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Vote 2 Reserve Forces, Territorial Army And Cadets Forces

Volume 463: debated on Monday 21 March 1949

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Resolution reported

"That a sum, not exceeding £12,460,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the expense of the Reserve Forces (to a number not exceeding 45.000, all ranks, for the Royal Army Reserve and 6,000, all ranks, for the Supplementary Reserve), Territorial Army (to a number not exceeding 150,000, all ranks) and Cadet Forces, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1950."

Resolution read a Second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."

I should like to ask one question about Sub-Head E (1). There is a substantial increase in the amount of money for pay. What figure is the right hon. Gentleman aiming at in the Territorial Army? I cannot find out from the Explanatory Notes.

Is there any Territorial officer who has served as a Territorial for any length of time in any high office or the War Office where his advice can be made available to the Secretary of State or the Army Council?

Lately there has been an order to increase the allowance given to officers joining the Territorial regiments to £21 for uniform. There is a good deal of ill-feeling because that was not retrospective to those who joined earlier. When I was with my Territorial Regiment on Sunday, the officers were even talking about resigning over this matter. It is like the petty thing about Income Tax which got a certain amount of publicity.

On the subject of uniform allowance, a Question is on the. Order Paper for tomorrow, and I hope that the answer given then will satisfy the hon. Member. With regard to the numbers which we are aiming at for the Territorial Army, as hon. Members are aware, we decided at the War Office several months ago to fix a target of 150,000. We have not yet reached that target, but we are not without hope that during the summer we shall substantially increase the numbers for the Territorial Army, largely as the result of the annual training camp period. With regard to the question asked by the hon. Member for Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser), I can tell him that we have now at the War Office, as Director of the Territorial Army, Major-General Herbert, who was recently in charge of the District in Berlin and who rendered splendid service there. Major-General Herbert was himself associated with the Territorial Army several years ago.

No criticism is contemplated on any officer such as the gallant General to whom reference has been made, but the point is that neither of them are in fact territorials. Would it not help the War Office to have one or two persons who have served with the Territorials at some point where the Army Council could gain experience and learn from them?

We do quite well with all the qualified Territorial officers in the country, and we are not without guidance in these matters; but if it is necessary to obtain further guidance for the purpose of improving the efficiency of the Territorial Army, there is nothing that I know of that will stand in the way.

Would the right hon. Gentleman resist these attempts to suggest that people like Major-General Herbert, a very gallant and wise officer, is not the right person to be in charge of the Territorial Army at this moment?

So far as I know, the hon. Member for Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser) did not cast any aspersion on Major-General Herbert. It was, in my view, a quite proper question to put, and I make no complaint about it. All the high ranking officers at the War Office are, in my judgment, highly qualified.

Question, "That the House doth agree with the said Resolution," put, and agreed to.

Resolutions reported: