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British Forces, Germany

Volume 645: debated on Monday 2 October 1961

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asked the Minister of Defence what action he is taking to bring the British forces in Germany up to establishment.

Final decisions as to the reinforcement of British forces in Germany will not be taken until after the Foreign Ministers' meeting early in August. At this meeting we shall hope to concert plans with our Allies on the steps to be taken to strengthen the N.A.T.O. Alliance.

In view of all the conflicting reports about the use of Territorials and Special Reservists, can the Minister confirm that these measures are no substitute for political action, which is the only way to settle this problem? Can he say whether we shall be diminishing the strength of our Strategic Reserve by using these men?

There are many supplementary questions there. Perhaps I may answer by saying this. As the hon. Gentleman will see from my Answer, the detailed plans about how the N.A.T.O. allies may be strengthened must, in our view, await the meeting of the Foreign Secretaries. Naturally, in the meantime, we are looking over the possibilities. We have asked General Cassells to examine the strength of his forces and see what reasonable reinforcements he should receive and to take all the necessary preliminary steps. What I want to make plain is that the Government are not committed to any firm and decisive action until after the Foreign Secretaries have looked at the political situation.

Is it not a fact nevertheless that the Rhine Army is so many thousands of men under establishment that in order to bring it up to full establishment some, at least, of the Reserve will have to be called up?

No. I do not necessarily agree with the hon. Member's view. As I have said before, what steps we shall take in this way are not likely to be announced until after the Foreign Secretaries have met.