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Tank Training (Petrol Allowance)

Volume 466: debated on Tuesday 21 June 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for War why the petrol consumption of an armoured unit in Tripoli is limited to 20 miles per armoured car per month; and whether he is satisfied that Regular and National Service men can receive proper training on this basis.

The mileage of armoured fighting vehicles in the Middle East has to be restricted to keep wear and tear and the need for repair and overhaul within the financial and manpower limits available, but the petrol allowed is sufficient for an average mileage of substantially more than 20 miles a month, and is considered adequate for training purposes. The unit to which I think the hon. Member refers, but which is in fact equipped with tanks, not armoured cars, has, I understand, exceeded its allotment of petrol earlier in the year and is now trying to economise.

Does the Minister think that it is in the interests of general efficiency that this unit should be deprived of petrol in future months? Will it not result in some national service men not receiving proper training? Cannot the right hon. Gentleman take some other action in such cases?

I think that the units are getting rather more petrol than the hon. Member suggested, although perhaps not sufficient. On the whole, however, we think it is adequate, having regard to the other resources made available. If we find that men cannot be trained because of inadequacy of petrol supplies we will look into the matter.

Would the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that it was proved between the wars that there is no more false economy than to cut down the petrol or any other thing which is necessary to train troops properly?

That may well be, but there is no advantage in supplying petrol if we have not the manpower available for adequate training.

Will the right hon. Gentleman give further consideration to this matter, in view of representations which have been made to several of us, quite apart from those which have been made to my hon. Friend the Member for North Blackpool (Mr. Low), by people quite unconnected with the unit in question?

But as the noble Lord will, no doubt, have noted, the information which his hon. Friend received was not quite accurate.

Is it not desirable that some opportunity should be given for training men in the repair and maintenance of these vehicles? Therefore, should not opportunity be given for their further use?