was an old Marine Commando camp, which has not been occupied, although it is fully maintained and available at short notice. The training areas round about are adequate for T.A. training. There are any number of ranges there, and although the island of Malta is not sufficiently large for the training of a Regular battalion, it has all the facilities and more that one could possibly want for a T.A. unit. Of course, the local population are extremely friendly, and I believe that they would welcome some form of arrangement whereby from time to time a number of battalions from the United Kingdom came out to do short camps. In fact, on May17 The Times of Malta published a leading article advocating just such a course, so I do not feel there would be any political disadvantages to this scheme.
There is also the question of cost. I started by saying that it had been my intention to advocate such a scheme, but, when I prepared this speech I did not realise what was coming at half past three, and I can well understand that this is not a very suitable moment to 496 advocate something which may involve overseas expenditure. Nevertheless, if such a scheme were possible, I am sure that it would enhance the likelihood of the A.V.R. getting off to the good start we all hope it will have. It only remains for me to thank your Lordships for the very kind way in which you have listened to my remarks this afternoon.
§ 5.33 p.m.
§ LORD BOURNE
My Lords, I have to thank the noble Lord, Lord Leather-land, for allowing me to make a short intervention in this debate. I promise that it will be short. First of all, I must congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Frey berg, on his maiden speech. He comes to your Lordships' House with the reputation of his father, who was not only a great public man and a Member of your Lordships' House but a very brave man. It is quite clear, to me at least, that his son is following in his footsteps, and that he will distinguish himself, not only as a member of the H.A.C.—which, incidentally, is older than the British Army—but also in speaking to your Lordships' House in future without the slightest difficulty or hesitation.
The intervention I want to make is not strictly within the Bill. It is a question of the role which was mentioned in the opening speech of the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, when he opened the debate. He made it quite clear that, of the three roles, A, B and C, which he quoted for the old Territorial Army, A and B were being separated in this new Bill and in this new Force of T.A.V.R. I, II and III. Role A, to provide units for the Regular Army overseas, clearly goes to T.A.V.R. I and II; Role B, to provide echelon units in aid for the civil power and to support the Regular Army, was going to be the role in the United Kingdom of the new Home Defence Force, or T.A.V.R. III. Unfortunately, supporting the Regular Army has been struck out of this role. Role C, to provide a framework for expansion in general war, he described as an irrelevance, and I do not think many of us disagree with that.
My point concerns role B for the Home Defence Force, T.A.V.R. III. At the present time, it has been accurately described by the Under-Secretary of State 497 for Defence for the Army, in the debate on May 10 in another place, as follows:The primary role of this section of the Reserve is to assist the police in the maintenance of law and order and to act generally in support of the civil authorities in the tragic event of a nuclear attack upon this country."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 728 (No. 17), col. 250; 10/5/66.]That role has been accepted, but in my humble opinion it is not sufficiently wide to allow for unexpected emergencies in the future; nor is it wide enough to appeal to the incoming young men who might think of joining the Home Defence Force, the Territorials.
As we have heard, the question always heard on joining—and, indeed, after joining—the Territorials, is: "What are we for? What is the role?" That question has been unanswered for many years. It has been a matter of doubt in the officers' and sergeants' messes, as I can well testify. But now it is clearly to be answered by the statement: "We support the police", which is not a very wide role, as has been mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Thurlow. I would plead with the Government very strongly that, in the same way as clauses have been left in this Bill which will stand the test of time (the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, mentioned one or two clauses which were not going to be activated at the present time, but which might come into operation in the future), the role of T.A.V.R.III should be drawn wide enough to satisfy the future.
I would suggest that if you include in the role of T.A.V.R.III, the Home Defence Force, the new Territorials, not only "to provide units on the outbreak of war to aid the civil power", but also the words, "to support the Regular Army in the United Kingdom", that would not only present a more satisfactory role, in realistic terms, but would help recruiting considerably; and it need not cost anything. The immediate answer from the Government Department would be, "If you widen the role to include support for the Regular Army in this way, then you must have units, brigades and divisions". I would say that that was unnecessary; that the units of the new Home Defence Force, the new Territorials, could combine in their training support of the Regular Army without a great deal more equipment.
498 In support of this theme, I should like to quote another remark made later in the debate on the same occasion by the Minister of Defence for the Army, who talked about the primary role. He went on to say:If there were landings in this country, we should not tell them to go home to bed. We should tell them to do something to assist in repelling the landing. But this is not one of their primary roles."—(Col 354.)Of course it is not their primary role. To my mind, it is an additional role, helping the Regular Army to compete, perhaps not with landings, but with sabotage and other kinds of emergencies which may well arise in the future; and all this at no more cost than is envisaged inside this present transaction, yet with a great deal more appeal and realism.
§ 5.39 p.m.
§ LORD LEATHERLAND
My Lords, may I say what a great pleasure and privilege it was to me, as a white-haired old company sergeant-major from the First World War, to listen to that constructive and excellent speech by a modern-minded young colonel of the Army of to-day. The noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, bears an honoured military name. He is obviously carrying on the family tradition, and I am quite sure that I express the views of all your Lordships when I say that no debate on military affairs in this House in the future will be quite complete without him. As I gaze around your Lordships' House I suppose I should say, in military terms, that quite a number of noble Lords are absent from parade. I do not know whether it is because of the rival attraction of the World Cup or whether they are down in the City propping up sterling, or whether they merely saw my name on the duty roster which is posted up outside the Chamber. But I think there is a more reasonable explanation than any of these. It is this: that most noble Lords are willing to see this Bill go forward on to the Statute Book.
I support it in the hope that the new Territorials will become so popular that their recruitment list will be oversubscribed, and that in a few years' time, when the reorganisation has got into its stride and when perhaps the economic situation is a little brighter, the Minister may be able to expand the size of the 499 force. I support it also in the hope that the new force will not be starved of essential equipment, as the old Territorial force so sadly was so far as many of its units were concerned. I support it also because I realise that the picture of world strategy has changed in recent years and that the role of the old Territorial Army is no longer relevant to-day. Reorganisation had to come, just as reorganisations have come in the past. I support it also because whereas six or seven months ago we felt that the bottom had perhaps been knocked out of the Territorial Army, we realise to-day that we are getting a great deal more than was held out to us on that occasion.
I have a natural loyalty for the Territorial Army. I think I told your Lordships once before that I have been in the Territorial association for my county for over twenty years and am a Deputy Lieutenant for the county, and it was that sense of loyalty that prompted me, twelve months ago in your Lordships' House, to suggest that the Territorial associations ought at the very first stage to have been taken into consultation in regard to this measure of reorganisation. I may say there is still a little sense of grievance in the Territorial associations that they were not brought into the picture a little earlier.
It was the same loyalty that prompted me six months ago to express from these Benches my rather serious disappointment with the reorganisation scheme then put forward, but it is for the same reason that a few months ago I expressed my unbounded relief when we had from Mr. Reynolds the intimation that he had, very wisely, reviewed the reorganisation scheme and that he was giving us a guarantee that the Territorial Army would live on. Of course he has not given us everything that we want, but I should like to say this: that since Mr. Reynolds took over at the War Department he has devoted himself very thoroughly (I know this from my conversations with people in the T.A.) to considering how the future of the T.A. could best be assured; and if it is any consolation to him, I will say that wherever I go I find he is held in the highest esteem, not only by the Territorial Army personnel but also by the Regular Army.
500 He has given us the chance; it is now up to us to show that the new scheme can work, and to see that it does work. It is not our duty just to sit and moan, although as old soldiers we are pretty well experienced in that. It is our task to get on with the job. I think in all our social relations, in all our associations and our units, we should be careful not to sell the T.A. short, because morale is very important. I think we must make it clear wherever we can that the T.A. is not dead, but that it lives on. We must do everything we possibly can to raise the force in public esteem. In my own county of Essex we have told every officer and man that there will be scope for his future services in one or other of the reserve forces under the new system of organisation, and I am quite sure that is symbolic of what is happening in most parts of the country.
I think it was agreed by everybody that the various reserve forces really needed to be reorganised, and as far as I can see, categories I and II of the T.A.V.R. are going to make the Regular Army far more effective than it has been in the past. I have a little apprehension about category II. Those are the people who will be called up in times of acute international crisis. I have a little fear that some factories may be denuded of valuable operatives and some key workers from construction jobs may be taken away. But the governing words in that particular clause of the Bill are "acute international crisis", and it is made clear that these A.V.R. II men will not be called up until all the prior reserves have been exhausted. So I think that if we carry on a fairly hectic public relations campaign among employers and trade unions we may be able to satisfy them that the position does not, perhaps, carry so much difficulty as might be apparent at first sight.
I must say one thing. I hope employers really take the view that it is not sufficient to guarantee a man his civilian job back when he returns from his corps; he should also have a guarantee against being passed over for civilian promotion, because that is a serious consideration as far as many people are concerned.
In regard to category III, I am glad the Minister has recognised the need for a Home Defence force. Many of us emphasized, when we had our previous debate, 501 how contrary it was to all military strategy to leave the home base unprotected. I think it is very good indeed that these men will be armed like soldiers and that they will look like soldiers and will act like soldiers in their drills and training. I think it is very good indeed that they are to keep their regimental titles and cap badges, because an enormous amount of esprit de corps revolves around such things. I should like to see category III expanded in due course, if the number of recruits coming forward is enough to justify it, and I certainly should like to see more women preserved in the T.A. of the future. We can say what we like about women; we can say that in the T.A. they do very good clerical and domestic chores. But they also do wonderful work in signals and many of the technical branches of the corps. And if the young men of to-day are anything like the young men of my day, I am quite sure that an adequate sprinkling of women in a unit would be a valuable aid to recruiting.
This new force will not be a success if it is starved of equipment, and I do not think we are getting enough Land Rovers for these units. I do not like the idea of the old No. 4 rifle, and I do not like the idea of some of the wireless telegraphy equipment which is now being used in these units. I have been told that some of it is stamped with Russian symbols. It was equipment which we made and sent round to Murmansk during the war and then brought back afterwards. So I sincerely hope that in these days, when so many men are technically minded in their own civilian occuaptions, we can give them equipment which will arouse a response in that technical frame of mind with which they are blessed. We must give the boys something to play with, otherwise there will be boredom and apathy and we shall have men drifting away and not troubling to re-engage.
If the Home Defence force had formed a part of the Government's original scheme for reorganisation, if the Territorial associations had been consulted earlier, I think we might have seen a more welcome kind of structure emerging in the negotiations. We could have had closer integration of the category II and category III units, with the category II men growing out of the category III 502 units. I think we could have had a general all-purpose unit. We could have had a sub-unit of category II men. They would have been trained up to Regular Army standard. But I think the sight of these category IImen training up to this advanced standard with their advanced weapons might have tempted quite a number of the category III men to move up into this higher grade; and that is just what the Army wants.
When the category II man is finished now, or if he is promoted in his civil employment, or if he is down-graded from being a bachelor into a mere husband, he could more easily step down from category II to category III if we had this all-purpose kind of unit, and he could soldier on. But as it is, the category III force is often divided, not only organisationally but geographically, from the category II force; and when the man finishes his term of service in category II he may have to finish his soldiering altogether. That would be a pity, because so many of these men have their hearts in it.
If I mention Essex now it is not for the purpose of any special pleading but merely so that we may visualise an example of a case as it exists, and this probably exists in many other counties as well. If we ignore the logistic units and concentrate on the straightforward soldiering units, we have only one category II unit in the county and that is at Chelmsford, and we have only one category III unit in the county and that is at Ilford. True, that has some subunits, but none anywhere near Chelmsford. Therefore, if a Chelmsford man wants to join it must be in category II, and perhaps it is very inconvenient for him to do so for family reasons. But if he does join category II and then wants to keep on in category III after his liability has ended, there is nowhere near him where he can join up with category III units.
Similarly, if a man from Ilford again wants to join a non-logistic unit he has to join a category III unit. He has no chance of joining a category II unit, no matter how adventurous or how ambitious he might be to do so. I think it would have been better if we could have had one general service unit based on Chelmsford and Ilford, with a basic category III commitment, and in that we could form 503 a category II company where we should have special week-end training with the Regular forces for the men volunteering for Regular reinforcement duty. There could in such circumstances have been quite a smooth two-way flow between the two categories, to the benefit, I think, of both of them. But of course it is too late now to turn back to square one and start all over again, so I think we have to "count our blessings".
We are going to get 80 or more extra Territorial centres. We are going to save a great many of the "teeth" units. We are going to save a great deal of the Territorial Army spirit. We are going to have the category II men trained well up to Regular Army standards. We are going to have them called out as units and not as individuals who might be strangers to each other. I am hoping that even category III will get better equipment than under the old system of organisation, and perhaps better than we have had vouchsafed to us to-day. I think it is a very good thing indeed that the old titles are being continued.
There is one thing I like about this scheme and it is this: it enables us to forget all about conscription. It enables us to make do with a smaller standing Regular Army than might otherwise be necessary, and for these reasons alone I shall give it my support. We have to wait a little time to see how the men respond. I can say what the position is in my county of Essex. The men are very keen indeed to volunteer for category II, the Regular reinforcement units. They are keen to do it for the simple reason that they like soldiering. But we have not yet found the same response so far as category III is concerned. That may probably be because the idea got around that the Territorials were going to be abolished, and that is another reason why I think we should have some vigorous publicity, to make it quite clear beyond any doubt that the Territorials are not to die; they are merely to be born again. If we spread that idea we may find that there are groups of old pals in nearly every unit, and when one of those gives a lead the rest will be eager to follow. I feel that immediately this measure gets on to the Statute Book there should be a massive public relations campaign, because delay and uncertainty could very well be dangerous.
504 I do not want to speak about the Army Cadet Force because that was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Thurlow. I know that at present the T.A. units act very much in the role of foster parents to them, and if some of these T.A. units are to disappear it may very well be that some of the cadet units will disappear with them. I know of the elaborate scheme of reorganisation whereby regional associations and Regular Army training experts and the Army Cadet Force Association will undertake the training of the young men in military affairs and citizenship. I know all about that, but there is one thing about which I am very doubtful. Their association is to be on a regional basis. I should like to see some form of county body continued. It could perhaps be a subcommittee of the regional association, because we do so much depend upon the personal contacts which eminent members of the association can have with the large-scale employers in the county. And for the very same reason I should like to see the parent Territorial Association, when it disappears on its county basis and becomes a regional association, being reinforced with some kind of county subcommittee which might preserve and continue these very useful contacts which the old associations have had over so many years.
Of course, if I wanted to join the awkward squad I could probably find some imperfections in this Bill. In this world, anyhow, perfection is very hard to obtain. There are very few perfect institutions; there are very few perfect people, except of course your Lordships. But I think the removal of uncertainty is just as important as the striving after perfection, and rather than delay this Bill and prolong the uncertainty I should like to see it passed, even with its imperfections and blemishes, so that everybody knows where he stands. I will mention a few of these imperfections, and it may very well be that some of them coincide with the examples given by the noble Lord, Lord Thurlow. There has been no collaboration between us, and it may perhaps add weight to the mention of these imperfections inasmuch as some of them have come independently from one side of this House and some of them are coming equally independently from the other side. In the first place, I do 505 not like the idea that category III is being recruited only up to 80 per cent. of establishment. That probably means that in some districts we shall have to turn away men who are willing to serve, and I think that would be a very great pity. Why not make the establishment 100 per cent. and hope for the best? The second point is that, if category II and category Ill cannot be merged for organisational and training purposes, can they please be allowed to use the same drill halls, so that they can participate in the comradeship and spirit of emulation which would naturally be generated?
The third point is that, like Lord Thurlow, I want to see more Land Rovers per unit. I want to see more modern wireless telegraphy; and I want to see the self-loading rifle, instead of the old No. 4. I understand that these small units are to be commanded by majors. I hope that we shall have announced as quickly as possible the names of those particular majors and the units to which they are to be posted. Quite a number of men may be hanging back until they know the name of their new commanding officer, in case he happens to be someone with an unpopular reputation—and of course, there are officers with unpopular reputations.
Another matter to which I think we must draw attention is this question of putting employers out of their misery. We have had examples of employers who have been most unco-operative. On the other hand, there have been a large number who have thrown themselves wholeheartedly into this recruiting task. But I think it is only fair to an employer that he should know to what extent his employees are committed to a liability for service. I should like to see the commanding officer of a unit required, immediately on a man's enrolment, to notify the employer of that enrolment and of the employee's liability for service. But do not want it to be done until after the man has actually enrolled: I do not want the employer to be in a position in which he can exercise a power of veto. There is another thing which I think may help. We should have a clear statement from my noble friend Lord Shackleton that the men in categories II and III will not be called out to take any action in peace-time strikes or riots.
506 One further point, albeit a trifling one: I should like us to simplify the nomenclatures of these various types of reserve. They are rather confusing. We have Regular Reserves A and B; we have an Army Emergency Reserve, an Army General Reserve, a long-term Reserve, a Pensioners' Reserve, a Special A.V.R. Reserve, a T. and A.V.R. I, IIA, IIB, III; and I believe that, lurking in the background somewhere, is a T. and A.V.R. IV, though I am not quite sure about that. This is all rather confusing to people who move outside military circles. If we could form up all these Reserves and number them off from the left as Reserve I, Reserve II, Reserve III, and so on, it might also help and would give those concerned some idea of the order of priority for call-up.
There is another little effort at simplicity which could possibly be made. If your Lordships would turn to Clause 6(6)(a), you will see that it says the Secretary of State may make provisionfor securing that persons of such descriptions as may be prescribed who but for the regulations would be persons to whom this section applies shall not be such persons.I am quite sure that if I were a well-known statesman of this generation and I were to get out my box of matches and try to work that out on the table, I could do it. But I wish that the clause could be reduced to more simple language. I hope that the Minister will keep all these points in mind and, probably by some administrative action at some time in the future, help to meet them.
I have one final request. I believe that bands have played a most important part in maintaining morale in Territorial units. I understand that the Minister, Mr. Reynolds, is quite sympathetic towards their retention. I should like to keep them, even if we have to invent some supernumary role for them. But I should also like to keep them in their native districts, and not have them moved two or three counties away to the new regimental headquarters which are, in some cases, going to be established. I apologise for mentioning a small matter like this, but many people like bands; and many soldiers also like bands. I must confess that I myself like bands. Perhaps that is not surprising, because my father was a bandmaster, and at the age of twelve, I was a pretty good player on the euphonium. 507 There is nothing better for the troops than to be able to march down the high street, with "sounding brass and tinkling cymbals," blaring out "Colonel Bogey" with full vocal accompaniment. On that reminiscent, happy note I commend the Bill to the House.
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ULLSWATER
My Lords, it is with great diffidence that I rise to speak in your Lordships' House. Had I not been here on previous occasions and heard how good your Lordships are to those making a maiden speech, I should be much more frightened; but I would ask the indulgence of the House on this occasion, too. As my noble friend Lord Thurlow has said, I am a serving junior officer in the Yeomanry Territorial Army Unit, and my reason for coming here to-day is to put forward the views of my troop and young brother officers on the reorganisation of the Territorial Army.
I do not think it would be wrong to say that we felt that reorganisation was needed. In so far as our clothing and our pay were concerned, the Territorial Army was becoming increasingly outmoded and outdated. What we did not expect was virtually the abandonment of the Yeomanry in the country, with all its traditions and history through the years. Only to leave one armoured car regiment, split four ways, with squadrons widely dispersed by land and sea, appears to me to be rather a halfhearted attempt to form an up-to-date military fighting force, ready and anxious to undertake its duties whatever they may be.
The reaction to these proposals from the men in my unit was one of complete amazement and disbelief. This was replaced by a form of frustration, for here was the best form of volunteer spirit—men keen to serve in a force with a purpose. Even now they are nagged by uncertainty, and their future is none too bright. I have not come to attempt to change anything at this late stage, but as it falls to our Regiment to provide a squadron for this new Yeomanry Regiment, we are most anxious to see that it works, and we will to the best of our ability.
Almost 100 per cent. of those eligible to sign on have done so, because 508 A.V.R.II continues everything that we have known, liked and enjoyed. We are equipped up to the standard of a Regular regiment and in a few days' time a squadron leaves for Germany, to take its place beside and go on exercise with our affiliated regiment. It is the knowledge that a Territorial can do what the Regular Army can do that makes our purpose as volunteers so much more worth while. I did not do National Service and in my two years of commanding a troop in the Yeomanry only two of my men had any previous military experience. So great has been the response to sign on with the A.V.R.II squadron that a large number of men are going to be disappointed. It will be their task, and in my humble opinion a difficult one, to form a company of the Home Service Force based in our county.
It is essential to maintain close links between the A.V.R.II and III. Because of the great difference in their equipment and training it will be extremely difficult to do. But if there could be some way of integrating the system of command and promotion, I am sure that the two will thrive together instead of struggling along apart. I am sure that there are some military difficulties preventing this, but for the sake of both units, for recruitment and efficiency through rivalry, I would make sure that they continued to exist together. I notice now that T.A.V.R.III is going to be called the Home Service Force. It gave my Regiment the impression that it was thought up extremely rapidly as a political sop to silence the Opposition—most likely by somebody in the B.B.C. In fact, I wonder he did not call it the Light Programme.
What am I to say to make my men join it? I cannot make a .303 rifle very glamorous, and that is about all the equipment they will have. I cannot tell them of a bounty because there is none. And I cannot tell them that the pay with trade structure that they enjoy at the moment will continue, because it will not. I wonder whether any of your Lordships saw the large advertisement in The Times only a day or so ago on behalf of the Army, saying, "If you think the infantry looks like this"—there was a picture showing a row of soldiers on their feet—"Get with it" (or some such words) and there was another picture of the modern infantry and A.P.C.s with all 509 their expensive equipment. It seems such a snub that the infantry-type Home Service Force should be absolutely identical to that first picture, with no vehicles and no equipment. Where is the incentive to make voluntary part-time soldiers, who get satisfaction out of fulfilling a task which is considered by most of us as being of great value and of national importance, join this "Home Guard" armed with pitchforks? What I fear is that it will attract the badly-paid men who might come along only for the pay, for drills and camps, and who need do little for it—the "old soldier" in fact.
Surely what we want is the young men from the towns and the countryside who, if they join the Home Service Force, might then have the opportunity of graduating to A.V.R. II. It would then provide a wide basis for recruitment, a training ground for N.C.O.s and an organised military unit in which people, notwithstanding age or business commitments, could play an active and useful part. I would urge Her Majesty's Government to reconsider most carefully the urgent need for positive administrative links between the two tiers. What surprises me most is that, at a time when new proposals have been set out to cut the Regular Army quite drastically, people will not see the obvious need for a strong, active and co-ordinated Reserve.
§ 6.14 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT BRIDGEMAN
My Lords, it is always a pleasant task to congratulate the maker of a maiden speech in this House, and it is a particularly welcome task to-day when we have heard two such maiden speeches from two serving officers, a Guardsman and a Yeoman. Those two speeches, I think, went right home to all of us who heard them: they were first-hand evidence from people who know the problems on the spot, and I hope that they will be carefully borne in mind by everybody concerned. I hope we shall often hear both noble Lords again in this House. I cannot help saying that I think that the rank of second lieutenant is too low a rank for my noble friend behind me.
Before I come to the main part of the Bill, I should like to give a wholehearted welcome to Clause 20, which deals with 510 Deputy Lieutenants. I do so not only because, as one of Her Majesty's Lieutenants, I know how valuable it will be, but also because this problem goes back to 1944, at the end of the Home Guard days, when I was supposed to be looking after the Home Guard and was asked several times by the Lieutenants of those days if something could be done to make it easier to give commissions as Deputy Lieutenants to those people who were in reserved occupations and who were doing a first-class job in the Home Guard, the Observer Corps and so on. I was told then that there would not be Parliamentary time for such a step, and that it was the wrong moment.
Most of the points in this Bill have been fully covered by my noble friend Lord Thurlow, whom I was very glad to hear speaking from the Front Bench. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, that there has been a broad consensus of opinion about this Bill, which fairly implements the agreement reached at the end of last of year and early this year. And on this point, I think, we ought to bear in mind what a great part the Council of Territorial Army Associations, the noble Duke, the Duke of Norfolk, and my noble friend Lord Clydesmuir played in reaching agreement after such a very bad start. Even so, all we have done is to get these new arrangements off the drawing-board: we have done no more than that, because this Bill is only the blueprint of the organisation we hope to set up.
I agree with those noble Lords who say that we should waste little time in seeing this Bill through the House, but it is only when this Bill has gone through the House that the real work will begin. The Government have then to suckle their child; they have to wean the new Territorial Army, and that will take a great deal of work and much good will on all sides. This is a matter for the personal attention of Ministers, to see that the intentions in this Bill are properly carried out, and that those who are trying to rebuild the Territorial Army in its various categories are properly supported and protected from the pettinesses and frustrations from which the T.A. has suffered in the past.
So far, I think, things have gone well. I agree with my noble friend Lord Thurlow and others who have said that 511 the response to the tentative inquiries in camp were good. Therefore, if other things go right, I have little doubt that we shall get the number of men we want. But then, having got them, we come to various other problems. The plans for A.V.R. I and II look all right on paper, but they will work out in practice only if they turn out to be statistically right—in other words, if they produce enough reinforcements to fill the ranks of the units whose ranks have to be filled. At this stage, nobody can say whether they will or not, and therefore I would not agree with the noble Lord, Lord Leather-land, when he says that we can say goodbye to National Service. I believe that we cannot say goodbye to the possibility of National Service until we know that the plans for A.V.R. I and II do, in practice and statistically, fill the need for reinforcements. At first sight, the equipment for A.V.R. I and II looks to be right, if indeed it finally turns up; and it is early days to say. In my experience, it is easy to have announcements made in Parliament, but then things happen so that the equipment does not turn up. That is why I stress the personal responsibility of Ministers to see this plan through.
There are any number of trivial points though I am not going to mention themat this late hour. For instance, there are all the questions concerned with regimental connections. The happy solution of such problems will go a long way, as I think Lord Leather land said, towards the happiness of the troops and their willingness to join the Army Volunteer Reserve and to stay in when they have joined. I am also glad to see the much more realistic provisions in the Bill about calling out by Proclamation, because, as I think has been said somewhere else, the present plans go back to the Bill of Rights of 1689, when it was thought—rightly then, no doubt, but perhaps wrongly now—that you could make a clear-cut division between peace and war. Without these provisions a great deal of this Bill would not have served its purpose.
I now want to come back for a little longer to A.V.R. III. A.V.R. III has been put down in the Bill for home service only, but history does not support that conception. At the end of the First War, the Territorial Army was reconstituted on 512 the basis that it would be called for home service only. A pledge was given to that effect, and it was also said that it would not be used for reinforcing outside their regiments. As the Second World War drew near those assurances had to be rubbed out. I think myself that history will repeat itself, and that one of these days it will be found that A.V.R. III will need to have a full liability. So I would like to go on record over that.
But I think that the real difficulty in recruiting for A.V.R. III will come if the present very unclear situation about the operational role of A.V.R. III is not cleared up, and soon. I have taken a little trouble to try to find out what is going on, and have had great difficulty in seeing through the fog of war, because a war is going on between the Ministry of Defence and the Home Office. What is happening, I think, is that a certain number of departmental discussions—which all seem to be rather sordid—are going on between the Ministry of Defence, the Home Office and the local authority associations. They may be necessary, though I fancy that with a little determination they could be put an end to quickly. But they are, in fact, having the effect of preventing a clear statement being given as to the operational role, and that, again, to my mind, is somewhat obscured by the stress on employment with the police. As will be known by anybody who remembers what happened to the Home Guard in the war—unfortunately, owing to administrative non-senses the Home Guard's record in the war has never been written up, and I suppose it is too late now—the Home Guard, which for this purpose one can regard as A.V.R. III, could not say in advance whether it was required to assist the police, the firemen, traffic control, rescue or anything else you like. That is why I think the police conception is too narrow a one, and you will never get this right until there is a clear operational directive as to what A.V.R. III is wanted to do. Once again, you will not get that directive right until it is perfectly clear what the A.V.R. III are expected to do with the arms, ancient and modern, which they have. To go on from that, again, you will not get that right until you stop regarding "sabotage" as a naughty word, and treat it as a realistic threat to be guarded against by other armed 513 people. I want to put those ideas into the minds of noble Lords opposite.
I am not talking without any knowledge at all of this subject, even though my ideas which come mostly from the Home Guard are beginning to get rather out of date. These problems do not change. So I make as strong an appeal as I can to noble Lords opposite to clear up these departmental dog-fights between the Ministry of Defence, the Home Office and the local authorities, and let A.V.R.III have a clear operational role given them in time for the recruiting campaign, which ought to begin some time this autumn or, at the latest, after the turn of the year. I think those are the chief points which I wished to make at this late hour to-night. As I said, I am certain that so far as it goes this Bill is on the right lines, but the Bill is only the start. It is only the plan coming off the drawing board. We must now between us build the machine, see that it works and get down to details—even such details as ensuring that, if you provide A.V.R.III with wireless sets and expect them to work with the police, both sets will work on the same net.
§ 6.26 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF COURTOWN
My Lords, a lot has been said to-night by noble Lords on both sides of the House, and almost nothing with which I am in disagreement. I do not intend to repeat either what has been said in this debate or what I have said on this subject on several previous occasions during the last twelve months. I have only three or four points which I will make as quickly as I can.
The first point is that everyone should be clear about the change involved by the substitution of a call out by Queen's Order for a call out by Proclamation. Clause 5 says:If it appears to Her Majesty that national danger is imminent or that a great emergency has arisen She may…by order signified under the hand of the Secretary of State, authorise the calling out of any reserve force for permanent service in any part of the world.Those of us who were in the Territorial Army at the time of previous crises of various sorts will know that it has often been rumoured that the Territorial Army was about to be called out. The time of the Berlin airlift was one occasion, 514 Korea was another, and Suez was a third. There was also the time in 1938 when a number of anti-aircraft units were in fact called out. Those were times which would clearly have warranted the calling out of the Reserve Army under Clause 5 of this Bill, but equally it appears to me that they may have been the occasion for a call out by Proclamation.
The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, said that call out by Proclamation involved a decision by the Queen in Council, and he rather indicated that the object of this change was to enable the call out to be made under the hand of the Secretary of State with the acceleration in time which that involved. I think we should all be grateful if the noble Lord would make it clear whether that is the sole difference, because I think it is most important to the volunteer and to the employer that they should be quite clear under what conditions volunteers are going to be called out.
In the past the Reserve Forces could not have existed without the co-operation of the employer. He needs to have a clear idea of the circumstances in which his employees will be called out. Mention was made this afternoon of a pamphlet—which I myself have not seen—which has been sent round to employers. I do not know whether that makes this point clear. But if it does not, I urge the noble Lord to make clear to employers what are the obligations of their employees if and when they join the Reserve Army. Rumours have already been going around that certain employers who provided support in the past for their employees to join the Territorial Army will not provide the same facilities for those who want to join the A.V.R. I pursued one such rumour, and found it to be unwarranted; but employers will clearly review their policy on the passing of this Bill, and it is necessary to make this point quite clear to them.
The second point I should like to make goes somewhat further than several other points made to-day, and it is to emphasise the need for flexibility in the design and operation of the Reserve Forces. Since the war the Territorial Army has had a reorganisation roughly once every five years, and no doubt requirements will change in the future just as they have in the past. What we need to do is to maintain a base from which 515 the Reserve Forces can be shaped to meet the requirements of the time. It is much easier to destroy than to restart, and in the past there have been failures in trying to recruit new types of Reserve Forces from scratch. Flexibility will be promoted if these links between the A.V.R.II and the A.V.R.III can be encouraged; and I was glad to hear the noble Lord say this afternoon that the transfer of people from one to the other when the necessity arises will be encouraged. As has been mentioned by other noble Lords, it is necessary to make it clear that A.V.R.III is going to do a good job, and if these links are kept clear and are improved, then that will become much more obvious.
I should like to add my voice to the plea made by the noble Lord, Lord Leather land, for bands. He spoke of the value of a band to a unit. I should like to add to that the effect of a band in providing a link between the Army and the civilian population as a whole. Bands not only provide a focal point for a Reserve unit: they are often the sole means of reminding the public at large that these units exist—and in many parts of the country T.A. bands are the sole means by which the Services can make an impact on the population as a whole. The cost of bands is small as compared with their effect, both on recruiting and on keeping the Army in general in front of the public eye.
Finally, my Lords, those of us who have been concerned with the Reserve Forces in the past may not agree with everything that is being done in this present reorganisation, but I am sure I speak for all of them when I say that we will co-operate in making the new Reserve Forces work and in making them a real power for good in the country as a whole.
§ 6.33 p.m.
§ EARL FORTESCUE
My Lords, I am going to be brief, and I am going to confine my remarks to A.V.R. III. Nearly everything I wanted to say has already been said, very largely by the noble Lord, Lord Thurlow, and by the noble Lord, Lord Leather land, but there are one or two further points I want to make. As an old Yeomanry officer, I feel very strongly that the A.V.R. III, as at present constituted, 516 has been created by the Government in the hope that it will die at birth. I cannot imagine a worse start being given to any unit than to tell them that they are going to be glorified policemen, or assistant policemen. They must be made to think that they are soldiers and that they have got to fight—and I can see many circumstances in which they would have to fight if they were there.
Being mean over equipment is, I think, a very short-sighted policy. There is nothing that stimulates recruiting more than knowing that you have got something with which to kill the other man, and to confine your armament to rifles only—and obsolete rifles, at that—is, I cannot help but think, the greatest mistake. The position is similar with regard to their transport. Knowing that they are going to have inefficient transport (which is more or less inevitable if they have to requisition it) is enough to discourage anybody; and they cannot co-operate even with the police unless they have decent wireless sets which can be worked from their vehicles. It is a very bad start indeed for a unit that they should have to try to build along these lines. I emphasise what somebody else has already said: they must be enabled torealise that they are soldiers and that they are going to be in a position to kill the other man.
When we last debated this subject the noble and gallant Field Marshal, Lord Montgomery of Alamein, recalled something which some pundit had said: that if you contemplate only two alternatives, the alternative which crops up is always a third which you had not thought of. It has been taken as axiomatic that there is never going to be a need for any ground forces in this country. Circumstances change very quickly, however, and it looks as if A.V.R. III will quite likely be the only troops on the ground. If that is so, surely they have to be mobile; they have got to be able to hit; and surely it would be right to keep on the old traditions by having a proportion of them with armoured cars and guns. If some of the units were equipped with armoured cars and gunners, that would not prevent their co-operating with the police if the police wanted co-operation. I therefore think that this is a point which the Government should consider.
517 Another point is that I should very much like to hear from the Government that the names, the badges, the regimental property and the regimental funds will remain intact with the sub-units which are going to be set up. Also, there is in the Bill considerable mention of the Naval Volunteer Reserve, but we have not heard anything about that this afternoon. I know nothing whatever about that, and I am not going to ask anything about it, but if there were any ex-naval officers here I feel sure they would be after it.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I am sorry, but I did not quite take the noble Earl's last point. I should be very glad to answer it later, but I did not quite follow what he was saying about the R.N.V.R.
§ EARL FORTESCUE
The R.N.V.R. are mentioned freely in the Bill, but no mention has been made of them in the debate, and I feel sure that a large proportion of the public would like to know something about them.
§ 6.37 p.m.
§ LORD NEWALL
My Lords, at this late hour I have only a few things to say, and they will take only a short time, I hope, because, as in the case of the noble Earl who has just spoken, most of the things I had to say have already been said, and said much better than I could have said them myself. I agree wholeheartedly with all those noble Lords who have spoken about A.V.R.III and have said that the lack of equipment and facilities, mainly transport, is going to hamper anybody who belongs to this part of the Reserve Force. I have heard a very vague rumour, about which the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, may be able to give a hint, that in the future there might be some increase in the number of seven Land Rovers. I hope that possibly the noble Lord might be able to give us a hint on that subject. I will not repeat anything, but I do want wholeheartedly to agree with what has been said about the lack of facilities for A.V.R.III.
There is one point I should like to draw to the notice of the noble Lord opposite with regard to this eight-day camp. It is a very short camp, and I believe that at the moment it is going to be from Saturday to Saturday. I 518 would recommend that it might be better, if it could possibly be arranged, to have it from Wednesday to Wednesday. This would enable the unit to have some sort of parade on the Sunday, as has normally happened in the past; it would enable the old comrades to come down; and it would also enable the members of the unit to see themselves as soldiers rather than as policemen in khaki.
I would ask that that question be given some small consideration, because I do not think it will make any difference to the employers at all. The volunteers will be away the same number of days. I think that what the old comrades have done in the past should be noticed; and, as they like going down, at their own expense, they should be given this opportunity. I would therefore finish by again stating wholeheartedly my support of all noble Lords who have been complaining about the lack of facilities for A.V.R.III.
§ 6.40 p.m.
My Lords, we have had a number of very distinguished contributions this evening, not least from my noble friend Lord Thurlow who, speaking for the very first time from this Front Bench, made an exceptionally well-informed, impartial and, to my ears, very telling speech. We have also had two distinguished contributions from the maiden speakers, both of whom bear particularly distinguished names. We welcome the noble Viscount, Lord Ullswater: and his is a name of some ill-omen for me, because I remember, a year or so ago, on the other Bench, "biting the dust" during a discussion in your Lordships' House over that little pool which bears his name. I am certain, having heard the bite in his remarks, that other speakers in your Lordships' House in the future will "bite the dust" when they cross swords with him. I should like, too, to say how much I welcomed the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, for whose father I had the very greatest admiration. We have been fortunate to have these two informed witnesses from the front, as it were; and I know that we shall all be glad to hear them speak again.
Like my noble friend Lord Thurlow, I would thank the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, for overwhelming me with 519 an avalanche of paper. More seriously, I welcomed this initiative, which I think is valuable. I only hope that he will extend it, so that at the Committee stage he will be kind enough to furnish us with his unexpurgated version of the merits of the clauses, so that we may have advance notice of the unreasonable arguments with which the noble Lord will be furnished to reply to the reasonable arguments that we shall advance. I am sure he will oblige us in this respect.
Yes, my Lords, a completely free exchange.
Listening to this temperate, informed debate I have had the impression that there is a pretty wide measure of agreement in this House on all sides. I think we all agree on the need for a new look at our reserve forces: we on this side certainly do. We agree on the tremendous contribution played by the Territorial Army in the past. We all wish its successor, or successors, very well, and we wish the recruiting drive which is on at present very well, too. May I say that I personally—especially having heard what has just been said—feel that we should wish to mark the official demise of the R.N.V.R. All of us with wartime experience have a proud and fond memory of the "Wavy Navy". As an occasional and unwilling sea borne landlubber, I have had personal experience of the expertise of the R.N.V.R. Although its functions are going forward in the Naval Reserve, I am sure that we should mark its demise with affection and respect.
I think, too, that we shall all agree that this issue is, and should remain, so far as possible, a non-Party issue. This is certainly the line which this House has consistently taken in debating it. But this does not mean, and should not mean, that we should pull our punches. Where-ever we have doubts we should express them. Some doubts have been expressed from all quarters in this House on certain aspects, not so much of the Bill as of what lies behind it. There was the initial approach, though I will not dwell on those birth pangs, as they have been 520 termed. We all agree that this Bill embodies a better baby.
Doubt has been expressed, which I share, about the undue rigidity of the Government's approach. This point was very clearly made by my noble friend Lord Thurlow, when he pointed out that the new force, especially A.V.R. I and A.V.R. II, is tailored, and tailored very economically indeed, to the strategic possibilities as the Government see them at present. But we all now agree that these possibilities can change. Can we really predict the reinforcement commitments for the Rhine Army in a few years' time? Do we know what commitments elsewhere, outside Europe, there are going to be then?
The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, spoke of the nature of modern war—I think that was the expression he used. He implied that in the future conventional war, non-nuclear war, was not likely to make a very heavy drain on manpower, and therefore on reserve resources. That was his argument, if I understood him aright. All I would say is that certain forms of modern warfare—and I am thinking of anti-subversion, anti-guerrilla activity, for that type of warfare is very much an aspect of modern warfare—make very heavy demands on manpower and, therefore, on reserve resources. It is very manpower-intensive.
So some of us are worried that the Government have left themselves so little margin, so little insurance against the unforeseen. I believe that this becomes of more importance if there are likely to be (and I have heard rumours that there may be) cuts in the Regular Army. If this is true, it will surely lay a heavier strain on the reserve forces. Perhaps the noble Lord will be able to say something about this. Perhaps there has been some announcement to-day. Anything he can say in this respect will be welcomed by me.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I am very interested in what the noble Earl is saying. I find it very difficult to place it precisely within the context of the reserves we are proposing. What does he want to do? Does he want to expand the special reserves or to expand the Volunteers, the T.A.V.R.II, or is he suggesting that this is a role that the Territorial force can take over?
My Lords, I do not wish to be too specific, as I have not the specific information that the noble Lord has; but, generally speaking, my belief is that they have tailored these forces very economically indeed; perhaps too economically. I myself believe that might be, if it could be, larger; but what I believe above all is that there should be a much closer umbilical link between A.V.R.II and A.V.R.III. That would give greater flexibility and a greater margin of reinsurance against possible miscalculations. In any event, there is another doubt, which I share, and which was expressed very forcibly by the noble Lord, Lord Bourne: that although aid for the civil power is now clearly written into the terms of reference for A.V.R.III, support for the Regular Army is not. Here all I would say is that I find myself in full agreement with the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Bourne; and I think that most speakers in this House to-day were in the same position.
Finally, we are very worried (and I have just made this point in part answer to the intervention of the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton) that there is this divorce, this sundering, of the two forces: A.V.R. I and II on one side, and A.V.R. III, on the other. Here I very much agree with what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Leather land. I believe that if the cart had not been put before the horse and if the two commitments had been defined before the structure had been drawn up, there would possibly not have been this divorce. It is a divorce which I deplore, and if anything can be done to bring the two parties together, we shall welcome it very much.
Most of the discussion this evening has, however, concentrated on A.V.R. III, "The Force for Home Defence", as it is now, rather quaintly, labelled, but the "New Territorials", as I understand they will be called. I feel that this is right. I am very much inclined to doubt, but for our debate last November—I will grant the Government's response to that debate—whether this nascent force would now be aborning. But I wonder, and a number of noble Lords have wondered, whether the Government have yet moved far enough in respect of this force; whether they have really thought through the role, the organisation and equipment 522 of this force; and, above all, whether they are as determined as the officers and men on the ground to make a real go of it. Very substantial doubts on this score have been expressed in our debate this afternoon. While, of course, all speakers—and I, too—welcome the advance which the Government have made, there have been doubts about the role, and I should welcome anything further which the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, can say on this: any further light which he can shed on what is, to me, rather an unclear, murky area.
There is the so-called primary role: support for the police and the civil authority. That we have all urged in the past, or most of us have, and that is now accepted. But, my Lords, what about the other roles? The Government talk of a primary role. What do they see as the secondary roles? We believe that there should be at least two, possibly three. First, in a period of tension, support for the Regular Forces and the civil power in dealing with sabotage and possible subversion, and guarding V.P.s and so on. Secondly, in the event of war, support for the Regular Army in dealing with possible invaders who might very well be airborne and who might very well be in quite small numbers. Possibly, thirdly, in the event of continuing war, providing a framework for expansion.
Now, in another place, the Minister of Defence for the Army has intimated that he accepts, at least in part—the Government accept at least in part—that the second of those roles, the anti-invasion role, is valid. But can the noble Lord confirm that this is so; that they accept this role at least as a secondary role; and, if they accept that role as valid, that it would be logical to accept the first role also as valid? My Lords, so much for the role (although parenthetically I should also be grateful to hear anything which the noble Lord can say on a point which bears on that—these consultations with local authorities which are, we understand, going on, or, should I say, "dragging on"?). I believe it is very important for all concerned that this question of the role or roles for the Home Defence Force should be clarified as soon as possible. Nothing is worse for morale—this point has been made time and again this evening—than a lack of clarity and a lack of definition of the role in 523 any force. I must confess that at this moment I am not clear as to what these secondary roles, if any, may be, in the Government's view. So I should like to join my noble friend Lord Bridge man in asking for a very clear statement from the Government; and if it is couched in the language which I hope the noble Lord will be able to use in reply, I am sure that this would be very helpful.
The other doubts about this force which have been ventilated this afternoon have covered a pretty wide spectrum. There has been disquiet about the lack of a really close connection between the two forces. I have said something on that aspect and I will not say any more. To my mind there is a considerable lack of clarity about the command arrangements for this force, especially in the Civil Defence role. Above all, there are doubts which have been expressed about whether we are really going the right way about forming the four main components which constitute a force of this nature: they are, sufficient disciplined men, good communications, real mobility and a reasonable level of modern equipment. Of course, there is no doubt about the discipline, but there is about the men. I share entirely the view of my noble and gallant friend, Lord Thurlow, which was echoed by the noble Lord, Lord Leather-land, that to restrict this force initially to an 80 per cent, recruitment level is real folly. I find it anachronous that they are not being able to recruit doctors.
Regarding communications, I can only echo what other noble Lords have said: that at least in the Civil Defence role, as indeed in these other possible roles, adequate and good communications are essential. It is my understanding that a scheme has now been worked out, bearing in mind the Civil Defence role, which would provide for this. Quite a sizeable number of signal squadrons are trained by the A.V.R.II. All this would be within the ceiling of 23,000, and within that mystical figure of £3 million. From what I have learnt of these proposals they seem admirable—that is, if the men (and they are very rare birds, these signallers) can be found. Can the noble Lord tell us anything about that? Can he indicate whether these men will be found? What will their equipment be, and has this scheme, which seems 524 admirable, received final approval? As for equipment, I will not echo what has been said except to say that I share entirely the views expressed by noble Lords on both sides of the House about the need for better transport and the need for more modern arms.
I find the apparent unwillingness of the Government to allow this force to use the FN. rifle very curious. Surely we have a plethora of rifles and plenty of .300 ammunition. It is my impression, moreover, that a good deal of the .303 ammunition which is issued tends to be dud. It may very well be necessary, I understand, to open a new production line for .303 ammunition to provide the necessary ammunition. If it is true, it really makes the Government's stubbornness on this point a little hard to understand. I hope that the Government will move on this matter and will accept a reasonable level of light arms—say an L.M.G. per platoon; say a sub-machine gun per section, and the FN rifle. I should have thought that scale of equipment would be reasonable, and it really is fairly modest.
A small point, a very minor point, on the Home Defence Force is the title itself. I understand that it is now being called in the Bill "the Force for Home Service". I know that that was welcomed and accepted by the Opposition in another place, I think rather faute de mieux. It seems to me an unduly domestic title, rather smacking of home aids, and I wonder whether we could not call this force "The Territorial Force"—they will be called Territorials, we understand from the Government—or, failing that. "The Home Defence Force." Both those titles seem to me better.
In conclusion on this point, may I say that I have only echoed what I feel is a fairly general disquiet about some aspects of the Government's approach to this new force. I hope very much that they will not be dogmatically determined to keep it apart from A.V.R.II. I hope that they will not wish to limit its role and, above all, that they will not feel constrained not to exceed by 1d. or £1 the very arbitrary ceiling of £3 million.
My closing words will be quite simple. We agree that the Government have come a long way. The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, has now moved the Second Reading of a Bill which, in principle, 525 we accept. We have certain important reservations which I and my noble friend, and others, have expressed. I doubt whether on some of these we shall be able to shift the Government. But accepting the main framework of the Government's proposals, we still believe that there may be ways in which they and I think this Bill can be improved, and I am sure that at later stages we shall all do everything we can to see that the Bill is improved.
I wonder whether, in conclusion, I may look just a little beyond the Bill. I feel that the Government are fashioning under this framework for our reserve forces something which may last for some time. What we all want to do—whether we accept every jot and title of that framework or not; whether we are Members of this House or another place; whether we wield the pen or the sword; and whether or not we have a direct connection with the Territorials—is to make this new Bill for our reserves really work. For my part, I am quite certain, that this is the mood of the men on the ground, from the noble Duke downwards; and I trust that it is also the mood of the Government. I am pretty confident that that is the approach of noble Lords most directly responsible in your Lordships' House for this Bill, and also of the Minister of Defence for the Army. As my final word I would say that we welcome, with some reservations, many of which have been expressed in your Lordships' House this afternoon, the Bill which the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, has introduced for Second Reading.
§ 7.3 p.m.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I apologise for speaking again to your Lordships. I have really about a two-hour lecture in front of me, if I am to answer all the many interesting points that have been made. In view of the admirable brevity of the later speakers, as opposed to my own opening race against time, with less brevity, I feel that I cannot hope to answer everything that has been said, although I should like to think that I have answers for nearly everything, thanks to the courtesy of noble Lords, who told me in advance of the main points they were going to make.
First of all, I would congratulate, as I am sure all your Lordships do, the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg and the noble 526 Viscount, Lord Ullswater. I think they both made extremely well expressed and eloquent speeches. I became slightly nervous for one moment when Lord Ullswater was speaking, because I thought he was going to be so skilful in presenting the case of his yeomanry troop that we were going to be in dead trouble; but he exercised considerable tact and brought the B.B.C. into his argument. It was most impressive to hear the opinions of a Regular officer, commanding, admittedly, a rather unusual Territorial unit, but none the less obviously bringing a special enthusiasm to the subject. As I say, I found the speeches of both noble Lords extremely interesting. Indeed, I would say that the general standard of knowledge has been very high throughout.
I should like to answer some of the main points, and perhaps to continue in some degree the debate, which I do not think we shall finish to-day, on whether the Government have embarked on the right general lines of the reorganisation of the reserves. I am a little disappointed that so few members of the Opposition were prepared to welcome the highly desirable changes that have been made, particularly in relation to the Volunteers. The noble Earl, Lord Courtown, did, as an organisation man, commend them. The criticisms focused mainly on the Home Service Force of T.A.V.R. III, but we must face the fact that the most important part of the reserves are T.A.V.R. I and T.A.V.R. II. It is these forces for which the greatest probability of use exists. It is on them that the greatest expenditure will be made. They will be fulfilling a need which the old Territorial Army would not have been so well fitted to fulfil, and there is unquestionably a net gain to the country in these changes. I think we really should accept that: and, indeed, although the noble Earl Lord, Jellicoe, and even the noble Lord, Lord Thurlow, must have their bit of fun, I feel that they themselves accept that this is a desirable move.
The noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, having posed a question as to whether we had enough, I think fell into the error that has existed in a good deal of this discussion, in not being sufficiently precise. The Government have tried hard to be precise. The criticism that has been made, for instance, in relation to T.A.V.R.III that 527 their role is not precise enough, has been matched only by the criticism that their role is not wide enough. I should like to focus a little on this. Let me say straight away that the Government are determined to make T.A.V.R.III a success. I am sure that noble Lords who have come into contact with my honourable friend the Minister of Defence for the Army will know that there is great enthusiasm in that quarter. Admittedly there was a certain reluctance in terms of the role that was foreseen for this force in the early days, as to whether it was desirable or worth the expenditure of creating such a force. But let us recognise—and I think we must—that it is not enough to create a force or to provide weapons simply because people like having such a force; it is not enough simply in order to foster a voluntary spirit, admirable though it is. It must have a real purpose. I am sure that noble Lords will not dispute this.
Frankly, if, as has been suggested, we are to talk about expanding the role of T.A.V.R.III beyond the one it now has, all I can say is that it is the view of the Government that this would be an unrealistic thing to do. Noble Lords say that we cannot foresee what may happen in the future. This is perfectly true. We can only make the best estimates on probabilities, and the role of T.A.V.R.III is to assist the civil power in the event of a nuclear attack. This is its present role. Noble Lords ask: "What about a possible air attack? What about landings from an airborne invasion?" But if we seriously anticipate this sort of thing, the whole structure of our forces is wrong. Fighter Command was run down a long time ago, during the previous Government—and we shall be turning our attention to those more fundamental problems in the organisation. There is no doubt that the pattern that has been set is consistent with the views of the previous Government as to the probability of events. If we are to be effective in any probable contingency, we cannot reasonably meet every contingency. It is arguable (and I am sure this would appeal to the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe) that we ought perhaps to make preparations against a possible invasion from space; that this is a contingency that may come about in the future. I think the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, and I, being old space travelers 528 from the past, would be more inclined to believe that this is more a probability than certain others.
There are those who press for better equipment for T.A.V.R.III, and obviously one would like to equip everybody with the best equipment. But taking into account the funds that arc available, and the priorities that have to be met—and there are other priorities in defence—there is a whole list of things I could speak of as Minister of Defence, as, I am sure, could the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, on which I would sooner spend money than on providing some of the equipment that has been sought for T.A.V.R. III. I am quite sure that if he were in the position of any Staff Officer in the Ministry of Defence, he would agree with this view. It is the view of the Government that the Territorial Force, the T.A.V.R. III, the Home Service Force, will be properly equipped and particularly well suited for the role that it may be called upon to fill. It would be quite wrong to start increasing the cost beyond what is necessary to fulfil that role, if we hope that it will continue to exist for its present purpose.
I would fully grant that it provides a basis for expansion if circumstances should change and there should be different Governments. It will carry on the traditions of the Territorial Army, and most of the great regimental names will find their place, in some form or another, within the units of this new force. But it would be quite wrong to seek to expand it beyond its present level of equipment and its present role. I say very seriously to the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, that I do not think that, in the long run, to suggest otherwise does much service to the development of these units. I believe that there is enough urge to serve; that these men will be unquestionably soldiers. They will not even be under the Home Office. The noble Viscount will remember that there were times when the Ministry of Defence and the Home Office were fighting as to who should control these volunteers. There is no question but that these will be soldiers, under the direction of the Ministry of Defence. I could go on at much greater length on this aspect.
My Lords, I wonder whether I could encourage the 529 noble Lord to go on at a little greater length, because I am still puzzled by his line of argument. As I understand it, he is almost refusing any other role, although he said that it might form a basis for expansion, which is the third possible role that I suggested. Nevertheless, he was rejecting the first two roles. But if that is so, why do the Government talk of the primary role? What does "primary" mean? Do they feel there is only one role, or do they feel there are possibly other residual roles? And how does he explain the statement of his colleague, the Minister of Defence for the Army, which the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, quoted, if he rejects any other role? Finally, while I do not wish in any way to walk back on my interest in space, I think there are more possible contingencies. There is the contingency of mounting tension, and of this force being used for guarding V.Ps. Is this not a role which is possible, and do the Government entirely reject it?
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I think that is rather a long question. One could say, of course, "If you ask a silly question, you get a silly answer"—though I am not referring to the noble Earl's "silly question". If somebody says, "What happens if there is an airborne invasion?", you get the smart answer, "Obviously the chaps do not go home at that moment." I do not think we get much further by bandying words on what is meant by "primary role".
The noble Earl may say that there is a possibility of sabotage. If there is such a possibility in this country (which I imagine he is talking about), it seems to me that these men will be operating in support of the civil power. Of course, it is conceivable that in certain circumstances, if grave disorder breaks out (which again I think is an unlikely contingency) all sorts of things may happen. But our Armed Forces are designed to provide for the defence of the country, and the T.A.V.R. III is intended to give aid to the civil power after a nuclear attack. Noble Lords may doubt whether this is the right assessment, but this seems to us to be consistent with the best assessment we could make.
Going back to the roles of T.A.V.R. I and II, it was felt that the old Territorial Army (and I must say this to noble Lords like the noble Viscount, Lord Ullswater) 530 was not in its present form suited to meet the present-day contingencies which we had to expect. What was needed was availability at a higher level of training and a higher level of equipment for the strategy that we foresee prevailing over the next ten to twenty years. No one can foresee that this strategy may not change, but this is the basis of the Governrnent's thinking, and it is for that reason that it has been decided to have these two different types of force. Their roles are different but, at the same time, I agree with noble Lords, particularly Lord Leather land, who have emphasised the importance of close links. The decision to have the two separate forces is not just something the Government have dreamed up, so to speak, because it came afterwards. It was made because the roles are different. Indeed, if we could have joined them it would have been easier, but on grounds of command structure this was not possible.
If you look at the nature of the volunteers you can see the difficulties of assessment. This is a matter which we could obviously go on about at great length and on which clearly there are differences of opinion. I can only say that in this respect the Government have arrived at their views on the basis of the best advice they can get and have made the best judgment they can. The noble Lord said he hoped that on the whole we were conducting this matter on a non-partisan basis. I can say that certainly the Government in this respect are doing their best, and this is the best view they could come to.
I regret to say that I have already taken something over fifteen minutes on these points, and I do not expect I have satisfied noble Lords opposite. But I should like to answer a number of other points that were made. The noble Lord, Lord Thurlow, asked so many interesting points that I sometimes regret we do not have the advantage they have in the United States of being able to put one's speech, unread, into the OFFICIAL REPORT, so that at least those who are interested can read it, and those who are not do not have to listen. But I fear it may well be necessary for me to write to him. Since we are exchanging paper so freely, I should be quite willing to do this before the Committee stage and provide some of the answers.
531 The noble Lord raised the particular point of rifles, and I have checked and found that the rifle which he would now like to see issued to the Home Service Force is still not widely distributed in the Territorial Army, whereas the No. 4 rifle is still fairly widely distributed. However, I take the point. Of course it bears on my point that there are arguments against equipping the Home Service Force beyond its needs. This is not to say that there will not be considerable pressure, and I do not doubt that on some matters from time to time the Government may be able to improve on what they have now been able to achieve.
I have already dealt with, and we have had a good deal of discussion on, whether or not the new force would be attractive enough to bring in the recruits. All the signs are that certainly T.A.V.R. II will in fact bring in the recruits. Obviously I should be very concerned, as would my honourable friend the Minister of Defence for the Army, if in fact we were not fairly confident at this moment that we should be able, such is the martial and traditional urge, to fill the units in T.A.V.R. III. I take the point that the danger period may come later rather than now, and for this reason we shall have to watch the position closely, and I am sure the assurances given by noble Lords in regard to the part they can play will be important. For this reason I welcome very much, as I am sure does the noble Lord, Lord Leather land, that we have now reached a degree of co-operation with the Territorial Army Council and the T.A.F.A.'s which were in danger of disappearing in the early days of the original White Paper.
I will not now go into the merits of whether or not the Government were right to publish their proposals before consulting the Territorial Army. In this sort of matter it seems to me that whatever a Government do will be wrong. If they do not do so, people say, "How can we give you advice unless you tell us what is in your minds?". However, I think there has been a measure of good relationship which is extremely important for the future and for the continuation of T.A.V.R. III, in regard to which I am personally fairly optimistic.
The noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, made some interesting points about the problem 532 of finding time to carry out the necessary training. It is of course inherent in the whole problem of part-time service. The volunteers will have a slightly increased training commitment and rather more emphasis on training on Saturdays and Sundays. We think it will be enough, but—as the noble Lord said, and I think it was mentioned by another noble Lord—the point is that men first join when they are young and free and unencumbered and later on, when they are becoming most useful, they become more encumbered and it is more difficult for them to find the time.
The noble Lord also spoke again about the importance of making training attractive. Of course, I very much agree with him on this. It is unfortunate that Territorials (and they are not the only people who have to do so) sometimes have to put their hands in their pockets in order to improve what is really a service they are giving to the country. This is something, I fear, which has existed in the past. We may regret it, but certainly it is the intention of the Government to make training as attractive and as cheap as possible to the Volunteers.
I can see that I really shall have to write to the noble Lord, Lord Thurlow, because I have so many answers to his questions. I am really trying to get on and deal with points raised by some other noble Lords. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, for instance, who unfortunately is unable to be present and asked me to apologise, asked whether the new Territorials would be linked with county regiments. I think I have already answered that question. We hope that one way and another there will be these links both in name and in direct association. Of course we shall see how this works out.
While I remember it, the noble Earl, Lord Fortescue, asked what had happened to the R.N.V.R. I am afraid the R.N.V.R., which is now officially dispersed under this Bill, has ceased to exist in practice since 1958, when its officers and men disappeared into the Royal Naval Reserve. It may be that the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, is in a better position to answer this question than I am. All we have done is to achieve formally what the previous Government, no doubt for 533 good reasons, had already achieved informally.
I think I have already dealt with Lord Bourne's point. The noble Lord, Lord Leather land, who gave us one of his rather racy speeches, made a great appeal for bands—and how I do share his views! I think we all do. I doubt whether there is anyone, except perhaps somebody who has an almost psychopathic view of the Army, who could be otherwise than attracted on hearing a military band. I am, of course, surprised that the son of a bandmaster might not have had enough bands. But it will not be possible, I am afraid, for every Territorial unit to have its own band. The bands are being organised on a regional basis. This, of course, will not prevent them from having pipes and drums if they can carry these along without having, so to speak, professional bandsmen. However, the point is taken and I can only say that the Government want to do the best they can. The Army has a great number of bands in comparison with the Royal Air Force. We have to get along without them, and I must say I think they are a considerable loss.
I have dealt already with the question of the two-tier organisations. One or two noble Lords referred to the question of Proclamation and of call-out and whether in fact the situation is clear enough for employers, and what "warlike operations liability" means. I would say a few words about this. One of the reasons for the Government's decision to adopt this particular phrase is historical. This liability was inserted in the Reserve legislation for volunteers in the Regular Army Reserve as long ago as 1898. Later, volunteers in the Army Emergency Reserve were able to assume the same liability and many reservists have been accustomed to having this liability. Indeed, there are many reservists who are still subject to it at this moment.
There have been only two occasions (and your Lordships will have followed the discussion in another place) on which reservists have been called out under this liability: in China in 1927 and in Palestine in 1936. From my own recollection of the China affair, which I think was the defence of Shanghai, I rather doubt whether in to-day's thinking we 534 would consider it in terms of "warlike operations"; and indeed the warlike operations condition was not applied in the case of Suez, which, without going into the merits of it, was a really more formidable affair than the defence of Shanghai in 1927. Men indeed might have been called out under this liability. When the Suez crisis occurred a number of men were required by the Army who did not have this liability, and so the Government had to proceed by Proclamation.
This formula is suitable for all reserves which may be required for NATO, Simple Alert or war, and it applies to T.A.V.R. II. Discussions have taken place with the Territorial Army Council about the circumstances in which it will be used. We have pointed out the infrequency of its use—and I quote the White Paper:There is no intention to call them out under this liability unless major military operations are in progress or appear to be imminent and that a serious situation affecting vital national interests has arisen.For those of your Lordships who are concerned with the lack of precision in this phrase, I can only say that in this matter we are emulating the late Sir Winston Churchill. When the Army General Reserve was created he pledged that they would not be called out "except in the greatest war emergency," which again is an imprecise phrase, when in fact the legislation creating the Army General Reserve provides that they may be called out in case of imminent danger or great emergency—the same liability as for the Territorial Army or Section D of the Regular Reserve. This is a good precedent for what we are doing. We have a legal liability, and this will have to be interpreted by the Government of the day.
I want to say something about duration, because the noble Earl and certain noble Lords referred to the difference between the twelve and the six months. The twelve months' liability applies to T.A.V.R. II reservists, and it arises, of course, only in the context of the warlike operations liability, which, as I have indicated, has not arisen very frequently. When the Bill was introduced a provision was made for reservists to serve up to the end of their engagements and for twelve months beyond if they were called out upon this particular liability. This 535 provision had been inserted in the Bill because there had been so much misunderstanding about Her Majesty's Government's proposition that service should be limited to twelve months in any particular engagement, and there is this very common mistaken view—and we have heard it again to-day, or something rather like it—that the liability was twice as onerous as the "Ever-readies" liability, which is to be called out for six months.
But the distinction is quite different and the roles may be quite different. The distinction between warlike operations and the "Ever-ready" liability, I hope, is better understood. The "Ever-ready" may be called out at any time; but the number of occasions upon which men are liable to be called out on warlike operations liability is very limited. I think this deals to some extent with the point the noble Earl, Lord Courtown, was making. In another place the Opposition indicated that there ought to be some limit to the length of service, and my right honourable friends were willing to consider this; and, as a result, the Government chose the figure of twelve months. I could go at much greater length into why we chose this, but I am conscious that time is going very fast. I would say, however, that there are strong military reasons for sticking to the figure of twelve months; in a limited war no one can say that it will last less than twelve months, and if one limited it to six months and there were considerable-sized units taking part in this limited war, it would be very difficult if they had to be replaced every four to five months, which would happen if it were a six-month liability.
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord? Could he clarify one point? Am I right in thinking that the twelve months covers the aggregate period during an engagement? The twelve months' restriction about which he is speaking means that somebody in A.V.R. II could be called out, for example, for two periods of six months, but not more than a twelvemonth aggregate.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
Primarily it is a limit on the time—we might pursue it at the Committee stage—that he may serve on any one occasion. This is the 536 important limitation. But perhaps, since time is passing, we could pursue this another time. I am not sure whether at this stage of the evening I am helping the House as much as I should like to.
I wish I could deal with some of the other points. I think I have referred to practically every noble Lord who spoke. I would only say that it has been an interesting debate. I do appreciate that in passing legislation of this kind we are doing very much more than organising what appears to be a bit of the Army; we are dealing with the very fabric of our national life and there are very many sensitive points, such as the use of some of the trust money which is available; there are so many points in which there are deep interests which affect people in all parts of the United Kingdom and all social classes, and any Government which touches this sort of thing must do so with a great deal of delicacy and with the deepest respect for people's feelings. This I hope the Government are anxious to do. I am quite sure that my right honourable friend the Minister for the Army feels this very strongly indeed.
But at the same time, having said that, the Government have still to take the best view they can of military probabilities and the funds that are available, and see what they can weave out of this. I believe the Government have in fact been successful in doing so. The work, of course, is only just beginning. We shall see how it works out in the future, but I am optimistic that we shall succeed in building a more modern form of reserves which will meet the nation's need at a cost we can afford, and I am sure that we shall have the good will and support of people in the country interested in the defence of the country and the welfare and future of the Territorial Army.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.