Orders of the Day — Scottish Regiments (Future)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15th July 1968.

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Photo of Mr Emrys Hughes Mr Emrys Hughes , South Ayrshire 12:00 am, 15th July 1968

They were put out of action, anyway.

This time what the Conservatives are saying is, to me, sheer political hypocrisy. I remember when Winston Churchill decided to come out of the Suez base. We had the Suez Group attacking that policy of the Tory Government when the then Government realised they had to reduce expenditure, during a time of financial crisis; and they were assailed by the Suez Group, and Winston Churchill said we had to be realistic and we could not stay in Suez without staying in Egypt. This controversy about the regiments did not start when the present Government came in.

I have been corrected about the right hon. Member for Argyll, but he has come in for criticism in the Scottish Press. I have here a letter from a correspondent in The Scotsman who recalls that when the right hon. Member for Argyll was asked for his comment on the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders' disbandment he said that when he first saw the news of that his comment was unprintable. Well, he was not unprintable today. At least, he was audible. But a lady writing in reply made the point, "Was he so indignant when the other Scottish regiments were disbanded?".

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has mentioned them. What about the Ayrshire regiment? We have just heard a speech from the hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) and one would think that Ayr was seething with indignation about the disbanding of the Argyll and Sutherland Regiment. Pure nonsense. Absolute, sentimental poppycock. What is the position in Ayr? I am very glad to say that recruiting figures in Ayrshire are going down. In Ayr they have had to do away with the Churchill Barracks. That sacred cow has been executed. There is no Churchill Barracks in Ayr. Why? Because they cannot get the recruits. The Government have faced this position: if there are no recruits then the sensible thing is to disband the regiment.