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Battalions In Suspended Animation

Volume 437: debated on Tuesday 20 May 1947

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asked the Secretary of State for War how many Regular battalions it is proposed shortly to place in suspended animation; how these battalions are selected; for how long a time it is contemplated that they will remain in abeyance; and how it is proposed that their officers shall be disposed of.

According to present plans, 27 Regular battalions will have been placed in suspended animation by 1st July. The principal factors taken into account in selecting these battalions are the distribution of infantry battalions between home and overseas commands, and the necessity of keeping one battalion of each Regiment in being. It is not possible at present to say how long the battalions selected will remain in suspended animation. Their officers will be posted in accordance with the needs of the Service and their own qualifications and status, particular care being taken to post Regular officers suitably.

May I ask whether, in selecting Regular battalions for this fate—and it is a fate—junior battalions of regiments should not have been first selected? Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that many very historic Regular battalions, some dating back to the time of Marlborough's battles, are now being placed in suspended animation? Further, if it is propòsed to place a very large number of these battalions in suspended animation in future, will the hon. Gentleman tell us the names of some of them, and say if he is confident that we shall not be very short of troops in an emergency?

Can the hon. Gentleman say how many cavalry regiments will be in a state of suspended animation?