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Military Forces

Volume 526: debated on Wednesday 14 April 1954

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what provision exists for the defence of British Dependencies from external attacks; how far local military forces would be used to defend each dependency attacked or in danger of attack; and how far a system of collective defence is in existence.

While arrangements naturally vary from territory to territory, British Dependencies are normally defended from external attack by their own local forces, reinforced in case of need by those of the United Kingdom. Troops from one territory are of course sometimes used in the defence of another. A present example is the presence in Malaya of the Fiji Battalion and a battalion of the King's African Rifles.


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the policy of Her Majesty's Government in regard to the cost of the military forces required for the internal security of Colonies, and the extent to which these forces should be controlled by the Colonial Governments; and if he will publish a list of Colonies and other Dependencies showing how much each proposes to spend on military forces in 1954–55 and what cash subventions Her Majesty's Government proposes to make to each in 1954–55 and the total sum so pledged.

I assume that the hon. Member is referring to colonial forces only. Our general aim is that Colonial Governments should pay for and control such local military forces as are needed for internal security. The application of this principle varies from Colony to Colony and takes into account such factors as the Colony's capacity to pay, the provision of up-to-date training and the local military organisation. The detailed information asked for in the latter part of the Question is not immediately available; when it is, I will circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Is it not a fact that considerable sums have had to be paid over the year to many of these Colonies to enable them to provide even for local security?

As I say, it varies very much from one territory to another. In some of them they over-contribute towards their own forces; in other cases they are in receipt of assistance from this country.

Can the Minister tell us something which the Secretary of State for War consistently and persistently evades—how many military battalions were raised in the Colonies last year?