Home Defence Force

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2nd February 1966.

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Photo of Mr Gerald Reynolds Mr Gerald Reynolds , Islington North 12:00 am, 2nd February 1966

In accordance with paragraph 4 of the White Paper on the Reorganisation of the Army Reserves, the Government have now completed their examination of the contribution that military units might best make to home defence in the event of actual or apprehended nuclear attack on the United Kingdom.

To supplement the substantial numbers of regulars and reserve forces likely to be in the United Kingdom at the time, we have decided, as my right hon. Friend has told the House, to establish a Home Defence Force. This will be a military force, based on existing Territorial Army units and forming a self-contained part of the Army Volunteer Reserve, organised separately from the independent and sponsored units described in the White Paper. It will be under military command, but its primary róle will be to assist the police in the maintenance of law and order and to act generally in support of the civil authorities in the event of a general war. It will, therefore, be closely linked with civil defence and will be widely spread throughout the United Kingdom.

The force will have an establishment of about 28,000 men with a peace-time recruiting ceiling of 22,500, representing 80 per cent. of the establishment. It will consist of lightly armed infantry type units with training and limited scales of equipment appropriate to their primary róle. The annual cost of the force should not exceed £3 million.

Subject to the necessary legislative authority, members of the force will have the same liability for call-out as the Territorial Army have now, except that they will be liable for home service only and that call-out by Queen's Order will he substituted for the existing proclamation procedure.

Discussions are now taking place between the Ministry of Defence, the Home Office and the Council of Territorial and Auxiliary Forces Associations on the implementation of this decision. The title of the new force will be one of the subjects to be covered by these discussions.