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Commonwealth Recruiting

Volume 640: debated on Wednesday 17 May 1961

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asked the Secretary of State for War what conclusions he has now reached in his review of possible recruiting in the Commonwealth for regiments of the British Army.

As I explained to the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) in answer to a Question on 15th March, I cannot well introduce direct recruiting to the British Army in the Commonwealth, since most of those countries have their own military manpower problems.

Since West Indians, in particular, pride themselves in sharing the British way of life and since they integrate easily with other Service men—and that has been proven many times—will the Secretary of State give an assurance that from time to time, when he is short of, say, a batch of transport drivers or nursing orderlies, he will recruit fifty or one hundred of them in an area like Jamaica, where many men like to serve in those capacities.

I will most certainly consider the potentialities of recruitment from this source.

When the Secretary of State says that they have their own manpower problems, is he basing himself on talks with Commonwealth countries? If so, what talks are these?

I was not referring to what, I think, the hon. Gentleman has in mind—which is the Caribbean—but countries which I regard as free Commonwealth countries, which, as the hon. Gentleman knows, have in their own armed forces problems of recruiting. It would be wrong, therefore, for us to set up recruiting stations there and pinch their manpower.