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Territorial Army

Volume 465: debated on Tuesday 17 May 1949

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Battledress

13.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the battledress uniforms which are being issued to Territorial recruits are of poor quality and badly matched; and whether he will take action to ensure that Territorials are issued with battledresses of better quality and colour.

In the issue of battledress no differentiation whatever is made between units of the active Army and units of the Territorial Army. Some stocks of battle-dress produced during the war still exist, in some sizes, which are inferior in quality to present production. These garments are fully serviceable and must be used up. They are, therefore, issued in satisfaction of demands from units both of the active Army and of the Territorial Army.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that battledress issued to the Territorial Army is very badly matched and of very poor quality? Cannot he now give an assurance that there is some immediate prospect of the issue of blue uniform?

I should like to see all sections of the British Army immaculately attired, but the cloth is not available.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this complaint applies also to the Regular Army and that the shortage of battledress there is just as noticeable?

There is no shortage of battledress for the Regular Army, but we are using up the existing stocks.

Will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that, in the case of the Territorial Army, where men get only one suit of battledress, it is of superior rather than inferior quality?

I have already answered that question. We have to use the stocks we have.

Vehicles And Equipment

14.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that owing to poor recruitment many Territorial Army units are not able to maintain adequately vehicles and equipment; and whether he will consider the possibility of increasing the civilian permanent staff on the establishment of Territorial Army units in order to ensure that vehicles and equipment are properly maintained.

Territorial Army units should only draw the vehicles and equipment which they are in a position to maintain. Units which have not recruited many men neither need nor have issued to them the same amount of equipment as those with larger numbers. A review of the permanent staff is at present taking place in the War Office; the maintenance of equipment is receiving consideration in this review.

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that if units drew only the amount of equipment which bore some relation to their numbers, the result would be that they would not have one vehicle or one particular piece of equipment on which men should train? Will he give this matter further consideration and see whether it is possible to increase the civilian assistance that these units get?

Is the Secretary of State aware that this situation can lead to a vicious circle? If units recruiting few men get no equipment it means that the men will be bored and then the unit does not recruit any more men.