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British Army

Volume 155: debated on Tuesday 20 June 1922

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Irish Regiments (Disbandment)

7, 8 and 9.

asked the Secretary of State for War (1) whether he is aware that the report of the disbandment of a battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, consequent on the retention of a battalion of the Royal Irish Fusiliers, has caused great resentment not only among the people of Ulster, of which nearly every family has given members to this regiment during the past 230 years, but also among the 30,000 ex-soldiers of the regiment living in Ulster, and that they regard the substance of this report as a breach of faith in respect to Army Order No. 78, of 11th March, 1922, which, in enumerating the Irish regiments to be disbanded, clearly indicated that the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, the oldest and only original Ulster Regiment, was to be retained intact; whether, in view of this, the subject can be reconsidered;

(2) whether he is aware that the recruiting area of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, an Ulster and Protestant regiment since 1689, comprises three counties, namely, Fermanagh, Tyrone, and Londonderry, with a combined population of about 360,000, and that the recruiting area of the Royal Irish Fusiliers, a regiment originally raised in the South of Ireland, mainly Roman Catholic, consists of only one county, namely, Armagh, with a population of about 120,000; whether, seeing that as a consequence of this it is easier to recruit two battalions of Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers rather than one of each regiment, the disbandment of the second battalion of the former regiment can be reconsidered;

(3) whether he is aware that the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers have recruited in their present area for the past 230 years; whether the retention of a battalion of the Royal Irish Fusiliers by the sacrifice of a battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers will interfere with the old privilege of an Ulster man to confine his attestation solely to service in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, and not committing himself to service in the Royal Irish Fusiliers or any other regiment; and whether, if the two regiments are to be retained, he will arrange for separate regimental depots as at present?

I am acquainted with the circumstances of these two distinguished regiments, and with the conditions governing their recruiting and maintenance. The future of these regiments is now receiving my personal attention, and I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that, in coming to a decision, full consideration will be given to the claims of the regiments concerned, and to such considerations as those which he adduces.

Seeing that it is quite easy to recruit six battalions in Ulster, would it not be preferable to retain the second battalions of both the Irish Fusiliers and the Inniskilling Fusiliers, and to disband the English and Scottish battalions, which, it is well known, cannot recruit territorially?

Then I should get exactly similar questions on behalf of the English battalions concerned.

I am referring to the battalions that cannot recruit territorially, which is well known in many cases.

Officers (Retirement)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether officers who are badly placed in their regiments as regards age and are never, in consequence of this, likely to be promoted, may be allowed to retire on the same terms as officers compulsorily retired under War Office letter of 22nd February, 1922?

As I have already stated in reply to my Noble Friend the Member for Aldershot, the compensation terms are only for officers whose careers in the Army are compulsorily terminated solely by reason of the reductions in the establishment of the Army.

Discharge Regulations

13.

asked the Secretary of State for War if all soldiers on discharge are entitled to a month's leave on full pay?

Under the Regulations at present in force, any soldier who is transferred to the Reserve, or who is discharged on the termination of his engagement and not for misconduct or physical unfitness may be granted 28 days' leave on full pay if this leave can be taken before the date on which he is due for such transfer or discharge.

Is this leave in all cases possible where men come home from India who have been kept out there compulsorily for about a year over their time?

Every attempt is made to give leave where it can be taken before the date of transfer or discharge.

In other cases, is some advantage given to the man in lieu of the 28 days' leave?

Artillery Practice (Writesand Bay)

14.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether it is proposed to set aside a portion of Whitesand Bay, near Plymouth, for gun practice; and whether he will withdraw this proposal, having regard to the detrimental effect these operations would have upon the local fishing community, particularly the fishermen of Looe and Polperro?