Orders of the Day — Defence

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th July 1968.

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Photo of Sir Charles Mott-Radclyffe Sir Charles Mott-Radclyffe , Windsor 12:00 am, 25th July 1968

Is the right hon. Gentleman certain that the 80 per cent. who do not mind are of the same calibre as those who would have joined had the old regiments still been preserved?

It is, of course, true that the present officers, N.C.O.s and other ranks in the regiments to be disbanded will serve loyally for the rest of their service in other units—of course, they will. The question is, however, whether their sons will volunteer in the same manner. My experience is that people volunteer for the Army because the regiment of their choice is based on a strong territorial link or strong family or other connections.

I do not believe that we can sustain recruitment on the basis of totally ignoring quality, by disbanding a regiment on the basis of Buggins' turn and hoping that everybody will join as before. There is nowhere for them to go further than somewhere like Tidworth or Germany; and in the case of the Air Force there is nowhere left for them to fly to.

Of the old original Light Division, the Duke of Wellington's in the Peninsula campaign, the 43rd, the 52nd and the Rifle Brigade alone remain, and one of those is now to go. This is a terrible thing. When one thinks of the million of £s which the Government are chucking about quite unnecessarily, the thousands of extra civil servants, the Land Commission and all the waste that we have seen taking place, and when that is contrasted with the fact that some of the units in the T. & A.V.R. III from their own enthusiasm, loyalty and sense of purpose are carrying out training at their own expense, I have a feeling that somebody has got the priorities wrong somewhere. That somebody is the Government, and the sooner they go, the better.