Cavalry Regiments (Amalgamation)

Oral Answers to Questions — British Army – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th December 1957.

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Photo of Mr Eric Johnson Mr Eric Johnson , Manchester, Blackley 12:00 am, 11th December 1957

asked the Secretary of State for War on what basis the decisions were taken in connection with the amalgamation of certain cavalry regiments announced in the White Paper.

Photo of Mr John Hare Mr John Hare , Sudbury and Woodbridge

I would refer my hon. Friend to the Answer I gave on 31st July to my hon. Friend the Member for Bromsgrove (Mr. Dance), in which I set out the basis on which these decisions were taken.

Photo of Mr Eric Johnson Mr Eric Johnson , Manchester, Blackley

In view of the fact that six new cavalry regiments were created during the war and all were disbanded and four new tank battalions were created and all retained, except that later two are to be disbanded, would it not have been better to have treated them all alike and disbanded the four new tank regiments? Is he aware that that would have affected no traditions and thereby it would have avoided the amalgamation of cavalry regiments whose traditions and history stretched back over many years?

Photo of Mr John Hare Mr John Hare , Sudbury and Woodbridge

I do not think any member of the Royal Tank Regiment would take my hon. Friend's view.

Photo of Mr Eric Johnson Mr Eric Johnson , Manchester, Blackley

asked the Secretary of State for War what consultations were held with the honorary colonels of cavalry regiments before it was decided how many cavalry regiments were to be amalgamated and which regiments they would be.

Photo of Mr John Hare Mr John Hare , Sudbury and Woodbridge

Representative colonels commandant were consulted about the broad division of reductions between the two wings of the Royal Armoured Corps. They were not consulted about the number or selection of regiments for amalgamation.

Photo of Mr Eric Johnson Mr Eric Johnson , Manchester, Blackley

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that it was a pity not to have made use of the great experience of these very distinguished officers who include, amongst others, my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill)? Had he conculted them further, would it not have avoided a good deal of the annoyance which has been caused by the truculent and dictatorial attitude of the Chief of the Imperial General Staff?

Photo of Mr John Hare Mr John Hare , Sudbury and Woodbridge

I very deeply resent what my hon. Friend has just said about the Chief of the Imperial General Staff. I will certainly not follow that remark. I think it was most improper of him to have said that. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] I felt that it was improper. In answering my hon. Friend's Question, which I wish to do with full courtesy, I have told him that we decided on certain matters in consultation with the colonels commandant. After that, the principles were settled and most of the selections followed automatically.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

Would the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that there are some hon. and right hon. Members on both sides of the House who prefer a very close amalgamation of regiments in order to promote greater efficiency and economy?

Photo of Mr John Hare Mr John Hare , Sudbury and Woodbridge

I always listen with respect to what the right hon. Gentleman says.