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Citizen Force Units, South Africa

Volume 640: debated on Wednesday 17 May 1961

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33.

asked the Minister of Defence whether the citizen force units of the Union of South Africa will remain affiliated with British Army units after South Africa becomes a Republic; and what co-operation this involves.

This is one of the issues that arise from South Africa's withdrawal from the Commonwealth that is not yet resolved.

Has the attention of the right hon. Gentleman been drawn to the statement by the Minister of Defence of the Union Government in the South African Parliament that the citizen forces of the Union are to remain affiliated to the British Army? Does the Minister repudiate that statement? Does not he think that it would be very bad that our Forces should be used in conjunction with citizen forces for the supression of the African people's protest against apartheid?

The hon. Gentleman has the wrong view. Perhaps I can put it right. These are associations formed in very honourable circumstances, mainly as a result of being comrades in a war. They are in no sense an operational tie. They in no sense bind British units to do other than have this association with their South African opposite numbers, which is nothing to do with operations or anything else. It is an honourable association coming from two world wars and one which I should be very reluctant to break without some very serious thought.