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Territorial Units (Equipment)

Volume 441: debated on Tuesday 29 July 1947

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asked the Secretary of State for War how many Territorial infantry battalions are not yet complete to peace establishment in weapons and transport.

Commanding officers of all Territorial units have been instructed that they should not demand more transport or equipment than they can handle, house, and maintain. At present, no unit could maintain its complete peace equipment. Until units have obtained a sufficient number of recruits and, in most cases, additional buildings have been provided, the full peace scale of equipment and vehicles will not be issued.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are many units which have sufficient recruits to maintain some equipment, that there are units today that have not one carrier, that have one anti-tank gun with nothing to pull it, and not sufficient wireless apparatus to carry out a skeleton exercise without borrowing from another unit? Does he not agree that three months after recruiting has opened for the Territorial Army this is disgraceful?

Where there are recruits in units, they will get sufficient equipment for their purpose.

Will the right hon. Gentleman see that the equipment is at least up to date, since the equipment being issued at present was obsolete in 1942?

I should not be surprised if, during the next two or three years, a certain amount of Army equipment became obsolete at the pace we are moving nowadays, but the Territorial Army will be equipped with the same equipment as the Regular Army.

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that the Territorial Army is incomparably better equipped than it was at the time of Munich, after many years of Conservative government?

Yes, Sir, very much better equipped, as many Members who were in the House then will recollect.

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will recollect the votes he cast against the provision of that equipment?

The right hon. Gentleman has been a bit hasty in putting that question to me. I do not think that I voted on that issue.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the North-West, where units are struggling to be come fully established, recruiting has been retarded because there is no modern equipment?

I would not accept that for one moment. I can assure the House that there will be no shortage of equipment for the Territorial Army, even if they recruit up to the ceiling. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman knows of any particular case let him bring it to me, and I will look into it.