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Orders Of The Day

Volume 655: debated on Thursday 15 March 1962

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Considered in Committee.



Army Estimates

Vote 1 Pay, Etc, Of The Army

Motion made, and Question proposed,

That a sum, not exceeding £133,080,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the expense of the pay, etc., of the Army, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1963.

4.40 p.m.

This is an extraordinary Estimate. We are here dealing with an Estimate of £133 million plus £7 million which has already been appropriated, and of this, as I calculate it, £100 million is for pay and the rest is made up of allowances and contributions. We have been told already that there will be a Supplementary Estimate It is really extraordinary that, before we have even considered this Estimate in respect of pay, we are told that there wall be a Supplementary Estimate for a further £14 million.

The announcement by the Minister of Defence that only half the pay increases will come into effect this year is scandalous. The pay represented by these Estimates is based upon increases which the Grigg Committee intended should come into force before 1st April, 1960. It was the recommendation of the Grigg Committee that the first review should be carried out in time for any change to come into force before 1st April, 1960, the operative and important words being that it should come into force before that date. The Secretary of State, in answer to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), said that the Government agreed that Service pay should be looked at regularly and at intervals of not more than two years, and this, he said, is what the Government had done.

As I understand it, the Grigg Committee reported that, first, there should be a review and, second, there should be a review every two years, the first review coming into effect before 1st April, 1960. This is of fundamental importance for the pay of the Services. The Secretary of State and the Minister of Defence should not only look into the question of soldiers' pay but they should do something about it. They can look into soldiers' pay until Doomsday but that will be no good for the soldier at the receiving end. I regard it as a scandal that our soldiers should be treated in this way, according to the intentions of the Government as stated by the Minister of Defence. One of the scandals of military history occurred when contractors supplied stores to the Army which were nothing more than rubbish. The way that the soldiers are being robbed now will rank similarly as one of the scandals of military history. It is nothing more than a solicited gift, a compulsory gift, to the Government. I regard it as twentieth-century poor man's ship money.

The present pay of the Forces is already two years behind pay in industry generally. Of necessity, because of its structure, the biennial review leads to a two-year time-lag. A wait of two years is inherent in Government policy, but now, as a result of their failure to carry out the recommendation of the Grigg Committee, there will be a further delay in addition to the two years' lag. Service pay will be three years behindhand now.

When we were discussing the Army Estimates the other day, I put a question to the Under-Secretary of State. I hope that he will answer it today. He did not give me an answer then, perhaps because of shortage of time. The Minister of Defence has said that it is his belief that soldiers should not wish to be excepted from what other wage earners have to accept in the way of delay in implementation of pay increases. What inquiries have been made by the Secretary of State to ascertain whether soldiers are satisfied with their pay according to the present Estimates and whether they are willing not to have their full entitlement this year of 9½ per cent. for other ranks and 5 per cent. for officers? The Minister of Defence cannot say that he believes that soldiers would not wish to be excepted unless there is evidence for his belief. If no inquiries have been made by the Secretary of State, we should be told. The Government should come clean and say what the view of soldiers is on this point. If inquiries have been made, we should be told the extent and result of them.

When I was first given the task of assisting my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton in our consideration of the Army Estimates, one of the first things I did was to read in detail the reports of previous debates on the Army Estimates. I found that on 10th March, 1960, the previous Under-Secretary said:
"I can say that there is no intention on the part of this Government, who have given £5 million by way of pay increases, to welsh on the Army."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th March, 1960; Vol. 619, c. 753.]
Does the present Under-Secretary of State agree with that, or is it now the wish of the Government to welsh on the Army in the matter of pay? Those words of March, 1960, sound very mocking and hollow in the light of the statement made by the Minister of Defence. The Daily Mirror said that Forces pay was to go up next month, but the Government have broken their promise to keep it in line with civvy street earnings and have defaulted on their pay pledge to the men and women in the Forces.

It is no argument to say that men and women in the Forces are being treated like other people in the public service. Men and women in the Army—I have in mind particularly those who joined since the publication of the Grigg Report—were given a specific promise. The Government are unilaterally breaking their contract. These men have signed on the dotted line to serve for a fixed number of years, and they cannot unilaterally break their contracts. If they did, they would be treated as deserters or as people absent without leave. They cannot do it. Yet the Government have had the face to break unilaterally their promise to the Forces.

The men in the Forces have no union, never mind what the Minister of Defence says about being their trade union leader. The right hon. Gentleman's words sound very hollow now. Men in the Forces have no arbitration boards or industrial tribunals. They have to rely upon the Government's promise of a square deal, and that promise of a square deal has been flagrantly broken.

I have a suggestion to put to the Committee which, if implemented, would, I believe, bring in several hundred recruits of the calibre the Army needs today without costing very much extra money. Recruiting is doing well, but now we must move into top gear. Because we are coming into the post-war birth-rate bulge, the number of young people leaving school during the next few years will mean that we shall have more young men available than ever before.

I am convinced that we are losing young men who are "mustard keen" at school, or just about school leaving age, who want to join the Army, but they cannot join until they are 17½, except in excellent regiments like the Junior Leader Regiments, and the Army loses them forever. I suggest that with the cooperation of the Ministry of Education and local authorities, a type of Army class in secondary technical schools should be created. Later, perhaps, we could follow this up by having a similar class in secondary modern and grammar schools. We want to induce young men to sign on at some time after they reach 16 years of age, giving them a retaining fee or bounty which, if they break their contracts, they would have to pay back. They would then go in as civilians to a special Army course. The subjects in the school curriculum could include mathematics, wireless, electronics, engineering, M.T. and science.

By this method, the Army will not lose keen young men, and, after one and a half years of further schooling, it will gain the very much needed future tradesmen and junior N.C.O.s.

In the beginning, such a scheme could work only in the highly developed and large industrial towns and cities, but the recruiting figures in the Midlands prove that young men want to join and that they are in fact joining in fairly large numbers. I am convinced that we can get still more recruits by this method. A bounty also might encourage parents to allow their sons to stay on instead of leaving school, and to earn their living.

Today, 80 per cent. of recruits are under 20 years of age. We must therefore concentrate on these young men before they settle down in other occupations. At 15 to 16 they are attracted by the Army. They want travel, adventure and sport. The Army can give them these things. Large overseas airborne exercises such as those that we had last year appeal to them. If a young man has to wait eighteen months, he is frustrated by hanging around; he gets a job, settles down and begins to earn good wages and is treated as a responsible person. He makes friends, especially girl friends, who play a very large part in his life and are inclined to persuade him to stay in civvy street.

I am well aware of the outstandingly successful work done by the Junior Leader Regiments and the apprentice training schools, but as I see it they are producing the long-term man—the potential warrant officer and the senior N.C.O. for the future, who, we hope, will sign on for twenty-two years. I am concerned with the product of the "G.C.E. stream" who is the future corporal, lance-corporal or trained technician. He may remain in the Army for only six or nine years, but I am sure that nowadays it is quality and not quantity which is needed. That is why I hope that my hon. Friend will consider the possibility of an Army class in our secondary technical schools.

My other suggestion, which would cost hardly anything in extra pay for the men, is this. Could not the Army have one more look at allowing young men to join their depôts at 16½ years of age? I do not suggest that they should join their regiments until they are 17½ or go abroad until they are 18¼. I realise, of course, that a young man of 16½ years requires very special supervision, but now that conscription is gradually coming to an end surely some of the highly-trained officers and N.C.O. instructors who will be available for other duties could be posted to look after these special intakes at depôts.

Instead of giving the recruit a ten-week training course—this, in my opinion, is far too short if we are to have a highly-trained professional soldier—I suggest that he should have six to nine months' training before joining his unit. In the past, the argument has always been that a young man under 17½ years cannot compete with the rough and tumble of barrack room life. However, times and conditions have changed greatly—at least, since I joined the Buffs in 1937. I believe that we are out of date and not completely in touch with present-day conditions. Young men of 16½ years are much more mature today than many of us think. I also think that the point about the rough and tumble of barrack room life has been eliminated.

I hope that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State will consider allowing the cream of youth to go into the Army at 16½ years. I assure him that by preventing them from doing so they are going sour through waiting.

I cannot help feeling that the attack of the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Morris) on the Government for, as he alleged, not keeping their pledge to the Army concerning pay is very damaging to this country's interests. I reject the allegation that the Government have not kept their pledge. A 5½ per cent. rise with the promise of a further rise in future is exactly in accordance with the Government's pledge.

The hon. Member for Aberavon said that he found a great deal of dissatisfaction in the Army. This is contrary to the advice that I have received from friends and serving soldiers and officers in Her Majesty's Forces to whom I have spoken. I do not believe that people join the Army for the sake of pay. That is a wrong premise from which to start an argument, which is what the hon. Gentleman did.

Does the hon. Gentleman disagree with the Grigg Report, which laid very great stress on the importance of pay?

No, I do not. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will give me time to develop my argument. I said that I did not think that the Government had broken their pledge. A 5½ per cent. rise now with another rise in the future honours the Government's pledge, particularly since people in the country generally are getting only 2½ per cent. to 3 per cent.

The one thing which I thought was beyond dispute and which was common ground among everybody was that the Government have not honoured their pledge. There may have been reasons for dishonouring the pledge, but that it has been dishonoured I should have thought was common ground among everybody.

It may be common ground between the hon. and learned Gentleman and his hon. Friends but it is not common ground between him and me.

It is vital that we should continue to recruit and should, if possible, attain our target of 165,000 men, rising to 180,000 if possible, as soon as we can.

I think that the hon. Gentleman, who is so expert in these matters, can wait a moment.

What is said by the Opposition Front Bench, by the unofficial Opposition and by the rest of them is doing the one thing which will retard recruitment. That is why I said that it is contrary to our interests as a country.

I now turn to a point which arises under Subhead E, Vote 1, on page 3 of the Supplementary Estimate dealing with the pay and marriage allowance of the Gurkha Brigade. I am glad to note that these have risen by a quite considerable sum. Can my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State tell me whether the members of the Brigade are getting the same rates of pay regardless of where they may be serving, or do the rates of pay differ between troops serving in the United Kingdom and those serving in Hong Kong and Malaya? Are there any Queen's Commissioned Gurkha officers? If so, are they receiving the same rates of pay as British officers?

I notice that a very small sum is allowed for payment to those with language qualifications. When I was serving, the pay to anyone with a language qualification was very small compared with the toil and trouble and the considerable amount of expertise necessary to qualify a person for that pay. I should have thought that today it was vital that as many officers and other ranks as well should be able to speak foreign languages, particularly Russian, French and German, as fluently as possible. The rate of pay to those with language qualifications should be raised considerably. I suspect that it has not been raised at all, or, if it has, that it has been raised only marginally.

I hope that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State will pay particular attention to the points I made about the Gurkhas. I am particularly anxious that the number of these very fine fighting men in our Forces and with whom I held a Regular commission years ago should be increased and that they should continue to play the vital part that they are playing throughout the world today.

5.0 p.m.

I should like to raise two points with my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for War. I realise that he may not be able to answer immediately. The first is in connection with "Subhead L—Miscellaneous Allowances, etc." on page 22 of the Army Estimates. I notice that the outfit allowance is to be reduced to almost a third of what it was the previous year. No doubt there is a perfectly good explanation of this, but at first it seems a rather surprising figure.

Secondly, I should like to refer to officers' pay. I notice that there is a decrease of nearly £1 million on that item. I hope that this has something to do with the officer—other rank ratio, because as our forces over the last few years have been declining in total numbers there has been a good deal of comment about the ratio between general officers and other ranks and rather less about the ratio between officers and other ranks. There has been a tendency for the ratio of officers to increase not only in our Armed Forces here but overseas, and it has been particularly marked over recent years. Now that the Army has gone back to a voluntary basis I hope that this point is being looked at. There was a tendency in time of war to increase the number of officers for certain jobs unnecessarily. I hope that the Army is taking a rather stricter view of this at present. The figures show that the War Office is taking action in this direction.

Two statements have been made, by the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Scott-Hopkins)—and I beg the hon. Member's pardon for having interrupted him on a point of fact—and by the hon. Member for Dorset, West (Mr. Wingfield Digby), and neither is correct. If fallacies are allowed to go uncorrected they do damage to the Army and bemuse public opinion.

The Minister of Defence has told us that the old target of 403,000 has gone. He mentioned 390,000 to 400,000 and I think that the figure is now 390,000 for the three Services. In that case the 182,000 becomes 167,000. I ask the Under-Secretary of State for War, therefore, what the target is. It is certainly not now 182,000. What I want to know—and I should have thought that the hon. Member for Cornwall, North would have wanted to know it—is what the planning figure is now. If the Minister intends to keep, as he clearly does, the same number of units as he now has, the consequence will be the perpetuation of this miasma that has meant that the Army has all over the world units which are not up to requirement. When the hon. Gentleman replies to the debate, I hope that not only to help me but to help the hon. Member for Cornwall, North he will tell us what the target now is. There has been argument for five years and the difficulty is that the 182,000 has been abandoned.

The target is 167,000, with the possibility of going up to a ceiling of 182,000.

The hon. Gentleman has not followed my point. The figure is not 167,000 in any case.

Let us take the proceedings stage by stage. In 1957 no target was established. The next year there was a figure of 165,000, but this added up not to 375,000 but to 388,000. Then the next year 15,000 were added to make it 403,000. Now the Minister says that that figure is abandoned. It is now 390,000. The hon. Member for Cornwall, North will find from the Defence Estimates that the Government admit, though naturally without any fanfare of publicity, that they will not get either the Navy figure or the Air Force figure. But they say that the figures we have are the figures they wanted all the time and they are the exact figures that those Services require. The target clearly is not 182,000. We have not been told what it is.

The hon. Member did not listen to me. I attended the earlier debate and heard his long speech on this matter. We need not enter now into the question whether there are under-manned battalions all over the world. The target at the moment is 167,000 for recruiting. That is the figure we are trying to reach, and if we secure a higher figure all the better.

The hon. Member is quite wrong. It is extraordinary. It only goes to show the abysmal ignorance of hon. Members opposite. A figure of 167,000 has never been the figure at any time. That is a figure which the hon. Member has thought of all on his own. The figure of 167,000 is the new target figure one arrives at if one takes 15,000 from 182,000, but the target of 182,000 has now gone and we have not been told what the new figure is, and obviously this ties up very closely not only with what has happened but what will happen next year.

If the Government have welshed on pay it should be remembered that they introduced the pay figures in the first instance not because they were interested in the welfare of the Army but because for political reasons they had to reach a figure of 165,000. If they now change the policy they welsh on the pay because there is no longer the priority to secure the troops. In any case, it is perfectly clear that the political obsession with the Government is to make some pretence of reaching the Army target, and that is why they are prepared to admit that they will get neither the Navy target nor the Air Force target. But what is in the public mind is that in the relations between this country and S.A.C.E.U.R. and the Pentagon the Government have also welshed, not only in terms of the Army figure but in terms of the overall figure. I do not want to take part in any polemics with the hon. Member for Cornwall, North. I should be at a considerable disadvantage if I did, but I ask the Government to tell us what the figure is now. Are we and the Army to be left again in doubt? I am sorry that I have had to raise this matter. I would not have raised it had the hon. Member for Cornwall, North not made what might have been, after all, a Freudian slip.

I see that we are having to pay less money on officers this year than we had to pay last year, but I understand from details elsewhere in the Estimates that the number of officers coming forward to join the Army is today sufficient. Is that the case? Are there sufficient numbers of officers going to Welbeck College, and is my hon. Friend satisfied with their quality?

I have been told that because they go to Welbeck and are specialists they tend to be in a slightly different category when later they join the Service. They tend to be regarded as egg-heads or to be in some way different. I hope that this is not the case. It is essential that general service officers should have technical qualifications nowadays and it should not be regarded as extraordinary if they are specialists in scientific subjects. I hope that the intake into Welbeck College is satisfactory and that they are joined into the Army in a way that does not distinguish them except by their talent.

It is clear from the Vote that the number of N.C.O.s in the Army is not sufficient nor, if I may make so bold as to say it, is the tradition of becoming an N.C.O. quite so honoured as it was in the past. I have raised this matter before privately with my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary. He will therefore have anticipated what I have to say and I will cut it short.

Far too many people today are trying to be officers and do not appreciate the great prestige and usefulness which they would be able to have to fulfil if they were to be non-commissioned officers. I believe that the Regular Commissions Board has far too many people coming forward to it to be officers. I recently paid a visit, which my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State was kind enough to arrange, and I understand that, on an average, more than half the young men coming forward to be officers fail on interview by the Board.

One can understand what a shock this is to the self confidence of a man of 18 or 19. Presumably, those who have failed have not exactly understood what qualifications the Army was looking for, and they come forward full of confidence, the darlings of their families and the prides of their schools, only to be turned away—disappointed in life at that early age.

Can the hon. Gentleman say in what respects they fail?

They fail in the general subjects of the interview—on the various intelligence, initiative and leadership tests, not in scholastic ways. The various tests are scientifically and fairly devised by the Board.

Such a high rate of failures is very harmful to the boys concerned and also to the Army, because these are all young men who have distinguished themselves in their school careers. The recruiting officers and others have thought them fit to be officers. Then they come forward to the board, and at this first big test in their lives find themselves considered unsuitable.

I wonder whether we have not been directing too much propaganda towards trying to persuade people to come forward to be officers in the Army. There is all the propaganda one sees on hoardings and elsewhere depicting the gallant young officer sitting on top of an armoured car in the Arabian Peninsula. This makes these young men think that they must be officers or nothing—either officers or sweeping the barrack floors—and it is quite untrue.

Of the 50 per cent. turned down, I doubt whether very many go back to the Army prepared to become non-commissioned officers and to fulfil the rôle which the sergeant major and the warrant officer fulfilled so nobly in the past, and without which no Army can function properly.

I wonder whether the recruiting officer is the best person to recommend a young man for a commission. I believe that most of those who have failed were recommended first by recruiting officers. These officers are people of great experience, but when a likely young chap comes in, looking bright and cheerful, the recruiting officer naturally wants to put up his score and says, "You will do well as an officer," and puts him down for a commission. The young man then has the right to go before the board. In the short acquaintance which the recruiting officer has with the recruit, I do not believe that it is possible for him to form a right judgment.

Perhaps the right to go before the board should be restricted. Perhaps application should only be made after three months' service and if the man's commanding officer makes a recommendation. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State should concentrate propaganda on making people realise the position of the non-commissioned officers. I see that, according to page 216 of the Estimates, a warrant officer can reach over £800 as an income besides his accommodation, etc. A warrant officer who is a tradesman can get nearly to £850, and a warrant officer who is a technician goes to nearly £1,000 a year.

5.15 p.m.

These are substantial incomes for substantial and honourable jobs. It is far better to try to do such a job than a job which one is perhaps not fully suited to do. I believe that this problem does not extend only to the Army. It is one of the things lacking in our modern life that there are not quite so many people as in the past willing to do what I call the foreman's or charge hand's job. They are either going to be top dog or they will do nothing at all. I hope that, in future, we will be able to correct this tendency.

I also wanted to call attention to the position of the officer commissioned from the ranks after long service, usually after twenty-two years. These officers are often commissioned to carry out a temporary job only for a year or two years at a time. This is extremely unsettling. I know that they have the opportunity to take their pensions and go out of the Army without taking a commission. But we need them in the Army and we would not commission them if they were not fit to do the job. They should have some sort of security. Perhaps they are teaching in training establishments, but all the time, hanging over their heads, is the possibility that in eighteen months or so they will not be required any more and will be turned out to civil life.

A change in these circumstances would do much for these men who have served for twenty-two years, enabling them to do the job required without feeling unsettled. Perhaps consideration might be given to improving these conditions and for putting these commissions on a longer term basis.

What reason, except tradition, is there for paying the ladies less than the men? I suppose that this has something to do with the public service, but they do their jobs just as well as the men do theirs. Married allowances are given to men for the additional responsibilities which they are always supposed to have, but could we not consider putting the girls on the same basis as the men? They do a splendid job and, from my personal experience, I know how very well trained and excellent they are. I hope that my hon. Friend can give consideration to these points.

I will try to reply to the points which have been raised by hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the Committee. I am afraid that I cannot promise that it will be a very detailed reply, but the speeches have been, inevitably, seriated and I will try to reply in the same way.

The hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Morris) asked me why we have come to the Committee, knowing that the implementation of the pay review is in prospect in April and that it will involve additional sums, without providing for it in these Estimates. The answer is that these Estimates had already been compiled and had gone to print before the discussions resulting in the present pay recommendations had been brought to a conclusion, and it was, therefore, impossible to incorporate the results of the review in the current Estimates. This will not deprive the Committee of an opportunity, on the Supplementary Estimate, or subsequently, of discussing the results of the review. This is not, I am assured, an uncommon thing to have happened.

The hon. Gentleman repeated a number of arguments about the pay review which we debated the other day on Vote A. I can only repeat that we have honoured our obligation arising from the acceptance by the Government of the Grigg recommendations, but that the implementation of our obligation is subject to the national policy of the pay pause. I am convinced that the Army and the other Services understand the position very well.

The hon. Member asked what steps we have taken to find out the reactions to the Government's decision. It is the responsibility of the Secretary of State and of myself to acquaint ourselves with the feeling in the Army on all matters such as this. We have done so, and I can assure the Committee that, while no one claims that the Army is pleased about this, I believe that it accepts the position. In so doing, the Army is showing extremely good sense, because the implementation of the review in this way, as part of the policy of the pay pause, will help to guarantee the future value of the awards that are made and will operate to the economic advantage not only of the people in the Services but of those in every other walk of life by bringing stability to money values. The Services, I am certain, have the sense to accept these facts.

Can the hon. Gentleman tell us the procedure by which the Forces indicate the non-acceptance of a forcible contribution imposed upon them?

The hon. and learned Member is trying to be too subtle. The hon. Gentleman asked me what was the feeling about this. He knows, having been a Service man, that there are plenty of opportunities, not necessarily through official channels, open to anybody to make their opinions known to senior officers, and that there are plenty of opportunities for senior officers to do their job and assess the opinions of those around them. I say advisedly that I do not believe that I have given the Committee an unfair assessment of the climate. I do not say that the Services are pleased, but I do say that they understand.

Will the hon. Gentleman tell me how a private soldier can intimate that he is not satisfied, but that he understands?

I have heard the right hon. Gentleman make a number of speeches drawing on his experience as a private soldier, and I do not think he needs me to tell him that.

My hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Mr. Clive Bossom) raised the question of boys' training, and asked what we could do further in the Army to make certain that we got hold of people young, in order to counteract the disadvantage which, at first sight, the Army would appear to have in competing for the available recruits with industry and other occupations. My right hon. Friend said enough the other day to show that by our planned expansion of boys' units, junior leader regiments and other training units for boys, we foresaw the advent of the bulge in the birth-rate, and have made our plans to take advantage of the increased number of people coming forward.

In reply to my hon. Friend's suggestion that we might make a payment in the form of a bounty or scholarship for boys educated at technical schools and willing to accept a liability for six years' service in the Regular Army after leaving school, I should say that this is a new and interesting suggestion. We will study it, and consider whether it could be reasonably fitted in with the other schemes I have mentioned in order to enlist boys and young men with a view to employing them as tradesmen or technicians. As to his other point about the possibility of lowering the age of enlistment, I was interested to hear his suggestion, and I agree—and I think the Committee will agree—that young men today become mature at a younger age, but there would be difficulties about following the line my hon. Friend suggested.

For one thing, it would require amendment of the Army Act, which would be possible, but would take time. Fox another, to throw a boy of 17½ years of age straight into a barrack room is rather like throwing a non-swimmer in at the deep end. One of the characteristics of the present arrangements that we are making for training boys is the very special care which we are devoting to their handling in the early stages, and one of the limits to the expansion of these arrangements which my right hon. Friend indicated the other day is that we observe very high standards of staffing and training. However, I will further consider the point which my hon. Friend has made.

My hon. Friend the Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Scott-Hopkins) asked about pay and allowances for the Gurkhas. The basic pay of Gurkha officers and men is tied to the Indian Army rates as a result of the tripartite agreement signed in 1947 between India, Nepal and the United Kingdom, and these are the rates which they get in Nepal. When they are serving in Malaya or Hong Kong, they get, in addition to this basic rate of pay and allowances, what is known as the Malayan and Hong Kong addition, which takes account of the extra cost of living in those places rather than in Nepal. Officers and men who have taken their families with them to Malaya or Hong Kong also get what is called the married accompanied supplement. In the United Kingdom, where we have all been very pleased to welcome the advance party of Gurkhas last week, comimissioned officers get the full rate of British Army pay and allowances, and the Queen's Gurkha officers get special rates of pay and allowances appropriate to them. Gurkha other ranks get special United Kingdom allowances on top of the basic rate of pay, which makes their total remuneration almost the same as that of the British soldier.

At present, the Gurkhas' rates of pay are shown in the Army Estimates in two places—on page 20 which shows the rate chargeable to Vote 1, E, and then we are referred to page 11. A footnote to Appendix II on page 223 refers to the special rates of pay that are paid in addition to soldiers serving with the Brigade of Gurkhas. I suspect that these allowances relate to British soldiers—other ranks serving with the Brigade of Gurkhas and not to Gurkha members of that Brigade. Is that so or not?

I suspect that it is so, because the footnote is to that part of the Appendix which deals with the rates of pay and allowances of British officers and other ranks.

Now that the War Office is bringing the Brigade of Gurkhas to this country, and they are therefore an accepted part of the British Army here, would it not be as well to print the rates of pay of British and Gurkha officers and other ranks as an Appendix to the Army Estimates, so that we know where we stand?

I will certainly look into that suggestion.

My hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, West (Mr. Wingfield Digby) asked me about the outfit allowance and why the provision for it was reduced in this year's Estimate. The reduction is due to the fact that in the previous year a special payment was made to all serving officers on account of the reintroduction of service dress. They all got it. In a normal year, the allowance is paid to officers only on first appointment. I can say in reply to the other question which my hon. Friend asked me that the reduction in the amount of pay for officers in this Vote reflects a reduction in their numbers.

In reply to the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg), who raised the familiar question of numbers—

Is the whole question of the officer ratio being looked at now that we are returning to a volunteer Army?

Yes, Sir. That is under examination. There is nothing more that I can usefully say to my hon. Friend on that point at the moment. Nor have I anything which the hon. Member for Dudley would consider useful to tell him in the question of numbers. I cannot go further than my right hon. Friend did the other day when he said:

"It may be that when all the staff tables have been revised, in the course of the next few months, our manpower requirements will be a little different from the previous one but we know enough already for me to be able to say "—
and this is the important thing—
"that the variation will not be large."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th March, 1962; Vol. 655, c. 611.]
I am not going beyond that. I am afraid that that must also be my reply to the hon. Member for Dudley—

I can understand the difficulty of the War Office. It is changing its mind, and, for political reasons, wants to conceal this fact, but will the hon. Gentleman give an assurance, or talk to his right hon. Friend and get him to agree that when the War Office makes up its mind, it will not conceal the fact—many of us are interested in this—but that an announcement will be made to the House of Commons about what the new planned figure will be?

The hon. Gentleman knows that we always tell him as much as we can, because if we do not, he usually finds out. We shall give him the information as soon as we have completed our studies and at the appropriate time.

5.30 p.m.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Kershaw) asked whether I was satisfied with the number of applicants coming forward to become officers. Although we have shortages in certain corps, notably the Royal Army Medical Corps, the general picture of officer recruiting is good, and the intakes to Sandhurst and Welbeck are satisfactory both in numbers and quality.

My hon. Friend and I have discussed the questions of people applying to go to Sandhurst after a preliminary period in the ranks, and long-service commissioned officers. I am not ready to give the reply that I promised on the first of those questions. On the second, I can only say that although there is an amount of insecurity inherent in the job, these officers take it on in the full knowledge of what is implied in it. We can offer engagements of this kind—and we have plenty of applicants for them—only if we are allowed to keep a certain amount of flexibility as to how long the engagements should continue, but I will bear my hon. Friend's point in mind, and write to him on the other question.

I have tried to answer, although perhaps rather untidily, most of the points made, and I hope that the Committee will now be content to pass this Vote.

I do not entirely follow this mysterious state of unconsenting understanding. Apparently the Forces are willing to accept £9 million being forcibly taken from them as their contribution to the Government's policy. Am I to understand that Service men have been persuaded that this is necessary to save the value of their pay, and that this sum affects the position, whereas less than half a cruiser which might perhaps be put back for a year does not affect it?

I think that the hon. and learned Gentleman is being unnecessarily difficult and perverse in misunderstanding what I have tried to say. He has, from his side of the Committee, a fair point against the way we have done this. He may dislike the whole policy of the pause, but that is a matter for debate, and we have debated it. I have given my opinion that this is a policy which is intelligible to sensible people, and that the Services, which consist of extremely sensible people, broadly see the advantages of the policy at which we are aiming. It is my opinion that they accept the position, bearing in mind that part of the results of the recent review will be implemented on 1st April.

Whether it is sensible or not is a matter of opinion. The pay pause may also be a matter of opinion, but whether it is honest is not a matter of opinion. It is dishonest. It is difficult to deal with a voluntary Army if one starts being dishonest.

Having listened to the speech of the Under-Secretary of State for War, I have come to one conclusion, and one only, that on the questions I asked him about pay, both he and his right hon. Friend are living in cloud-cuckoo-land. The hon. Gentleman said that he had acquainted himself with the feelings of the Army. Indeed, my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) was chided for being unnecessarily difficult and perverse in putting questions to him about his statement.

The hon. Gentleman said that the Services, while not being pleased—and as a student of human nature I can understand someone not being pleased at not receiving that to which he is entitled—understand why they are not getting their full entitlement. The hon. Gentleman also said that there were ways of testing the feeling of people in the Army—through senior officers.

Not one iota of evidence has been placed before the Committee about the feelings of the Army. During the defence debate the Secretary of State for War said that he believed that the Services would not wish to be excepted from the pay pause, and now we have been told by the hon. Gentleman that he has acquainted himself with the feelings of the Army.

How were these feelings ascertained? Who was asked? Can the Secretary of State for War place his hand on his heart and say that one corporal was consulted, or that one private soldier was consulted? I am merely asking questions to discover what happened. The Minister stated categorically that the Government believed that the Services were prepared to accept this situation, and, though not pleased about it, understood why it was necessary.

If a categorical statement of that nature is made, it must mean that men who have contracted to serve for a considerable period of time and, therefore, cannot leave the Army at short notice have expressed their opinions. We should be told how many Service men were consulted. Has the War Office caused any inquiries to be made to discover whether a substantial proportion of Service men accept this delay in the implementation of the pay award? If this has been done, we should be told about it. If we are told that there has been an inquiry; if we are told that people in the Army have been interviewed, that a number of private soldiers, fusiliers, corporals, sergeants and captains have been asked for their opinions, we should be told how this was done.

The Under-Secretary should not expect the Committee to accept his statement, "I have acquainted myself with the feelings of the Army." How was this done? Whom did he ask? When there is such a welshing as this on pay to which the Army is entitled, a Minister should not categorically state, "I have acquainted myself with the feelings of the Army", or, "I believe that the Services would not wish to be excepted from this pay limitation".

I was a National Service man. My rate of pay was 22s. 6d. a week, and I know how a soldier counts each and every shilling. I cannot believe that the Services are prepared to accept this situation.

Is the hon. Gentleman saying that he has definite information that the Army does not accept this?

It may be that because English is my second language and not my first I did not make myself clear. I was not making an affirmative statement. I was merely referring to what two Ministers said. If the hon. Gentleman was present during the defence debate, he must have heard what his right hon. Friend said.

If one has one's pocket picked, the prima facie case is one of dissatisfaction.

I am obliged to my hon. and learned Friend.

Perhaps I might quote the following figures to the Committee. Mathematics is not my strong point, and if I have made a mistake no doubt I shall be corrected. By the failure to implement in full the recommendations of the Grigg Report, a private soldier stands to lose £13 6s. a year. He will get £280 this year, rising in April to £293 6s., and then he will have to wait until the following year before the next increase [takes him up to £306 12s. He will, therefore, lose £13 6s. That has completely gone. Have any private soldiers been asked whether they are willing to lose £13 6s.?

The married private soldier will lose £20 6s.—almost 8s. a week. Have any of those soldiers been asked what they think about it? The married sergeant loses £30 15s., and the captain £15—almost £1 a week. Can the Under-Secretary tell us that all these categories understand the situation and are prepared to accept it without complaint? I should like some evidence from the Minister that such inquiries have been made and of whom.

Can my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary tell me what kind of employment will be given to the Gurkha detachment which is over here? Can he reassure me that these troops will be given guard duties in London—perhaps at Buckingham Palace—in the coming summer, and will give displays throughout the country? What ceremonial functions will they perform? I hope that they will be given an opportunity to do these things.

I support the plea made by the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Scott-Hopkins). The year before last I went to the School of Infantry to see a demonstration by a company of Gurkhas drilling with the F.N. rifle. It was a joy to see them. When their band played on Horse Guards Parade I persuaded my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) to come with me. I took him there under false pretences, having assured him that he would see a masterly display of exercises with small arms. Unfortunately, although we heard the music we did not see the display.

I am sure that many hon. Members would be interested to see the Gurkhas drilling with this weapon, which at one time was thought not to fit in with any drill movements. If such a demonstration were given in New Palace Yard we might even persuade my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) once again to join a company of the Home Guard if the Government see fit to form one. I am sure that the public would be extremely interested to see a demonstration by these troops, and since their employment here as part of the Strategic Reserve is a new step, which has been accepted by hon. Members on both sides, I hope that the hon. Member will recommend to his right hon. Friend the adoption of the suggestion made by the hon. Member for Cornwall, North.

5.45 p.m.

When the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Kershaw) raised the question of the difficulty of obtaining a sufficient number of N.C.O.s and warrant officers, I thought that the Minister missed the point. If the hon. Member for Stroud was not putting that point, I should like to do so now. It is not disputed that it is fairly easy to recruit large numbers of people who would like to be officers. There are many reasons for this. The problem is not that of recruiting a large number of officers—of which there seems to be an almost inexhaustible pool—but of recruiting good N.C.O.s.

I would not presume to speak on behalf of the hon. Member for Stroud, but I understood him to ask why, when these people—many of whom are interested in a military career—are found to be patently unsuitable to be officers when interviewed, they are then lost to the Army, instead of becoming warrant officers or N.C.O.s at a later stage. It does not appear to be a question of pay. The rate of pay of the warrant officer compares very favourably with the rates paid to many other sections of the community—for instance, to Members of Parliament. A warrant officer can now get more than £800 a year, plus his keep.

The difficulty appears to be that in 1962 there still exists a very archaic difference in social treatment. The Army still draws too clear a social distinction between the officer and the noncommissioned officer or private. The distinction is less marked than it used to be, but it still exists, and is far greater in the Army than it is in civilian life, where the comparable categories are the managerial staff and the foreman and chargehands. Almost all these differences have long been discarded in industry as being outdated, but they exist in the Army today, and seem to be a deterrent to recruitment.

Recruitment of nursing staff has been more successful. In this week's Time and Tide, which can be purchased for 1s., there was an excellent article dealing with the serious problems facing civilian nursing services in recruiting nursing staff. If we examine the Q.A. scales for qualified State registered nurses we find that the Army is offering a wage of £584 a year, rising to £666. This is considerably higher than the sum offered in civilian hospitals for people with identical qualifications, who are paid £525, rising to £656 a year.

The position appears to be even better from the point of view of the career grade. I believe that the comparable rank in the Q.A. is captain, in respect of which the scale goes from £711 to £894, which compares favourably with the civilian scale, for people with identical qualifications, in that it is £186 more at the bottom of the scale and £238 more at the top. It is essential that at least some part of the Government service should be able to attract a sufficient number of nurses.

There seems to be a woeful lack of information about this. A week ago last Monday I telephoned the Ministry of Defence to ask how many nurses there were in the Services. I have since telephoned three times, and have still been unable to find out. I asked about rates of pay, but after making three telephone calls I looked up Whitaker's Almanack. It might be worth purchasing a copy for the Ministry of Defence. It is a mine of information for people dealing with queries of this type. In this highly competitive field—in terms of civilian employment—the Army is able to compete on equal terms, and with better salary scales, and is, therefore, able to attract the people it wants in this grade to do work virtually identical to that which they do in civilian life.

The problem that exists right the way through the Army, namely, the attitude adopted towards the officer and the noncommissioned officer, respectively, is completely non-existent in relation to the private and the tradesman. If we look at the people who are equivalent to the mass of the nursing service in civilian hospitals, there is the private, Grade 1, which, I suppose, would be a substitute for the majority of nursing orderlies, and there is a salary rate—no scale, just a flat rate—of £265 a year.

A person with identical qualifications in a civilian hospital—I am quoting hospitals, because this is one of the few spheres in the Army which is directly comparable with civilian employment-doing an identical job—

My right hon. Friend shakes his head, but the Q.A.R.A.N.C. have S.R.N. qualifications.

I should have thought that the Army has shown what almost amounts to genius when dealing with the Q.A.R.A.N.C. other ranks. The Army has solved the problem by taking in girls and putting them on a training "roundabout". Many of them would probably find great difficulty in getting into civilian hospitals, perhaps because of a deficiency in educational qualifications.

They go into the Army and the Army trains them and in many cases they come out with S.R.N. qualifications, but in my opinion they are in no sense comparable with civilian student nurses. I speak with some knowledge of the subject, because until recently I had a daughter in the Q.A.'s and I got my information from her.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend.

My point is that if we look again at this article, which it is convenient to do as it contains all the figures, we find that in 1960 there were in British hospitals in civilian service 54,392 full-time qualified nurses; but there were 59,852 nurses in training. So the position in civilian hospitals is that they are staffed with untrained staff. The idea that civil hospitals are staffed with qualified staff is a myth. They are not, and they have not been for many years.

With respect to my hon. Friend, I should have thought that at any rate in this sphere the nursing orderly in the Q.A. and, say, the Class I private, compares broadly with the person carrying out the broad range of these functions in a civil hospital. I think that the Services show a sense of genius because they recognise this problem. In civil nursing an enormous amount of time is spent training people, in the full knowledge that the majority will leave, either because they find better jobs or because they do not like the training or, in some cases, because nature has its way and they get married.

In the Army they go in the career grade as nursing orderlies and if they want training they get it. Of course, some of them get married, too, but we cannot hold the War Office responsible for that.

My point is that when we consider Grade I, the average rate is £265 a year, but the comparable income for those people in civilian hospitals is £575 a year.

Of course. But staff resident in hospitals get their keep. They may pay a small contribution, but residence on the job is a feature of military hospitals as well as civilian hospitals.

The point I am trying to make—that does not invalidate the argument at all—is that there seems to me to be a problem right through the Army. If one looks at the officer in the Army, in this sphere—sensibly because it wants the person—the Army pays a salary which, at the minimum end of the scale, is £186 in excess of that obtainable in civilian life, and, at the maximum, is £238 in excess of that paid for the identical job.

This is a good thing. It is good commercial practice. The market rate is paid for staff at the rate at which staff can be employed. But in the case of the unskilled or semi-skilled person the Army pays £315 a year less than is being paid for the identical job in a civilian hospital.

I come back to what I hope was the point raised by the hon. Member for Stroud. One of the main problems facing the Army is that the conditions and standard of commissioned officers is still too far divorced from that of other ranks. It is now clear that officers can be obtained in very good quantities. But it is equally obvious—my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley makes this point on every possible occasion—that one cannot get the large mass of other ranks which it is essential to have if the Service is to tick over.

I ask the Minister, therefore, whether consideration should not be given to recognising that the basic structure, the basic difference between commissioned officers and other ranks represents a major difference which no longer exists in civilian employment. While we are able to compete in terms of commissioned officers precisely because the commissioned officer rank, even that of lieutenant, offers, in terms of standards, something far in excess of anything a person can get in a comparable job in any sphere in civilian life, the attraction for other ranks is so much less.

So long as there is this big difference it will continue to be impossible to attract people to the lower ranks which it is essential to fill in order to make the Service work.

I wish to press the point made by the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Morris). Can the Minister tell us what action he has taken to discover the opinion of ordinary soldiers about the pay reductions? What consultation has the Minister had with soldiers in Scotland? Has he had consultations in Glasgow, Edinburgh, or Aberdeen? I cannot understand the Minister of Defence making a statement without having taken the opinion of a cross-section of Scottish soldiers. I cannot see the kilted soldier in Aberdeen agreeing to a pay reduction unless the whole character and thinking of men in Aberdeen has completely changed.

I should like the Minister to give some facts, to tell us how the Minister of Defence came to make what would seem to be a very remarkable statement recently. I am quite sure that this statement will be read with very great surprise by people in Scotland. The recruiting figures in Ayrshire—so I am told by the Secretary of State for War—have gone up to about 13 a month. But if potential recruits get the idea that pay expectations are not coming up to what was promised, perhaps the figure will go down from 13 to 6.

When the Minister of Defence made his statement in the House I interrupted him—other hon. Members interrupted him as well—to ask about the trade unions. The Minister puffed out his chest grandiloquently as he stood at the Dispatch Box, and said, "I am the trade union leader for the forces." How does a trade union leader get in touch with the rank and file? What happens when a soldier who has read the statement wishes to say, "That is not exactly the opinion of the men in our battalion"? If soldiers protested to the commanding officer, what reply would they get? Would they be told, "You cannot pursue this, because if you do, you are likely to cause discontent in the forces"?

Unless the Minister has any definite evidence to back up (he categorical pronouncement which he made from the Dispatch Box, I think that the hon. Member for Aberavon is justified in asking what are the facts. What is the machinery? How is opinion consulted in the rank and file of the Army? I should like to know especially what were the reactions and replies of soldiers in Aberdeen who were consulted about this pay pause.

6.0 p.m.

I want to make a suggestion to help the Minister out of the difficulty in which he is placed on this question of the alleged acceptance by the forces of the pay pause. The Minister's statement was most ill-advised. If the tale is spread abroad that the pay pause is accepted by the forces, it is almost an invitation to mutiny.

What about the next time? The members of the forces will have to make their feelings much more apparent. The Minister would have been much more candid and effective had he said that the members of the forces recognise that a particularly "lousy" trick has been played on them, but that as a particularly "lousy" trick has also been played on the rest of the population they are prepared to put up with it. That would have been a more accurate description of the state of affairs.

My suggestion for helping the Minister out of his difficulty is this. We can test the feeling of the forces. Why not take a Gallup poll? We have had recent evidence that Gallup polls may be more accurate than many of us would wish. It would not be very expensive. I am sure that Mr. Durant could fix it up in a few days, and the Minister could report the forces' feelings to us even before the next by-election results are known. We could have that simple question put to the members of the forces, and find out how many of them actually like having their pocket picked—

Royal Assent

Whereupon The GENTLEMAN-USHER OF THE BLACK ROD being come with a Message, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair.

Mr. SPEAKER resumed the Chair.

Message to attend the Lords Commissioners;

The House went:— and, having returned;

Mr. SPEAKER reported the Royal Assent to:

1. Army Reserve Act, 1962.

2. Largs Burgh Confirmation Act, 1962.


Again considered in Committee.

[Sir ROBERT GRIMSTON in the Chair]

Question again proposed,

That a sum, not exceeding £133,080,000. be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the expense of the pay, etc., of the Army, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1963.

When I was so royally interrupted I was about to say that if a Gallup poll, or some other poll, were taken on the matter, the Government might be able to discover accurately how many members of the forces like having their pockets picked, how many do not know and how many find the transaction positively distasteful.

I find it difficult to add to what I have said about pay. The hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Morris) tried to put into my mouth words which I believe I did not say and which certainly I did not intend to say. I did not say that all the Services like the present position. That would have been an unlikely proposition to put forward. All I said was that I believe that they understand the reasons behind it and the implications of the pay pause policy, as I believe does the country, although it may not like it. I cannot go further than that.

The hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) and my hon. Friend the Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Scott-Hopkins) asked some further questions about the Ghurkas. I have noted what they said about the employment of these fine troops on ceremonial duties in London. I am sure that it would give general satisfaction if some of them could be seen in the capital. We will see whether something can be arranged during their stay in this country.

The hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Marsh) made some comments on the recruitment of nurses. I am glad to say that we are not dissatisfied with this position, although we exact extremely high standards and are as selective as we can be. The figures which he gave for the pay of a nursing private in the Army were slightly misleading when compared with the pay of a nursing orderly in the National Health Service, because the nursing private also gets food, accommodation and all found, whereas the nursing orderly in a civilian occupation has to pay for board and lodging.

I am grateful to the hon. Member for drawing attention to the attractive conditions which we are offering to recruit nurses, and I hope that as a result of his remarks, and the publicity which they may receive, we shall be even more successful in the future.

Question put and agreed to.


That a sum, not exceeding £133,080,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the expense of the pay, etc., of the Army, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March. 1963.

Vote 2 Reserve Forces, Territorial Army And Cadet Forces

Motion made, and Question proposed,

That a sum, not exceeding £19,900,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the expense of the Reserve Forces (to a number not exceeding 240,000, all ranks, including a number not exceeding 233,000 other ranks). Territorial Army (to a number not exceeding 225,000, all ranks), Cadet Forces and Malta Territorial Force, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1963.

6.15 p.m.

I have one or two questions which I wish to ask quickly. The first relates to Subhead A of Vote 2. I cannot understand the reference to the Regular Reserve of Officers. On page 29, it is stated:

"The Regular Army Reserve of Officers is divided into three classes."
I assume that in Class II and Class III there must be a fairly substantial number of officers who would come under this heading. Yet on page 30, opposite Regular Reserve Officers, I find, "Nil". I do not understand that. It may mean that all the officers are recruited under the Army Emergency Reserve and come under that heading, but that does not seem a plausible explanation. Perhaps my hon. Friend will comment on that point.

My second question comes under Subhead D, "Territorial Army Works, Buildings and Lands". I hope that my hon. Friend can reassure me that the Army Territorial Service is not buying more land. Goodness knows, it has enough already.

Under Subhead Z, there is a reference to receipts from property sales. It seems madness if, at the same time, they are still buying more land for more buildings. Surely they have enough land in their possession, and there ought to be no additional expenditure under this heading.

I wish to ask some questions about the Reserve Forces and the Territorial Army and Cadet Forces. I have been trying to work through the various categories of reserve personnel, and I should declare a slight interest for I appear to be in the Army General Reserve, which, I understand, is the Reserve with the least obligations. A sum of £20 million is involved.

I wish to ask some specific questions on a subject which may well be covered in this Vote or in Vote 1. Has this Vote any effect on the number of Regular Army personnel who are engaged in the work of preparing camps for the Territorial Army and the Combined Cadet Force?

I have asked this question on previous occasions. I asked it in the debate on the Army Estimates. It is well known that a large number of men of the Regular Army have been employed on the necessary work of putting up tents and generally servicing the Territorial Army. I think that this is not a good thing for the Regular Army to do, and I should like to know whether it is covered by this Vote, and how many men will be engaged on this work this year.

I believe that it is fundamental that men of our Regular Army should not be engaged in these tasks if, at the end of the year, when the Territorial Army season ends, they find themselves not in the right and proper stage of training that they should be. The situation would be very much worse if any of the men in the Strategic Reserve comprised in this Vote engaged in these tasks.

Another question which I have asked before concerns the training of the "Ever-readies". While there is a pool of trained ex-National Service men available from which the "Ever-readies" can be trained there should be no difficulty in the training of the "Ever-readies". I would prefer that they were trained not in the Territorial Army, but on a separate basis, preferably with the units of the Regular Army to which they would be attached if trouble should ever come. Is there any provision in the Vote to give to the "Ever-readies" some extra training over and above Territorial Army training? Is there any provision for the paying of "Ever-readies" for this purpose?

I realise the problem that arises when this pool of ex-National Service men has dried up. The "Ever-readies" then will be simply T.A. trained men. In my opinion, that training, however good it may be, will not be enough for them to fulfil the rôle which they will be called upon to fulfil with the Regular Army. Harm will be done to the Territorial Army unit in the first instance, because men will be instantly whisked away from that unit and they may be called upon to fulfil important rôles with the Regular Army. If their training is not adequate they will not be able to fulfil that rôle properly. Is there provision in the Vote to give these men, particularly those who are not ex-National Service men, other training short of the six months' training that they may well be called upon to undertake? I am thinking of some type of training over and above Territorial Army training.

We have been told that the Territorial Army is to take part in an exercise, to be held in September. Is provision made for that in this Estimate? What is the estimated expenditure that the Government have in mind for this special exercise?

I notice from Subhead D, "Territorial Army Works, Buildings and Lands"—that the figure has gone up from £2,400,000 for 1961–62 to over £3 million this year. This is a substantial increase. I should like to know the reason for it. Strictures have been made in the past on the buildings of the Territorial Army, but I am not making any this evening. Has any study been made of the comparative cost of putting up Territorial Army buildings through private contracts compared with the cost of the Regular Army putting up its own buildings? Is it more expensive pro rata to put up buildings for the Territorial Army than for the Regular Army? Perhaps we may have some explanation of this increase.

Another question is: how does the number of civilians employed on the staff of the Territorial Army compare with the situation pre-war? We are told in the Explanatory Memorandum that the reorganisation of the Territorial Army announced in Cmnd. 1216, is now complete. Since we are back to a fairly normal situation, can we be told whether any comparison has been made between the number of civilians now employed in the Territorial Army—ex-officers and people of that category—and the number pre-war.

My hon. Friend the Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Scott-Hopkins) asked me a question on a technicality about the presentation of the figures for the reserve of officers. I shall have to write to him, because I cannot answer him at the moment.

My. hon. Friend also asked me about our land holdings, and why we are still buying land in the United Kingdom. The position is that overall the Department has reduced its land holdings, following the reduction in the size of the Regular Army, and that we are now in the course of releasing about 146,000 acres. Up to the present we have actually given up about 118,000 acres. My hon. Friend will realise that it is necessary from time to time, while allowing some land to go, to acquire other land. We do so only when we have to meet the changing needs of the Army.

For example, new Army information offices are being acquired to help my right hon. Friend with his recruiting drive. We have to buy sites for the provision of married quarters, but they do not amount to a very great acreage. Also we sometimes have to acquire small extensions to existing areas of War Department land, such as the training areas, to enable the Department to concentrate in one location and release land elsewhere.

The hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Morris) asked how much assistance would be given to the Territorial Army by the Regular Army during the coming training season. I believe that he has a personal interest in this, having once, as a National Service man, found himself looking after a Territorial Army camp. I appreciate the hon. Member's personal interest. It is impossible at this stage to give him a figure of the actual number of Regulars involved in assisting the Territorial Army in this way, because the arrangements to do this job are made by commands from within their own resources. When they have calculated what they need they make bids to the War Office for any assistance they cannot provide from their own sources within the command, and we have not yet had these bids for the forthcoming year.

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that it is our policy, and we see that this is enforced in the commands, that the number of Regulars used to help in Territorial camps and Territorial Army training is kept to the minimum. This is obviously sensible. On the other hand, it is all part of one Army and one defence force and it is necessary to ensure that the Territorial Army gets its proper training; but where possible, for obvious reasons, we spare the regular manpower.

Will the Minister assure us that no unit of the Strategic Reserve is involved in this work?

I cannot go beyond what I told the hon. Gentleman the other night, that we shall make sure that the primary rôle of the Strategic Reserve is not in any way compromised by it, perhaps in marginal cases, having to undertake this sort of obligation. Its first priority will be to remain available for its primary rôle.

The hon. Gentleman asked me about building costs and whether he was in order in raising this question on this Vote. He certainly is in order and I can assure him that we make a very careful study of all comparable rates of building costs as between our needs for the Territorial Army and the Regular Army and those that prevail in civilian life. We do this continuously.

The explanation for the increase in the provision for building for the Territorial Army this year in this Vote is a rather special one. I am glad that the hon. Gentleman drew attention to it. The position is that the reorganisation of the Territorial Army has thrown up a number of surplus properties—drill halls, and so on—some of which have a high value for purposes of redevelopment. At the same time, a great deal of Territorial Army accommodation and property is out-of-date and needs rebuilding or modernising.

6.30 p.m.

My right hon. Friend and I are determined to ensure that, as appropriations in aid of this Vote will result from Territorial Army property coming up for disposal, the Territorial Army will get its fair share of money available in the defence budget for the rebuilding of premises of which it will get the future benefit. With this in mind we have recently agreed with the Territorial Army Advisory Council a five-year rebuilding programme. After consultation between commands and local Territorial Army Associations, we have put just over £1 million in these Estimates to ensure that a start will be made this year. We are very glad to have been able to do this. We owe it to the Territorial Army to ensure that it gets its fair share of new buildings to replace old property which is being sold.

The hon. Member for Aberavon asked me about the training of "Ever-readies." I cannot say that in this Vote there is provision for any extra training of the "Ever-readies" over and above that which falls under their obligation as members of the T.A. It is, perhaps, worth making this point. I meant to make it in one of our earlier debates about the "Ever-readies" and their training. Hon. Members who have perhaps sometimes felt that, with the arrangements we have made the "Ever-readies" might not be sufficiently highly trained, should remember that the purpose of this reserve is to be called up to join Regular units in time of tension, not in times of actual war.

Implicit in its employment in this way is, I think, a period of time during which the men called up to join the Regular unit would be likely to be living side by side with Regulars during a period of tension, readjusting themselves to the life of a Regular service battalion, having an opportunity to shake down and brush up their individual training, and so on. This is worth bearing in mind, because it obviously will be a useful opportunity of further training for the men of this reserve over and above what they will do with the Territorial Army in the normal way.

This is a very novel doctrine which the Under-Secretary is enunciating. As I understand, the "Ever-readies" were formed because the Government's recruiting programme has broken down. The situation might arise in the immediate future in which Regular units are under strength and the "Ever-readies" would be called up in times of tension—I thought to strengthen the Regular Army. We are now told that the raison d'être is to train them. In times of tension a Regular unit which is under-strength will have enough on its plate without having to train these new recruits.

I know that this is a slight exaggeration of what the Under-Secretary has said. I do not want to indulge in a reductio ad absurdum, but the facts are that we were previously told that this was to be a corps d'elite. We were told that the most careful selection would be made. Some of us questioned whether a fortnight's training was quite enough to equip a man to take his place in a Regular unit. We were told that this would be enough. We are now told, as if there have been second thoughts, that it does not matter very much, because hostilities will not result. We are told that there will be a time of tension and that, therefore, these men can be called up and trained. This constitutes another change of front on the part of the Government.

I readily admit that I am pushing it a little hard. If the Government now think that a fortnight's training is not sufficient—I am inclined to agree with them; I have always had doubts about the proposal from the time I first saw it—they should go away and think again. If a moment of tension comes, clearly the Government will not take the drastic step of calling up the "Ever-readies", because that might even heighten the tension. It will become known that they are being called up. How can the Government be sure that hostilities will not result? The "Ever-readies" are to be called up because hostilities might result. As for the training programme of the "Ever-readies", the Government are to look at the problem as if, although they call them up to put the dummies in the shop window, it is absolutely certain that hostilities will not result.

This is an extremely dangerous doctrine. I have wearied the House on many occasions by referring to the almost perfect mobilisation plan, namely, that which operated in 1914. It was almost perfect in the way it operated. It is true that the rearguard action from Mons was fought by units which contained as high a percentage as 60 per cent. reservists. But they were reservists who were trained. That is why they out-fought the Germans. They had the great merit that they were the product of a long service. Now we are to have the glass topped up not by trained reservists, but by men who have had no training at all and whom it is hoped to train when they get there.

I have listened to the hon. Gentleman with great patience, but he must not say this. All along he has been attributing to me much more than I have said. Now he talks about these men having no training at all. He knows full well the training which an "Ever-ready" will have to undergo as part of his engagement. I merely said, quite by the way, that as and when this reserve is called up there will be an opportunity in the normal course, because of the way these things are likely to happen—it is not certain—for the men to have a period in which to shake down in a Regular unit. I am not saying any more than that. The hon. Gentleman must accept that.

I have not the least desire to be unfair. Indeed, I have said that I am pushing it a little hard.

The hon. Gentleman says that I know full well that they will have to undergo training. What training—a fortnight? What can be done with an enthusiastic young man in a fortnight, which might be as long as a year ago? It might be little more than a memory. I do not disagree with the hon. Gentleman that a very good unit which happens to be short, let us say, of 50 men and makes them up with "Ever-readies", can take the 50 "Ever-readies" and still be effective. I do not say that that cannot happen. I say that the Government have changed their mind.

If the Secretary of State thought that, he was very hard put for arguments when we were considering the Army Reserve Bill. If he thought this he would have said, "Do not worry about this. We shall be very selective and choose only good material. We shall ensure that it is a corps d'elite, but the training is to be carried out after they are called up". That as what the Under-Secretary has said.

The Under-Secretary must not shake his head like that. Of course, he can do so if he wants to, but it has no effect, except that his head may drop off.

If a man has had only a fortnight's training, which may be as long as 50 weeks ago, no one will argue that he is an effective soldier. Of course not. He will not be comparable to the reserves who were called up under Section B in 1914. Nor will he be in any way comparable to the National Service man whose place he is taking and who has "gone through the mill" and is in every way a soldier.

I say this kindly, with great respect, and very sincerely. The Under-Secretary has come along today to break this one because somebody in the War Office has had second thoughts about how this will work and wants to calm public opinion. They want to calm the Army by saying, "Do not worry, boys. When they get in, the Army can perform miracles". The Army can perform miracles, provided that it is not pushed too far.

We have had other announcements from the Government about the change in their manpower targets and the fact that they are examining the question of having a corps of infantry in the constitution of the Army as a whole. We are also promised in the White Paper an examination of the reserve forces. There is a specific undertaking in the Defence White Paper that the whole of the reserve forces will be looked at again and, as I have said, it seems that some rethinking is required. I wish there had been some rethinking before the Army Reserve Bill had been introduced.

If the hon. Gentleman thinks that what I have said is incorrect, or that I am making too much of this, perhaps he will set my mind at rest and relate what I have said to the statement in the Defence White Paper that there is to be a re-examination of the reserve forces.

Question put and agreed to.


That a sum, not exceeding £19,990,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the expense of the Reserve Forces (to a number not exceeding 240,000, all ranks, including a number not exceeding 233,000 other ranks), Territorial Army (to a number not exceeding 225,000, all ranks), Cadet Forces and Malta Territorial Force, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1963.

Vote 8 Works, Buildings And Lands

Motion made, and Question proposed,

That a sum, not exceeding £48,300,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the expense of works, buildings and lands, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1963.

The amount of money shown under Subhead A of this Vote is to be devoted to new buildings and is an extremely good target. I have heard from all quarters that the amount of building going on both here and overseas has been extremely well received by the Army and that we are now getting to a decent standard, particularly for married quarters. My hon. Friend is to be highly congratulated on this achievement.

I am rather concerned, however, about the figure of £190,000 in Subhead E for works services in aid of work by industry, in which it is stated:
"Provision is made for capital assistance to industry engaged on production on behalf of the War Office… Provision is also included for the maintenance of buildings held as reserve production capacity."
What exactly does this mean? Throughout the Votes reference is made to the money the Army is paying to private industry to do research and development work. I am all for research and development by private industry, where necessary, but it seems that the Army is spending a large amount, perhaps larger than is necessary, and I would like an explanation of this.

On Subhead G, which deals with the purchase of land, although my hon. Friend dealt with this when we considered the previous Vote, I hope that it will only be in times of emergency that land will be purchased, or for rehousing or for new exercises. It would be monstrous if we had the Army buying up more and more land, especially considering the amount of land it already holds—and I refer to good farming and agricultural land in all parts of the country.

We can talk about Army pay from now until Doomsday. While it is very important, the real basis of a contented Army is the assurance the men have of a continuing family life. Good married quarters represent the basis of a good Army.

In Subhead A of this Vote is shown the sum of £462,000, which it is intended should be spent in the next financial year on the provision of married quarters abroad. I suppose that this is an addition to the £1½ million which, it is expected, will be spent on services already started. But I feel that if we are to stabilise the Army abroad—and some hon. Members consider that it should be increased—this figure will also have to be drastically increased.

Last year, I had the opportunity of travelling to Germany to see exactly how the Army of the Rhine was living. In our tour of the various Army camps we saw some of the private accommodation which the soldiers had provided for themselves and I must say, frankly, that the standard was just not good enough for the soldier of today. It is expensive, while not being very good. If the money which is now being spent to supplement the rents of inferior accommodation for the Army abroad were used for the provision of permanent and decent buildings, the type of letter from which I propose to quote would not be received by hon. Members. The Under-Secretary knows about this letter to me because, as a result of it I received a disappointing letter from him.

The letter states:
"I am writing in the hope that perhaps you can help me. My husband has been in the Army for eleven years, and all this time we have been separated. Now my husband is serving in Germany and we want to be together. He has 77 points and he has been told this puts him up the top of the list for married quarters. Yet others seem to get quarters before us. My husband has objected to it, but there is nothing he can do about it. So I thought I would try to do something myself. We have a son of nine and a half. Is there anything we can do? I will be very grateful for your advice."
The Under-Secretary, who has been very kind throughout the whole of this matter and who, I believe, has done his best, explains in his letter to me that married quarters are allotted on a points system which gives credit for rank, length of service, size of family up to three children and the extent to which a family has been separated during the last three years. Here is a family which, apparently, has been losing the benefits—if "benefits" can be used in this context—of eight years' separation.

The Under-Secretary stated:
"… the waiting list is liable to fluctuate as other families with more points come into the garrison and also because families already in Germany must be accommodated first when the husband moves from one station to another."
I fail to see the logic of that, because the accommodation situation in Germany is of no real importance to a serving soldier who is posted from home to a station abroad. He needs married quarters. The only real way to have a contented Army is to offer a real family life with housing facilities which are no worse than these families have enjoyed in this country.

6.45 p.m.

I wish to raise a point on Subhead G, regarding the purchase of land and buildings. I have just returned from a short visit to Sennelager, the all-arms training centre of the Rhine Army, about 25 miles from Bielefeld, in Westphalia. This is very bleak country and, at this time of the year, is extremely cold.

In the middle of this training centre there is a wonderful sports field, with facilities for playing rugby, soccer and other sports. This is of great value to the troops. I imagine that, in the sort of bleak, open country I speak of, it is the only kind of recreation and amusement available to them. While I was there a rumour was circulating among quite high authorities that this recreation field might be handed over to the Germans because of some difficulty over the cost of its upkeep.

If it were handed over to the Germans, who are also training there, the fear was expressed that it might be used as a tank training ground and that the recreational facilities now provided for the troops would be lost. I urge my hon. Friend to look at this and to allay my fears, for it would be a shame if this wonderful field, of about 100 acres, could not be kept for the Army for the period of its stay, which may be very many years indeed. These are the only facilities in the area for recreation.

I am sure that all hon. Members will agree with the comments of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Rochdale (Mr. McCann') about married quarters. This is the one important aspect of married Army life. We must ensure that Army married quarters are as good as those enjoyed by families in civil life. However, I cannot see any provision in the Estimates for accommodation for the men immediately they come back from overseas. Frequently, when a unit comes back from overseas, a man goes to his unit and his family is split up, possibly going to relatives and remaining there for some time. I know that there is temporary accommodation for this type of case, but I cannot see provision in the Estimates for either improvement or enlargement.

I welcome very much the increased expenditure on married quarters in the hope that the time may come when every soldier who is married gets a married quarter as of right.

I endorse everything that has been said by hon. Members, on both sides, about the need for more married quarters. The Memorandum by the Secretary of State for War confesses the disappointment of his Department this year about the number of married quarters that were put up. Paragraph 71 contains the statement that

"This time last year it was possible to look forward with some confidence to a spurt in the programme for rehousing the Army in modern buildings. … In the event, progress has not been as quick as had been hoped. At home, for example, the boom in building of all kinds has slowed the pace of new work."
I shall not repeat the points I made in the Army Estimates debate, but it is obvious to everyone that housing and accommodation for our soldiers is, like council house building, at the end of the queue as compared with the Clores and the Cottons. Private building has first preference every time and accommodation for the Forces comes very much at the end of the queue.

If I understood aright the Third Report from the Estimates Committee, that Committee was dissatisfied with the explanation proffered by the War Department for the fall in the building programme. The Committee said, in paragraph 35:
"The witness, when asked why only one-third of the planned expenditure for new barracks had taken place this financial year, stated that this was due to delays consequent on pressure of work in the building industry."
Question No. 449 of the evidence on this matter bears out that statement. The question was put:
"Is it not very unusual for plans costing £3 million to come out in the end as an expenditure of only £1 million? "
This was the answer by the official of the War Department:
"It is unusual and it is disappointing."
That sums up the position.

The Estimates Committee stated:
"Your Committee do not consider that the conditions at the time the Estimates were framed differed significantly from those obtaining during the financial year. They therefore believe that the loss of so much as two-thirds of the programme must have been due in part to the Department embarking on an unrealistic programme. At the same time they find it hard to believe that so great a shortfall was due solely to this factor. In any case the Department cannot escape considerable responsibility for the substantial discrepancy disclosed."
I made this point when speaking on the Army Estimates, but if my memory serves me aright, it was not answered. Here is a grave indictment against the War Department. I hope that when the Under-Secretary replies, he will meet it.

In the Estimates Committee, the following question was put by an hon. Member of the House:
"Let me put it this way: are you anticipating next year having to put in a larger Estimate than you had thought this year you would have to because the delay is liable to result in an increase in costs? "
The answer was:
"It will certainly mean we have to spend more money from now onwards than we had expected, as the programme will be to that extent pushed on. Whether it means that we shall spend more money next year I am not sure ".
Can the Under-Secretary clarify that statement of the witness to the Estimates Committee? Whether it means that we shall spend more money next year, I am not sure. It may merely mean that the programme lasts longer. As my hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale (Mr. McCann) said, it is vitally important that when men join the Army they should have every possible opportunity for the continuation of family life. If we are to have a happy and contented Army, ample married quarters are badly needed. I hope that when we discuss the Estimates in future years, horn. Members on either side will not have to read the kind of letter that my hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale read today complaining about the lack of married quarters. Can the Under-Secretary indicate how many years it will be before everyone who needs and is entitled to a married quarter will be able to have one?

I noticed, as the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Scott-Hopkins) also noticed, that the War Office was purchasing land. Perhaps we can nave an explanation of this. As I understood it, the War Office was selling land to a considerable extent. Like the hon. Member for Cornwall, North, I am concerned that, where possible, good agricultural land should not be used. Perhaps we may have assurances about this.

I wish to put a specific point which possibly the Under-Secretary will not be able to answer tonight because I did not give him notice. Perhaps he will give me an answer later. At Trawsfynydd, in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Merioneth (Mr. T. W. Jones), a large area of land is held by the War Office. I understand that there have been negotiations for the sale of the land, but they are taking a considerable time. I shall be glad if the Under-Secretary will look into this matter, and I hope that the resale of the land to the farmers can be expedited.

Perhaps I may begin by answering the point raised by the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Morris) on the Supplementary Estimate. I did not deal with the point when we were debating Vote A, because it fell under the Supplementary Estimate and I thought that the hon. Member might raise it tonight. As, however, we might not get as far as the Supplementary Estimate and the hon. Member made some fairly serious charges and asked searching questions, it may be for the convenience of the Committee if I say a word about it now.

I hope to be able to convince the hon. Member that we are less blameworthy in this matter than the Select Committee implied. As the hon. Member reminded us, the Committee's criticism was based on the fact that in our original Estimates we assessed the likely expenditure on new works services to be started in the United Kingdom during this financial year as just under £3 million, whereas in the Supplementary Estimate we put the figure at £1,070,000, a difference of nearly £2 million. The Committee state that they
"do not consider that the conditions at the time the Estimates were framed "—
that is, in the last half of 1960—
"differed significantly from those obtaining during the financial year."
The Committee concluded that our original Estimate must therefore have represented an unrealistic programme.

It was not until the summer of 1961, however, that my Department began to run into difficulties in placing new contracts for barracks in the United Kingdom. These difficulties could never have been foreseen six or nine months earlier. Barracks are not straightforward things for the building industry to tackle. They are complicated. The builders who might have been available found that there were plenty of simpler jobs ready to hand. They lost interest in our business and, as a result, the tender prices that were being submitted to us rose sharply.

One thing that we could have done would have been to go ahead and place the contract notwithstanding the high prices that were quoted. Had we done this, the original Estimate would probably have been vindicated. We should not have built so much, but we should have built it so expensively that we should have just about come out at the original Estimate figure, and the House would have known nothing about it. That, however, would have been thoroughly irresponsible and wrong, as, I am sure, the Committee would agree.

Instead, we reviewed the scope of the services for which the high prices had been quoted and we revised and simplified one project after another so as to bring down the cost and ensure that we got value for money. All this inevitably took time. Thus, the starting of the new projects was, in many cases, delayed by several months, anything from two to eight months. This is very disappointing to my right hon. Friend and to me because we have been most anxious to press on to the best of our ability with the home building programme. But we were not prepared—I do not believe that the Committee would wish us to do so—to carry on irrespective of cost. I think that this puts a slightly different slant on our position in the matter which I hope the Committee will accept.

7.0 p.m.

The explanation which the hon. Gentleman has given seems rather more alarming than the one given to the Estimates Committee. Apparently, an estimate of about £3 million was presented, and, when it was looked at, it was decided that the Department could have what it wanted, under a simplified scheme, for about £1 million. What has happened to the chap who gave the £3 million estimate?

When we receive a price which we regard as unacceptably high, we have sometimes to accept reduced and simplified standards because there is a limit to the finance which can be made available for particular projects. It may happen, after we have gone out to tender on one basis, that the tenders seem likely to be very high. Prices rise. Contracts are subject to variation when prices rise for inevitable reasons. If, as a result of these things, the result seems to come out unacceptably high, it is right that we should have another look. It is only financially responsible to do so.

One can entirely understand that attitude in regard to marginal differences which might even go up to 20 per cent., but here we are dealing with 200 per cent. If one can obtain substantially what one wants for £1 million, I should imagine that one would wish to inquire fairly closely into what was done by the people who set out the previous specifications stating that the requirements could not be met for less than £3 million. It seems a very alarming state of affairs.

That is the difference, but the whole programme is very much bigger than that. I will look at the point which the hon. and learned Gentleman has raised, but I hope that he will. on further consideration, feel satisfied with my explanation.

I am glad that we have had an opportunity in Committee today to think about the importance of married quarters. My right hon. Friend is under no illusion about how essential such provision is for the continued good morale of a Regular Army. When speaking about our building programme a year ago, he laid the main stress on the provision of accommodation for married soldiers and their families, and this still remains our top priority job. However, as we have had to point out in the Memorandum, there has been some delay in the provision of building works in overseas stations. We have explained the reasons for that. Apart from this, we are maintaining the rate of progress which we started last year.

The hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. McCann) referred to accommodation in Germany. I can tell him that new building of hirings, the type of married quarter which is prevalent in Germany, is going ahead extremely well, but naturally, some of the private accommodation which is the alternative open to a soldier who cannot qualify for a War Department hiring is not as good as we should like to see. Men are allowed to go out and have their wives with them if they can find accommodation, which, of course, has to be passed as satisfactory by the commanding officer. We have to strike a balance in these things, accepting that, if men are to have their families with them in the interests of family unity, the standards will not always be so high as in the quarters which we ourselves have built. The hon. Gentleman quoted from the letter which I wrote to him. I will look at the matter again, but I regret that I cannot hold out much hope, since the decision was based on the points system which we operate, that the answer will be any different from what I was obliged to tell him before.

My hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke) asked about a sports field in Germany. I shall look into this and write to him, if I may.

The hon. Member for Aberavon and my hon. Friend the Member for Clap-ham (Dr. Alan Glyn) spoke about War Department land. My right hon. Friend and I are anxious not to hold any more land than we need to hold. We do not want to keep land which could otherwise be used for agriculture. We do not buy more land unless we find it essential to do so. I ask the Committee to remember, nevertheless, that this is a small island. Land is short for every sort of purpose and everyone casts envious eyes upon it. The Army needs land for training. If it is to be efficiently trained, a certain minimum amount of land suitable for training areas is and will be essential. We have to keep this in the forefront of our mind, not to speak of married quarters, barracks, and so on. Subject to that, it is our policy, subject also to the needs of other Government Departments, to make available for other uses any surplus land which we hold.

I am familiar with the specific case in Wales to which the hon. Gentleman referred. If he will excuse me, I will not go into it now. I hope to write to him about it very shortly.

I apologise to my hon. Friend. He asked why it was that in Subhead E there is provision for assistance to outside industry. The reason is that—I am thinking particularly of munitions production—we cannot make everything we need for the Army in our own factories. It is sometimes an economical and sensible arrangement either by sub-contract or in some other way to arrange for the production we need to be done by private industry This, as I understand it, is the explanation of the payments for capital investment. I cannot justify each one in detail now, but I can tell my hon. Friend that in general I am satisfied that this principle of payment in aid of capital resources to be used for our purposes in industry is a sensible one which does give advantage.

I gather from what is said on page 167 that the War Department is holding buildings, presumably factories, in reserve in case it is desired to expand production. Is that what it comes to?

Yes, that may happen. We may have part of a factory, a shop within a factory, or even a section of a shop, and we have to maintain it. Provision must be made for the maintenance of the building in a private concern.

The hon. Gentleman was good enough to refer to one area in Wales. Will he bear in mind that there are other areas which the Armed Forces expect to vacate? I have in mind the area around Pembrey on the Carmarthen coast. I understand that this is to be vacated in the near future. In such a case, does the War Office make any effort to draw to the attention of other Government Departments the fact that such land is being vacated, with the idea of inducing them to establish industries there, particularly in places where the introduction of industry is so vital?

Could my hon. Friend deal with the point which I raised? Is there provision in the Estimates for improving and enlarging accommodation to receive troops when they return from abroad with their families? I cannot find any in the Estimates.

I cannot give my hon. Friend the answer now, but I will write to him and let him know what it is.

In reply to the point raised by the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. S. O. Davies), when we have land available for disposal, as a matter of policy we offer it to other Government Departments to see whether they are interested in it. The former owners of agricultural land also have rights which, as a matter of policy, are respected. When industrial sites are involved, my right hon. Friend and I consult the Ministry of Labour and the Board of Trade over matters such as those which I think the hon. Gentleman has in mind.


That a sum, not exceeding £48,300,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the expense of works, buildings and lands, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1963.

Vote 9—Miscellaneous Effective Services

Motion made, and Question proposed,

That a sum, not exceeding £9,930,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the expense of miscellaneous services, including grants in aid. which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1963.

I should like to raise one or two points. First, under Subhead C, I am glad to see that the sum spent on publicity and recruiting services is increasing, but I trust that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State will ensure that every penny spent in this way is well spent and that we see some dividends from it. I am sure that the which has been spent already has been of great value in increasing recruitment.

Subhead J causes me anxiety. There is reference to a figure of £783,000 which the Army is paying in compensation for damage. I assume that this must be mostly in the United Kingdom. This is a very large sum, particularly when the number of exercises carried out in this country is not enormous. I should imagine that most of this compensation is paid for wanton damage. We have had cases in my constituency recently where members of Army training units, particularly those on young Junior Leader Regiment courses have gone out on initiative training to various parts of my constituency, especially on Bodmin Moor, and have done wanton damage to old and historic buildings.

My hon. Friend has written to me about this. He has taken the matter up, and I am pleased that it is being dealt with. This has happened time after time. Young soldiers have done an enormous amount of damage. Unfortunately, it is not confined to young soldiers; I wish that it were. I hope that my hon. Friend will keep a close watch on expenditure under Subhead J and will ensure that not a penny is wasted and that the strictest orders are given to commanding officers to the effect that the men under their command should treat civilian property with respect when they come across it in training.

Under Subhead K, there is reference to miscellaneous educational and technical training charges. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State on the way that the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst is being run and on the valuable work which is done there. I am disturbed, however, by the figures on page 237 of the Estimates. Apparently, there are 1,029 military and civilian staff at Sandhurst. From memory, I think that there are 800 cadets there. It seems to me that 1,029 people to look after and train 800 or 900 cadets is rather excessive. I hope that my hon. Friend is satisfied that the number of staff there is not excessive and that all is well.

Finally, under Subhead O, may I ask who goes to the National Army Museum at Sandhurst? How many civilians visit it? I am delighted that £3,000 should go to it. I am in favour of keeping it in being, but is there enough publicity about it and do enough people know about it?

7.15 p.m.

I wish to refer to Subhead C, but for entirely different reasons from those of the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Scott-Hopkins). I think that the warning which he gave that money should not be misspent is well justified, since a great deal of money on the publicity services of the Army has been misspent and misapplied.

It is a menacing and sinister fact that the Army, through its publicity services, has flagrantly intervened in Wales in the political debates of the nation. Before supporting the Vote, which, I observe, proposes an increased expenditure of more than £20,000 on the publicity services, I seek an assurance that this practice of political intervention, which is as abhorrent as it is unconstitutional, will cease. In view of the tarnished reputation of France today as a consequence of Army officers meddling mischievously in the politics of the country, we are warned of the dangers of any publicity service embarking on political adventures.

It is well known that we have, most regrettably, in my view, had some Panzer forces in Wales. A great national debate has taken place, and undoubtedly will take place again if they come again. It is to the political issues surrounding this matter to which I wish to draw attention. This would not be the place, nor would it be in order, to argue the merits of their coming. All that I seek to do at this stage is to establish that there is a political issue and then to establish that the Army's publicity services have directly intervened in it. Suffice it to say that there is a great divide on the question throughout the nation.

The Conservative Party and the Government have urged that training facilities in Wales should be given as a military necessity for N.A.T.O. On the other hand, the Labour Party and the Trades Union Congress, at their annual conferences, have made it unequivocally clear that they regard the coming of the Panzers, under officers who supported the unspeakable horrors of the Nazi régime, as an insult to the memory of millions who died to preserve liberty and democracy from the German menace.

I do not wish to develop this point. I merely state that it is a political issue. The Labour Party conference rejected the Government's view. It believed it to be a mockery to suggest that the training of young German soldiers in Wales under ex-Nazi supporters is anything but a most distressing act. Indeed, the conference considered that it is a gross provocation to the peoples of Poland and Eastern Europe, whose memories of the hell of the German occupation can be only too easily evoked.

Order. I am reluctant to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but I should be grateful to him if he could show how what he is saying is related to the Vote which we are discussing.

I am obliged, Sir Harry. The Army, through its publicity services, has one job and one job only—to keep right out of political matters.

I now wish to deal with the time prior to the arrival of these Panzer troops and then with when they arrived. It is known that on this occasion, after having first ensured that Welsh journalists, including even those on newspapers with the smallest circulations, were taken to Germany on a softening-up operation, where they were well wined and dined, as a preliminary to the arrival of the Panzers, an Army public relations office was set up as near as could be to the gates of this isolated training camp.

As I said in a letter to The Times, the office
"was manned not only by public relations officers of Western Command, but drew in officers from other commands. It had attached to it at least one civilian public relations officer, a high-ranking officer to serve television and Press photographers, and an ex-journalist noncommissioned officer, not to mention the English-speaking German officers who were readily made available."
What were they there for? We want to know by what right they were there and to what purpose this battery of public relations officers assembled in this isolated spot.

The War Office, after the events that took place there, made a statement through the medium of The Times. The War Office spokesman, as reported in The Times of 11th September, 1961, said:
"… any public relations staff at Castlemartin were there purely for passive reasons—the passing back of information to the powers-that-be. Their job, he said, was not to whip up support of any kind."
That statement by the War Office spokesman was rather belated. What did this battery of public relations officers do? Did they passively sit down in isolated Castlemartin to report on the song of the birds and the nature of the fauna there? Of course not. We all know what occurred.

Many Welsh Members consider that the intervention of the Army public relations officers there was nothing short of disgraceful. That is why I raise the matter now. Far from being passive, they directed an invitation to the Press giving a full schedule of the programme for the Germans while they were in Wales. They indicated the many occasions during the three-week training period when the Press would be given full facilities for interviews and photographs. This they distributed right through the Press in Wales, and in case it was misunderstood they made clear in a circulated statement that it was specifically intended that the Press should be welcome.

How welcome they were was speedily indicated on the day following the arrival of the Germans. Before any of them had been permitted to go out of the camp it was arranged through the Army public relations services that a hand-picked group of German Panzers should be sent to the nearby town under a German officer, with an Army public relations officer, for the exclusive benefit of Press photographers.

As I said in my letter to The Times:
"The hapless German conscripts were given orders to do all the Press photographers asked of them, and, needless to say, Panzers were soon propped up into artificially affectionate poses with local girls."
There is no doubt that the pubertal romanticism of silly, adolescent girls was calculatingly and deliberately stimulated by irresponsible Army publicity officers.

Young and bewildered Aryan blonds who had just set foot in Wales were taken out on this curious escorted tour and were commanded to link with suitable Celtic (teen-agers in Pembroke so that photographs could be taken of the loving welcome being extended by girls who had only just set eyes on them.

The Army public relations officers, in deliberately sponsoring these photographs, put into issue the honour of Welsh women, the overwhelming majority of whom regarded such behaviour with disgust. For what purpose and by what right did the Army public relations services, paid for by the taxapayers of Wales, among others, so traduce our womenfolk?

The Army, in its high pressure enthusiasm to sell Germans as if they were brands of detergents or soap, began to draw in its horns when it was seen what was happening. We saw the situation which arose after people had demonstrated lawfully and with discipline against the arrival of the Panzers. We had some of these teen-age girls outside the camp screaming, "We love Panzers" and jeering at demonstrating South Wales miners. People may agree or disagree on whether the Germans should be there. It is, naturally, a matter which causes profound emotion, but it is no part of the Army's task to try to intervene to sell Germans to Wales.

We give the warning that if there is any further intention on the part of the Army to intervene in this political battle, which will come about once again if there is an attempt to bring Germans into Wales, all of us who think as I do will make quite certain that the Army, as well as the Government's policy, will become involved in a grave political issue. This country has learned to make quite certain that the Army is subordinate to Parliament and is completely insulated and isolated from any political controversies that concern the nation.

I trust, therefore, that we shall have a much more satisfactory reply today than that given by the War Office spokesman who had the impudence to suggest that the rôle of the Army public relations officers was absolutely passive when they embarked on the venture which I have tried to describe.

I should like to support what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Ponty-pool (Mr. Abse) in his remarkably eloquent speech. I know how close this issue is to his heart. I want to keep within the bounds of order but I think that it will be agreed that it is difficult not to convey the impression that one is anti-German in connection with this matter. I want to put the Committee perfectly at rest on that point by saying that in the last year of my service in the war I spent my whole time with German Luftwaffe forces. I spent a year, day-in-day-out, working in close touch with them. I would point out, in spite of the publicity, that these young Germans who came to South Wales last year had no responsibility for the terrible acts which were perpetrated by their predecessors. They are just victims of the present maelstrom of European and world events.

I rise also to tell the Under-Secretary and the Committee that many Welsh Members feel as strongly about this matter as my hon. Friend has implied and has himself shown. I shall not repeat the evidence which I read in The Times and which my hon. Friend quoted. I was not present in Pembroke that morning. If I had been I should have been proudly marching with hundreds of my constituents. I feel strongly that the money which is being spent on Army publicity, and which we are now asked to increase, should be spent much more wisely than it was spent on that occasion. Calumny has been heaped on many of my constituents. They have been called everything under the sun, but there were among them on that occasion elderly ladies and men, including trade unionists, of the highest character.

Yes, and there was nothing anti-German in their feeling. Naturally, amongst elderly ladies who had lost loved ones in the forces there was some emotion, but this was not an anti-German demonstration. We are not blaming these German troops in any way. We are merely trying to pinpoint the blame on the Army publicity service and the way it acted in this matter.

7.30 p.m.

At the moment, the Foreign Ministers are meeting in Geneva to try to bring about a solution to the problems facing the world. If publicity like this is perpetrated by people in the Army, I believe that it will make it a great deal more difficult for the Government to find a satisfactory solution through their foreign policy. The basic task of the Army publicity service is to bring about peaceful relationships between two entities—in this case, the Panzer forces, which regrettably had to come to Wales, and the Welsh people. If this is what it achieved in what was a peaceful demonstration, then I say that it failed dismally and that its failure is not a happy augury for the future. The Secretary of State must look closely into the way in which this service was used to ensure that there is no repetition of this unfortunate event.

I do not wish to go into the merits of the case, and I appreciate that many hon. Members opposite feel deeply on this subject. I agree with the hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. Probert) that the object of the Army publicity service, whatever one feels about German troops coming here, is to try to ensure smooth relations in what could only have been a very difficult situation. I am sure that the service did its best to make the exercise as smooth as possible and tried to smooth down the objections which arose.

I join with other hon. Members in being glad to see that a larger share is being given to publicity, because we all realise that if we are to get the required number of recruits we must use every form of publicity. The Army publicity service is showing a very new look in its methods of publicity, and I welcome the expenditure for the purpose.

I have one question to put about hospital treatment. In Subhead D hospital charges are referred to. I can understand expenditure to meet the charges of civil hospitals abroad and the Royal Medical College, but I am at a loss to see where our Service men should be treated outside the National Health Service in this country. I can understand that, in some remote parts of the country, the Army might have to use non-National Health Service personnel to treat troops, but I cannot envisage this happening frequently.

I understand that the Army makes no payment for treatment under the National Health Service. I hope that cases of payment for medical treatment are rare. We have a perfectly good State service which should be used on every possible occasion.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse) for raising the question of the activity of the publicity services of the Army during the controversial matter of the German troops being trained in Wales. I believe that the man who should be in the dock is the Secretary of State. He has open to him avenues of publicity, both in this Committee and in the country, through which he can advance the views of the Government without using Army publicity services to suit party political aims.

It is a very serious charge that we level against the Government tonight. It is that the Government have deliberately resorted to these underhand means of using the Army publicity service—which was intended to bring recruitment to the forces and to convey an image to the British people of what life in our own Armed Forces is like—to strengthen the Government's political position concern-in e the training of German troops in Wales.

The Army's publicity arrangements were used to cast discredit on the people who demonstrated in Pembrokeshire. Statements emanated from Army officers, and were published in the Welsh Press, which should not have come from those who are in the Armed Forces of the Crown. The charges made against those who took part in the demonstration should have come from the Government Front Bench and not from the people employed in the Army publicity services.

The Secretary of State must realise that he does the Army no good by allowing the publicity services to be used for political ends, for he will create hostility where there is none towards our forces. We realise that tonight we cannot raise the whole question of the training of German troops in Wales, but I say to the right hon. Gentleman that, if he is to follow the same policy with regard to the thousands of Panzer troops who are to be brought to Wales this year, then he can expect trouble both in the House of Commons and in the country—and I for one will do my best to stir trouble up, because I believe that he has no right, on a controversial issue of this sort, to be using the privilege of the Army publicity services to advance a particular political view.

I realise that there are those on both sides of the Committee who believe that German troops ought to train in Wales. I do not share that view, but whether we share it or not, hon. Members on both sides will agree that the right hon. Gentleman has embarked on a very dangerous policy, for the issue is not whether we approve or do not approve of the training of German troops in Wales, but whether we approve or do not approve of the use of the publicity services of the Army to defend Government policy on issues of this kind.

I earnestly hope that the Secretary of State will not underestimate the strength of feeling in the Principality on this matter. The Welsh are a people who believe in hard hitting when there is controversy. We do not mind taking blows as well as giving them, but we like to know whom we are to hit, and we are not accustomed to going for the Army authorities. We debate these issues in this Committee, but, if the right hon. Gentleman pursues this use of the Army publicity services there will be speeches in Wales by Welsh Members criticising individual members of the Armed Forces who make statements on controversial issues. This is surely the last thing that either side of the Committee would want to see.

The debate has been useful in giving an opportunity to the Government to realise that a major blunder was committed on this occasion.

I listened with great interest to the speeches of the hon. Members for Pontypool (Mr. Abse) and Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas), both of whom objected to the policy of German troops serving in Wales—a policy which the hon. Member for Pontypool said was rejected by the annual conference of the Labour Party. Of course, it was still approved by the Parliamentary Labour Party, as I understand it—

Order. We can discuss the publicity matter, but we cannot go into question of policy of one party or another.

I only wished to correct a mis-statement of fact, which I think the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. Coulson) might like to have corrected. In fact, the official Labour Party abstained on that occasion; it did not support it.

If the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) is correct, then I am wrong and I apologise, but it is always difficult to know which is the official Labour Party policy.

The hon. Member for Pontypool must excuse us if, on occasions, we are apt to laugh or smile. We are not considering this a humorous subject, as he seems to indicate, but the hon. Gentleman underrates his own powers of oratory if he thinks that there was not at times touches of humour in what he himself was saying. Perhaps he will excuse us for that.

Publicity by the Army publicity services at the time when German troops came to Castlemartin last year was not political interference by the Army publicity services at all. It is well-known to all who have investigated the problem that our troops in Germany in B.A.O.R. would have been put to considerable difficulty in their training routine and in the area available to them for training if these German troops had not been allowed to come to this country.

The hon. Member for Pontypool knows as well as I do that the training facilities for the Army in Germany are very restricted, and that there are also political reasons on the other side, but not of the sort he referred to.

Sennelager, which was refered to by one hon. Gentleman, is leased to the British Government, or to the British Government and one or two other Governments, to train troops there, and, in fact, if German troops had been in Sennelager in large numbers we would have been forced out, along with a number of the forces of our N.A.T.O. allies. That would have meant political pressures from the West German Government to bring the lease to an end, and we would have been in considerable difficulty.

In fact, by allowing German troops to come here we were protecting the interests of our own Army, particularly B.A.O.R., by allowing them to train there—

Order. The hon. Gentleman is now getting rather wide. We cannot talk about the merits of German troops coming here. We can only refer to the publicity in connection with it.

I accept your Ruling, Sir Robert. All I wish to say is that this matter of the use of the Army publicity services was not interference in political matters at all, but was, in fact, protecting the interests of the Army, which is one of the purposes of the publicity services.

Am I to understand that because he considers it politically expedient for the Army, or opportune because it was Government policy, the hon. Gentleman therefore sanctions the use of public funds by the Army publicity services to put across Government policy? Is that what the hon. Member is suggesting? If not, I am sure that I and many others have totally misunderstood his speech. This is a very dangerous doctrine.

I was not suggesting that, and if the hon. Gentleman had been listening carefully, I do not think that he would have thought that I was suggesting that it was politically opportune for the Government to take a particular attitude. T was saying that political pressures might have been brought by the West German Government to force us out of Sennelager, unless we had provided adequate facilities for German forces in this country.

7.45 p.m.

The Committee owes a great debt to my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse) for raising this matter, in what I thought was the unanswerable case which he made. The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. Coulson), who has just intervened, has only further proved the case put by my hon. Friend, because he has suggested—though he did not go as far as this—that the reason why the Government allowed the Army publicity services to engage in the kind of activities in which they did engage was because it was politically expedient because of what was to happen in Germany. If that is the defence of the Government's policy, it seems to make the position even worse, maybe, than it was originally.

Great feeling has been stirred up on this question. I was not able to be there myself, although I would have liked to have been, as I was at another demonstration elsewhere. If I had not been at another demonstration, I should have joined many of my friends from Ebbw Vale. In fact, many of my friends from Ebbw Vale went there, and did their best, despite difficulties caused by others, to prevent a very ugly scene when various missiles were being thrown, and it was one of my friends who said, "Do not be provoked; wait until you see the whites of their eggs." This shows the great restraint that we exercised in such a demonstration.

Very serious feelings were stirred up, as my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) said, and one of the reasons why it is so regrettable that the Army publicity services should have been used in this way is because of the campaign which has been provoked, in my view, in the most shocking manner, against those who were using their perfectly democratic rights to protest against a policy which they thought was wrong for the country as a whole and for Wales—the decision to bring German troops there at all.

We have had a campaign run by the usual agencies, and, I am sorry to say, backed by my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly), suggesting that everybody who demonstrated against the Panzers coming to Wales were Communists and that they were being paid for by Communists. Many of those I know who went there never have been Communists. They paid their own fares to Pembroke, and they wanted to send the bills to the hon. Member for Pembroke and invite him to pay them for having said that they were being paid by Communists. Of course, they were not.

There was widespread feeling, and this is the main reason why the Government permitted the Army publicity services to get into this difficulty at all. Perhaps the Government did not realise how deep was the feeling. Perhaps if the Opposition Front Bench had voted against German troops ever coming to this country at all, as the Labour Party conference subsequently voted and declared that to be the official policy of the Labour Party, the Government would have had a better warning, but, even so, they could have discovered the fact that all the official Labour organisations in South Wales had opposed the idea of German troops going there—the Regional Council of the Labour Party, the National Union of Mineworkers and most of the other Labour organisations in Wales, which had opposed it, not on the grounds of race or anti-German feeling, but on the grounds given by my hon. Friends and others in this House when it was debated.

It was certainly not run on racial grounds; indeed, many of those conducting the campaign were among those—

On a point of order. Is it in order for the hon. Member to describe the campaign against bringing German troops over here?

On a point of order. Is the hon. Member in order in describing the campaign against bringing German troops to this country, as he was doing, by every Labour organisation and disaffected element in South Wales?

I am listening to the hon. Gentleman, who, so far, I think has been trying to relate his arguments to the use of the Army publicity services. If he goes too far, I shall pull him up.

Thank you for your Ruling, Sir Robert.

It was precisely because I was trying to indicate—and this is possibly the most charitable explanation of why the Government got into difficulties—why they allowed the Army publicity services to do what they did. Perhaps they did not understand properly the strength of the division of feeling about it in Wales and elsewhere and did not realise what they were doing. Maybe the Government were misled by the absurd and quite false charges made in some of the newspapers in Wales and elsewhere that this was a Communist stunt; and when my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke lent his support to that kind of charge possibly the Government were further misled.

They should not have been misled. They should have studied the matter and realised that they were using the publicity services in what was an extremely hot political issue, and by so doing caused greater difficulty. One hon. Gentleman opposite, who tried to defend what had happened, said that the publicity services were being used to smooth relations for the German soldiers who came here and to make things easier for them.

If that was so, I can see the justification for it, because all those who were engaged in the campaign protesting against Panzer troops coming here were not saying that they wanted to inflict any personal humiliation or injury on individual German soldiers. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdare (Mr. Probert), who said that that was not part of the campaign. That was part of the misrepresentation of the campaign. If the idea was to smooth relations, there was no need for photographers to do it. There was no need for television cameras. There was no need for advice to be given to the German troops on how they should comport themselves in front of the television cameras. There was no need for all that if the intention was to smooth relations and provide welfare facilities. It was something different from that. All that happened was exploited in a manner which I think the majority of people in Wales regarded as utterly disgraceful.

We are not debating the main issue tonight, but, unfortunately, German troops will again come to Wales. I hope that on the next occasion the Labour Party Front Bench will state its official policy on the (matter. When the next lot of troops come, will the Minister make sure that there is no recurrence of the events which occurred on this occasion in the use of the publicity organisation? Will he give us an assurance that if we have the French paratroops here the scenes we saw in Wales will mot be repeated, with the publicity services being used to provide television programmes and photographers to boost the French paratroops? If the Government want to use their publicity services for welfare purposes, let them do so, but they must not use them for propaganda on an issue which has big and important political complications.

Would the hon. Gentleman agree with what I said earlier, that whether they are French paratroops, German troops, or any other troops visiting this country, the public are interested in them? The public like them to have publicity, and like the various exercises to be publicised, and this, in the long term, is in the interests of the Services throughout the country. The hon. Gentleman went rather wide in his speech, but would not he also agree that by having the Germans here we have done our troops a good service by allowing them the use of ranges in Germany?

I will not go into the hon. Member's second point, because I would be out of order if I did so.

On the first issue, about the public, we are the representatives of the public. That is why we are here. It may be a novel idea to the hon. Gentleman, but that is so. We are the representatives of the public. We are having this debate today because my hon. Friends who represent Welsh constituencies are saying, "This is what we interpret public feeling to have been", and all the evidence that we have had proves it. As I said, every Labour organisation in the Principality has gone on record in this respect, and they represent the overwhelming majority of the people of Wales. If the hon. Gentleman wants to know what the public in Wales think, we have been telling him.

I want to add one or two words to what has been said, not because I consider that the case has not been adequately stated, or that it needs any elaboration of any kind. I take leave to say, I hope without any kind of patronage, that the case has been most admirably and convincingly put, and I join my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot) in congratulating and thanking my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse) and those who supported him, but especially my hon. Friend, for having raised this question and for the way in which he put it.

I intervene for two reasons only. First, because all those who have spoken on this side of the controversy have been Welsh Members, and I want to make the point, which I am sure is well understood, that this is not a purely Welsh grievance. The political neutrality of the Army is essential. It is fundamental to our whole constitution. If we once get the Armed Services, or the police force, or any other body which is under Government control and paid for by public funds intervening in matters of political controversy, then we shall have a situation which is fraught with danger not merely to one side of a political opinion, but to every side of every political opinion that can ever arise in our affairs.

It is, therefore, a matter of fundamental importance not merely that the Army should not be used on one side or other of a question in which there are deep and passionate political differences of opinion, but that it should not even seem as though it were being so used. I am sure that the Committee accepts this as a principle which we can all support, whatever our political views may be.

My second point is that I happened to take an active part in the House of Commons when the question that we cannot discuss now was decided by the House, that is, whether or not this adventure should be accepted. All that I want to say about it—certainly nothing about the merits—is that no question of any kind of racial antagonism or anything of that sort ever existed. We all realise that the young German boys who came to South Wales, and the others who may come at some other time, have no kind of responsibility for all the things that rouse the emotions that lie behind this question. Many of them—I suppose most of them—were not even born when Hitler came to power, and I suppose that some of them were not born even when the war came to an end. No one thinks of causing them any personal embarrassment.

I am not attacking it, defending it, or doing anything about it except stating it. What is involved is a political question on which there are wide differences of opinion, and the point that is being made today is that that being so, what the Army might do in a welfare direction to make things easier, to smooth the path of people who may be reluctant and unwilling guests on our territory, is well done and nobody will object to it. But if it is done in such a way as to encourage people to think that the Government are using the Armed Services and public moneys to take one side as against another on a matter where there are passionate differences of opinion, this ought to be exposed to the Committee, and the Government ought to take particular pains to make absolutely, abundantly, and overwhelmingly clear that they had no such intention, and give a clear undertaking that it will not happen again.

I was opposed to German troops being brought here to be trained. I am not going to enter into any controversy that there may be about it, but the country was divided on the issue. In those circumstances the use by the Government of the Army publicity services to defend the line they took becomes a matter of great delicacy, because, after all, the people who oppose it pay taxes on the same basis as those who support it. The Government have no right to use so delicate an instrument as publicity for the Armed Forces to support their point of view in a domestic political controversy.

The basis of our democracy is that the civilian and not the soldier is responsible for national policy. Once the soldier, the sailor or the airman—or, for that matter, the policeman—appears, as a man in his profession, to be supporting the political action of the Government in connection with a matter of political controversy, it will not be very long before we find that the whole basis of the liberty that has been secured to us by the historic attitude towards our Constitution has been frustrated.

I did not have the advantage of hearing the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse), although I was told by a subsequent speaker that it was eloquent. I regret that I was not here to hear it, because whenever I can I always go to hear eloquence. I am not going to get further involved in the controversy than to say that this is a matter of very great importance for our constitutional liberties; it is a supreme test whether or not a Government are really democratic. If the Government are democratic, they stand up for themselves. We know that they get considerably knocked about in these days, but there is not yet any need to call in the Armed Forces to put over their case for doing stupid things.

8.0 p.m.

Time is getting on, and although there are many points that I would have liked to raise, I do not intend to go into any detail on them because we have other Estimates to deal with. Complaint has been made by some of my hon. Friends about the rôle of the War Office publicity men in South Wales. Indeed, very serious charges have been levelled. I do not want to go further into the issue, but in view of the very deep feelings which are held by several of my hon. Friends—and especially my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse), who first raised the question—I hope that the Under-Secretary will be able to answer the various points that have been made.

I note that under the previous Vote there is an increase in the number of Army information officers from two to fourteen. There may be a causal connection between that Vote and this one. In view of what has been said by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), speaking with the authority of a former Home Secretary, that this is an issue of great delicacy, I hope that the Minister will be able to assure us about the rôle performed by the publicity men of the War Office in South Wales in those days in the autumn just prior to the demonstration.

It might suit the convenience of the Committee if I dealt, first, with a few points raised by my hon. Friends and then said a word about the activities of our public relations officers in connection with the visit of the German forces to Wales, which subject has formed the substance of our discussion.

My hon. Friend the Member for Clap-ham (Dr. Alan Glyn) asked about National Health Service expenditure. I can tell him that the expenditure incurred on treatment in civil hospitals is small, and concerns only a few cases where special treatment is required. He also asked about the relationship of the staff at Sandhurst to the number of cadets under instruction. I can assure him that the figure of 1,029 includes staff who look after the estate and also the married quarters. As my hon. Friend will know, both are considerable. The number of instructional staff is much smaller than the number of students, as would be expected.

The hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse) spoke with great feeling. I recognise the deep sincerity which animated all those hon. Members representing Welsh constituencies and, indeed, English constituencies, who have addressed themselves to the question of the publicity given in connection with the visit of German soldiers to Castlemartin. I respect the feelings expressed by them, and I was glad when the hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. Probert) went out of his way to affirm—with the support of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman)—that none of these feelings have any connection with, or owe their origin to, any animosity towards the German soldiers involved. I was glad when that point was made.

These soldiers are our allies in N.A.T.O. When we give them facilities in pursuance of our obligations as a N.A.T.O. ally and they come to this country to use our training areas, the Government have a responsibility for doing all they can to see that their position, when training here, is properly understood, is not misrepresented, and does not give rise to incidents.

When there is a danger of misunderstanding, and of the strength of feeling leading to incidents which we would all recognise as undesirable, it is the more necessary that we should do something—as we sought to do in this case—to put the visit of such troops in proper perspective, and to make known to the public what it is all about. These German troops were using our training areas, owned and held by the War Office. To a certain extent they were under our administration. We were responsible for seeing that the public were not misled about the sort of people they were, and why they were there.

Complaints have been made about the way in which our public relations officers carried out their job. Their job is to see that the Press get all the help it wants in connection with its presentation of news to the public and to make available, as far as possible, the material which the Press wants. The visit of the German forces was sponsored by the War Office, and it was quite proper that our public relations officers should help the Press to obtain the material which it obviously needed. This is quite common practice in many aspects of the work of Government Departments today, and it was the clear duty of our officers employed in that connection to help to give the Press these facilities.

Does the hon. Member include in that proposition the suggestion that it was proper for the War Office to spend public money on defending the decision to bring the soldiers here for training? We quite understand that the public relations officers were perfectly justified in their relationship with the Press, but this was a matter in respect of which one side said that there was a wrong political decision, and the other said that there was a right political decision. That is the very thing that is being complained about. I am sorry if the Minister does not appreciate that. It looks as if he has not begun to understand the objection to what was done.

It is difficult to understand where the one exercise—which I think is justified, and which the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne would accept—ends, and the other begins. I understand the distinction. I think that we all understand what was meant by the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) when he said that this was a delicate matter, so that in the execution it is possible for the distinction to become blurred. I think that the Committee will accept that.

I was proposing to conclude by saying two things, the first in reply to the right hon. Member for South Shields. I think that his argument—I agree that this is a delicate matter—that the Army must not become involved in matters of political controversy can lead one to very far-reaching conclusions which I am not sure that the right hon. Gentleman himself would accept. It could lead to the conclusion that the Army could not become involved in the prosecution of a political policy to the point of war, which is absurd.

I do not think that is an exaggeration. One must be careful how far one follows that argument. It could lead to the conclusion that in no sense should public relations officers of any Government Department be allowed to explain anything or any situation to the Press. I mention these things to bring the Committee along with me in realising the real difficulty which here faced us.

I realise the point at issue and the deep feelings in Wales. I hope that if the circumstances arise again, all concerned—I include those who, on some occasions, allowed the strength of their feelings to get the better of them, and, therefore, increased the scope of the job which there was for the public relations people to do—will have learned from what happened, and that we shall have no recurrence either of the events which the public relations personnel had to counter, or of any other trouble of which there has been complaint in the Committee today.

As one who, so far, has lived all his life in South Wales, I am most disappointed with the reply of the Under-Secretary. Obviously—I say this with all respect—the hon. Gentleman has not come within a thousand miles of appreciating the shock which was felt in South Wales when this propaganda for the Armed Forces occurred before the German troops arrived in our dear country.

I headed a deputation from South Wales which attended the War Office before the German troops arrived. The deputation represented at least a quarter of a million organised workers in South Wales. We drew attention to the miserable, wretched attempts being made to create, by propaganda from the War Office, the necessary congenial atmosphere in which these youngsters could be received.

Let me repeat what my hon. Friends have said already. We have nothing against the German people as a people. In fact, within a short distance of where these Panzer lads were brought we have a considerable number of Germans engaged as miners, in the constituency of my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths). So let us disabuse our minds of that idea. I speak as one who has vivid memories of two world wars. I have no inkling of who was responsible for them, but that is not a question which we may discuss on this occasion.

Can the War Office appreciate that we object profoundly to the fact that the resources of the State, backed by the Government, should be used for nothing more than sheer, misleading propaganda? It may interest the War Office to know that this propaganda did far more harm than good. We object to that, and if what we have heard is the answer of the War Office and the Government, I am sorry that I shall have to counter it by saying that if any visitation of the same kind is conducted in the manner in which the last one was, the War Office will realise that it has been playing the fool and that the people of Wales resent it. I hope that from what has been said in this debate the War Office will learn how foolish it has been.

8.15 p.m.

I think that the Under-Secretary has left the matter in a rather unsatisfactory state. He referred several times to the deep feeling which he said he understood there was in Wales. But I think that the most important part of his remarks revealed that he has misunderstood the grave constitutional problem which is involved. I should like to discuss this problem removed from the particular instance which has given rise to this short debate and to direct the attention of the Committee to other possible circumstances where a similar situation might arise which would have nothing to do with the visit of German troops.

Consider the proposed visit by a force of French paratroopers. It is beginning to give rise to serious arguments as to the political desirability of such a visit taking place at the present time, because all political discussion is related to place and time. I admire the people of France as much as anyone in the Committee and many of my friends take the same view about France and the French people. But they have expressed serious doubt about the wisdom of the forthcoming visit. If the Army were to use public relations officers, as was hinted by the Under-Secretary, for the same purpose as in the past—to put this visit in the best possible light in the eyes of the public—they would be instructing Army officers to interfere directly in a political disagreement which existed at the time. That, constitutionally, would be completely illegitimate, and I submit that it is not in the best interests of our Armed Forces.

I agree with the Under-Secretary about the dividing line being one which roust be investigated carefully in each case. Nobody could dissent from what is a commonsense view. But I submit that equally it is the duty of the Minister to decide where is the dividing lime. This is a political matter of the greatest delicacy and no one can deputise for the Minister. What disturbed me about the reply of the Under-Secretary was that he seemed to show little understanding of the essential constitutional provision that the policy of the Government which is implemented through the Army must be defended in the House of Commons by the Minister, and must not and cannot be defended by public relations officers in the service of the Army. It is the hon. Gentleman's job to convince those who disagree with the policy at the time that the Government's policy is correct.

We have been told that the number of these officers will be increased, and I welcome that. I am in favour of everything that can be done to make our forces appear in the proper light in the eyes of the nation. But it would be doing a disservice to that purpose, and make it far more difficult for many of us to justify the increased expenditure of public money in this respect, if there were the slightest doubt that some of that money would be spent in justifying the domestic political or foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government.

The hon. Gentleman must seriously address himself to that point. It is not enough for him to say that the dividing lime is a difficult one. The only solution is for him and the Department, where there is the slightest danger of doubt that Army officers may be interfering in a political argument and trying to make propaganda for the political view of the Government of the day, to instruct them to desist, and to order them to confine themselves only to the essential task of Army public relations officers, which is to encourage a good appearance of our Services in the public eye. He must see to it that controversial political matters relating to home or foreign policy are not put on their shoulders.

The Under-Secretary and his Department should not underestimate the significance of this matter. In my constituency, and in many neighbouring constituencies, there is always a very real feeling that the Armed Forces must not only be, but must be seen to be, completely and utterly neutral politically. People in my part of the country are always keen to support the recruiting campaigns, and great harm would be done to the Department's aims if those people had any doubt about that principle of the neutrality of the Armed Forces in political matters.

I apologise to my hon. Friend for not being able to be present at one stage of this debate, but I understand that he replied to my point about Sandhurst. I would ask him to give the assurance I sought about compensation for losses, damage, etc. under Subhead J; and to reject the theory put forward by the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) in so far as it applies to our own forces. If that theory were to be carried to its logical conclusion, one could say that political controversy has arisen already over conscription, and other matters. The job of the Army publicity services job is to put forward the Army in the best possible light—

I said so. I was very careful to say that, because I want to make it quite clear that I fully support the work of the information officers in making a success of our recruiting campaign. What I had in mind were matters of international policy and political controversy.

The Minister rather overstated his case when he argued that this action was necessary in order to keep the Press informed. I can quite understand that the publicity section was entitled to give the Press some facts about the arrival of the German troops, the time of their arrival, and their numbers, but what my hon. Friends from South Wales objected to was the propaganda slant that was used, apparently with the assistance of the publicity department.

Can one believe that our Press needs all this help from the publicity department of the War Office? This was a human story in which Fleet Street, the B.B.C., the I.T.V. and, so I understand, the German Press agencies, too, were interested. Does the Minister suggest that the people who earn their living by writing stories of that kind needed the assistance of the War Office? I submit that this is a case where the War Office publicity department has been a little too zealous, and I hope that now that this has been impressed on the Minister, the result will be that the publicity department will not take over functions that properly belong to the Press, the B.B.C. and I.T.V.

I am sorry that the Under-Secretary could not go a little further to meet me. I am extremely suspicious of all public relations officers, whether they support a Government, a local authority, or some commercial firm. They seem to be able to dress up the naked truth so attractively that some limit should be put on their activities. The proper place for dealing with disputes of the kind that have been referred to is the Treasury Bench.

The Committee should remember what happened this afternoon. The Prime Minister said, "I want to make a statement, Sir," and then told us that the Home Secretary, in addition to being responsible for the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, is to devote his energies to settling quarrels between two Cabinet Ministers whose interests in an acute matter might be slightly different—

Order. The right hon. Gentleman has tremendous Parliamentary experience, and I suggest he is going a little wide.

I am speaking in illustration of what can be done, Dr. King. The Secretary of State for War could have said at the Dispatch Box, "Sir, I should like to make a statement." He would have had just the same opportunity for amazing the House as had the Prime Minister this afternoon.

It is not the duty of public relations officers to defend the Government in matters of political controversy. It may be their duty to explain a policy that has been agreed and is no longer a matter of political controversy—although, even there, they should step with very great care. I regret that we did not get a recognition tonight that the key to our democratic freedom is that members of the Government have to defend themselves in matters where acute political controversy has arisen. Such controversy arose in this case, and I hope that the trouble that resulted will be a sufficient warning to Governments not to try to repeat such action too often.

Question put and agreed to.


That a sum, not exceeding £9,930,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the expense of miscellaneous effective services, including grants in aid, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1963.

Vote 10 Non-Effective Services

Motion made, and Question proposed,

That a sum, not exceeding £34,100,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the expense of non-effective services, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1963.

8.30 p.m.

In Subhead A there is a reference to terminal grants and gratuities to officers. Is my hon. Friend still paying what was known as the gratuity to the "golden bowler" officers? I imagine that most of the officers referred to have left the forces and that this payment no longer applies.

In Subhead B there is a reference to the commutation of retired pay of officers. As my hon. Friend knows. I hold very strong views about this. I do not like his right hon. Friend being the judge in his own case, which is what happens. If a retired officer puts in an application to commute his pension or part of his pension for some commercial purposes, the case goes before my right hon. Friend, who decides it on the advice given by his Department. It might be that the decision is to the detriment of the retired officer or other rank, particularly the retired officer. This has happened not once, but twice, in my constituency; the officer concerned was refused permission to commute his pension. I do not pretend to be a business expert, but I could see no reason why those applications were turned down.

The Secretary of State for War told me at the time that one of the officers wanted to invest in what was a nonviable project. How can he possibly judge that? How does he know the conditions in Cornwall or in Scotland or in Wales, for example? I hope that my hon. Friend will advise the Secretary of State to set up an independent board or at least to have an independent chairman, preferably an industrialist with wide experience, to give him commercial business advice whether a project in which a retired officer is interested for commutation purposes is a worthwhile project. The position as it stands is very unsatisfactory. The amount involved is £1,900,000, which is a vast sum. I do not rely on my right hon. Friend's judgment being always 100 per cent. right. Even if he is 1 per cent. wrong, then 1 per cent. of the retired officers are being very hardly treated, because this decision could make all the difference in the world.

Subhead D and Subhead G deal with rewards, and I wish to refer, in particular, to holders of the Victoria Cross. I am not certain how many Victoria Cross awards were made to Gurkha troops during the last war and previously, but I think that there were about thirty-six. Is the £100 a year, which is paid to the holders of the Victoria Cross, paid to the retired Gurkha officers or troops who are living in Nepal? If so, how is it paid? How is it paid to those living in outlying villages? Do they receive the full benefit of it?

Does Subhead D, with its reference to rewards to officers, include those whom in the last war we knew as Gurkha officers, equivalent to Viceroy-commissioned officers? Or do they come under Subhead G? It probably will not make much difference, but I should like an assurance on that point.

I wish to put to my right hon. Friend a question about pensions, particularly the pensions of retired officers and officers' widows and families. My hon. Friend realises that I feel extremely strongly about the present position of some retired officers and of some officers' widows. Some of these officers served for a long time. Many of these widows are living in my constituency on a pittance. These officers' widows, particularly widows of officers who died before 1958, are in a parlous condition. I hope that my hon. Friend will pay the greatest attention to the pleas made by my hon. Friends and myself and, indeed, by hon. Members from both sides of the Committee on this point. It is not good enough for him to say, "This is a non-contributory pension. In the old days there was not one at all. The officer did not expect to get a pension; he was just given a buckshee payment."

Some of these women—majors', colonels' and brigadiers' wives as well as the wives of other ranks—whose husbands had retired and then died before 1958, are living in dire penury in many places in this country; unfortunately, I have some in my division.

I am also concerned about the financial position of the retired officers, particularly those retired officers on the earlier rates of pay which were cut in 1929 and not fully restored in 1932. These officers are a long way behind in comparison with the officers who retired between 1958 and 1962. I know that they are now old and that there are few of them, and that may be why my hon. Friend does not worry about them any more. I certainly hope that he will do his utmost to persuade the Chancellor to look very quickly at this matter and that he himself will try to get through a Supplementary Estimate coming under Vote 10 to pay higher pensions to these people.

I must pay tribute to the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), who made this point earlier in the debate on the Army Estimates, although I shall not be as outspoken as he was. I agree in spirit with what he said, that these widows and officers who retired away back in the 1920s and 1930s are not getting a fair deal from the Government. I trust that this position will be put right as a matter of urgency, otherwise I shall find it very difficult to know what to do about it.

I am sure that all hon. Members will agree with what my hon. Friend the Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Scott-Hopkins) has just said about pensions. I should like to reinforce a point that I made the other day. Apart from the equity of it, I do not think that hon. Members on either side would dispute the fact that these people are entitled to decent pensions, after having served perhaps 30 or 40 years. They should have their pension upgraded so that they can have a reasonable standard of living.

A much more important point is that this is one of the worst recruiting factors we can have. No man will go into the Army if be thinks that his widow in 30 or 40 years' time is likely to suffer conditions that these widows are suffering today. My hon. Friend would do very well to press the Chancellor on this matter if he really wants to make the Army an attractive career. I would warm him, moreover, that the Army has now to Compete with commercial undertakings offering very much better pensions on retirement than those of the Army. He must have some sort of regard for these people who have served the country well and who deserve a decent standard of life.

In reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Scott-Hopkins), who asked about the so-called "golden bowler" scheme, I can tell him that payments are still being made under this scheme. I shall have to write to him about the details.

My hon. Friend also raised the question of our practice when we receive applications from other ranks or from officers in receipt of other rank pensions for the commutation of those pensions, and he felt that, by holding the discretion in his own hands, my right hon. Friend was too much a judge in his owe cause. This matter has been raised many times with us, but after reconsideration we are convinced that, in the interests of all concerned, our practice is the best that can be devised. Those charged with the task of scrutinising the applications are widely experienced in this task, because of the very nature of their job. They have to look at a great number of such applications. We must bear in mind our responsibility to the pensioner concerned, who is to some extent putting himself at a hazard if he transfers his annual or monthly payment into a capital sum which he may lose. I will draw my hon. Friend's remarks to my right hon. Friend's attention, but I cannot hold out any great hope that this question, which has often been raised before, can be solved any differently.

My hon. Friend says that these applications are considered by experts, presumably in the War Office. Does he mean experts who come in from the business world and have experience in business and commerce, or are they excellent, first-class people in the Civil Service?

They are first-class men who have the common sense which is necessary for an assessment of the risks we have to assess. I do not claim to be a great expert, but I review numbers of these cases which are raised with me by hon. Members. I am satisfied that very fair consideration is given and that the practice is a good one.

My hon. Friend the Member for Cornwall, North asked about the position of Gurkhas holding the V.C. One officer and one other rank who hold the V.C. are serving with the British Brigade of Gurkhas in Nepal and receive an annuity of £100 from the War Office. Other Gurkha holders of the Victoria Cross who have left the British Army or transferred to the Indian Army still receive a pension from Indian funds.

Is my hon. Friend saying that Gurkhas who have received the V.C. and who have retired and returned to Nepal are not paid by Her Majesty's Government and do not receive the £100, but receive a paltry sum from the Indian Government, which my hon. Friend knows as well as I do is a mere pittance? Is that what my hon. Friend is saying?

I shall have to go further into the details. This is the advice I have received. It may be that if the payment is transferred in this way it gets more expeditiously to the recipient. I will write to my hon. Friend about the details.

Will my hon. Friend give us an assurance that the amount they finally receive in Nepal is the equivalent of what they would receive if it had been paid direct by the British Government?

I take my hon. Friend's point. I will certainly look into it.

On the question of officers' retired pay, I cannot go as far as my hon. Friends would like me to go. My hon. Friends know that pensions increases have been introduced from time to time to relieve hardship caused to existing pensioners by severe falls in money values. The last such Measure had effect from 1st August, 1959. Because these are special Measures to relieve hardship, pensions increases are related to those who need them most—incapacitated pensioners, child pensioners, widows over 40, other widows with dependants, and pensioners reaching the age of 60. This means that Army pensioners, like other public service pensioners, do not qualify for pensions increases before the age of 60, unless they were invalided out or are permanently unfit for full-time employment.

It has been felt by the Government that the taxpayer should not have to find the money for helping pensioners who may reasonably be expected, and be still able, to help themselves. I cannot give an undertaking to go further than this. The answer—my hon. Friends know that this is the policy of the Government—is to ensure that we do not get inflation and do not get a position where the value of pensions is eroded. It would be wrong if we were to treat Service pensioners in isolation. They are in the same position as all public service pensioners and, indeed, as the many others who live on fixed incomes.

8.45 p.m.

As I said in reply to similar points which were raised in the Estimates debate the other night, we are keeping this matter under constant review, but I am afraid I cannot go any further in any statement of the Government's intention or practice at the moment.

I can never understand why always it is the poorest and weakest who can rescue the Government from inflation.

I hope that my hon. Friend will look at the position of the widows whose case has been submitted by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) and myself. I hope that he will give an assurance that he will look once again at the position of the widows of officers and other ranks who retired prior to 1958. I can assure him, from the depths of my heart, that many of them are in a terrible plight.

I wish that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the Government Front Bench would realise occasionally that because a thing has been done many times there is no reason why—in the changed circumstances of today, about which they are frequently so eloquent—traditional policy should not be changed.

Of course, if the Government do something for these people they must do it for someone else. I can think of other people for whom it should be done. If I pleaded for them I should be told that the Government must also deal with the people for whom the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Scott-Hopkins) pleaded and, if that were done, the most terrible disaster would overtake the country, galloping inflation would be started, the additional pensions would lead these people into an extravagant way of life and, before we knew where we were, our export-import balance would be further disturbed and final disaster would overtake us and all the things for which we stand.

I just do not believe it. It is astonishing the way in which members of the Government can look at themselves in the mirror and say, "This is a picture which should be hung at the academy as an example of genius and sympathy"—which can never express itself in actual practice. It is deplorable that we should have received the sort of answer to which we were just subjected.

As for the Gurkhas and the V.C., all I can say is that I hope that the service rendered to this country by the Gurkhas will never be thought less of than when they were still in the British Commonwealth. I recollect once hearing the Government upbraded because they had brought some Gurkha troops into Greece during the last war. I said at that time, "All I can say as an old soldier is that in a tight corner I would sooner be there with a Gurkha than with a Greek."

Question put and agreed to.


That a sum, not exceeding £34,100,000. be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the expense of non-effective services, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1963.

Vote 11 Additional Married Quarters


That a sum, not exceeding £100, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the expense of certain additional married quarters, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1963.

Army Supplementary Estimate, 1961–62

Motion made, and Question proposed,

That a further Supplementary sum, not exceeding £5,000,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1962, for expenditure beyond the sum already provided in the grants for Army Services for the year.

Sums not exceeding
Supply GrantsAppropriations in Aid
1. Pay, etc., of the Army4,000,000320,000
2. Reserve Forces, Territorial and Cadet Forces

Cr. 730,000


3. War Office250,000
4. Civilians6,700,000
5. Movements1,820,000330,000
6. Supplies, etc.2,900,000


7. Stores


8. Works, Buildings and Lands

Cr. 6,280,000


SO. Non-Effective Services500,000
11. Additional Married Quarters


Total, Army (Supplementary), 1961–62…£5,000,0001,243,000

* Deficit.

In recent years, the Government have got into the habit of issuing many of these Supplementary Estimates. When the discussions of the Army Estimates are over, the House is in such a state of exhaustion that it does not have the opportunity of examining the Supplementary Estimates with the care that they deserve.

Five million pounds is a quite substantial sum and the fact that this Supplementary Estimate is issued, as it were, as a footnote, as a supplement, to the other Estimates shows the weakness of this Committee system. I shall not enter into the argument for the extension of Committee administration, but this is an example of £5 million being rushed through at the tag end of a tiring week when the House does not have the opportunity to examine it with the care and meticulous attention that it deserves.

In a few weeks' time, the benches opposite will be crowded with hon. Members asking about the financial crisis and the heavy burden of Government expenditure. Today, however, is one of the opportunities to examine one of the Supplementary Estimates. When all the Supplementary Estimates from the different Departments are added up, they amount to a considerable sum.

I should like to examine the Army Supplementary Estimate in detail, but I turn to ask an important question on Vote 4, Subhead E, "Research and Experimental Establishments". We find that the original estimate of £6,035,000 has gone up to £6,435,000, an increase of £400,000 in one year. I should be much obliged if the Under-Secretary of State would tell us something about this mysterious and rather innocuous looking item. Six and a half million pounds is a substantial sum. Can the Under-Secretary break it down a little? Can he tell us, for example, whether it includes the research and experimental establishments at Porton, near Salisbury Plain? If so, what is the reason for the additional expenditure of £400,000?

I ask this question because when these establishments were under the Ministry of Supply, I was a member of a deputation of Members, from both sides, of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee which visited the Porton Microbiological Station, near Salisbury. The purpose of that experimental and research station was to carry out research into biological and microbiological war. We found it an extensive and expensive establishment, costing a considerable amount of money. We were told there that it dealt with all the possibilities of manufacturing the different kinds of viruses and toxins which might be used in the event of biological warfare in the future.

I remember being alarmed at the time that there were 160 scientists employed in this branch of research and thinking that they would be far better employed doing something which might be of greater advantage to humanity. The Committee will recall that there was a considerable number of Questions following the investigations by that deputation, and that the Government's defence was that it was necessary to do research into biological warfare so that we could defend ourselves against possible biological attack by somebody else.

I do not want to go into a great deal of descriptive detail now, but I hope that the hon. Gentleman will say whether the Porton Establishment is included under this mysterious heading, "Research and Experimental Establishments". It used to be under the Ministry of Supply and it was transferred to the War Office. Does it come under this subhead, the Estimate for which has gone up by £400,000 during the year? If so, what is the explanation of the rise?

The hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) complains that we do not devote enough time to the examination of Supplementary Estimates. It was to make sure that the House, through at least one of its agencies, should devote more examination to Supplementary Estimates that the recent procedure by which they go before the Estimates Committee was introduced. On an earlier Vote I referred to some of the comments which had come from the Estimates Committee on this Supplementary Estimate.

The hon. Gentleman asks about an increase in the provision for civilians at research establishments. I cannot tell him in detail whether this is attributable to increases in pay or increases in numbers, but, in general, under Vote 4, the increased provision this year is attributable to increases in pay. I should be safe in telling the hon. Gentleman that that is the principal reason for the increase to which he has drawn attention.

It is worth saying in regard to this Supplementary Estimate that the original Estimate was for about £500 million. The Supplementary Estimate is for £5 million, representing a rise of 1 per cent. This is due largely to pay and price increases which came upon us since the original Estimate was prepared and which have necessitated the bringing forward of this Supplementary Estimate.

I hope that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State does not really mean what he appears to say, that because it is only a 1 per cent. rise it is not to be frowned upon, and that a sum of £5 million can be disregarded as of no great importance. I am sure that he did not mean that. I believe that he is just as worried about these miscalculations and rises, over which we have no control, as I am, and I am sure that he will do his best to ensure that they are kept to the very minimum in the future. A sum of £5 million is equally disturbing whether it be a 1 per cent., ½per cent. or 10 per cent. rise.

With respect, my hon. Friend has misunderstood. I am not talking about the rise. Naturally, we are all as concerned as he is to see the rate of rise in Government expenditure moderated. I was referring to the degree of accuracy possible in estimating, which is different. A margin of error of 1 per cent., no matter what sum my hon. Friend likes to take, but particularly with a sum of about £500 million, is not, I believe, bad. However, we should try to improve our estimating.

9.0 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State has not attempted to answer my question about an item for £6,435,000. Where are the establishments? Do they include the Porton Establishment? For what are we voting this £6 million?

Sir William, I have asked a definite question concerning an item of £6 million, which is a huge sum, yet the Minister sits there and does not attempt to give me an answer. Surely I am entitled to ask whether he can justify this £6 million. What is it for?

I told the hon. Gentleman what the increased provision was for. I cannot go into detail on these establishments with him tonight, for reasons which he very well understands.

That does not satisfy me. I have asked: what are these establishments? I do not ask the hon. Gentleman to go into detail. Is the Porton Establishment included?

Order. I think that the hon. Gentleman should bear in mind that we are only discussing a Supplementary Estimate.

Before you came back into the Chair, Sir William, I suggested that, in view of the increased demand that public expenditure should not be excessive, these Supplementary Estimates should be meticulously examined. I have had great difficulty in dragging an anwer out of the Minister about this item. However, I have dragged out of him at last the fact that the Porton Establishment is included. Can he say what other establishments are included?

Question put and agreed to.

Royal Ordnance Factories

Motion made, and Question proposed,

That a sum, not exceeding £5,200,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the expense of operating the Royal Ordnance Factories, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March. 1963.

The Committee will note that, while the Army Estimates for the year show a net increase of £21,780,990, the Estimate in respect of the Royal Ordnance Factories shows a net decrease of £227,000. One would expect that, since the Army Estimates show an increase of this order, the Estimate for the Royal Ordnance Factories would also show an increase. I am endeavouring to discover why this is. Apart from the sum in respect of pay, this is the only Estimate which shows a decrease.

If I may declare my interest, there is a Royal Ordnance factory in my constituency at Pembrey. There are many workmen employed in that factory who are drawn from my constituency and from that of my hon. Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Lady Megan Lloyd George), which is the neighbouring constituency. When we saw that the Estimate for the coming year is lower than last year's we at once concluded that this might be partly due to the fact that we had recently been told that 500 workmen employed in the factory are to be made redundant between now and the end of May.

We have had the opportunity, for which we are grateful, of discussing this matter very fully with the Secretary of State and putting our views to him. He was not able to grant our request that notices already served or to be served on the workmen should be withdrawn and that they should be kept in employment. We were told quite courteously that the reason why they were redundant or were to be withdrawn between now and the middle of the summer was that the work was tapering off and coming to an end. The right hon. Gentleman has promised to look into the submissions and considerations which we put before him about the future.

I should like to say a few words not only about this Royal Ordnance factory but about other similar factories. They have rendered a great service to the nation in peace and war and I would claim that the Royal Ordnance factory at Pembrey has rendered signal service. I remember the First World War when the Ordnance factory was established there and thousands of men and women were employed. Their services were required by the nation but at the end of the war the factory was closed and demolished and the area was left to bear the burden of the fact that the services and the houses had been built to meet the requirements of the population which was largely employed in the factory and suddenly the whole place was closed down leaving behind tremendous problems of unemployment. When I first became a Member of Parliament, nearly 80 per cent. of the population there were unemployed. We protested at the time but it was to no avail.

When war again became imminent it was found that the site of the old Ordnance factory was a suitable one for a new Ordnance factory. It was suitable also for other kinds of industry. I used to put the point to the then Minister of Supply that when the Government brought a Royal Ordance factory, and particularly an explosives factory, to a site it made it difficult to get other industries to take over a neighbouring site. It so happens that this is one of the best industrial sites available in west Wales, with a main railway and a main road each side of it and port facilities nearby. When the Government use a site of this kind for a Royal Ordnance factory they should accept responsibility for the consequence that if that factory is there industrialists ail ways think twice of building a factory next door to it.

In this case a neighbouring site was taken over about the same time, at the outbreak of the Second World War, by the Air Ministry to be used as a station for one of our allied air forces. It has been empty for some time but it is being reactivated in connection with R.A.F. operations. The area is known as "Kidwelly Flats". As the Under-Secretary knows, the name in itself denotes that the area is a phenomenon in the mountainous topography of Wales. It is the best site we have. As I have said, the War Office took over part of that splendid site and now the Royal Air Force is to reactivate the other part, a matter which has been the subject of controversy with the local authorities and which has been settled by the decision of independent people who conducted an inquiry.

We are, therefore, very disturbed to find that, in am area like ours, the Royal Ordnance factory, which has served the country so well and has such a splendid team, is to be closed. I have had long experience of industrial relations, and I can say that the industrial relations in this factory have been a model to every other factory in the country. There is no dispute about that. It has had a wonderful team, which has worked hard and effectively, giving splendid service to the nation.

Now, 500 men are to be turned out in an area which has for a long time been plagued by unemployment and is far from being out of the wood yet. We regret that. We are told that it cannot be helped and that the work of the factory is coming to an end. We understand that the Government must, from time to time, renew their policy, and that the future of the Royal Ordinance factories is being considered. But these factories are national property. We are voting public money for them. The Under-Secretary of State knows that if as is proposed, there are changes in defence, work at these factories may come to an end.

Have the Government considered, or will they consider, whether these factories, if and when they become unnecessary for purposes of armaments or explosives, cannot be regarded as valuable national property to be kept by the Government for civilian use? I speak as a layman, but I understand from my hon. Friends who are expert in these matters that it would be very easy to use the factory at Pembrey with its equipment, its staff and "know how", in order to produce goods for civilian purposes, and that it would not be a very big job, nor very expensive, to make other kinds of chemicals instead of explosives. I am told that with very little adaptation of equipment and with the skill of the men it could be used to produce fertilisers.

I had the privilege of being Colonial Secretary, and have visited Commonwealth countries and many others. The poorer countries of the world are crying out for fertilisers. Will the Under-Secretary of State ask the Government to bear in mind that if, at any time, the Royal Ordnance factories are not required for production for the Armed Forces, they have a responsibility to find, if they can, alternative work, including civilian production? I hope that they will not do again what was done before—turn men out, destroy the premises, leave the site derelict, and, what is far worse, leave a derelict community. That has happened before.

9.15 p.m.

I am putting the case frankly, because the men believe it. The Government are not the only people engaged here: there are other people. Therefore, I ask the questions that have been put to me by the men. I hope that this factory will not be prevented from making use of its equipment, and the "know-how" and experience of its men, just because if all this were put to civilian use, it would be competing with very powerful vested interests.

I do not want to mention any names, but the position was put very frankly to me, just as it was put many years ago. These are some of the points I want to raise with the Under-Secretary, and I know that my hon. Friends want to raise others. I am very sorry for these 500 men, who are being declared redundant. Many of them have rendered very great service to the nation by working in Royal Ordnance factories with their skill and know-how. Many of them have been turned out at over 50 years of age. One of the problems that we have all over the country, but particularly in South Wales, is that when men are 50 or over and lose their jobs, it is very difficult to provide other work for them and to get other industries to take them on.

I hope that the War Office will realise that among these 500 men there will be many in this middle-aged group who will find it very difficult to find another job in another industry. After yeans of service to the nation, they deserve consideration from and protection by the Government, and I hope that care will be taken of them.

When the Government consider whether all the existing Royal Ordnance factories are to be kept or whether any can now be disposed of, I hope that consideration will be given to the social implications of where they economise. Where they stop factories and whom they make redundant. I hope that some consideration will be given to whether, in a given area where a factory is affected and men have to be withdrawn, it will be difficult or easy for those affected to find alternative employment.

I hope that the Under-Secretary and his right hon. Friend will consider these questions. I hope they will copy what the Labour Government did after 1945. I hope that, sometimes, when the hon. Gentleman visits South Wales—I do not know whether he ever does—he will visit Bridgend. I hope that if and when the Ordnance factory is no longer required, it will be possible, by collaboration with the Board of Trade and other Government Departments, to transform part of it into an ordinary factory, rather than pull it down, as was done in some places at the end of the First World War.

I hope that all these things will be borne in mind. Millions of pounds of public money have been put into these factories, which are splendid works, structurally and in every other way. They can be used for civilian purposes. Perhaps this Government have an objection to public ownership, but at least they will not carry their objection so far as to deny that a factory and equipment which under public ownership can manufacture and provide explosives, cannot, equally under public ownership, provide goods for civilian use. It could be done, and I hope that this will be borne in mind. I thought that it was my duty to my constituents to refer to these men, most of whom I know, and many of whom formerly worked in coal mines and did very good work there.

These are the communities which in the years gone by suffered from being used when the nation required them, and being discarded when the nation thought that they were no longer necessary. I hope that the Government will give serious consideration to what has been said today when they reconsider the use of the Royal Ordnance factories, particularly the one at Pembrey.

Can my hon. Friend say anything about the fact that in the 1961–62 Estimates provision was made for one graduate apprentice, and this year that provision does not appear to have been made? Indeed, no provision appears to have been made for apprentices. Has any provision been made for Commonwealth countries which have their own Armed Forces to send people here for training in the Royal Ordnance factories?

Secondly, I suppose that raw materials for the factories are included under the heading of "Manufactures, modifications and repairs", in Appendix I. If this is not the case, I cannot see where provision is made for supplying raw materials to enable the factories to produce me various things they do produce. Perhaps my horn. Friend can explain this point to the Committee.

I reinforce what my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) said about Royal Ordnance factories in general, and about the Royal Ordnance factory at Pembrey in particular. They have given signal service for many years. Although, as my right hon. Friend said, the factory at Pembrey is in his constituency, many of my constituents are employed there.

This factory has been running down for a considerable time. My right hon. Friend referred to the great anxiety felt about the 500 redundancies in this factory, and the fact that the whole future of the factory is in the balance, and, I might add, in a precarious balance. A few weeks ago we saw the Secretary of State for War about this. He informed us that the notices could not be withdrawn, and we realised from what he said then, and it is obvious, that this whole matter involves Government policy, and that in the end it will be a Cabinet decision.

We understand that, but for goodness' sake let us have a decision one way or the other. The Government have taken an unconscionable time to decide what to do, and the consequences have been very serious. We have been told that one firm has been deterred from establishing a factory in Pembrey because the Royal Ordnance factory is occupying part of the factory premises. In addition, this factory is near one of the best industrial sites in the whole of South Wales—Kidwelly Flats. It is on the site which was considered for the steel mill which was subsequently established in Llanwern, in Monmouthshire.

Let us have a decision one way or the other, and let us have it soon, so that these premises may be converted to civilian use and the whole area may be developed industrially. After all, the Government have a direct and definite responsibility from which they cannot escape—I do not suggest that they wish to do so—for these men who have served the country well for many years.

I therefore ask the Minister to be a little more explicit. If he cannot give us an undertaking one way or the other tonight, will he ask his right hon. Friend to expedite his decision and thereafter consult his colleagues in the Government, especially the President of the Board of Trade, to ensure that these men will not be told, "We do not want this factory any more. We are very grateful to these men who have rendered great service to the country, but there it is. We wash our hands of it"?

We want from the Government an undertaking that their responsibilities to these men will be fulfilled, and that if the factory is to be abandoned by the Government it will be taken over as soon as possible and made available for industrial use.

My hon. Friend the Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Scott-Hopkins) asked why we had no provision for graduate apprentices under Royal Ordnance factory salaries this year, and why we had only one last year. As far as I know, the position is that the graduate apprentice is a rather rare kind of apprentice on a salary. As for our employment of ordinary industrial apprentices, I have asked about this when visiting Royal Ordnance factories and I can assure my hon. Friend that we are doing more than our share of training apprentices. I shall have to make special inquiries in order to answer my hon. Friend's point about Commonwealth apprentices.

My hon. Friend also asked me whether the raw materials used by the factories were included under the heading of manufactures, on page 9. I can assure him that they are.

The right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) and the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Lady Megan Lloyd George) raised the question of Royal Ordnance factories in general, and the one at Pembrey in particular. The right hon. Gentleman asked me why, in a year where there was an increase in the Army Estimates, there was a decrease in the Estimates for Royal Ordnance factories. I can best explain the position by giving him the picture of our War Office expenditure over the last two years and the next two years.

At present, there is a peak in expenditure on the building aspect of our activities—works, married quarters, barracks, and so on—but in respect of the Royal Ordnance factories, which deal with equipment, the peak will not come for another year or two, although, as my right hon. Friend said, the upward turn is beginning. We are approaching the end of a rather slack period in the activity of Royal Ordnance factories. That is the explanation. We can look forward to a measure of improvement as the re-equipment programme gets under way and becomes the main aspect of our expenditure, replacing in this respect the building programme.

The right hon. Gentleman said that it had been suggested to him that the decline in the activity of the factories had a more sinister significance, and that they were not going to get a fair share of the work. I deny that. What is known as the "preferred source" policy—that is, the policy declared previously by the Government by which Royal Ordnance factories receive Government equipment work, subject to delivery dates and the design rights of firms—still stands. The right hon. Gentleman can reassure anybody who may have cast doubts upon that, and I hope that he will take the opportunity to do so.

9.30 p.m.

Coming specifically to Pembrey, I have been in touch with my right hon. Friend over this matter and have discussed it with him since he met hon. Members. The position is difficult. There is a plentiful supply of T.N.T., which is what the factory produces. It is stuff which will keep, so that further production presents a difficulty. At present, the workers at Pembrey are employed in breaking down ammunition, work which is a hangover from the last war and part of the tidying-up process. That, of course, will eventually come to an end and I cannot visualise any improvement in the position. It is not, therefore, easy to define the future for this factory.

I will give an undertaking to draw to the attention of my right hon. Friend what was said by the hon. Member for Carmarthen and ask him to do what he can to hasten a decision in the matter. I can assure the right hon. Member for Llanelly that we shall consider with the greatest care the question of the future of employees who may be affected by any further run-down in Royal Ordnance factories. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that we shall consider, if and when the time comes, possible alternative civilian uses for the Royal Ordnance factory at Pembrey, or any other factory which is similarly affected. We always examine the local employment prospects.

We have recently been in touch with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and with the Board of Trade. I cannot say anything further at the moment, but I will convey to my right hon. Friend what has been said during this debate and we will seek to clear the air as soon as possible in order to arrive at a position where we can give a decision, and show to those concerned a little more clearly where the future lies.

Question put and agreed to.


That a sum, not exceeding £5,200,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the expense of operating the Royal Ordnance Factories, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st March 1963.

War Office Purchasing (Repayment) Services

Motion made, and Question proposed,

That a sum, not exceeding £100, be granted to Her Majesty, for expenditure incurred by the War Office on the supply of munitions, common-user and other articles for the Government service, and on miscellaneous supply, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1963.

I wish to put two points to my hon. Friend. I wish to draw attention to the astronomical sum paid out for munitions and I should like to know the proportion of arms, munitions and guns bought in this country and abroad. For clothing and textiles there is a figure of £14,600,000. In the Estimate the figure is only £7 million for clothing and presumably the other £7 million is for textiles. I should like my hon. Friend to explain how the figure for textiles is arrived at.

I cannot give my hon. Friend the exact breakdown of purchases of guns, small arms, and equipment. Some of them are purchased from overseas when we find them particularly suitable. For example, the 105 mm. pack howitzer from Italy is the best weapon we have been able to find for its particular purpose. But I am advised that overseas purchases do not form a large proportion of the total. The answer, therefore, is that these are mainly purchases made at home—and, of course, my hon. Friend will not overlook the fact that there are also considerable sales overseas.

My hon. Friend also remarked on the sum of £14,600,000 for clothing and textiles, but he will no doubt remember that we are engaged in re-equiping the Army with Service dress, which explains the rather larger clothing element in the Vote as compared with the normal expenditure.

Question put and agreed to.