Defence

Part of LONDON COUNTY COUNCIL (GENERAL POWERS) BILL [Lords] (By Order) – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th July 1959.

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Photo of Mr Christopher Soames Mr Christopher Soames , Bedford 12:00 am, 27th July 1959

I was very grateful for the speech made by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke) on the subject of equipment being unnecessarily denigrated. It is, of course, always an easy thing to do, and this is tied up to some extent with our endeavours to keep the House informed of the way our minds are moving, of what we are doing, and the new equipment we are looking to for the future. But the trouble is that when, to keep hon. and right hon. Members informed, we show and talk about the equipment we have in mind and which is coming forward, hon. and right hon. Members opposite say that we should have had that equipment already and that the article of equipment in prototype should be in service today.

I take, for example, the School of Infantry at Warminster which puts on an annual demonstration of infantry weapons and equipment to which hon. Members are invited and which they frequently attend. Some of the weapons shown are in the prototype stage and have not got into production. Others are on troop trials which must precede general issue. The fact that we demonstrate all of them illustrates our desire to make available to hon. Members, who have a welcome interest in the Army's weapons, information about what we are doing and planning to do in the future. As long as it is consistent with security, it is our aim to make as much information available as we can. The weapons which we show at Warminster are not only those in general issue to the Army, otherwise indeed hon. Members would have legitimate grounds for complaint. This applies not only to Warminster but to centres concerned with other arms as well.