With permission, Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a statement about the Territorial Army Emergency Reserve.
The House will recall that this Reserve—the "Ever-readies"—was set up in 1962 to provide a source of individual reinforcement for units under strength in areas of tension. Its members are all volunteers who receive a special bounty of £150 a year in return for an obligation to serve for up to six months. The "Ever-readies" have done very well during training in overseas theatres with Regular Army units. So far, none of them has been called out for service under their liability.
My right hon. Friend has now decided to exercise his powers under Section 3 of the Army Reserve Act, 1962, to call up about 175 members of the "Ever-readies" for service with the Regular Army in the Middle East, in the Far East, and with the United Nations force in Cyprus.
The necessity for this step springs from the fact that the Army has been engaged continuously in emergency operations overseas for over two years. This has had a cumulative effect and creates difficulties which are serious, though, I hope, temporary.
We now have on emergency tours overseas without their families a brigade headquarters, nine infantry battalions, two armoured car squadrons, one artillery regiment, two engineer squadrons and about 600 individual soldiers.
The result is that many men in the Army have not had much opportunity of home service and of being united with their families. The long-term effect of this on recruitment and re-engagement in the Regular Army cannot be disregarded.
The officers and men to be called out are mainly infantry, together with small numbers of officers and men of the Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers, Intelligence Corps and Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.
The men selected for call-out will receive their orders within a few days. All of them will get at least a month's notice of call-out. This is the first occasion on which members of the T.A.E.R. have been called out for normal service with the Regular Army, with whom they have been undergoing periods of training. I am sure that they will discharge their obligations with credit.