BAOR (Reinforcement)

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th December 1976.

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Photo of Mr Robert Banks Mr Robert Banks , Harrogate 12:00 am, 14th December 1976

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he is satisfied with the number of trained Army reservists available for reinforcing BAOR.

Photo of Mr Robert Banks Mr Robert Banks , Harrogate

Is the Minister aware that fully trained reservists are an important and cost-effective reinforcement for our troops in Europe? Is he further aware that the Government have shown a marked lack of determination to increase the establishment of our reservists and provide them with transport to get them quickly into Europe so that they may be effectively used?

Photo of Mr Robert Brown Mr Robert Brown , Newcastle upon Tyne West

I am well aware of the importance and cost-effectiveness of the TAVR and its ability to reinforce BAOR. The hon. Gentleman should have read a little more before asking this sort of supplementary question. If he had done so, he would have realised that we have had tremendous success in increasing recruitment to the TAVR in the past year. Although it is not normal to divulge figures, I can tell him that the British Army of the Rhine would be doubled on mobilisation.

Photo of Mr Peter Blaker Mr Peter Blaker , Blackpool South

Will the Under-Secretary of State draw to the attention of his right hon. Friend the fact that in June this year NATO Defence Ministers in the Defence Planning Committee unanimously agreed to the principle that NATO forces should be maintained, and not reduced, except in the context of mutual and balanced force reductions in Europe, and that that principle presumably still binds Her Majesty's Government?

Photo of Mr Robert Brown Mr Robert Brown , Newcastle upon Tyne West

I confirm that the BAOR commitment of 55,000 troops, in accordance with the Brussels Treaty, is being maintained.

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Stretford

Will the Minister reconsider his grossly complacent reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Harrogate (Mr. Banks)? Is he not aware that on full mobilisation of all reserve manpower the British Armed Forces total no more than 580,000 men, and that that is less than the strength of Switzerland, Sweden and even tiny Finland, with one-twelfth our population?

Photo of Mr Robert Brown Mr Robert Brown , Newcastle upon Tyne West

I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his first appearance in his new rôle at the Dispatch Box. We are confident that on mobilisation we would have the reservees to increase the effective strength of BAOR. Comparisons with our European allies are not valid, bearing in mind that we have a full-time professional Army which is second to none in the world. We cannot compare a full-time professional army with a conscript army.