House Of Lords
Wednesday, 6th May, 1953
The House met at half past two of the clock, The LORD CHANCELLOR on the Woolsack.
Force In International Affairs
rose to ask Her Majesty's Government whether in foreign affairs a lead from strength will necessarily win the game, and whether it is the only lead; and to move for Papers. The noble Earl said: My Lords, I speak to-day somewhat sitting on the horns of a dilemma—in fact, two horns. The first one is that after five years of absolutely unaccountable deprivations, miseries, torments and deaths, we were informed that we had overcome the chief enemy, and that we had therefore won a glorious victory. Yet our tax returns show that not only are we to-day finding another enemy, but that in "downing" the first enemy we have created another who is even more powerful than the first. The second horn of a dilemma is more a Church one. I hope your Lordships will not accuse me of trying to sermonise, or "doing a pijaw," as we used to call it in my private school, because I do not approve of that any more than you do. But we do say every day in our daily services:
And the answer is:"Give peace in our time, O Lord."
It seems to me that that is saying, in so many words, that there is an answer to our requirements in the Christian religion; that if we treat it properly we shall get the answer that we require; and therefore, there is no need for the Almighty to be armed with an atomic bomb, as our London daily papers would show us after the service."Because there is none other that fighteth for us, but only Thou, O God."
The general opinion to-day is that increased power gives you increased strength, and that any villains and evil people who arise will be frightened if they see that the other side has more atomic bombs, more submarines, more cruisers, more anything, than they have. Possibly, that is true. But it does not follow that they are twice as right, but merely that they are twice as strong—anyone can see that. And it is quite possible that the side, or country, that really wished to inflict the evil on another country might wait until some fortuitous chance gave them superiority in that particular weapon. What I am going to ask for to-day is anything but small; I am going to ask for something jolly big. I am asking for an era—for a period of fifty years if you like, if the human mind wants to measure it—for discussions without bloodshed; and I say there is nothing against that at all. There is nothing that you can prove against it. Supposing there are villains, supposing there are people who "will not play," as the expression is, then they have got to be made to play; they have got to be talked to, and you have got to continue talking until they do play. That is the only answer to it. The whole of the life of the Founder of Christianity was a struggle against odds of this kind, which should concur to right thinking and right action. There is no doubt that the successful means of keeping the peace have got to be psychological as well as material. Take, for instance, a war like the wars we have nowadays: it damages every branch of human endeavour; it brings the world to a ridiculous state of futility, such as it is in at present, when all prices are up and commodities are mostly indifferent in character, although expensive to buy.
Let us see what our friend Southey, the poet I quoted last time, says about the near to accompaniments of a great battle:
"My father lived at Blenheim then,
Yon little stream hard by;
They burnt his dwelling to the ground.
And he was forced to fly:
So with his wife and child he fled,
Nor had he where to rest his head.
With fire and sword the country round
Was wasted far and wide;
And many a childing mother then,
And new-born baby died;
But things like that you know must be
At every famous victory.
They say it was a shocking sight,
After the field was won;
For many thousand bodies here
Lay rotting in the sun;
But things like that you know must be
At every famous victory."
You can see, from the poetic point of view, at any rate, that war brings with
it horrible things. Everybody knows that war is a disgusting and horrible thing, and will say that if everybody does not play, co-operation does not work. All I say is that first of all you have to put out a projected era of fifty years in which peace will be kept in this sort of way, and anybody who apparently will not play has to be made to play. Unless some country gets up and sets that example—which this country has every possibility and every right to do—it is unlikely that we shall ever start it, and so the world will merely drift on until some kind fate stirs it into a nova or flash and it disappears in the way the noble and scientific Lord, Lord Cherwell, recently spoke about in this House.
I want you to promise me an epoch—just an epoch—in which these things will be settled in a proper way, will not be settled by force, and will not involve the use of force at all. I am asking you to give this method yourblessing—if possible to send it out into the world to test its efficiency, and while it is there to support it to the utmost limit of your veracity and courage; to cease looking for villains and tyrants and look instead for temporary evil which is brought about by possibly wrong treatment. It is obviously, apart from anything else, a prime farce to consider warfare in a light of throwing atomic mountains at each other and killing many millions at every throw. That gets one nowhere, nor does it solve any of the problems likely to obtain between peoples of different nationalities. A little realisation of the impasse to which the use of force has brought the world is likely to facilitate the fulfilment of my wish for the new era to descend on humanity. We have to substitute the dictum, "Live and let live," as asked for by the Prime Minister of Canada, for the dictum, "Disagree and be killed," which has been the custom so far. I beg to move for Papers.
My Lords, most of us here have heard the noble Earl on a similar topic, in war time arid in peace time; and, of course, everything he says is absolutely true. He approaches this greatest of all questions to-day, if he will forgive my saying so, from the Christian pacificist angle. That is the right angle, and it is, I hope, what Her Majesty's Government are trying to do. From what I know of the members of Her Majesty's Government, I am sure that it would be their wish to approach these terrible and overwhelming problems from exactly the angle of the noble Earl.I do not wish to extend this debate into a general discussion on international affairs, because I imagine that we shall have to have a regular debate, and a full-dress one at that, in the fairly near future. But there are one or two observations that I wish to make, and one or two questions that I venture to put to the noble Marquess who, I understand, will be answering for the Government. Let me say at the beginning that the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, has my complete sympathy, and I. hope the sympathy of all your Lordships, in an exceedingly difficult situation. Fist of all, the most regrettable illness of the Foreign Secretary at this particular time is nothing short of a misfortune, and the noble Marquess has to carryan additional burden to his ordinary duties; and the times are most difficult. We all appreciate that, and we all feel for him, from the bottom of our hearts. He knows that, and it is hardly necessary for me to say so. I think the noble Earl, Lord Darnley, has been perfectly justified in bringing forward this Motion, because he has touched on one of the two topics about which everyone talks at the present time. People talk either about the Coronation of Her Most Gracious Majesty or about the prospects of peace and war. Those are the two overwhelming subjects of discussion everywhere, in clubs, public-houses and homes, and therefore it is right that this matter should also be debated here. I believe I am right in saying that there is considerable disturbance of the public mind at the way things have been going in the last few weeks. I do not want to enter into the much larger question of the apparent change of attitude of the Russian Government since the death of Marshal Stalin, and the feelers that have been put out from the Kremlin towards peace. I will not go into that in any detail at all and, as I say, I do not wish to enlarge the discussion, for various reasons. But there is profound disturbance at what is apparently the slow-motion act that is going on again at Panmunjom over the negotiations for an armistice in Korea. The ordinary mart in the street and the ordinary woman in the home simply do not understand, and if they are the unfortunate relatives of men who are either prisoners or combatants on the field of battle, their understanding is still less. What we do not understand is this—I speak here, I believe, for the man in the street. Why is it that the whole matter is being left to the Chinese and Korean Generals, on the one side, and the American Generals and Admirals, on the other? Why is not this all-important negotiation taken on the highest level of diplomacy? I was very glad to see that the American President was sending Mr. Murphy, a most experienced American diplomat of the very highest reputation, to Panmunjom, apparently to represent the State Department direct. I have not seen any news of Mr. Murphy's arrival, and I should like to ask the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, whether he can give us any information about this most important development. Secondly, the noble Marquess will know that there is a general demand in this country that we should have a greater voice in these negotiations, on which everything may turn. They are of vital importance; and we, after all, have far greater experience of dealing on the diplomatic level with orientals than have any other people in the world. We have, in particular, a number of experts on Asia in the noble Marquess's department at the Foreign Office; we have several who are well versed in Chinese affairs. One or two of these, I should have thought, might have been sent out, if only as observers. What gives additional cause for disturbance is this. The very idea that there was to be a thaw in the cold war seems to have aroused great alarm in certain quarters. I am not referring to the very important subject which was raised in the debate last week by my noble friend Lord Macpherson of Drumochter. I am not talking about commercial or munition-making circles; but there are some professional trouble-makers who are very worried. Your Lordships will remember that during the long troubles we had with Ireland there was a section of Irish-American citizens in the United States who made a very comfortable living by agitating for the release of their country from "British Imperialism" and by attacking and maligning England in general and demanding a settlement with Ireland. When the settlement with Ireland was in sight these people were in a state of panic. Many of them lost their livelihood. I feel that probably the thaw in the cold war—or even something better, some form of general agreement—might have that effect for many people, on both sides of the Atlantic, having a vested interest in this cold war. One sees the symptoms of that in the atrocity stories which were apparently fabricated in the most shamefaced way, arising out of the exchange of sick and wounded prisoners. The moment that sick and wounded prisoners were released, the most fantastic stories of atrocities were put about. These stories found a place particularly in American newspapers, and thus began a psychological and political warfare of a most damnable kind. There were, no doubt, certain cases of ill-treatment: it was only natural. A certain amount of barbarism towards prisoners-of-war always occurs. But why were these stories put about and why did some great English newspapers carry them with great prominence? I am sorry to say that one English newspaper which many noble Lords, including myself, read for information—the Daily Worker—has started the same business on the other side, about the treatment accorded to Korean prisoners in United Nations' hands. I cannot understand why these things are spread about. They are disturbing to public opinion. This matter of psychological warfare is one which I consider of very great importance. In the absence of the right reverend Prelates I venture to remind your Lordships of a slightly blasphemous legend about the Devil and the Archangel Gabriel. They were both very alarmed at the apparent decay of orthodox religion: people no longer fearing God or the Devil. They met together in conference to see what could be done about it. The decision they came to was that the Devil should present mankind with the invention of the atomic bomb and that the Archangel Gabriel should develop political warfare. These two things may be the greatest curse of our time. I do not expect a very important pronouncement from the noble Marquess to-day, for this is not a full-dress debate. But I have ventured to put a question which I think is greatly agitating public opinion concerning these negotiations on Korea. I am sure that if the noble Marquess can give us any comfort and any useful information for the guidance of the people, he will be very ready to do so, and he will thereby earn the gratitude of a great many people outside this House and also, I hope, of some of us within it.
My Lords, I think Her Majesty's Government are entitled to draw some consolation from the behaviour of the noble Earl who initiated this debate. In the time of the late deplorable Administration the noble Earl felt it his duty, with clockwork regularity, to come down and pronounce judgment upon the state of the world in no uncertain terms. Thus, in June, 1950, he spoke of human society as being "in imminent danger of collapse." In June, 1951, he spoke of everyone being "in a perfect inferno of misery and frustration." Well, My Lords, when I stood with 100,000 other people at the Cup-tie last Saturday, such misery and frustration were not apparent—except perhaps among the players and supporters of Bolton Wanderers during the last five minutes of the match.The point is that June, 1951, was the last date upon which the noble Earl felt it his duty to address us—twenty-three months ago. Although the note of his speech cannot be said to be entirely optimistic now, I think that one may detect in it or infer from it a feeling that the noble Earl sees some slight sign of improvement. That does not mean that the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, and his Department can take much unction to themselves from that. After all, things could hardly have been worse than they were under Mr. Herbert Morrison; and if the best that can be inferred from the noble Earl is a slight improvement, then it is obvious that there is still a long way to go. But I think that that feeling of slight improvement may be gathered also from the terms of the noble Lord's Motion. In 1950 he called upon His Late Majesty's Ministers to organise human society in order to prevent the aforesaid imminent collapse. In 1951 he called upon them to sponsor a call to nations of all creeds and colours to bring about universal friendship. But he does not lay upon the noble Marquess and his Department any such herculean task on this occasion. He speaks on a note of what may be described as deprecatory interrogation, and he poses two questions. I have always been an addict of card games of all kinds, particularly of bridge, so naturally I was intrigued by the noble Earl's two questions. As many of your Lordships know, bridge is a difficult game; and there is one particular characteristic about bridge players, which is that many of them think they are much better at it than they really are. Therefore, the noble Earl will not be surprised if I "butt in" to answer his two questions in advance of the noble Marquess whose official duty it is to do so. The first question of the noble Earl is: Will a lead from strength necessarily win the game? The answer to that is definitely "No, it will not necessarily win the game." But in nine cases out of ten it is the best lead, and in "no trumps" in nineteen cases out of twenty—and for three reasons: First, because it may give an opportunity for a second and more subtle lead after the opponent has exposed half his resources on the table; secondly, because it may strike a feeling of surprise, and even possibly of apprehension, in the breast of the opponent; thirdly, and most important of all, it will give confidence and information to your partner. Let us remember that, from our point of view a strong partnership in foreign politics is as all-important as it is in bridge. The noble Earl went on to ask: Is there no other lead? The answer to that, of course, is definitely, "Yes; there are a number of other leads." For instance, there is the "MacArthur club," which the General thinks is the only lead calculated to overcome Chinese opponents. Then there is the new American lead of the "diamond," designed to induce the young players to betray their hands. There is some controversy about the ethics of this lead, and it does seem to me an odd one to try just at the moment, when the rubber, which has been singularly unpleasant and hostile, shows just a faint sign of becoming slightly less bitter. Then there is the noble Earl's own favourite lead, from the "heart." As the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, said, we have great sympathy with that lead, and great affection for it. As a card player, I think I may say that my favourite suit is "hearts." But we cannot get over the fact that, until the rules are changed, "hearts" are junior to "spades" and "no trumps"; and, while our opponent specialises in those suits, we feel that being consistently loyal to "hearts" cannot possibly win the game. I listened most intently to my old friend, Lord Darnley, to hear whether he had any other new lead to suggest. Way back in 1950, he told us to disarm and hold out the hand of friendship to Russia. Well, of course, that is a lead from a "weak doubleton," an unsatisfactory and unproductive lead, as we all know. I told him at the time that my right arm was wearied with holding out its hand in friendship to Russia, and the only consolation I got from the noble Earl during his closing remarks was that in that case I had better support it with the left until both were worn out. There is another lead which has not been mentioned by the noble Earl but which has been freely advocated in certain quarters elsewhere, and that is that President Eisenhower and our Prime Minister should seek a personal interview with those in the Kremlin. Well, that, of course, is tantamount to leading from a king. The disadvantage of that lead is that so often, by finesse, the first trick is taken by an inferior card, such as the knave, and the king may be either trumped or trapped in the second or third round. Personally, I am not at all enamoured of the idea of dignitaries of the stature of the President of the United States and our Prime Minister trotting along to the doorsteps of foreign dictators. A perfect example of the failure of that lead was furnished by the late Mr. Neville Chamberlain. But, of course, bridge is not the only game that we are called upon to play in the international tournament. There is also poker. Poker, as your Lordships know, is a game of a lone hand, dependent for success largely upon a bold bluff. We have played this game in Great Britain, not without success, a great many times in our history. Perhaps the most notable occasion that we brought off a most heroic coup was in 1940, when we staked our all against an all-powerful hand, and all we had was a pair of aces—Hurricanes and Spitfires, slipped to us, with admirable and inadequately recognised foresight, by the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton. But of recent years we seem to have fallen off. Our game has been very much cramped by the presence at the table of a most aggressive player. We have been told by onlookers that he always holds most powerful hands—300 submarines, 3,000 aeroplanes, 175 divisions, and so on—but we seldom see his cards because he always raises everybody and keeps his cards tight-breasted. We have been led now and again to submit to his aggression. For instance, two years ago we threw in a hand holding 30 million annual tons of oil to a weak player, simply because we were afraid that the big aggressive player at his side might raise us to such a figure that we were unable to "see him." Yet there have been occasions when we have plucked up courage. Some years ago, for instance, our opponent became more aggressive than usual; we were very weak at the time, but we took our courage in both hands and raised him by the Berlin airlift. We were very surprised to get away with it and win the coup.
That was under the late Government.
Yes, I do not wish to deny that.
Which you abused.
I beg his Lordship's pardon?
The noble Lord began his most interesting speech by pouring scorn on the late Government, but the Berlin airlift was under the late Government.
No, not scorn: I just said that they were deplorable.As I was saying, thought of the Berlin airlift leads one to wonder whether this opponent is quite so strong as we are led to believe. In the main, we are particularly impressed by the attitude of the little Jugoslav player, who sits just beside the great man. This little player consistently, if I may use a vulgarism, "cocks a snook" at him, and has been a thorn in his flesh all these years; yet the great aggressive opponent does not crush him, as one might expect. That leads some of us—certainly I am one—to wonder whether the tendency of all the players in the game is not to underestimate that player's difficulties and exaggerate his efficiency and strength. My Lords, these games of chance and skill, and for high stakes, are very exhausting, and one likes to turn away, now and again, from the table, to seek rest and recuperation in something simpler, or at least less stimulating; and so one turns to a game in which we in Great Britain have plenty of experience—namely, patience. The most common and the most baffling form of patience is double-Demon. Russia and China, Asia and Argentina, Communism and Fascism, greed and ambition, fear and ignorance—there are any number of double-demons. The foundation of double-demon is 104 shuffled cards, the United Nations; and the object of the game is, by manœuvring the four suits and the cards of different value, and the odd and even numbers and the opposing colours, to build them up into a solid symmetrical, impregnable whole. But there are peculiarities about this game. For instance, although I spoke just now of card values, there are many circumstances in this game in which the two of clubs is of equal value to the ace of spades; and there are other circumstances in which one card alone can, as it were, put a veto on the solution of the whole problem—and the only recourse then is to pick up the cards and start again from the beginning. Consequently, there are many people who regard this game as a waste of time and take no interest in it. I do not subscribe to that opinion, because I think that patience is a valuable sedative. I still think, however, that the only way in which we shall attain supremacy in this card tournament is at the bridge table—and for this reason: that we are blessed there with a powerful partner. He is a generous, cheery fellow, a bit unpredictable in his bidding and leading, but true to the characteristics of the game which I mentioned before. We consider that we are much better at playing the cards than he is, and we are gradually improving him. He has one overwhelming advantage, and that is that he is a magnificent card-holder—and a great deal can be forgiven to anybody who holds the cards, for he, in the end, will come out on top. So we believe that if we continue to play regularly with this partner we shall eventually induce our stubborn and powerful opponents to give up the idea of winning the tournament and at least to cry quits. If and when that happens, we shall be able to invent a new game. Perhaps it will be played entirely in hearts, and in that event the noble Earl will certainly be its Culbertson, and we shall all sit at his feet without any anxiety in happiness ever after.
My Lords, the blend of idealism and sincerity with which the noble Earl addresses your Lordships can never fail to impress all those who listen to him on these occasions. If I am not always able to keep abreast of him in what I may call, I hope without offence, the transcendental excursions upon which from time to time he conducts the House. I freely recognise that the fault lies, not in the least with his eloquence and conviction but only with my own pedestrian mind.The Motion which the noble Earl has put before your Lordships to-day is phrased in metaphorical terms, and though I do not propose to follow the noble Lord, Lord Blackford, in his far greater range of information on the intricacies of card games than I possess, it is perhaps right that I should warn the noble Earl that if he pursues this matter to the end with his request for Papers, it seems to me that he is even more likely to obtain various publications of the Portland Club, rather than of the Stationery Office. His Question assumes that in the view of Her Majesty's Government the essence of foreign policy is that it should be based upon force, and force alone; and he suggests also that in our opinion such a policy must necessarily prevail. Indeed we hold to no such doctrine as that strength is the only lead, and it would require far more audacity, or, I hope may add, far more imprudence, than I possess to assert that in foreign policy there is any one course which will automatically and inevitably produce the desired result. If the noble Earl looks at the course of events in the post-war world he must surely acknowledge that it was not by our desire or upon our initiative that we have been compelled to resort to a policy of rearmament—and I emphasise the word "rearmament," for at the end of hostilities we put into operation, promptly, methodically and trustfully, our plans for the orderly demobilisation of the great forces which had been gathered together in our cause during the war. But if a suspension or a reversal of that process was imposed upon us by events, none the less we have surely striven consistently throughout to relax tension, to promote negotiation, to avoid threats, and to substitute concord for discord in the whole international field. Nevertheless, my Lords, we have in the end to face the realities of the world in which we live, and it is, I fear, often a somewhat tough and truculent world, wherein not all nations, nor indeed all individuals, can be influenced by calm and reasoned argument. But I am sure that if this country were to be prosecuted under the Prevention of Crime Bill, recently approved by your Lordships, any impartial tribunal would find that it had fully discharged the onus upon it of proving that it was carrying potentially dangerous weapons solely for the purpose of self-defence. Some two years ago the noble Earl said in this House that we must
I respectfully agree, as a matter of abstract amiability. At the same time, if you see a man advancing upon you with an ugly look in his eye and a hatchet in his hand, while you are wholly unarmed, it requires great and, perhaps, excessive courage to endeavour to advance co-operation with him. But if you also have a hatchet in your hand, however little intention you may have of using it, unless you are attacked, there is at least a better chance of persuading him to co-operate than if you are completely disarmed. We can only continue to hope that true co-operation may emerge from the present situation, for unilateral co-operation is not only not a very fruitful but it is not a very feasible enterprise. If it takes two to make a quarrel, equally it takes two to make up a quarrel. The noble Earl will, I hope, acquit me of any discourtesy if I answer him some-what briefly. Indeed, the real reply to his Motion was given in the recent Foreign Affairs debate in your Lordships' House by a justly venerated figure, who is to all of us, I think, the incarnation of the pursuit of peace—and not an artificial peace decorated with a motif of dupes and duds, but a genuine peace deep-seated in the labours and hearts and prayers of an anxious and bewildered world. On April 23, the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood, in your Lordships' House, said this (OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 181, col. 1154):"try to advance the co-operation between all types of human beings, in spite of evidence of their hostile intent."
There, I suggest to your Lordships, in irrefutable form, coming as it does from such a source, is the case for the parallel policies of striving for peace and what is sometimes called, though perhaps not very happily, "negotiating from strength." The noble Earl who moved this Motion asked Her Majesty's Government to promise him an epoch—an epoch extending over fifty years. How can any Government in any country make any such promise? He went on to say that those nations who were not prepared to enter into any sort of arrangements of this kind have got to be made to play. How do you make an unwilling nation play, in a matter of this kind, if at the same time you eschew the use of any force? How do you make a nation play if its Parliamentary institutions and its people are unwilling to enter into any such compact? The noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, asked me a certain number of questions which I think I am entitled to say came a little unexpectedly in a debate of this kind, and without notice or warning of any nature. On a matter of the delicacy of these negotiations I hesitate, I confess, to say much without having greater opportunity than I have had to consider the very important matters that are at stake. But in regard to the whole aspect of the Korean armistice talks, I would say to the noble Lord that we are, of course, in close consultation with the United States, that policy instructions as to what is done at Panmunjom are issued from Washington. As regards the method of conducting these negotiations through military channels, we are satisfied that, these being armistice negotiations, that is the right method of conducting them. The noble Lord asked me about the position of Mr. Murphy. I think he has got that particular matter wrong. To the best of my recollection, he suggested that Mr. Murphy had now been appointed political adviser at Panmunjom. I think that that is a complete error. My recollection of the position is that Mr. Murphy has just ceased to be United States Ambassador at Tokio, and has been asked to continue to reside there for the time being, in order that he may give political assistance to General Mark Clark in Tokio, with no suggestion that he should be present at the discussions in Panmunjom. I think that the impression of the situation which the noble Lord had obtained from some source is in fact an erroneous one."…it is still the case, as it always has been, that in foreign policy the greatest of British interests is peace. Nor is that true of this country alone. On the contrary, peace is the greatest interest of every civilised country in the world; and, as we all agree, there is no more urgent obligation on the Government of this country than that of maintaining peace. That does not mean that I am against what is called rearmament. So long as other powerful nations continue to build great forces, we should be mad if we did not make it clear that such forces can be used for attack on us only at very great risk to themselves. That is the first precaution we can take against war, and it follows that, large as the preparations may be for a possible attack, our precautions must follow suit. But, by itself, rearmament is not enough. We want peace, and not only victory."
I am greatly obliged to the noble Marquess. May take the opportunity of apologising for not giving notice of that particular question. I meant to do so, but the matter escaped me. Some of the newspapers suggested that Mr. Murphy was going to Korea to take part in what is going on there. I am sorry that that is not the case.
My personal impression is the one which I have given. Mr. Murphy's duty is to advise until he returns to Washington. He is to remain in Tokio and to advise General Mark Clark on the political aspect. I have seen nothing of any intention that he should proceed to Panmunjom.Returning more closely to the noble Earl's Motion, I very much hope that he will accept from me that his question is in truth based upon an entirely mistaken premise. It is not our aim to challenge or to provoke or to menace anyone, but only to endeavour to discharge our duty, to the past, to the present and to the future, by preserving the security and safeguarding the way of life of the people of this country and of the free world. We cannot, of course, guarantee the success of that or of any other policy. But we can, and I trust we do, make every effort, faithfully, patiently and single-mindedly, to achieve our predominant purpose of peace, first, by our firm and consistent support of the United Nations; secondly, by neither neglecting nor refusing any reasonable opportunity to arrive at least at an accommodation with those who differ from us; and, thirdly, by so strengthening our own defensive position both independently and in association with our friends, that we shall be able to speak in the world, not with arrogance but with authority, and to be heard not with servility but with respect.
My Lords, I thank the noble Marquess very much for answering my remarks so kindly. I still hope (I am that sort of pigheaded man, and I shall continue to hope) that in about fifty years time an era will be constituted in which it will become illegal or unfashionable or un-anything-you-like to solve difficulties by force, and that people who are supposed to be evildoers and aggressors will be proved to be not villians but fools. Of course, fifty years is only a nominal number, taken because fifty is half of a hundred and, after all, has some standing in the world of numerology. But even if it were twenty or seventeen or any other number of years, it would not be amiss. I hope that such an era will be constituted soon. I ask for leave of the House to withdraw my Motion.
Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.
The Army Estimates
rose to call attention to the Memorandum of the Secretary of State for War relating to the Army Estimates, 1953–1954 (Cmd. 8770); and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: In the first place, I must apologise to noble Lords opposite, especially to the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, for the change in the date. The noble Viscount has written to me to explain that this has put him in some difficulty, as he will not be able to be present here to-day. It was suggested that it would be convenient if there was a change of date between this debate and the one arranged for the Navy, and after consultation through the usual channels the date was changed. I apologise to the noble Viscount. I feel sorry he is not able to be present to-day, because we always look forward to his contributions on Army matters.
It is now nearly eight years after the end of the war in Europe and I think it is necessary for us to examine the tasks set before the Army. We ought to examine how it is tackling these tasks and its chances of success. In our endeavour we are much helped by Command Paper No. 8770, because this gives a clear indication of the problem set before the Army and its difficulties in tackling this problem. I say to the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, who is, I understand, to reply, as a distinguished captain said some 500 years ago in the army which followed King Henry V to France, if Shakespeare is correct:
"…will you vouchsafe me, look you, a few disputations with you, as partly touching or concerning the disciplines of the war…partly to satisfy my opinion, and partly for the satisfaction, look you, of my mind, as touching the direction of the military displine.…"
As your Lordships know, the Army is divided into the Regulars, the Reserves and now, I am glad to say, the Colonial forces. The Regulars have had a task they have rarely, if ever, had in peace time—namely, to support such a high proportion of their numbers overseas. They have to grapple with the hot war, with the cold war, with duties in aid of the civil power, with the garrisoning of our various Dependencies abroad, with the difficulties which are necessitated by the pipeline (people always coming and
going in large numbers), with the training of National Servicemen and with assistance to the Territorial Army.
Of our 11⅓ Regular divisions, most are overseas; hardly any are at home, and even what are, or ought to be, our reserves of 2⅓ divisions are in Egypt. The fact that most of the Regular Army is abroad renders life very hard for the officers and other ranks who compose our Regular service. There is a lack of married quarters in most stations and there is separation from families. We are told in Command Paper No. 8770, though in fact we knew it already, that the Canal Zone is particularly bad in this respect and these conditions, though unavoidable, mean that morale is often affected. The "sausage machine," as it is called, which necessitates constantly training a large number of National Servicemen, renders the task very difficult and trying to Regular officers and senior N.C.Os. Fifty-one per cent. of the Regular Army's strength consists of National Service men. This means that the units are constantly being reinforced by short-time reinforcements and are losing men they have spent a great deal of trouble in training.
The consequence of all these factors is that many of the Regular officers are leaving the Service, and the same is true also of senior N.C.Os. According to paragraphs 7 and 8 of the Command Paper, this situation applies particularly to the senior Regular N.C.Os. There is another consequence. We are told that officers tend to do too much because they have not the old hard core of Regular senior N.C.Os. they used to have. This, again, has a bad effect, not only on the officers who do too much, but on the N.C.Os., who probably tend not to do enough. The Regular Army is suffering, first, because there are too many divisions abroad; secondly, because the Regular senior N.C.Os. are leaving the Service, for the reasons I have mentioned, and, thirdly, because the constant supply of National Service men imposes a great strain upon the machine.
One remedy which has been suggested—and I am certain the noble Earl will welcome it—is to remove the larger proportion of the 2⅓ divisions sitting on the bank of the Canal. They do not defend the Canal, of course, but sit on one of its banks. I believe Lord Kitchener once said, in the First World War, to troops who were at that time sitting on the Egyptian side of the Canal, "Are you defending the Canal or is the Canal defending you?" I think it would be difficult for us to retain a base in this area for any length of time if the population were hostile, and these divisions which are in Egypt would be a very useful mobile reserve in the United Kingdom. I think it is true that the War Office would be only too glad if the men could come back, but, as no doubt we shall be told by the noble Earl, this is largely a Foreign Office matter. In my view it is really an international commitment and I think the Government would do well to try and see whether an international force could not take over this obligation and carry it on in place of our overstrained and overstressed Army.
Another suggestion which has been made is that we should do everything we can to encourage men, especially the senior N.C.Os., to stay on in the Army, by providing better amenities, more and better married quarters, better barracks accommodation and so forth. So far as the Technical Corps are concerned, I understand that the new schools at Welbeck and Shrivenham are going well and may have some effect on this problem. Perhaps the noble Earl will be able to give us some enlightenment on that matter. We have heard little about those two establishments. Then, too, it would be well, if possible, to arrange for a shorter period of overseas service for the Regular Army—I know that that depends very much on the commitments abroad and I think it ties up with the question of Colonial troops, about which I will make a suggestion later on. I feel, also, that the War Office have been guilty of a lack of psychological appreciation—in other words, that they have been guilty of what appears to be crass stupidity—in the handling of some of these matters. I cannot understand Mr. Head, who is a sensible man and knows the Army well, permitting them to do what they have done. For example, Korean service does not count as overseas service for marriage allowance. It has been computed by some wiseacre in the War Office that the cost of living in Korea is not higher than in this country, and therefore the wife of a soldier who is serving in Korea does not get this increased marriage allow- ance, whereas the wife of a soldier serving in some safe base many thousands of miles from Korea gets it. No doubt from an accountancy point of view that may be all right, but it is not the sort of appreciation of the situation that is likely to appeal to a soldier fighting for his country in Korea.
I now come to the Reserves—the Territorial Army, the Army Emergency Reserve, and the Home Guard. The Territorial Army is now the first reinforcement of the Field Army, and it has never had this role before to the same extent. The Territorial Army has now got to get out to wherever war breaks out (which we all pray will not happen) immediately on the declaration of war; it is now a constituent part of our first line with the Regular Army. In 1938 the South Wales Infantry Brigade, a Territorial brigade, was in camp on annual training, and I asked the senior staff officer, who used to come down with other staff officers to train us, how far behind a Regular brigade we were. He replied, "Six weeks." We all felt that that was a great compliment indeed, to be only six weeks behind a Regular brigade. If had said three months, we should all have been quite happy. As a matter of fact, he was rather optimistic, because, although we were a first-class Territorial brigade, I do not think we were quite at that particular stage of training at that time. Now, presumably, every Territorial division has to be at the same degree of training as a Regular division. They are not going to have the several months' training that was then necessary to bring a Territorial division up to the state of readiness needed to go to war. The Reserve divisions must have a high state of readiness, and must do a great deal of training together.
The Territorial Army has considerable responsibility also for anti-aircraft defence. The efficiency, both in the field and the anti-aircraft parts of the Territorial Army, depends largely on the officers and N.C.Os., who are, in the main, volunteers. According to the command Paper, the number of volunteers decreased from 72,800 on December 3, 1951, to 67,400 a year later, and is still decreasing. Why is that? I should say at is because times are harder now in civil life: people are not able to give as much time as they did before the war. Moreover, there is not the colour there was then—the
uniforms are perhaps more drab, a fact which the War Office has recognised by saying that the Territorial Army is to a greater extent going into blues, and that the distinctive badges of the yeomanry regiments and others are being restored. I think that is excellent. I cannot understand why it so often appears to the regimental officer and man that the War Office is against distinctive badges. As your Lordships know, they mean every-everything to regimental tradition and esprit de corps. Whether it is the black flash of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, the badge on the back of the cap of the Gloucesters, the shoulder-chains of the yeomanry, or whatever it may be, the men in the particular regiments concerned are very proud of them. Therefore, why not cultivate that legitimate pride?
Perhaps the Territorial Army is not now so much a club as it used to be. I do not think it can be, with such a high proportion of National Servicemen in it. Owing to the rigour of the annual training, the annual camp cannot now be so much a social party as it was. We usually met at a seaside resort, or near one, and although the training was quite hard there were also the pleasures of the seaside to go with it. In my own regiment two or three officers used to go 100 miles to drill—that is, fifty miles there and fifty miles back—at least once a week and often twice a week, largely at their own expense, because the frugal Treasury used only to give the lowest season ticket return fare, or excursion return fare, to the particular place. So very often the Territorial officer had to travel at his own expense. Several officers in the regiment about which I am speaking used to travel fifty miles on a drill night, and that was not at all exceptional in a country regiment. There was a fine spirit in the Territorial Army then, as one is glad to think there is to-day. However, I feel that there is difficulty in capturing and retaining that spirit to-day.
I should like to tell your Lordships an anecdote to illustrate that spirit, which I do not think you would find in any force in the world but the pre-war Territorial Army. A Welsh Infantry Brigade was at camp, and the Chief of the Imperial General Staff came down to inspect them. A Territorial officer was earmarked as his galloper. The Chief of the Imperial General Staff rode on to the parade ground with his glittering assembly of A.D.Cs. and the like. The subaltern, who was a wag, was summoned, and he came out ambling along on a broken-down pony. As he got to the brilliant collection of generals and officers, he shouted, "Milk-o!" The Field Marshal, when he recovered from his surprise, said: "What the deuce do you mean, sir, by shouting out 'Milk-o!'?"The officer replied, "Well, sir, in civil life this horse is on a milk-round, and the only way I can get him to stop is by shouting, 'Milk-o!' "That is a perfectly true story, and the Field Marshal enjoyed the joke. I do not know whether he would have enjoyed the joke quite so much had it been a Regular brigade he was inspecting.
The Territorial Army produced excellent officers and N.C.Os., who did their duty in both wars. We must do our best to retain these volunteers, both officers and N.C.Os. But there is a possibility—I put it no higher than that—that the volunteer element will not be sufficient to run the Territorial Army. Whether that is so or not, I should like to suggest to the noble Earl that, say, four divisions should be called up every year for one month's or six weeks' training together. That would mean only one period of camp for a National Serviceman instead of three. We should thus have four divisions ready on D-day, and the rest would be ready on D-plus-fourteen or D-plus-twenty-one, and so on, depending on how long before the divisions had had their month's camp and training together. I know that there are all sorts of difficulties about that—difficulties with employers, and so on—but it is such an important part of our forces that I feel we should realise that at the present moment we are not getting out of it what we need.
I am glad that the guided missile is to be under the R.A.F. I have always thought that the searchlights should be under the R.A.F., too, but I think this is a step in the right direction. The Army Emergency Reserve, as your Lordships know, man the lines of communication. They are men who do the same job in peace as in war, and they are even more dependent on volunteers than is the Territorial Army. They do an annual camp of fourteen days and form 10 per cent. of the British Army. They are always needed at once when hostilities occur. In this respect paragraph 61 of the White Paper is rather ominous. The volunteer content is obviously very low—only one-third of the required number have come forward. They are an essential part of our forces on mobilisation, and it is rather disturbing to find that so few who are needed are at present available.
Then we have the Home Guard, who take the traditional rôle of the Territorial Army, so far as it relates to local home defence and the mobile columns. We are told that the quality is good, but that more numbers are needed, and also better training, uniforms and equipment. If this is going to be, as we presume it is, an integral part of our national forces, then I am sure we must have more colour in it, possibly seaside camps; and the Home Guard must be the best club, with the possible exception of the Territorial Army drill hall, in the district. I should like to pay a tribute to all the volunteers in all the Armed Forces who are serving under difficult conditions and are such a valuable assistance and help to our Regular soldiers. I should also like to pay a tribute to the Regular officers and N.C.Os. who serve with them and who assist them in their training. I think it is true to say that Regular officers grid N.C.Os. who have served with Territorial units get very fond of them and become very enthusiastic in their support. Such neglect as the Territorial Army, and the officers and N.C.Os. of the Territorial Army, have suffered—and there has been neglect in the past—has come from officers who have never served with the Territorials, and not from officers who have served with them.
If the volunteer system does not subsist in the Territorial Army in days to come (this is not an immediate question, but it is one which may arise in the future), what are we to do? If the voluntary and compulsory Services cannot march together in the same units, we may have to have a force entirely of National Service men, with Regular officers and senior N.C.Os. I presume that the noble Earl would say that that would be a pity, as I think it would. I should hate to see the Territorial Army without volunteers, and it would be difficult to obtain Regular officers and N.C.Os. to man the Territorial units. That may be; but since one of the difficulties about retaining senior N.C.Os. in the Regular Army is the fact that so many of the Regular units serve abroad, it might be rather attractive to Regular N.C.Os. to serve at home. If that ever became a fact, then the Home Guard would cater entirely for the volunteer element.
Before I close I should like to say a word with regard to the Colonial forces. I have always been a great believer in them, but I have band for years past—at all events until quite recently—that the War Office and the Colonial Governments have been lukewarm, to put it at its highest, when approached with regard to Colonial forces, chiefly on financial grounds. They are rather like two parsimonious characters standing at a public bar. Both of them are quite prepared to accept arid to drink a glass of beer if somebody else will pay for it. I think that has been the attitude of the War Office and the Colonial Governments. They both say, "We are quite happy to have more Colonial forces if the other person will pay the cost of them." Of course, this has always been a disastrous policy, as events in Malaya showed in the Japanese invasion during the last war. Even in Kenya we can see to this day that things would be much better if there had been a really good large force of Africans in that part of Africa. These Colonial countries are often prosperous, and some of them are nearing independence. It is essential for them to provide their own local defence and to furnish a reasonable contingent and a reasonable contribution to Commonwealth defence. That is the first point in favour of armed Colonial forces.
The second point is that it is an excellent education. Probably one of the best ways of training craftsmen, fitters, motor drivers and so on is to have men going to Army schools and having an Army training. It is a good way of teaching men English. There are a hundred and one ways in which the education of Colonials will benefit by having a period of service in their own forces in their own territories. There is some indication that the War Office and Colonial Governments are seeing the light. I am glad that the Malay Regiment has been expanded as it has, that the Malayan Federation Regiment has been formed, and also that the Royal West African Frontier Force is being extended, with officer training increasing, both in this country and in West Africa. But what of the King's African Rifles? What are the Government's proposals with regard to them? Could we hear something of that distinguished force which is now fighting in Malaya, as well as doing duty in East Africa?
I understand, too, that the West Indian Regiment has been re-formed. For years many of us tried to get this regiment re-formed, because we felt that it could do a great job in the West Indies. For a long time the only troops in the West Indies—indeed, not only in the West Indies, but in the Caribbean and in Central and South America—were one battalion of British troops. In the whole of this vast area there was only one battalion of British troops, centred on Jamaica. Nobody would say, I presume, that with one battalion of the West Indian Regiment added, the area would be over-trooped. I do not know the extent of that area, but it must be a very large area indeed for one or two battalions to cover. Those are the remarks that I wished to make to-day. I feel that it is time we considered the problems of the Army, and that we should do what we can to help them. In any case, this debate gives us an opportunity of expressing to the Army, whether Regular, Territorial or Home Guard, our great appreciation for the work they have done, and are still doing, for us and their country. I beg to move for Papers.
My Lords, I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has said this afternoon about the need to encourage the traditions of the best in the Territorial units, so that the volunteer element which has always been so great a standby to us in the last two wars is not lost to the Army. It is most important to keep it. The Memorandum on Army Estimates, which is now before your Lordships' House, is to my mind a document far in advance of its predecessors. It really is informative, within the limits of security, and does put before the country what the Army is doing, as well as the problems and difficulties with which it is faced. I wish to congratulate the Secretary of State for War on this White Paper, and especially on the departure from the "G.S." pattern of the past.In the debate on Defence which took place in your Lordships' House a short time ago, reference was made by the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, to the command and integration of the Commonwealth Forces in any future operations. This was put to your Lordships mainly as an Army problem, though it might in the future affect all three Services. Though it is, perhaps, somewhat outside the scope of the Motion, I venture to say a few words on this subject, as it is important enough to warrant studying, and important also to the working out of certain principles for future guidance. Reference was made to the command of the campaign in Greece in 1941. It would appear from what was said that there exists a "chip on the shoulder" at the fact that the Commander of the Australian Expeditionary Force was not among the first two proposed for the overall command, though he commanded the Australian Corps within that expedition. I also understand that this question may again come to the fore when the Australian War History comes to be published. Had the whole of the troops intended for Greece arrived in that country before the evacuation, the Australian Expeditionary Force would have provided the highest percentage of front-line troops. The provision of the highest number from any one nation cannot, of itself, establish a claim that one of its Generals should be placed in the overall command. This point cropped up again in the war, when the Free French provided the greatest number of divisions for the attack on the South of France in August, 1944, and thereby claimed that they should command the whole of the expedition. This was ruled out because the support. maintenance, and transportation were all provided by the United States Army; and an American General was assigned to that command. Under modern conditions, the command of an expedition overseas, whether into hostile or Allied countries, has such scope and ramifications, reaching back from the front line through the lines of communication even to the ports of departure, that in selecting the command there are many other considerations to be taken into account besides the actual numbers that may appear in the order of battle. The Greek expedition was ordered by General Wavell, as Commander-in-Chief, Middle East; and from my knowledge of him I know that he would have weighed the claims of all his Generals before selecting a Commander for a particular task. Mention was also made of the splitting up of Commonwealth Forces so that they did not go into battle as complete divisions or corps. Our higher commanders were fully aware of the wishes of respective Governments; but in war the best intentions are often overtaken by events, especially when the initiative lies with the enemy and our troops are pinned on the ground. During the latter part of the war the Allied Forces in the Mediterranean were composed of many different nations, each with strings to their Home Government. The Commander-in-Chief had to be continually watching this so that complaints were avoided. The Germans had the advantage over us in this respect as theirs was a homogeneous Army and thereby had the flexibility to regroup rapidly by pooling different combat groups, regardless of whether they were Bavarian or Prussian. It was owing to this fact that they were able to regroup in time to check our offensives; and when a break-through was on the point of being achieved we were frustrated at the very last moment. I suggest for future consideration that the command should be given to the best man on the spot, that he should be mentally and physically active and up to date in the latest developments of strategy, tactics, weapon development and logistics. At the same time, he should have undergone a higher training in battle control and procedure, in competition with Generals from all countries in our Commonwealth, including the Mother Country. This will mean a reconsideration of the interchange of officers as it exists at present, and the provision of higher training on a Commonwealth basis, with the different Governments having a good understanding of the difficulties of commanders and a good spirit of give-and-take all round. There should be no feeling over the selection of commanders in the future.
My Lords, the noble and gallant Lord who has just sat down opened with a tribute to the Secretary of State's Memorandum. I think the Secretary of State is entitled to that tribute because this document is full of information and packs a great deal into a little space. But it is rather grim to have such a document given to us in time of peace. We are calling for nearly £600 million and very large numbers of men, including the pressing of men into National Service. That is surely a serious matter in peace time. That side of it is lit up by the courage and high morale of the men who are most concerned. To give point to that fact, there is, for instance, that wonderful story of the Gloucesters. The outstanding thing about the present situation with regard to defence is the steadiness of morale of the people of this country. The men who have served some of whom after their service, indeed within a few years of it, have seen their own sons going into the Army and in some cases overseas to fight—have also made their contribution towards this steadiness.If I draw attention to the fact to-day, it is not because I bemoan the fact that men are being called into National Service, but because I think we ought to get a proper appreciation of the contribution that the people of the country are making to the present situation. It is a serious matter for a youth who is just entering upon adult life to have his plans dismembered or upset by his being called into service. It is sometimes a great hardship to the parents of that boy, particularly in the industrial areas. I think it is a tribute to the people of this country that they have, with their eyes open, consented to this course and are steadily, through their representatives, supporting the system of National Service. Whether or not the term will have to be considered I do not know, but when we remember that young men under twenty years of age are being called into fighting service in Korea, Malaya and other places, we ought to realise that we are calling them to a very serious vocation, at any rate for the time being. The Secretary of State draws attention to a fact to which my noble friend Lord Ogmore has referred, that one of our future difficulties will be that we shall have to rely largely upon National Ser- vicemen for Territorial purposes. I gather that some 29 per cent. of the Territorials volunteer. I should like to see what is being done in each particular county, because in my county I understand, from the latest intelligence of the county regiment, that the Territorial volunteers represent 40 per cent. of those who have to fill in the rest of their service. It may be—most probably it is—that in some parts of the country it is more than that. If that is so, then some parts of the country are doing very little a tall. It is becoming a serious question as to what can be done to deal with this matter, because, of course, the volunteers are very important in case of a sudden emergency. One of the things I have noticed is that the Territorials in the main are largely dependent upon officers of the First World War and their influence. They are practically the backbone of the Territorial organisation of this country. It is true that some officers who are doing splendid work served in the last war, but it is worth noting that in the main the officers are the products of the First World War. Certainly, more attention will have to be given to that matter. I think there is something in the proposal made by my noble friend, that there should be some ocular recognition of the fact. Whether or not that proposal will do anything or whether other steps will have to be taken about it, it seems to me necessary that the War Office should give more concentrated attention to the Territorials, because the wars that are going on are vast distances away. As I said at the beginning, it is encouraging to know that the morale of the men is very high. It has to be seen to be believed. I saw the first battalion of my county regiment off recently. I saw them in training and then I saw them going off, and I was amazed at the spirit of those men, attributable to a great extent to understanding officers and to very hard work. Recently, I had a Question on the Order Paper, and I think I repeated it, concerning some radios that had gone astray, as things will go astray in war time. I had almost given them up. I want to express my gratitude to the War Office and to the Foreign Office, but particularly to the noble Earl, Lord Birkenhead, for his activity in this matter, because I am glad to tell him and your Lordships that the complaint I made at that time has now been completely satisfied. To my amazement, the radios turned up—almost every one of them. That is saying something, when you recollect the ways of armies. The Territorials have to look after the defence of this country. It is one thing to have a war going on a long distance off, but it is another thing to have it coming right down upon us suddenly. Those of us who remember vividly the kind of temper that prevailed in this country between the wars must feel sustained by the temper of the people of this country to-day. The bitterness in industry, the lack of decision in matters of defence, the feeling of bareness, was a very painful experience, and we do not want to find ourselves in that position again. The Territorials look after the heavy anti-aircraft section. The Home Guard is supposed to be getting itself into formations. We are told now that all we have is a small body of men—a kind of cadre, as it is called. Is the Home Guard merely a name or is it a fact? I should like the noble Earl to tell us exactly what is being done, because, so far as I can see and so far as I can find out on inquiry, the Home Guard is more likely a thing of the imagination than a thing of fact. In this Memorandum we read of all kinds of weapons, and the Secretary of State has said, with regard to anti-tank weapons alone, that there is now a whole family of these things. It is good to know that we have all these various weapons. I must confess that I get somewhat "mussed up" in my mind by the continual variation in weapons, so much so that while I am pleased that we have got them I almost forget the last one that came along because the others have followed so quickly upon it. But one powerful weapon occupies the public mind and the mind of the world—namely, the atomic weapon. I want to use this opportunity to tell your Lordships that I have seldom been more disturbed (it may be that I was unduly disturbed) than I was last week when the statement was made here about the appointment of the Committee to investigate atomic research. Your Lordships will forgive me if I say that I asked myself the question: Now what is the game? Is there some purpose? Is it just what people say it is—a row between two Departments—or is it another movement towards putting a great power into the hands of private people, for personal gain? The greatest crime one can imagine would be to let atomic power in general, its secrets and its production, go out of the hands of the Government into those of the public. I was disturbed because later on I read the statement which was made in another place, and it did not seem to me to be very reassuring. I tell your Lordships, and the Government particularly, that they could not cause more disillusionment and despondency by any one act than by removing this great power out of the hands of the Government, which in the main has been responsible for its production That is all I have to say to your Lordships upon that matter. I was pleased when I read that the Secretary of State had given some credit to the Labour Party for the build-up of the Forces. That was just plain truth as well as plain wisdom, because I have often noticed that there has been a tendency to belittle that of which we ought to be proud. And some people went abroad to do it. When I remember the despondency, the indecision and the bitterness of the last war, I am proud of the people of this country, of their steadiness and their spirit, arid of the young men who are rendering National Service. They are not only showing a very fine spirit but are also helping to sustain this country at a critical time. We live in a very strange age. Most ordinary men must sometimes wonder what is going to happen to the world. I am not one of those who are despondent about it at all. But it seems to me that if the world's problems have got to be faced in these critical times, the self-possession of a country like this, its strength, and its decision are important historically. I am proud of this country and of the part it has played, and I am still more proud that the industrial workers and the industrial and political organisations of the humble people of this country have played no small part in building up this vast organisation of defence, not merely for the purpose of our own country but, I think, in the best interests of all good men and women in the world.
My Lords, I have already inflicted myself upon the House this afternoon and I rise now only for a few minutes to seek information on one point. We are all agreed that taxation and expenditure in this country are too high, and that full economic recovery cannot take place until both are lowered. The three Service Departments are all great, if not the greatest, spending Departments, and all their expenditure is unproductive. It is therefore of the utmost importance to see, so far as one can, that waste in these Departments is reduced to a minimum. Of course, there is avoidable waste of a comparatively small nature in all Service and public Departments. For instance, every time I drive down to my home in Somerset I pass the late Duke of Connaught's home at Bagshot, and on the gate I read "Army Chaplains' Stall College." I ask myself whether or not that is a necessary expenditure. All these reverend gentlemen have been trained at theological colleges, and their duties are plain—namely, to point us the straightest way to Heaven; and it seems to me highly doubtful whether a Stall College is necessary for their further improvement. But of course the cost of that Staff College is probably not much more than one Centurion tank, and that is not really the matter upon which I seek information from your Lordships this afternoon.In the Defence debate a week or two ago we heard the Air Marshals telling the Admirals that aircraft carriers are no good. While aircraft carriers cost £16 million apiece, plus the value of the aeroplanes which they carry, and the bombers, for which the Air Marshals clamour cost £500,000 apiece, obviously it is a very important thing to settle that controversy. I do riot wish to touch upon it this afternoon—obviously, it would be out of order to do so in this debate—but we know that it takes a long time for Service chiefs to be weaned from a weapon on which they were brought up. For instance, it took thirty years before Admirals would admit that battleships are obsolete. This brings me to the point upon which I seek information, and that is the Centurion and other tanks. I am told that the Centurion tank costs £40,000 but at the same time I am told it can be knocked out by a Bazooka fired from the shoulder and costing next to nothing. I am also told that fighter bombers carry thirty-six rockets, with a weight of explosive equal to the broadside of a six-inch cruiser, and I am told that fighter bombers can drop napalm bombs which will render large areas utterly uninhabitable owing to fire. In these circumstances, it strikes me that a tank would be an extremely unhealthy weapon to be in. I ask, in all my ignorance, for information as to whether or not the tank is becoming an obsolete weapon, and whether the immense cost of equipping armoured divisions is or is not justifiable from the point of view of future war. It is of course a common gibe that Servicemen are always so keen on preparing for the last war that when the new war comes they find themselves in difficulties because they have not looked far enough ahead. I do not wish to detain your Lordships another moment, but I should be grateful if the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, or any eminent soldier who is speaking later in the debate, would put me right. I may be absolutely wrong; it may be that the immense cost which the Centurion and other tanks involve is justifiable, and that they should be continued. I will not say that I hope I am wrong: I should like to save money if it can be legitimately saved, and I should be grateful if any noble Lord would demonstrate that the fact is otherwise.
My Lords, may I, in the first place, say how much I agree with all that the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said as to the excellence of this Memorandum which your Lordships' House is discussing this afternoon. The first thing that must strike everyone who reads this Memorandum is that the net expenditure on the Army this year is £581 million, as compared with £521 million last year, and that it is the highest expenditure of the three Services. Some factors responsible for this increase, as stated, are: the increase in the Regular strength, which involves a higher cost for repairs and maintenance; the accumulation of stores as rearmament proceeds, which involves increased administrative work and additional personnel; and thirdly—I do not think this amounts to very much—the new pension scheme for widows, which puts up the cost in Vote 10. A great part of the increase is due to the especially heavy burdens which are now falling upon the Army because of the troubles in Malaya and Korea, the situation in the Suez Canal Zone and the Middle East generally; and now Kenya. All these burdens inevitably cost very much money, and we hope and believe that we are getting full value for that money.I am glad that we are now getting the much-needed information on the Army, and I agree with what was said by the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Wilson, as regards that. The paragraphs in the Memorandum describing the condition of things and operations in Korea, Malaya and the Suez Canal area, and elsewhere, are not only informative but very interesting; and that is more than can be said for a great many Memoranda which come before your Lordships' House. But I suggest that we might still be glad to know a little more. In old days, before and up to the last war, a publication called the Monthly Army List was issued. I do not say that it was a highly interesting publication, but it was a publication which enabled us to know what the various units in the Army were; where they were stationed; how they were organised, and who were their officers; what was the combination of the staffs of the various commands, and so forth. I suggest that the time has come when something of that nature—I do not say exactly the old Monthly Army List, but something in similar handy form—might again be published. I believe that it would be of great interest to a great many people, not only those connected with the Services but a great many others as well. It would be interesting to know what measure of success has attended the four investigations which the present Secretary of State for War stated in another place he had initiated: one, into workshops and supply depôts; two, into command and district organisations in this country, to see whether by reorganisation and by reduction some economies could be made; three, into the organisation of communications and into what he called pipelines, in the hope of reducing the number of non-effectives; four, into the various schools and training establishments which now absorb very large numbers, and which must cost a certain amount of money. Possibly the establish- ment of the Staff College for chaplains, which was alluded to by the noble Lord, Lord Blackford, might be included in this investigation. Under the heading, "Manpower," in paragraph 44 of the White Paper, we read of the difficulties of finding enough men for all the tasks that have to be done in spite of National Service. In 1951, the then Minister of Defence stated that Army personnel comprised what he called fighting elements to the number of 220,000, and non-fighting elements to the number of 168,000—a terribly high proportion of non-fighting to fighting elements. I know that my right honourable friend the present Secretary of State for War was really concerned about this, and I know that he has been trying to reduce greatly this non-fighting tail, as he calls it. He stated recently in another place that he had made considerable cuts, and had been able to save some 10,000 men and so to form seven new active battalions. I feel that that was an achievement. I wonder whether it might not be possible, by a further combing-out, to effect still more reductions and economies. The increased mechanisation and technicality of the Army must necessarily involve increased workshop and stores personnel, but I cannot help wondering whether further combing and reductions should not take place. I wonder, for instance, whether mechanised and armoured units could not be made much more self-supporting, and whether they could not carry out a higher proportion of their own repairs and maintenance, without recourse to the workshops which now absorb a very large number of personnel. When these armoured regiments were—as many used to be—cavalry regiments, horsed regiments, they did not have recourse to the Veterinary Corps or the veterinary hospitals for a great proportion of their horseflesh troubles: they dealt with them themselves. I fully realise that the technicalities, the difficulties and the machinery of modern armoured units require far more personnel to deal with them than did horseflesh. But surely the principle is the same: these units ought to be, so far as possible—I realise that they cannot he entirely—self-supporting. Then there are administrative staffs and personnel. The staff of the War Office has been reduced, but it is still very large indeed, and the War Office itself has spread to Surbiton and elsewhere far outside its original districts. The staffs of all commands and districts are certainly far larger than in my time—and that is not so long ago. For every staff officer there are a number of clerks, so the total is considerable. I have been told, when I have ventured to criticise on these lines, that there are now far more letters to be dealt with than in the past. I wonder whether so many letters need to be written. I cannot help thinking that there might well be reductions. Paragraph 68 of the White Paper, mentions employment of civilians for performance of administrative, clerical and sedentary duties. Where this can be done with consequent release of soldiers for more active work, it seems, obviously, advantageous, even though (and this must be remembered) it is very expensive. I should like to say one word as to the Territorials. Again, I agree most heartily with the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, as to their value, now and in the past. I agree, too, that the voluntary element ought not to be lost if we can help it. It is extremely valuable and gave a wonderful spirit to the Territorial Army. In the Defence debate in your Lordships' House I suggested that some scheme might be considered whereby a limited number of personnel with a certain standard of education should be allowed to volunteer for Territorial service for the period of their National Service—that is to say, to volunteer to serve under Territorial conditions. But I suggested that there should be a much higher liability for training. That I regard as absolutely essential. There ought, I consider, to be not less than three months continuous initial training at the beginning, because one of the great difficulties of the old Territorials—any officer who had anything to do with them knows this—was that we had to try to teach them to run before they could walk. That three months' elementary, initial training would be, and must be, of the utmost value. The Memorandum emphasises the importance of having an adequate number of Regulars. I think we shall all agree on that. It goes on to say that the release of Regulars and the decline of re-engagements and extensions together caused a reduction—which the Secretary of State says he finds worrying—in the proportion of longer service men, with consequent difficulty in finding experienced warrant officers and N.C.Os. Moreover—and I think this is a matter of great importance—paragraph 52 says:
These are indeed serious matters. The young National Serviceman can become a good private soldier or a junior N.C.O., but without older and experienced officers, warrant officers and N.C.Os. a unit of young National Servicemen is not likely to be really a good one. And if these officers and older warrant officers and N.C.Os. are to be kept, the conditions of service must be satisfactory. In that connection I will venture to mention a few points. Quite rightly, pay has been improved but, even so, it hardly keeps pace with the ever-rising cost of living. The constant separation from their families is a major cause of married officers and other ranks leaving the Service and it is not as though such separation is occasional. On the contrary, very often families have been separated for years, with but a few months together in that time. Speaking in another place, the Secretary of State said that out of 80 per cent. serving overseas, 66 per cent. are separated from their families. Then there is the question of housing. Under the Armed Forces (Housing Loans) Act—a very valuable Act indeed—a considerable number of married quarters have been provided at home and abroad. But many more are required, and the fact that some families have been fortunate does not satisfy the many others who have still to wait. Then there is the matter of local overseas allowances—tax-free and "married rate." This has done a great deal in compensating for separation, but separation still remains a grievance. And it is not only married quarters that are deficient and of poor quality. The barracks generally in the United Kingdom are old and bad. Those in Germany are far better, and Germany is almost the only place where troops now are housed in good barracks. No barracks are worse than those in the London district. The Secretary of State, in another place, spoke of some barracks as being of the pre-Crimean War period. Wellington Barracks were built in the reign of William IV, and his cipher is still on the gates. Could not an Act equivalent to the Armed Forces (Housing Loans) Act, to deal with that matter, be passed? At present there arc delays. We are told, "We cannot rebuild these barracks; it is so expensive. We can only do it gradually." It will be some time in the next century before these barracks are rebuilt if we go on those principles. Surely, we must be able to borrow, as is done under the Act to which I have just referred. Then there is the question of the taxation of allowances. Most allowances are subject to tax, and in some cases—for instance, marriage allowances—I agree that no objection can be raised to income tax being charged. In a sense, marriage allowances are income. But the lodging allowance is very different, for it is paid to officers or others only when they have to find their own accommodation, instead of being housed by the Government in barracks; and a sum adequate to secure suitable lodgings—though the cost of them is continually rising—may be quite inadequate after paying tax at 9s. or 9s. 6d. in the £. I suggest that this is a very real grievance and one that ought to be rectified. I suggest that lodging allowance ought to be paid—as it used to be in the past—tax-free. All the factors that I have mentioned militate against a good supply of officers and senior other ranks. But few things have done more harm than the scandalous (and I use the word advisedly) treatment of officers who retired under the terms of the 1919 Royal Warrant. Their retired pay was stabilised at 9½ per cent. below the basic rate of 1919, so that they are now getting less than the rate of retired pay in 1919. I wonder what other class in the kingdom is getting less than was paid in 1919—I fancy, very few, indeed. But the Treasury have no hesitation whatever in scaling down this retired pay. I suppose they take the line that these officers have no organisation behind them, nothing which can command votes, and therefore they do not matter. The Royal Warrant provided that the rate of pension should rise and fall as the cost of living should rise or fall. The rate fell all right; but it never rose. It is hardly to be wondered that these officers—none of them young—are bitter in the extreme at their treatment and are saying to their young friends, "Don't join as Regulars. You see how the old Regular officer is treated." And small blame to them for talking in that way! But it does have the effect of putting a number of young men off becoming Regular officers. Then we have in the Memorandum a statement by the Secretary of State that the shortage of officers is causing great anxiety. As regards the condition of service, might there not be a few additional privileges, for instance a smarter dress? I know that a No. 1 dress is being produced. It is not ideal in all respects; in fact, there are some objections to it. But it is much better than keeping the soldier constantly in battle-dress. At present he is the only man who has no Sunday suit. I suggest that every soldier ought to have a smart Sunday suit. I suggest that he might have additional free travel warrants. I believe that these would be very much valued by soldiers in this country. Finally, I. suggest that men with nothing less than a very good character should be allowed to count their Army service towards pension in the police, the Post Office and other Government services. I know that there will be objections to that, from the trade unions and so forth, but I suggest that it would be not unfair. In paragraph 54 of the Command Paper, the shortage of medical officers is mentioned. Again I would suggest, as I did in the Defence debate, and as the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, suggested, that in stations where there are two or more Services together, there might well be joint hospitals, thus making the best use of the senior and most experienced medical officers as well as saving other medical personnel arid equipment. I think that further effort should be made to reduce, if not to abolish, the present indiscriminate cross-posting of personnel between different regiments. It is destructive of the regimental spirit and esprit de corps. It was noticeable how far this has gone when the list of disabled prisoners for repatriation from Korea was published recently. It was evident from that list that only a small percentage of the men came from the county or district to which the regiment nominally belonged. Surely something could be done to improve matters in this respect. In reference to the excessive overseas service, which has already been alluded to by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, and in the Memorandum, I agree with the noble Lord. Why should there not be Colonial and mainly African divisions? These might replace some of the British troops abroad, and so ease the situation we have to face at present, when a tremendous percentage of our troops are abroad. And to some extent they might take the place of the very gallant and efficient Indian Army which we have lost, much to the regret of all soldiers. It is well known that Africans fought extremely well in the late war, both in North Africa and in Malaya, and I suggest that African divisions should be raised. The Secretary of State for War said in another place that he was raising further African battalions, and I am sure that everybody was glad to hear that. But I believe that as regards overseas troops of that description, as in everything else, we ought to have contingents organised in brigades and divisions. As regards new weapons, it is good news that there is in production a battalion recoil-less anti-tank gun. That will make things more difficult for tanks, as the noble Lord, Lord Blackford, will no doubt be glad to hear. I am sure that is much needed. I should like to ask one question, though I do not know whether the noble Earl can answer it. Is that gun to be self-propelled, because, if so, that would increase its value very much? It is also good news that a cartridge acceptable to all N.A.T.O. countries, together with a rifle on the general lines of the 280, are about to be produced. I know very well the difficulties of standardising the arms and equipment used by ourselves and our Allies, but I know, too, that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State is definitely in favour of such standardisation, as far as it can be carried, and is always aiming at it. I would say, too, that assimilation of staff methods of the armies that have to work together is very desirable. I have a vivid recollection of serving under the French in the First World War and of how completely staff methods differed. I daresay some of their methods were sound, but it made it extremely difficult for everybody concerned. Finally, I would say that standardisation of the composition of units and formations is also desirable, so that a battalion, a brigade or a division would mean the same thing in the different armies that have to work together. Another thing which is necessary, both in our own and in the Allied forces, is that they should be properly balanced—that is to say, in all cases there should be a due proportion of the different arms of the Service—infantry, artillery, armour and the various ancillary departments. I have ventured to make some criticisms and some suggestions, which I hope may be considered. Speaking generally, I think this Memorandum is very satisfactory—I heartily agree with the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, in that respect. I believe that we are getting what I know we all want and the one thing we think about when we see this enormous expenditure—that is, value for our money."We are still very short of officers."
My Lords, I am sure the whole House is indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Jeffreys, for his speech, in which, from his great experience, he touched on matters which are of importance to the Regular Army. I hope his suggestions will be considered by the Secretary of State. I want to deal entirely with the Territorial Army. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, and other noble Lords, paid tribute to the great spirit which has always been found within the ranks of the Territorial Army. There are great traditions behind the Territorial Army, built up over a comparatively small period of time, which have been established by excellent service overseas, by great loyalty, and by the desire to do service in the interests of this country. I am one of those who are anxious that the county basis upon which the Territorial Army has been founded in the past should be continued, and with the influx of the National Servicemen I am a little worried whether that basis will have to be amended in the years to come. From my experience in the Territorial Army several years ago, I feel certain that we got the best results by the fact that we belonged to county units. Therefore I hope that nothing will happen to endanger that system.There is one paragraph in the Memorandum with which I should particularly like to deal—namely, paragraph 62. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, referred to the fact that in that paragraph mention is made of the fact that the number of volunteers decreased from 72,800 on December 31, 1951, to 67,400 on December 31, 1952. On the face of it, that shows a decrease of about 5,000 men within a year. But that is by no means the whole of the picture. In looking at the proper picture, your Lordships may be surprised at the rate at which the old normal volunteers in the Territorial Army have left. I should like to give your Lordships a few figures with which the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, will probably agree. On January 1, 1951, there were in the Territorial Army 76,866 normal volunteers—I conclude they were officers, non-commissioned officers and other ranks. During that year there was an intake of 13,878 normal volunteers—not men from the National Service, but men. I presume, who had gone into the Territorial Army in the same way that we went into the Volunteers in days gone by. That brought the total to 90,744. At the end of the year there were 72,796. If your Lordships follow these figures, you will see that there was a loss of the old volunteer element during that year of no fewer than 17,948. The wastage went on, because in the following year, 1952, starting at the figure of 72,796 which I have just mentioned, and adding the recruitment of the volunteers quarter by quarter—a total of 12,700 new intake—we get a figure of 85,496. But the records show that on December31, 1952, there were 67,351 normal volunteers in the Territorial Army. Therefore the loss that year was 18,145.
I do not want to interrupt the noble Lord unnecessarily, but I am anxious that he should not overstate his case. If he is suggesting that there has been a net loss of 18,000 in any one year, I do not think that is correct.
I am dealing only with the normal volunteers.
Perhaps I may also interrupt for a moment. Has the noble Lord taken into consideration that we were recruiting very hard in 1947 and 1948, and the time he is now speaking about would appear to be the end of the first period for which the volunteers took on? The volunteer, having come to the end of his period, then went out. I do not see that the noble Lord has made his point about wastage, because it was the end of the period of service.
I have not reached my point yet; I shall come to it in a moment, On January 1, 1951, there were 76,866 normal volunteers in the Territorial Army, according to the records. In one year nearly 18,000 went out, and in the next year another 18,000. This shows a going out from the original 76,866—I am not including the people who were still in short service—of 36,000, which means, in effect, that in those two years we lost nearly 40 per cent. of the original old Servicemen who were in the Territorial Army on January 1, 1951. On balance, of course, there was a bigger intake than there was wastage, but the point I am trying to make is that we were losing the old, experienced non-commissioned officers through age, through termination of service, or whatever it might be, and we are not now getting the benefit of their experience in the new Territorial Army. I believe that that is an important point, and I make it for this reason. I hope that the Army authorities will take steps to encourage the old trained soldiers—if I may use that expression—to stay in the Territorial Army, and so have them available as a backbone of that Force in the event of emergency. That is the point I wish to make in regard to what I call the wastage of experienced soldiers in the new Territorial Army which is being built up by the influx of National Servicemen and by volunteers who have come in, having completed their National Service. There must be some reason for it, and I want the War Office to consider what that reason may be.The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, dealt with some of the difficulties of business life and of going to camp, and so on. I wonder whether the conditions which are vouchsafed to those men could not be improved. There is the question of pay; there is the question of allowances, and there is the question of the bounty. Those things might be reconsidered by the War Office with a view to retaining in our Forces the people who can give us excellent service and who can train the newcomers into the Territorial Army. I could put forward several reasons, but I think those reasons can be considered by the War Office, If anything can be done to put matters right, it should be done. Now I wish to deal with one or two matters of detail which may be worth consideration by the War Office. I have dealt with the figures of wastage of the senior and experienced officers and N.C.Os., and I wonder whether the noble Earl can tell me if there is a great loss, not only of the senior officers but of the other officers, N.C.Os. and warrant officers. That is what is behind nay point—that those people are being lost to the Service. The next point with which I wish to deal has been partly touched upon by the noble Lord, Lord Jeffreys, and that is the question of income tax. I am advised that there is some feeling of distress among some of the N.C.Os. and others, in that the money received at camp is included as income for the purposes of income tax. Very often they are worse off by reason of the fact that they have other commitments whilst they are at camp, and the pay which is received, and possibly the bounty which is received at the end of the year, when income tax has been deducted, is not sufficient to off-set their commitments. There has always been a great demand by all classes of society for an alteration in income tax, and if that could be altered or amended in some way or other it might be an encouragement for the people to remain in the Service. Another point I wish to bring to the notice of the Secretary of State is the question of the permanent staff instructors. I believe that the permanent staff instructors have difficulty in carrying out their proper job of training the recruits and the members of the Territorial Army owing to the fact that they find themselves wrapped up in administrative duties. Is it not possible to give these instructors extra time for the job for which they are employed, and to establish some other system of administration whereby they may be relieved of duties which they really should not be called upon to do? There is another type of instructor who seems to be at a disadvantage. I understand that there has recently been introduced into the Territorial Army a new type of instructor known as the "T" type. That particular N.C.O. is a Territorial soldier who re-engages as a sergeant in the Regular Army, but his obligations are confined entirely to the Territorial force and he is liable only for home service. On that basis he suffers a reduction in pay of 10s. 6d. a week, as against the pay he would receive if he were liable for overseas duty. That seems to be a bone of contention and a grievance which in these times might easily be put right. I do not know what sort of bombshell I shall drop into the organisation of the Territorial Army, but there is the question whether or not the Territorial Army associations should be reorganised. It may be that there is a duplication of duties or of work which might easily be carried out by the Regular Army units. I do not know whether the Territorial Army associations are suspended or whether they cease to exist, on mobilisation, but at any rate they are held in suspense. It may be possible, therefore, to reorganise the administration of the Territorial Army associations on a basis more in tune with present conditions, and relieve them of duties which could be done by other members of the Regular forces. For instance, I believe that questions of the maintenance of buildings and such-like come under the associations. There is the pay of civilian staff attached to them, and there is the issue of clothing and personal equipment which are matters now for the associations but which I think could be dealt with by the kindred branches, if I may use that expression, in the Regular Army. The noble Lord, Lord Jeffreys, referred to the scarcity of young officers in the Regular Army. I wish to refer to the scarcity of local officers in the Territorial Army. I believe it is a fact that in many cases officers for local units are sent in from other areas. In my own district there has not yet been a National Service officer who has qualified as a Territorial officer. It is obvious that we must try to persuade these National Service lads to go through their courses and try and equip themselves, so that when they go back to their districts they can go into the Territorial Army as officers. We have paid a tribute in this House this afternoon to the county significance of the Territorial Army. With regard to officers, there is a difficulty about introducing officers from far away. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, referred to officers having to travel fifty miles to their unit and then having to go back home, perhaps late at night. I believe that if you can get local officers who know their men and have local connections it is much better for that particular unit.
My point was that where you have a county regiment an officer has to serve with any of the companies or batteries, as the case may be, in that regiment. If, for instance, a lieutenant becomes a captain, he may be posted to a company of the same unit fifty miles away. That is what I meant: with a county regiment an officer may have to serve anywhere in the county.
I was not dealing with that. I was getting, so to speak, beyond the county. If it is possible to train the best National Servicemen in such a way that they can become officers in the county unit, or in some branch of it, that is much better than taking officers from farther a field, as I understand is being done at the present time.I close with the hope that the Government will be able to give a word of encouragement, as I feel certain they will, first to these older soldiers who are still to be retained in the Territorial Army. I hope that they will give some tangible recognition of the great service which the men of the Territorial Army are rendering to the country, and of the great sacrifices they are making, in time and money, and often in family life, in order to give this service. The "Terriers" have a unique position, I think, in the Army of this country. Theirs are great traditions, which we all desire them to uphold. It would be a sad day the day that we lost any of the characteristics of the county regiments of the Territorial Army.
House adjourned during pleasure.
The following Bills and Measure received the Royal Assent:
Agricultural Land (Removal of Surface Soil),
Harbours, Piers and Ferries (Scotland),
Leasehold Property Act and Long Leases (Scotland) Act Extension,
Prevention of Crime,
Glasgow Corporation Order Confirmation,
Aberdeen Harbour Order Confirmation,
University of Southampton,
City of London (Central Criminal Court),
London Hydraulic Power,
South Essex Waterworks,
Herts and Essex Water,
Great Northern London Cemetery (Crematorium),
Incumbents (Discipline) and Church Dignitaries (Retirement) Amendment Measure.
House adjourned during pleasure.
The Army Estimates
My Lords, I had not intended to speak about the Territorial Army, but it seems to me that the noble Lord, Lord Wise, and to some extent the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, are a little despondent, whereas I should have felt that the blend between the National. Service element and the old Territorial volunteer was in fact going much better than anybody had ever dared to expect or hoped to see. Of course we cannot expect the Territorial volunteer who joined immediately after the war, or stayed on when the war was ended, to carry on for ever. I am not quite certain whether the noble Lord, Lord Wise, appreciates that the significance of a National Serviceman being a volunteer, as opposed to doing his compulsory service, is really very small. In the first three of the four years for which a person volunteers, he does merely a dozen hours extra drill. The point is that you volunteer to take on for a fourth year. As the Memorandum says, the Territorial Army is only just over half-way towards its complete build-up with National Service men: none of them has yet reached his fourth year in the Territorial Army, and he may well defer volunteering until that moment comes.What I wished to speak about was resettlement, which is directly related to recruitment. A Regular soldier can serve on, year by year, after he has already done his twenty-two years for a pension, but it would be rare that a man could serve a full forty years, which is a man's working life, in the Fighting Services. The State now has a very large range of civilian employment to offer—there are the railways, electricity boards and gas boards, in addition to the Post Office and other Civil Service Departments that were in operation before the war. I believe that it should be possible to guarantee to a man who has done his twenty-two years' service with the Forces a further eighteen years' service with the State. He should have the option of deferring taking the pension he has already earned, so that at the end of forty years' service to the State he can get a much enhanced pension for that full time. Of course, many men may prefer to take their pension and go out into private employment, or take up skilled work in industry. But if there were a guarantee that they could always find some form of State employment, that would relieve the doubt which is in the minds of many men when they are about thirty, whether to serve on for the twenty-two years, knowing that it is even more difficult to get a job at forty or forty-five. The other day I met an old soldier who was my father's batman over fifty years ago. He had served for thirteen years with the Colours, in two wars. After that, he had been for thirty-nine years a civilian servant at the Staff College—fifty-two years' service to the State. Yet, by the anomaly of the rules, he was entitled to no form of pension whatever. I am not blaming anyone—certainly not those now in office—but that is an illustration of what I am pointing out. I know that the noble Earl, Lord Fortescue, is inquiring into the possibility of helping this man in some other way, through another fund, but I take that as my illustration. We are told in the Estimates that the Army to-day employs nearly 200,000 civilians, so in its own service it should be able to guarantee continued civilian employment to the long-term Regular. These are men of great value. Many C.O's would lose almost any one of their officers rather than their treasured R.S.M. I agree that to retain those men is the paramount consideration. What I am going to suggest next is therefore rather more tentative. It is that a man should be able to count his Regular service towards any pension which he could earn in other Government employment. For example, a man can get a pension if he has served twenty-two years in the Army or if he has served twenty-five years in the police; but if he serves ten years in the Army and fifteen years in the police, he cannot get a pension at all. I take the police as my example. There are difficulties, as the noble Lord, Lord Jeffreys, pointed out, in working out these schemes, but a combined pension with the police is the one which might be considered first, because crime is costing the country a lot of money. The average prison population has gone up from 11,000 before the war to 24,000 to-day—that is almost a complete division. So, from the manpower point of view, it is of interest to the Services to reduce crime, and we are all agreed that to have more policemen is the best answer to crime. The building of new prisons may be competing with the building of new barracks therefore, not only from the widest national point of view but also from the Service point of view we need to strengthen the police. I agree that the proposed combined pension of the kind that I have mentioned ought to be lower than the separate pensions of either the Army or Police. A man should have to serve, let us say, a minimum of nine years to qualify for a combined pension—I do not suggest it should be applied to a man who has served three years. The idea would be to attract the young middle-piece N.C.O. to serve on for nine years. We have this year, as stated in the Memorandum, a record number of recruits. That is most encouraging. I believe it is partly due to the fact that now, for the first time, no soldier except a boy apprentice is committed on engagement to sign away his future for more than three years at a time. In these rather uncertain days, people do not like to sign away five or seven years at a time as they did before: nor do I think anyone could be entirely happy retaining a man who joined on impulse and then resents that he has to stay in for six years. The question is whether the record number of recruits who joined last year are going to take on when their first period of three years is up. We shall not know that for two or three years to come. So I suggest that these schemes might be discussed and worked out by the different Departments and be held in readiness, in embryo, for the moment when the recruiting situation suggests it is time they were introduced. I recognise that there is a certain danger in this proposal for a combined pension. Whereas it may encourage a number of middle-piece, young N.C.Os. to carry on from three years to nine years, there is the inevitable danger that a man with this encouragement may go out after nine years, instead of serving for twenty-two years. From my limited horizon as a regimental officer, I do not feel that danger to be very great: and I feel, as the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore has urged, that it is numbers of these middle-piece N.C.Os., the young and under thirty, that we need to build up the Colonial forces. I see the danger, however, and I appreciate the paramount consideration of having long-term Regulars. That is why I suggest that we should press on at once for guaranteed State service with an enhanced pension for forty years' service in the fighting Forces and civil employment. I should like now to say one or two words about the resettlement of officers, which is much more difficult in some ways than the resettlement of other ranks. Many officers, particularly those who have been in the infantry or the gunners, can offer their personal qualifications: that is, their experience of men and travel in the world. But sometimes these qualifications do not always appeal to industry as much as do the recognised paper qualifications of their brother officers in the technical arms. If an employer in industry has to say to his regular executives, "I am bringing in an officer because I think his personality is outstanding," that is not a particularly easy reason to give to the executives in his firm to withhold their promotion in the officer's favour. I am told that it would be a help if more officers came into the Army through the universities. It is always possible to resettle an officer with a university degree. I wonder how much this university entrance to the fighting arms, as opposed to the technical arms, is going on to-day. I remember that when I joined my regiment no fewer than five out of twelve subalterns of the regiment had been through the university. They read perhaps more widely than those of us who had come from Sandhurst; they kept on friendships with men who went into other walks of life, and in that way enriched the company of the mess. It is right that the Army should have a seasoning of officers coming in through the university but I doubt whether that is happening much to-day. I doubt whether the university method of entrance is well known in the schools, or in the appointments boards at universities. One of the difficulties may be this. The university courses naturally take longer than the Sandhurst course, and an officer who has come from the university is given an antedate to make his seniority equivalent to that of his contemporary by age who has been through Sandhurst, if he secures a second-class honours degree. That rule has been carried over from before the war, I have spoken to dons, and they assure me that competition to get into the university is greater than before the war, and that a second-class honours degree to-day represents a higher standard than it did then. I believe that it would be fairer if an officer who got any form of honours degree obtained the same seniority as his contemporary by age who had been through Sandhurst. Before the war, one paid to be at Sandhurst, but now the State pays for the cadet going there. If his contemporary going through the university does not secure a State scholarship or local authority grant, and at the end of his university time is appointed to a Regular commission, the cost which would otherwise have been borne by the State should be given to his parents who have supported him at the university. The noble Lord, Lord Jeffreys, spoke of two things—the combing out of the number of people who necessarily have to be employed in our many training establishments and the difficulty of maintaining the regimental spirit when men are cross-posted. One of the difficulties arises when a man in a regiment is sent out on extra-regimental employment. I remember that a number of years ago employments which had to be found in the Army headquarters in Trieste were found entirely by a platoon of my regiment, the Black Watch. I believe that one could maintain the regimental spirit and also get better work—and possibly, therefore, need fewer men—if one could allot the various Army headquarters and training schools to different regiments, each regiment to be responsible for providing a platoon of men for these employments to go together under their own officer to the headquarters to which they are allotted. I believe that we should get better work than under the present system. The noble Lord, Lord Jeffreys, spoke of married quarters. If we are able to bring back our Reserve from the Middle East, to stay for a while in this country, more married quarters will be needed. I wonder whether the possibility of using caravans has been considered. I know that there is the difficulty of finding sites for caravans. I happen to have been in a camp in a nice large park, and quite a number of officers and other ranks much enjoyed their stay in. caravans. They are very warm; in fact, when snow is on the ground they are often the warmest places in the camp. They are mobile, and you can have a pool of them which you can move around as the situation demands. I believe that the use of them might help towards a solution of the problem. I should like, in conclusion, to say a few words about National Service. If the international situation improves, and people suggest that we can cut down on commitments, I still feel it would be a great mistake to reduce the length of National Service. I say that for two reasons. First of all, the high numbers of Regular recruits which we have been getting is partially due to National Servicemen, who have to serve two years in any case, deciding to join for three years with the improved rates of pay. If the option is between three years and, say, eighteen months, I think that far fewer men will elect to serve three years. In the second place, there would not then be time to send National Servicemen out to the Far East and other distant stations. Those stations would have to be manned more and more by Regulars, and Regulars, consequently, would get less of their service time at home. That would certainly be a deterrent to the recruiting of Regulars. So, if it becomes possible to reduce our commitments, I believe it would be better to increase the number of deferments rather than to reduce the length of service. In this connection, I should like to give an illustration. It is of a soldier I trained about two years ago. He was an intelligent man who had been educated at a mixed London grammar school. He was of a shy and retiring disposition, and he had some scruples about using violence to meet violence. I had many hesitations about passing him out as an education instructor, as that carried with it the rank of sergeant. I rather hoped that he might be tucked away quietly as a librarian somewhere. But he volunteered to go overseas, and he was posted to Uganda. He first of all learned the African language, and then he spent a year teaching English to a battalion of the King's African Rifles. Then, in the last six months of his service, that battalion was moved to the Kikuyu areas, the British company sergeant-major fell sick, and there was only one officer of the company. So this man of whom I am speaking was at times commanding two platoons of the King's African Rifles in those delicate operations against the Mau Mau. He came back home much more self-confident and assured in himself. And, incidentally, he determined that when he had completed his university course in this country he would go out again and work in East Africa. I relate that story and I am sure that it can probably be capped by similar stories from Malaya and Korea—first, because it shows the great responsibilities that sometimes fall on these young N.C.Os. in the Army to-day. They deserve, I feel, the support of Parliament, not only in praise of their successes but by patient understanding when they make occasional mistakes. I relate that story because it shows the value of the two years' service. It takes six months to train a man in this country and ship him to his overseas station. Then he probably needs a year to learn to understand the Koreans, the Gurkhas, the African soldiers, with whom he is going to serve. It is only in the last six months that he can be given these considerable responsibilities of command. I relate that story also because it seems to me to show something of the "invisible import," shall I call it, of National Service, which is not always shown on the balance sheet when we consider the cost to the nation's economy of taking a man away for two years from his civilian bench or desk. We see more often the soldier who has to do the chores in the training centres in this country. We see him going home at the week-end, and there does not seem to be much soldiering for him. But 80 per cent. of our Army is abroad. Those who go abroad I am sure grow in stature out of their experience, far more than they ever would do in a similar two years in civilian life. The noble Lord, Lord Lawson, spoke of the steadiness of spirit in this country. I believe that the existence of that steadiness of spirit is because every year to every street in the country there returns a man who has seen something of the men and women of other lands. That was not so in between the two World Wars, and I am sure that our foreign policy must have been handicapped accordingly. But now, over a generation, we are gradually building up a mounting stock of political wisdom in our people which we need to sustain our authority in international affairs now more than ever, seeing that we are not such a wealthy country. I believe that in the end this may prove the decisive moral reserve in the struggle for peace.
My Lords, I have listened with the greatest interest to the suggestions contained in the speech made by the noble Earl, Lord Wavell—especially the one about the combined pensions for the Army and the other Government Services. Perhaps I may return to that matter in a few minutes. I want to confine my remarks to one aspect of the manpower situation—that is, the shortage of warrant officers and senior N.C.Os. This problem is a serious one. Although it has been mentioned both by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, and by the noble Lord, Lord Jeffreys, I feel that it deserves dealing with in more detail than it can receive in a general survey in the Secretary of State's Memorandum.The Secretary of State says in paragraph 49 of the Memorandum:
I think the usual meaning of the words "conditions of service" is pay and types of engagement. In both respects matters are probably better to-day than they have ever been. But that is not a sudden happening. It has been going on over a period of years. Although no self-respecting warrant officer will ever admit that there is no room for improvement in pay, I think they are now prepared to agree that there is no real cause for a serious grouse. The increased overseas allowances for those separated from their families, or in areas of higher cost of living, have been most welcome. But money is not the only answer and good as those allowances are, they are no real substitute for a united family. Without doubt this separation is the real cause of the shortage of senior other ranks. A large proportion of these men are married, and though they are perfectly prepared to be separated for reasonable periods, they are not prepared for what seems to be almost perpetual separation. There are, of course, two causes for this separation—the high proportion of the Army serving under active, or near-active, service conditions, and the shortage of married quarters—and these two factors are complementary. The more of these men we have serving under adverse conditions, the more are married quarters required when they serve at home. Here I would remind your Lordships that Germany is a home station, so that if a man who has been serving abroad, separated from his family, possibly for some years, is posted to a home station and finds that he still has to cross half Europe to see his family, he is very apt to think he is getting a raw deal, and he leaves. While such a high proportion of the Army serving at home is serving in Germany, this question of married quarters is of special importance. I myself was in Germany at the beginning of "Operation Union," and it was wonderful to see how morale rose and how the feeling in the different units improved as the families arrived. For some years, while stationed in Germany, I was able to help in the problem—and a very difficult problem it was—of housing the families who came out, and whose numbers varied so enormously with changes of units. Units were replaced by units which were apparently similar, but the number of families was quite different. That was, and no doubt still is, a very difficult problem. There was one useful expedient which we used in the division in which I was serving. If, as sometimes happened, we found a barracks which was too large for one unit and all the ancillary troops which had to be accommodated, we managed to vacate a complete block and convert it into flats. In one place we were able to provide six fiats, which was a real contribution to the solution of the problem. I mention this to the noble Earl because it is possible that something on these lines might be done in other places. Later, when I had the honour to be able to visit districts and commands in the Middle East and at home, I was able to see how much was being done. There is no doubt that the Army and both the late Government and this Government have done, and are doing, a very good job of work in providing quarters; but there are still not enough, and there is still an urgent need for more married quarters. Although the provision of married quarters is the most important factor, there is another reason why warrant officers and senior N.C.Os. do not stay on in the numbers the Army would like—that is, dissatisfaction with rates of pension. I am dealing with this from a standpoint different from that of the noble Earl, Lord Wavell. I thought his suggestion was a most interesting one, and that, from the point of view of the Army, it might be extremely valuable in obtaining the medium Servicemen who are so important. The Army must be composed, I think, of the three types of service—the short serviceman, who comes in for long enough to learn his job, and goes out to the reserve; the "middle piece"—the corporal and junior sergeant; and the long serviceman, who is the senior N.C.O. and senior warrant officer. What I am asking is that the long-serviceman should get a pension sufficiently large to induce him to go on serving. So far as I have been able to understand it, the feeling is that whilst the pension on completing twenty-two years—that is, at an age of about forty—is a useful backing to the civil job which a man at that age is now almost certain to get, the rate of pension a man will receive at, say, fifty-five, when he is much less likely to get such a good job, is not enough. There is, in addition, a gratuity which increases every year, but I am not certain how generally that is realised and appreciated. But certainly the fact is that the men feel that the pension is not large enough. I have dealt in some detail with this one, probably small, aspect of the manpower situation. Although it is small, I have concentrated on it because I am convinced that it is vital to the efficiency of the Army that this loss of potential warrant officers should be stopped. Unless that is done, the efficiency of the Army will inevitably suffer."We are having more and more difficulty in finding long service warrant officers and senior non-commissioned officers. We want men to stay in the Army and are trying hard to improve conditions of service so that they do stay."
My Lords, the noble Earl who is going to reply cannot complain that in this debate there has been any lack of advice or suggestions as to what the Government might do to improve conditions in the Army. After the speeches by experienced noble Lords who have spoken to-day, I shall not attempt to do more than deal with one or two matters. I think we can deduce from the Memorandum that on matters of equipment the Government are fairly satisfied. I would only say on that point that new equipment takes a long time to produce. Noble Lords who served between the wars will remember that the Bren gun, work on which began shortly after the First World War, was not in the hands of the troops until 1936. Unless general staffs are kept in control, and not permitted to insist on the ideal weapon with all the delays that that entails, the production of new weapons will not overtake the obsolescence of the old ones; and that consideration applies to tanks and most weapons.I should like to say a few words about barracks, partly because they are one of the factors, and by no means the least, influencing the supply of Regulars, which is the great anxiety in the mind of the Government. I speak feelingly on this matter, because for a time before the last war we were looking forward to seeing the demolition of some of the oldest barracks in London and their replacement by modern barracks. January 1, 1940, was the day appointed for the demolition of Regent's Park Barracks, and plans for the new barracks were all completed, and Wellington Barracks were nearly as far advanced. Both of those, alas! were among the war casualties. Now the War Office are thinking again. We are glad to know that they have a long-term plan for the provision of accommodation. The difficulties are obvious, in that provision for barracks has to compete not only in the Army vote, but, to some extent, with the provision of civilian houses. I notice in the Army Estimates this year that some £15 million or £16 million is provided for new works, and that in addition the value of new works that are being started this year but which will continue in future years is something of the same order. It is worth noting what the breakdown of this year's provision for works services is. For married quarters nearly £2 million is allotted, for barracks nearly £3 million, for workshops over £4 million, and for storage accommodation just on £5 million. That is probably a fair balance, because, however much one may desire to increase the sum spent on married quarters and on barracks, there is no doubt that weapons and equipment must be kept in mind and that provision must be made for storage and for repairs and maintenance. It is also worth noting that a sum of £12 million is wanted for repairs and maintenance of existing barracks. Noble Lords who know about the barracks of this country will not be surprised at the size of that figure. Some of those barracks date back 150 years. One barracks still in use was built by the East India Company as its recruiting depôt, I think, just on 150 years ago; and several were built between the Napoleonic wars and the Crimean War. All over the country in the county towns, the headquarters of the county regiments, can be seen these relics of early Victorian barrack building. It is essential that the barracks programme should be continued at maximum strength, not only for married quarters, but also for the single troops. There is this to be said: that usually a soldier serves only part of his life as a single man in barracks. So nobody would advocate that the barracks planned should be of a very high standard, but they must be sufficient to give the men serving reasonable amenities. The question of Regular manpower bulks largely in the Memorandum. The first question I feel should be asked—as, indeed, it was asked by my noble friend who opened the debate—is whether it is possible to relieve our Regular Army of any of its commitments by an increased use of Colonial manpower. That is a point on which noble Lords opposite had a great deal to say before they came into office, and I should like to know whether they have found it possible to do anything since then. The noble Lord, Lord Jeffreys, mentioned a point about the formation of seven extra infantry battalions. We should all welcome that. But I notice that the Regular Army is now below establishment to the extent of 5,000 men. It seems questionable whether it is worth forming seven new battalions when by using those men you could bring the present battalions up to full establishment. The big problem in the Regular Army is the long service cadre. Setting aside, for a moment, the officers, there are, as noble Lords have said, the Regular non-commissioned officers and warrant officers, men on whom we rely to serve for the greater part of their working lives, who gain experience and who are, in the rather hackneyed phrase, the backbone of the Army. Why is it, as we are told on every side, that young men are not willing to extend their service or reengage in order to fill these posts? I should like to devote the rest of my speech to that point. We hear that the twenty-two years' engagement, which was introduced about a year ago, has been a great success. That is most welcome news. We see that the Regular recruiting figures doubled between 1951 and 1952; and I believe that in the last months of 1952 a high percentage of those enlisting were on the twenty-two years' engagement. It is worth looking at that engagement for a moment, because it has disadvantages as well as advantages. It serves to fill up the ranks of the Army, but do not let us forget that the men who are joining the Army have the option of leaving after three years. Before the war, when there were engagements of twelve years, part with the Colours and the remainder with the Reserve, a man who enlisted was at the disposal of the Army for twelve years, which meant that the Adjutant-General's side of the Army could plan ahead because they knew the intake and they knew what their Reserves were going to be. But a man who joins today may be gone in 1956, with no further obligation, as I understand it. That seems to me to set the manpower planning branch of the Army a very difficult task, because they cannot know until the next three years are over what proportion of the three-year men will be taking on. There is another aspect of this twenty-two years' engagement. In the old days, certain men, chiefly senior non-commissioned officers and warrant officers, having completed twelve years with the Colours, were allowed to re-engage to complete eighteen or twenty-one years—I am not sure which. But that was only a very few men in the whole Army; only a few seniors who were selected for still higher rank. So that any man who did not come up to the standard required had to leave after twelve years. Therefore there was a constant flow of promotion, and the senior warrant and non-commissioned ranks were continually being cleared out at the top and giving promotion to the younger men. How is it possible, when you have a twenty-two years' period of service open to every man in the Army, to avoid a block in promotion in the higher ranks and, therefore, to discourage ambitious young N.C.Os. from taking on? Only the other day I heard of the case of a full sergeant of some six or seven years who was going to leave when he had finished his term of service because he saw no prospect of becoming company sergeant major for a long time. That seems to be a very real problem attending this change in the terms of service, and I should like to hear what the Government propose to do about it. It is said that 80 per cent. of the Regular Army is overseas at the present moment, and I agree that it is a serious consideration. In many cases it deters people from choosing the Regular Army as a career. People tend to speak as if things were very different before the war, and a man had every chance of passing a good deal of his service at home. I question very much whether that is the case. Admittedly, the stations abroad before the war were not involved in semi-active service conditions; they were fairly comfortable settled units in a settled routine, but they were abroad. I was able to look up the 1938 Army List, and in the Army in India in that year there were forty-five British battalions and a number of regiments of cavalry, artillery, and so on. The Cardwell system for the infantry meant that one battalion of each regiment abroad was balanced by a battalion at home. That meant that at least 50 per cent. were always abroad. But it was more than 50 per cent., because the home battalions were draft finding units, through which the men passed in their first year of service. The proportion of individual soldiers who were abroad in the inter-war years may not have been as high as 80 per cent., but it was certainly higher than many people think. Moreover, before the war the foreign tour for an individual soldier was six years, so that a soldier enlisting in the Army for seven years with the Colours and five with the Reserve did his first few months training at his depôt in his home battalion. He was then drafted to the foreign battalion, where he spent the rest of his seven years'service—indeed, very often more, because, owing to the exigencies of trooping, there was a clause permitting the Army to keep men for twelve months over their seven years if it was impossible to bring them home by the normal methods. In my view the pictures of the horrors of the present as compared with the past are false. I think one must look elsewhere for the causes. Similarly, in the case of married quarters, people talk as if before the war every soldier could live with his family. It was only well after the First World War that soldiers' marriages were recognised at all, other than about forty or fifty in a battalion of the most senior of each rank—warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and privates—who were officially allowed married quarters and the privileges that went with the married establishment. Between the wars, the marriage allowance was granted for any soldier over the age of twenty-six who married. He received allowances, but very few other privileges. The number of quarters allotted to families was not increased. I believe that very few quarters were built for families, and a young man of under twenty-six who married might find himself sent abroad for six years, with no prospect of his being with his family at all. Indeed, if those over twenty-six were posted abroad they had no prospect of living with their families unless they rose to qualify for the married establishment. Every officer who served then must have heard heartrending stories of young men, possibly foolish ones, who had married very young and found themselves, owing to the conditions of the service separated from their wives. I believe that all soldiers now qualify for marriage allowance, whatever their age, and there are many more married quarters available, not only in this country but in some other stations abroad. I suggest that there is not enough difference between conditions in the 1930's and those in the 1950's to account for the difficulty of persuading men to join the Regular Army.
The point I was trying to make was what the noble Earl is saying now: that owing to the fact that there is no definite married establishment, there is no guarantee that these higher ranks will find married quarters wherever they go. That was the case before the war, and it is only partly why they are leaving.
I am grateful to the noble Lord for putting that point clearly. It was a point that I did not quite appreciate in his speech. That certainly would be area son for the unpopularity of the Service with senior ranks but not, I suggest, with the middle and junior ones.As the noble Lord, Lord Stratheden said, money is not everything; it is not the sole attraction to a young man choosing his career. I think his prospects in his career are the most important factor. Possibly he does not deliberately weigh up the factors. If there is small prospect of his reaching the high rank he will soon learn about it when he joins, and will take the first opportunity of leaving. I believe that it is in the prospects of promotion that the solution lies. It is there that we shall find the most promising remedy for the unpopularity about which we are hearing. We know that conditions in barracks could be improved; we know that the conditions of the married men could be improved; we know also that the conditions in overseas stations, where the Army is now, cannot be improved so long as the international situation remains as it is. Troops abroad have to be in places and perform duties which we know are arduous, dangerous and uncomfortable. All you can offer the soldier, if you want him to take on, is, it seems to me, an assured future. I wish there were time to follow the suggestions of the noble Earl, Lord Wavell, and the noble Lord, Lord Stratheden, because the reemployment and resettlement of soldiers is undoubtedly of great importance. But at the moment I should like to suggest quite briefly that the prospects of promotion to commissioned rank are too restricted. The selection is, I believe, made in the first few months of a man's service. That policy should, I think, be reviewed. Promotion to commissioned rank should be thrown open to men who have served more than just a few months in the Army. It should be thrown wide open to all men, of all classes and types of education and school, who can prove that they have leadership in them. We do not hear much about the selection of officers, but a widening of the field of selection would not only increase the supply of junior Regular officers—a matter which we are told is causing some anxiety; we are told that the Army is 3,000 officers short of establishment—but it would induce more young men to think of the Army as a career. It would also improve the prospects of the men in the ranks. Young men often improve in the course of development, and sonic develop later than others. Some, though they are tested with a view to being officers at the age of eighteen or nineteen, may not develop the required qualities until several years later. I think that that is the direction in which there is least satisfaction to be found from the Memorandum. I cannot help a feeling that the Government are looking at the problem of 1950 through the eyes of 1930 or earlier; and I would suggest that conditions have changed since the years between the wars, when there was unemployment and a much lower civilian standard of living. The Army has to compete with civil life and it must always keep a little ahead. It has always got to offer as much as civil life, or a bit more, if it is to attract sufficient young men to make it possible to pick and choose leaders. These conditions of social security and full employment present quite a different climate in which the Army has to solve its problems. That, I suggest, at least, according to the Memorandum, is not very much in the minds of the Government.
My Lords, the subject of this debate is one on which this House can speak with great authority and in which it has very considerable experience. I have been asked a large number of technical, administrative and strategic questions, and I hope your Lordships will not be disappointed when I say that I do not propose to answer them all. But what I will do is to take up what seem to me one or two of the major themes which have run through this debate. There is one point I wish to make at the outset. It has been clear throughout this debate that all the speakers are deeply interested in the basic welfare of our Army, not only because our safety and the safety of millions of other people depend upon it but also because it is an immense human question. I am sure my right honourable friend will be grateful for the pleasant way in which the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Wilson, and others, have spoken about the form and substance in which his Memorandum has been produced. I would also thank the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, for the way in which he spoke of it.The central point which has been brought out by a number of speakers, including Lord Ogmore, is that the Army of to-day is on the stretch. Its commitments are very heavy for the forces available. Eighty per cent. of the Armys—that is, 80 per cent. of the fighting strength—are overseas. They are in Germany, Korea, and the Canal Zone, and in Belgium, Holland, Trieste, Cyprus and Malta. If we go into the Far East, we find them in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaya. They are in Africa and the Middle East, in Jordan and Libya, the Sudan, Kenya, Aden and other places. One readily grasps that the administrative work to be done by the Army in these conditions is great. If we consider how this is to be done as compared with pre-war conditions, with what is virtually a short-term Army as opposed to the pre-war long-term Army—probably that is the biggest difference—we must appreciate that the nature of the task is of the first magnitude and is worthy of the finest brains and ability that this country can produce. The noble Lord, Lord Jeffreys, raised the question of manpower. It is true that War Office manpower has been reduced by 10 per cent. since last year, which I think is not a bad performance at a time when the Service is expanding and being re-equipped. In regard to formation staffs which were examined, divisional headquarters have been reduced by 16 per cent. and brigade headquarters by 9 per cent., which I think is in the direction the noble Lord had in mind. My right honourable friend has started four investigations to examine these different aspects of Army life: training establishments, non-effective service, the command organisation, and the depôt and store-holding organisation. These are being carried out but the reports are not yet available. I hope in due course their results will show that something can be done on these lines. As has been explained and as noble Lords are aware, the Army to-day has shown a considerable improvement in Regular recruitment. That is of great importance in itself. The noble Lord, Lord Stratheden, put his finger on the spot when he said that the difficulty to-day is the long service men, particularly W.Os. and N.C.Os. The question which we ask is: why are they not staying? The noble Earl, Lord Lucan, dealt with that and really struck this note: "We 'took it' in our day; why should not they 'take it' now?" I think the reason is that people are more "choosy" to-day, and are more particular. There is also the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Stratheden, which we think is of importance—namely, that there is no assurance at any given time that a married quarter will be provided. There is the apparent possibility of perpetual separation—I think that was the point made by the noble Lord and I suggest it is an important one to approach. It is really for that reason that we are continuing and, indeed, expanding what the late Government did in the building of married quarters. We think that that, by itself, is probably the most important thing of all, because, after all, the prospects in the Army to-day are good. By and large, promotion to-day in the Army should be good. The conditions are really not unsatisfactory. The noble Lord, Lord Jeffreys, used the cliché, if he will permit me to describe it so, of "ever-rising costs." But the costs of living have not risen for nine months. It is worth while to bear that in mind. The noble Earl, Lord Lucan, spoke of blocking promotion, but I do not think that that is a real issue. It may be that that may arise in certain particular appointments of a technical character, but the extreme flexibility of the twenty-two years' service should not create any block at all. In fact, among senior N.C.Os. and W.Os. there is a shortage of people. For instance, we hope that one soldier in three will go on after three years to six years, and that one in six will go on to at least nine years. In point of fact, only one in ten go on after six years, so there should be no block at all in promotion. We are really going out to try to get officers, W.Os. and N.C.Os. We cannot widen the scope of commissions without lowering the standard. I do not think the noble Earl would desire that. So far as we know at the present time, the opportunities for commissions are as wide as they can be. There is the point emphasised by the noble Earl, Lord Wavell, in regard to re-settlement. That is obviously of great importance if any form of service is to be attractive. As to the ordinary information and training which can be done through the Ministry of Labour, the noble Earl would like to take it a great deal further than that. I can say that a certain quota of positions in the Civil Service is made available for Service men. I know the noble Earl would take it further, but there is an essential difficulty—I do not want to develop it too far—inassuring retired officers of a career in various Government appointments. After all, the Government Departments have to set a standard of quality, and if you are going to restrict those appointments only to the Service there might be a danger of that quality not being of quite such high level.
I should like to make it clear that in my remarks regarding forty years' continuous State employment I was referring to other ranks only and not to officers.
Yes, I appreciate that. I should also say that at the present time a number of retired officers are being employed in less active positions, both in the War Office and elsewhere. To a certain extent this relieves more active officers and also gives more continuing employment. So far as other ranks are concerned, we are trying to get as many people as we can to attend the apprentice schools. For instance, in the last year there has been established the infantry boys battalion and there are other units in other branches of the Service, generally speaking on the same lines.We shall, of course, be delighted to get more officers from the universities, if that is possible. It is true that there are not a great many coming through at the present time. We are also hoping that Welbeck, which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, mentioned, will prove a source of drawing and attracting young men, particularly from the northern part of the country. It is a curious and regrettable fact that more officers come from the south of this Island than from the north. It is believed that there may be some way of tapping the north and drawing a larger proportion of people who are fit and able to hold the responsibilities of officers. Welbeck starts next September, and so far the quality of applicants has been good. The numbers there will rise to about 150 boys for a two-year course. It will not be like Dartmouth, in the sense that it will not he the only entry into Sandhurst; nor will it be staffed by Service personnel; it will be staffed by civilians. The boys will go there between 15¾ and 16¾ years of age, and will go on to Sandhurst if competent and able to do so. We hope that this will draw what I might call young and competent boys from various, shall I say, technical backgrounds in the northern parts of this Island, men who might go into perhaps various engineering and other apprenticeships in civil life, and who may come to know the Army and to appreciate its technical side. We hope that this will bring an increased technical understanding into Army service. I should like to mention Shrivenham, where we are also trying to get officers, and this year direct entry to the Army through the course at Shrivenham will be introduced. That means that, by going through a technical course at Shrivenham, instead of going to Sandhurst, officers can go straight into the Army. There has also been introduced a six months' course for regimental officers. The purpose of that is to bring the influence and experience of the Royal Military College of Science more closely into the regimental life of the Army. There has been a tendency for some of the more technically qualified officers, having completed one of the two longer courses at Shrivenham, to disappear from the regimental sphere into the rather more ethereal world of development and supply. By this short course it is hoped to bring about a contact between the regimental officer and the "boffin," so that they can talk something of the same language. I hope that I have shown that we are out to get the officers and the long-term N.C.Os., a matter which constitutes the real problem of the Regular Army at the present time. My Lords, there has been a good deal of comment on the subject of barracks. I say straight away that this is a sad story. Only about 15 per cent. of the troops are living in barracks built since the reign of Queen Victoria; the remainder are in older barracks or in hutted camps. Of course, no one Government is responsible for this state of affairs; it is the pernicious influence of progressive procrastination, if I may put it in that language. I should say in mitigation of all Secretaries of State that formerly we had barracks in India which could be used, and that since the war we have concentrated more on married quarters—I think, on the whole, probably rightly. But it is clear that in many cases those who come home from Germany will be rather startled to find an extremely sharp difference in the conditions in which soldiers live. I should add, too, that a small start towards modernisation was made after the war but that came sharply to an end when rearmament began. This, of course, sterns from the fact that in peace time there is seldom enough money to spare to tackle this problem, whereas in war time everything is concentrated on armaments and warlike stores, and the soldiers, of course, have to live in huts. I know that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State is extremely concerned about the present situation and is determined to find some means whereby a start to the tackling of this problem can be made over the next few years. It will, however, require an extremely large and long effort, and the national need for such things as houses, schools and other capital investments will naturally compete. Nevertheless, I am sure that your Lordships will agree that something must be done, because the indefinite continuation of the present situation will, among other things, cost literally millions of pounds in the maintenance and repair of tumbledown barracks and hutted camps. I should like next to deal with one or two remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, in regard to the Middle East. We are aware that conditions there are rather austere. The Service men are out there for strategic reasons, but we are endeavouring, by certain definite measures, to alleviate the position which exists. This we are doing in three ways: there is, first, the improvement of the camps; second, special leave facilities, and third, increased local overseas allowances. In regard to the improvements of camps, I would say that in 1952–53 something of the order of £500,000 was spent in improving the conditions generally—including bath houses, electric light, hutted messes, kitchens, canteens, and anterooms. The hospital at Fayid is now being improved, and fifty-five married quarters were built; and there will be a similar number this year, besides a certain amount of hirings, but these are of a fairly low quality. The difficulty there is the shortage of labour, not of funds. I am only trying to indicate that something is being done in that respect. In regard to leave, there is leave to Cyprus with a free return air passage. There are also leave centres at Troodos and Famagusta to which troops can go. Facilities have been created for men who come on leave to the United Kingdom at their own expense to travel by air at reduced fares. About 200 men a month are coming by this way. There are also three leave centres in the Canal Zone alone. Turning to the married unaccompanied local overseas allowance, I think one or two slightly false impressions have been created by this. The noble Lord, Lord Jeffreys, called it compensation. It is not intended to be compensation. It is intended to avoid any embarrassment when married officers and other ranks, who otherwise would be living with their families at home, go overseas. When they go abroad, one of two things would normally happen—either they would be at a disadvantage with the unmarried officers in the mess or in the canteen, or, alternatively, their families would not have so much money. It is precisely to meet that situation, and to prevent embarrassment of that character, that the increased overseas allowance has been granted.
May I, with respect, say one word to the noble Earl? He described in a good many sentences what was the object of this payment. I would respectfully suggest that the use of the word "compensation" was not very far wrong.
Compensation is not what is being applied. The simple point is that the allowance is made to meet a positive difficulty.
Compensation for disadvantages.
That is not the intention. It is intended simply to meet the difference between living at home and having to live in the mess. It is rather technical but I have to meet the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, that this does not apply to Korea. It is not a question of its having being foolishly omitted, but that the conditions which the allowance is intended to meet do not apply there. The noble Lord referred to campaign pay, No one would say that that probably was not deserved, but this payment has a different purpose from campaign pay, and therefore is not strictly comparable at all. I should mention, further, that at the present time accommodation is going up in Cyprus which will accommodate a brigade, with supporting administrative units. This will include married quarters and communal buildings, such as a church, a hospital, a school and so on.Perhaps I may now turn for a moment to the Territorial Army, about which there have been a large number of questions this afternoon, and for which a very high regard has been shown. The Territorial Army consists, of course, of four elements. The one to which most reference has been made, quite rightly, is the volunteer element, on which we have depended so much. What we can say is that to-day the Territorial Army is better trained and equipped than it has ever been in peace time. Centurion tanks will be used this summer with the Territorial Army and, on the face of it, it would seem that everything is in very good condition. The difficulties which exist have been substantially touched on this afternoon, and they are these: the success and future efficiency of this body depends on a comparatively small corps of experienced volunteers. If I may say so, I think no country in Europe is able to rely in such a high degree for its reserve strength on a volun- teer effort. The corollary to relying on this body of volunteers is the very heavy strain which falls on them—I am given to understand it is a much heavier strain than pre-war. Their duties in time now are in the order of 30 to 50 per cent. higher than pre-war. That means, in effect, that practically all their spare time, both at week-ends and at holiday times, is taken up. To some extent, National Service men necessarily increase that work and, on the whole, the technical equipment is more complicated than hitherto. A great many of these men have served for a very long time, and certainly through the last war. I think it is fair to say that their zeal and prodigious efforts over the past years are beyond praise. I think the noble Lord, Lord Lawson, went too far when he said that the main body had served in the First World War, but I do not doubt that some can go back as far as that. The problem was brought out by the noble Lord, Lord Wise, and by and large I agree with him, except that I cannot say that those who are coming out are all necessarily the best. It does not necessarily mean that the whole percentage are the most experienced and able of the volunteers in the Territorial Army.
I said that the main body of officers in the Territorials, generally speaking, were men who had served in the First World War. I should be surprised to learn that that is not true.
I am given to understand that that statement is putting the position a little high. I cannot say more than that. I do not think it is particularly important, but I agree that some have served a long time; and what is happening now, quite bluntly, is that, partly through natural causes—age and so forth—they are tending to retire.
May I interrupt the noble Earl? It is not true that the main body of officers served in the First World War. I happen to have raised a regiment in Middlesex, in 1946. I can assure the noble Lord that 80 per cent. of the officers are of the last war only, and throughout the whole Middlesex Territorial Army Association it is the same. I can assure him that the same position exists in Wiltshire.
If the noble Lord, Lord Lawson, wishes I will write him a letter on the subject, but I do no: think it makes a great deal of difference. What is true—and this is the point made by several noble Lords—is that the burden of civil life to-day makes it very difficult for Territorials to carry on. The noble Lord, Lord Lawson, mentioned that on an average just under 30 per cent. of the National Servicemen were volunteering in the Territorial Army. Of course we do not yet know the effect of this—whether, for instance, they will volunteer again. What the noble Lord said is perfectly true: that the percentage of volunteers varies a very great deal in various parts of the country, and I suspect that that depends on the quality and character of the commanding officer.What we can say is that there is no serious difficulty, as at one time was thought to be possible, between the National Service element and the volunteers. They have worked extremely well together. What we feel is that not only can we rely on the volunteer effort for some time to come—ill fact, indefinitely—but that it is of the utmost importance that we should do so. Were it otherwise, it would constitute a major revolution; it would be exceedingly deleterious and difficult for us, and would make it difficult to fulfil these tasks. We are faced at the moment with the problem, to which we are trying to find a solution, of enabling volunteers in the requisite time to fulfil these very important duties; and we have high hopes that means can be found to do this. I would make one point clear as regards A.A. Command. There is no question of A.A. Command being supplanted in the vital role that it has to fulfil. A.A. guns are still required for close defence of our vital targets and to deal with enemy targets which escape our aircraft and guided-weapon nets. We must not consider A.A. guns obsolete, or even obsolescent. There has been some speculation in the Press on the effects of the decision on the Services, and it has even been suggested that many Regular and Territorial Army regiments will be transferred to the R.A.F. In view of the continuing need for these guns, such a suggestion must be regarded as ill-founded. So far as equipment is concerned, it is adequate to meet the essential rôle which the Territorial Army will be required to fulfil. There is no question of disbanding A.A. Command.
So far as I am aware, no one has suggested that at all. I referred to the fact, with pleasure, that guided missiles had been put under the R.A.F., and I said that I thought search-lights should go under them too. But no one has ever suggested that the gunners have not a rôle to play and should not remain under A.A. Command.
I am glad to have the noble Lord's support, but it has been suggested outside.Noble Lords raised the question of Colonial troops. I should again like to make clear how these Colonial troops stand. They are normally raised by the local Government and paid for by the local Government, and they are intended for the defence of the locality and for internal security. Therefore it is really not relevant for the noble Lord, Lord Jeffreys, and others, to require that divisions should be formed by the War Office in Africa.
I do not know how the noble Earl can say that they are only for local defence, when at this moment one or two battalions of the King's African Rifles are fighting in Malaya and the Fijian Regiment is fighting in Malaya. They go much wider than local defence; they are part of Commonwealth defence. It is true that a large proportion is paid for locally, but often grants are made by the War Office, and often the War Office provide Generals and staff.
I agree with what the noble Lord is saying, but these troops cannot be moved to Malaya or elsewhere without the consent of the local Government. That is a very different thing from having troops which can be posted by the Government in this country; there is a very sharp distinction. At the same time, steps have been taken to raise a number of battalions of Colonial troops, and it is proposed to continue that process. If I may say so, particularly in Malaya not only what is known as the Malayan Regiment, but also the Federation of Malaya units, open to all races, are to be extended quite considerably. I have to make the point that we have not got all the N.C.Os. or officers that we want, so it is not a simple matter in that respect; but we are going ahead when we think that can be usefully done. I will mention shortly the question of air transport. It is relevant in this respect in its saving of manpower. The use of air transport has increased tenfold in two years, and now 50 per cent. of trooping is carried out by air, mostly under contract.The noble Lord, Lord Blackford, asked whether the Centurion tank is really necessary. So far as is known, it is the only offensive weapon. No other offensive weapon that is known can be used for ground attack. Secondly, if we are wrong, we are wrong in very good company. Not only have all the other members of the Commonwealth bought Centurion tanks, but the off shore purchase of Centurions, as exports, have been worth in the last twelve months over 100 million dollars. Even as a speculation in commerce it might have something to be said for it. The noble Lord, Lord Jeffreys, asked about the recoil-less gun. It is not self-propelled, and is much lighter than the 17-pounder that went before. It weighs something about 2,000 1b. and can be manhandled across country. It relies on chemical energy in projectiles, rather than on velocity in hitting its object. My Lords, I think I have covered most of the points—at least the major points—that have been raised. In closing I would simply say that we all recognise that since the war the Army has reorganised itself on a new principle, which includes National Service. It has also set in being a completely new set of terms of service. It is far more technical in its equipment than it was. It is extended enormously over completely new theatres of operation. It is bigger than it has ever been before in peace time. It is more heavily committed. I think it is also fair to say that it is better equipped than it has ever been before in peace time. We in this country owe a great deal to those who are serving under very hard conditions in many parts of the world. I think this debate has shown clearly the measure both of concern and interest with which we view the essential welfare of the Army. We can note with satisfaction that in truth it is, both in health of body and vigour of heart, sound and strong. All of us, I am sure, can take a measure of satisfaction from that. I would just add that all the suggestions—and they have been manifold—which have been made in this debate will be most carefully examined. I am grateful to those of your Lordships who have taken part in the debate for what you have said.
My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who have taken part in what I venture to suggest has been a useful debate. I am especially grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, who has clearly gone to a great deal of trouble to acquaint himself with the facts, and has done his best to answer all the various points which have been raised. And may I say that he has done so with a good deal of success. He need not take our little passage to heart. I think he has done very well in mastering the facts as he has done. What we on this side of the House did was to take the excellent White Paper and draw from it its logical conclusions, and those have been supported by private inquiries which we have made elsewhere. Our debate has brought out, I take it, most of the problems that affect the Army and the dangers which face us. Therefore, I feel that in the future no "ostriches," public or political or both, will be able to say that they were not aware of the difficulties which faced the Army and the country at this time. They are difficulties which have arisen not through the fault of any political Party or of any Government, but which are inherent in the times in which we live.I was glad to hear that something is being done about barracks. The state of accommodation for our troops is one of the most serious elements affecting recruiting. It has always struck me as curious that as nearly all our barracks were built in Queen Victoria's reign, it would seem that her Ministers were the only people who could build barracks. We find that since her reign very few Ministers have built any barracks in this country. Why her Ministers were able to do this, and scarcely anyone else has ever been able to do it since she died, I cannot understand. It may be that it is because there are so many other calls on the public purse nowadays. There was only one note of disharmony in the debate, and it was a very slight one. It arose between the noble Lord, Lord Jeffreys. and the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk. Apparently, the noble Earl objected to the use by Lord Jeffreys of the expression "ever-rising costs." That, of course, must be embarrassing to him and to the Conservative Party, because we understand from them that the Cost of living is constantly going down.
I never said anything of the kind; I said it was stable.
At any rate the noble Earl objected to the suggestion that it was rising.
May I just say this. I did not reply to what the noble Earl said as to the cost of living not having risen in the last nine months, but I could have replied that there had been a rise since the increases of pay were given; that the cost of living had risen very considerably indeed before the nine months of which the noble Earl spoke.
Well, I will leave the two noble Lords to fight it out. I do not think I need say anything further. I close by expressing what I am sure is the wish of us all, that our Army will have every possible success in the coming twelve months and will meet its difficulties with the gallantry which it has always shown in the past. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.
House adjourned at twenty-five minutes past seven o'clock.